Top 12 Best Chess Players In The World

These masters’ games entertain, awe, and instruct us in the etiquette of the royal game. In chess communities, it is normal to talk about the 12 best chess players in the world, but these discussions inevitably raise the same issue: Who was the finest of all time?

Hello, chess enthusiasts! Eager to know who the current top grandmaster is? Well, say no more! In this article, we take a look at the top 12 best chess players in the world.

Chess is a sport of meticulous concentration and immaculate foresight. Moreover, it is an indoor sport that works the mind and forces you to outsmart your opponent. 

Chess (Source: City Live India)
Chess (Source: City Live India)

While some are born with innate talents, some work their way through and establish themselves as the best. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the top 12 best chess players in the world.

Top 12 Best Chess Players In The World

The following list is compiled from official and trusted sources such as Chess.com and International Chess Federation (FIDE).

Before we dive in, let’s first take a sneak peek into the current top 12 best chess players in the world.

NameCountry
12. Richard RapportHungary
11. Shakhriyar MamedyarovAzerbaijan
10. Teimour RadjabovAzerbaijan
9. Maxime Vachier-LagraveFrance
8. Alexander GrischukRussia
7. Anish GiriRussia (Until 2009) Netherlands (Since 2009)
6. Wesley SoUnited States of America
5. Levon AronianArmenia
4. Ian NepomniachtchiRussia
3. Ding LirenChina
2. Fabiano CaruanaUnited States of America
1. Magnus CarlsenNorway

12. Richard Rapport

Richard Rapport is a Hungarian grandmaster who currently holds the number 12 spot in the chess rankings. The 26-year-old was considered a former prodigy of the sport.

Before turning 14 years old, Richard stepped up his game to a whole new level. What’s more, the Hungarian international became the youngest ever Hungarian Grandmaster. Furthermore, he cemented himself as the youngest Grandmaster in the world at that time.

Richard Rapport (Source: Facebook)
Richard Rapport (Source: Facebook)

Rapport became the Hungarian Chess Champion in 2017. Additionally, the current world number 12 broke the 2750-rating threshold in September 2019.

He won the Hungarian Chess Championship in 2017 and, as of May 2022, he had the fifth-highest rating in the entire world.

11. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov

Born in Azerbaijan, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is a super-grandmaster born on April 12, 1985.

Mamedyarov is a master tactician and a two-time Azerbaijan Chess Champion. Moreover, the Azerbaijan international became the world’s number two in the FIDE ratings of ranked players in February 2018.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Source: Facebook)
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Source: Facebook)

Furthermore, the 37-year-old reached the sixth-highest rating of 2826 in 2018.

Mamedyarov won the 2013 World Rapid Championship. In addition, he was victorious in the 2018 Biel Chess Festival as well.

He also won the 2017 FIDE Grand Prix and also finished second in the 2018 Candidates Tournament.

He is currently ranked sixth among all chess players in history with a personal best rating of 2820.

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10. Teimour Radjabov

Another Azerbaijani on the list, Teimour Radjabov, personifies the essence of never giving up.

His ratings fell below 2700 in November 2016. However, with a strong showing in the 2019 FIDE World Cup, Teimour clawed his way back into the top 10. 

Teimour Radjabov (Source: Dictionnaires et Encyclopédies sur 'Academic')
Teimour Radjabov (Source: Dictionnaires et Encyclopédies sur ‘Academic’)

Furthermore, Radjabov, with his teammate Shakhriyar Mamedyarov claimed gold in the European Team Chess Championship in the 2013 and 2017 iterations. Additionally, he won the Geneva leg in the 2017 FIDE Grand Prix.

Having seen both the highs and the lows, Radjabov is a testament to achieving results with sheer hard work and perseverance.

Nearly solely to blame for the King’s Indian Defence’s current resurgence is Radjabov. With this defense, he even defeated Magnus Carlsen, the world’s top player, in 2014 at the Gashimov Memorial.

9. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is a French super-grandmaster who currently holds the world number 9 position.

An early bird, the French international fell in love with chess at the mere age of 4. He had received a chessboard as a Christmas gift. Shortly after that, the young prodigy became a world-beater.

Maxime Vachier Lagrave (Source: Norway Chess)
Maxime Vachier Lagrave (Source: Norway Chess)

Also known as MVL, the five-time Biel Grandmaster Champion is one of the world’s top chess players.

Furthermore, he has three French Chess Champion titles and is also a two-time European Blitz Champion.

Additionally, the 32-year-old holds the seventh-highest rating of 2819.

Vachier-Lagrave excels not just in traditional time controls but also in quick and blitz chess. Maxime was placed fourth on both the FIDE rapid list and the FIDE blitz list as of August 2021.

8. Alexander Grischuk

Born in Russia, Alexander Grischuk is a super-grandmaster best known for his tenacious outlook. A determined player, Grischuk always expects the very best from himself.

The 39-year-old has been a constant feature in the top 10 chess players. Moreover, he reached his peak rankings of number 3 in 2014. Furthermore, he broke the 2800 threshold during the same year.

Alexander-Grischuk-Top-12-best-chess-player-in-the-world
Alexander Grischuk During The World Rapid Chess Championship. (Source: commons.wikimedia.org)

The Russian international won the Russian Chess Championship in 2009. Additionally, he bagged two Olympiad gold medals.

Along with that, he has four World Team Chess Championship gold medals to his name.

With 1012/15, Grischuk triumphed at the 2006 World Blitz Chess Championship in Rishon Lezion, Israel. With 20 points from 30 games, he captured his second World Blitz Championship in Astana, Kazakhstan, in 2012.

Grischuk won the World Blitz Championship for the third time in Berlin in October 2015 with a score of 1512/21, half a point better than Vladimir Kramnik and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave.

7. Anish Giri

Anish Giri is a Dutch grandmaster who is well-known for his flexible and universal playing style.

Born to a Nepali father, Sanjay Giri, and a Russian mother, Olga Giri started playing chess at the age of 6. And by the age of 14 years, 7 months, and 2 days, he got qualified for the title of grandmaster.

Anish Giri (Source: Anish Giri)
Anish Giri (Source: Anish Giri)

Representing the Netherlands since 2010, Giri has shown the world just what a modern-day solid grandmaster is capable of achieving. 

The 28-year-old is a four-time Dutch champion. Furthermore, he came out victorious in the 2012 Reggio Emilia Tournament and the 2017 Reykjavik Open.

Further, he won the Shenzhen Masters 2019. He also secured a total victory in the 2021 Magnus Carlsen Invitational as well.

In terms of chess, Giri’s play has been called “solid and conservative.” Because of this, he is exceedingly difficult to defeat but frequently misses the opportunity to win after gaining an advantage.

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6. Wesley So

A child prodigy who entered chess at the mere age of 9, Wesley So is a phenomenal Filipino-American grandmaster.

Impressive from the get-go, So became the ninth-youngest grandmaster in the history of chess. Furthermore, he broke another record when he was 15, becoming the youngest player to surpass the 2600 threshold.

Wesley So (Source: Famous People Today)
Wesley So (Source: Famous People Today)

In the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, So bagged the gold against Zaven Andriasian.

Most notably, So became the world number two in March 2017 with a rating of 2822. Additionally, he won the first-ever Fischer Random World Chess Championship, trouncing Magnus Carlsen.

The chess moves in this section are described using algebraic notation.
International Master Rodolfo Tan Cardoso, a former Philippine chess champion, was drawn to So’s aggressive and strategic play as a young player.

5. Levon Aronian

Levon Aronian is an Armenian grandmaster widely known for his consistent top-drawer performances. Aronian has not slipped out of the top 20 world chess ranking, which he entered in 2005.

To highlight his illustrious career, Levon reached his peak rating of 2830. Furthermore, he is the fourth-highest rated player in the history of chess rankings.

Levon Aronian (Source: The New Yorker)
Levon Aronian (Source: The New Yorker)

Similarly, his accolade-filled career includes complete victory in Fischer Random Chess (in blitz & rapid).

Additionally, he has team gold medals for Armenia, and two Chess World Cup wins as well.

4. Ian Nepomniachtchi | Best Chess Player In The World

Ian Nepomniachtchi, more commonly known as Nepo, is a Russian super-grandmaster. A tactical genius, Nepo has forced his way into the limelight of chess.

The 2020/21 Candidates Tournament champion is vying to reach the very top. Moreover, he aims to do just that by trouncing Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship. The matchup promises to be an exciting one!

Ian Nepomniachtchi (Source: www.essc.com.tr)
Ian Nepomniachtchi (Source: www.essc.com.tr)

The current world number four won the World Junior Championship in 2002. What’s more, he beat his current World Championship rival, Magnus Carlsen, to claim the trophy.

A genius in his own right, the sky is the limit for Ian Nepomniachtchi.

In addition to his prowess in traditional time controls, Nepomniachtchi also excels at blitz and quick play. Ian was placed 10th on the blitz list and 5th on the FIDE rapid list as of June 2021.

3. Ding Liren | Best Chess Player In The World

Born in China, Ding Liren is a world-class chess player. Known for his elaborate tactics, Liren is undoubtedly one of the very best in the sport.

To start, Ding was the youngest winner of the Chinese Chess Championship, winning it at 16. Furthermore, Liren became the first player to reach the Chess World Cup finals twice in a row.

Ding Liren (Source: Chess Daily News by Susan Polgar)
Ding Liren (Source: Chess Daily News by Susan Polgar)

Additionally, the 30-year-old amassed two team gold medals in the Chess Olympiads. Furthermore, he bagged another gold in the individual category in the same tournament.

Similarly, he went on to win gold at the World Team Championship as well. He also held a 100-game unbeaten streak until October 2019.

On top of that, with a 2816 rating, Liren also holds the tenth-best rating of all time.

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2. Fabiano Caruana | Best Chess Player In The World

American-born Fabiano Caruana is a child prodigy turned world-beater who is making new heights every day.

Fabiano has cemented himself as one of the sport’s greatest, becoming the youngest American chess grandmaster. He broke the record held by Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura by being a grandmaster at 14 years, 11 months, and 20 days.

Being natural at the sport from as early as 5, Fabiano became a FIDE master in 2002. Furthermore, he won the Italian Chess Championship shortly after being the youngest grandmaster.

Fabiano Caruana (Source: Chess.com)
Fabiano Caruana (Source: Chess.com)

Fabiano has amassed a plethora of wins and trophies during his illustrious career. However, his most notable success features the Sinquefield Cup victory.

Furthermore, boasting a performance rating of 3080, the 30 had the best tournament performance in chess history.

Caruana beat Nakamura, Levon Aronian, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Veselin Topalov, and World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Moreover, he became the second-highest-rated player in the world shortly after the event.

Lastly, the current world number two came close to winning the World Chess Championship. However, he came off second, losing in the tie-break playoffs to Magnus Carlsen.

Along with his proficiency in traditional time controls, Caruana also excels at quick and blitz chess. Caruana is third on the blitz lists as of August 2022 and seventh on the FIDE rapid lists (with an ELO rating is 2766). (with an ELO rating of 2847).

1. Magnus Carlsen | Best Chess Player In The World

Magnus Carlsen is a name that has, in recent times, become synonymous with chess. Widely regarded as a genius, Carlsen lives up to his name, as the current world number one boasts an IQ of 190.

Magnus sent shockwaves around the globe at the mere age of 13, as the Norwegian wonder-kid drew with Gary Kasparov and defeated Anatoly Karpov in 2004. Immediately after, he became the second-youngest grandmaster in the history of chess.

Magnus Carlsen, Genius Personified. (Source: commons.wikimedia.org)
Magnus Carlsen, Genius Personified. (Source: commons.wikimedia.org)

Furthermore, he became the youngest player in the world to surpass the 2800-rating threshold. Moreover, the 31-year-old is not only brilliant but is also terrifyingly consistent.

Carlsen stormed into the world’s number-one ranking in 2011. The genius-incarnated hasn’t been overtaken ever since.

Additionally, his world titles include two in Rapid and four in Blitz time controls. Likewise, he holds the highest rating ever. Consequently, he has also racked up several elite tournament victories, including two Norway Chess victories and seven in Wijk Aan Zee.

Already considered one of the all-time greats, Magnus Carlsen is a name that will echo in the chess community for a very long time.

Since then, Carlsen has become a versatile player. He employs a number of openings to hinder opponents’ ability to prepare for him and minimize the value of pre-game computer analysis.

He has said that because it “comes down to pure chess,” the middlegame is his favorite part of the match.

Conclusion

Chess is a sport that requires utmost concentration. Furthermore, it demands sheer patience and unshakable mental fortitude. Be it leisurely or competitively, chess works the mind like no other.

Knowing what moves to make and what tactics to use has been the fundamentals of chess, and the top, as mentioned above, 12 best chess players in the world signify just that.

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