The Greatest Chess Coaches & Players in History
Modern chess has been played since the 12th century, with greatness being found throughout the years. So it goes without saying, this is going to be a controversial list. Throughout the years, we’ve all been striving to increase our ELO and reach a new personal best. With this concentrated effort into boosting our rankings, rating inflation has made it impossible to pit various chess legends against each other in their prime. Instead, we have compiled a list of the three most influential and inspiring chess legends of their age, and the chess teachers, chess schools, and chess clubs that molded them.
#3 Jose Raul Capablanca – The Blitz Master gone Chess Teacher
Capablanca was the MASTER of blitz chess. Beginning his chess career at 4 years old, his first chess teacher was his father. He learned the game by watching his father play, and proceeded to point out an illegal move and beat his own coach at the game. His growing skill in rapid chess made him quite popular in the realm of simultaneous exhibitions. These exhibitions are why Capablanca makes this list. In 1922, Capablanca faced 103 opponents in a simultaneous exhibition, defeating 102 and drawing one. These exhibitions helped propel the popularity of chess during the early 19th century.
Capablanca never took the mantle of starting his own chess school, but his style grew in popularity, inspiring Anatoly Karpov, Bobby Fisher, and more. He coached many greats of the game, and even wrote a book on chess strategy by the name of Chess Fundamentals, widely regarded as the best chess book ever written.
#2 Garry Kasparov – The Long Time Champ
Kasparov started his professional chess training at the age of 10, at Mikhail Motvinnik’s chess school. Chess lessons played a huge part in Kasparov’s success, as he was always under the wing of prestigious chess schools and coaches. By the age of 22, he had risen to claim the title of youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion. Kasparov holds the record for the single longest time holding the position of No. 1 player in the world.
#1 Magnus Carlsen – A Chess Coach to us All
With a name like Magnus Carlsen, its hard not to put him at the top of our list. Carlsen, being 28 years old today, has held the World Chess Championship for longer than anyone other than Kasparov himself. This guy is a real prodigy. Simen Asdesein, a fellow chess grand-master, recalls Carlson’s stellar memory, claiming he knew flags, capitals, and populations of ever country in the world by the age of 5. Asdesein was Carlsens mentor and chess coach for much of his early career; a career which blossomed into a staggering 2954 peak rating in 2019. This is the kind of skill that chess lessons cant even teach.
As impressive as this is, it’s not the only reason he tops our list. In 2013, Carlsen also came out with an iOS app titled Play Magnus, that allows users to play a chess engine created using a database of thousands of Carlsens recorded games. Carlsen continues to propel the world of chess into a new era, and for that, we are all thankful.