Champs and Challengers:
How the World Championship Changed Over the Years

by Bill Wall

Before 1886, there was no official world chess championship. Paul Morphy was considered the strongest chessplayer in the world until he died in 1884. The two strongest chessplayers in the world were Wilhelm Steinitz (1836-1900) and Dr. Johannes Hermann Zukertort (1842-1888). Steinitz had defeated Adolf Anderssen in an 1866 match, but the match was not declared a world championship match. Zukertort won at Paris in 1878 and London in 1883, where he had 3 points more than any other player, including Steinitz. This tournament established Steinitz and Zukertort as the two best chessplayers in the world, which led to the first official World Championship match between these two. The match took place from January 11, 1886 to March 29, 1886 in New York City, St. Louis, and New Orleans. The winner was the first player to achieve 10 wins. The match was financed by local chess patrons. After building up a 4—1 lead Zukertort wilted, lost four of the last five games and lost the match. Steinitz won the match 10-5, with 5 draws. They played for a $4,000 ($95,00 in today's currency) stake (each player had to put up $2,000), winner take all, for the world championship. Steinitz received $1,000 in prize money and $3,000 was paid to those who bet on the winner. Zukertort was assured $750 compensation for loss of earnings. Steinitz returned home to New York and Zukertort left for San Francisco.

After the first Steinitz-Zukertort game, Zukertort complained of want of chess practice. "Why didn't you practice in London?" he was asked. "I couldn't," fired back Zukertort: "Blackburne is always sick and Mason is always drunk."

After this defeat, Zukertort's health suffered and he was a greatly weakened player for the remaining two years of his life. Diagnoses of his ailments include rheumatism, coronary heart disease, kidney problems, and arteriosclerosis. His results after the 1886 match declined steeply: seventh at London and third at Nottingham in 1886; fifteenth at Frankfurt and fourth at London in 1887; lost a match in 1887 against Blackburne (1 win, 5 losses, and 8 draws); and seventh at London in 1888.

On June 20, 1888, Zukertort died of a stroke while playing chess at Simpson's, a London coffee-house at the age of 45. While playing a chess game with Sylvain Meyer, Zukertort fainted. Instead of calling for medical help, he was taken to the British Chess Club in an unconscious state. They then took him to Charing Cross Hospital where they diagnosed the problem as a cerebral attack. He never regained consciousness, and died at 10 a.m. the next day. The cause of death was cerebral hemorrhage. At the time, Zukertort was also in the middle of a tournament at the British Chess Club and was in 1st place. He was scheduled to play a match with Blackburne on June 23, 1888 and Bird on June 26, 1888. He is buried at Brompton Cemetery in Kensington, England. His grave is A.F. 107 x 18. His grave was rededicated in 2012. The world chess championship was conducted on an informal basis through the remainder of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century. If a player thought he was strong enough and he or his friends had enough money to back the match, he could then challenge the reigning world champion.

From January 20, 1889 to February 24, 1889, the second official World Chess Championship took place in Havana, Cuba. This time, the challenger was Mikhail Chigorin (1850-1908). The Havana Chess Club invited Steinitz to play in Cuba against a challenger of his own choosing. Steinitz picked Chigorin. Chigorin accepted the match and the match conditions. Chigorin was the leading Russian player and had just tied for first with Max Weiss at the New York 1889 internationals tournament. The total purse for the Steinitz-Chigorin match was $1,150 ($30,000 in today's currency), the smallest prize fund of all the world champ encounters. The winner would be the first to score 10.5 points. Steinitz won 10.5 (10 wins and 1 draw, no losses) to 6.5. The match ended after 17 games and only one draw (the last game).

A month after the world championship match, Chigorin tied with Max Weiss for 1st place in America's first international tournament, New York 1889. Chigorin took second place in the Hastings 1895 tournament (behind Pillsbury). Chigorin was only 1/2 point behind Pillsbury and was leading up to the last round. However, Chigorin lost his last round game to Janowski and missed winning 1st prize. At Hastings 1895 he won a ring and a copy of Salvoli's The Theory and Practice of Chess for winning the most Evans Gambits. He won the first three All-Russia tournaments (1899, 1900-01, 1903). At 9:50 pm on January 25, 1908 (Jan 12, Old Style) Mikhail Chigorin died of diabetes in Lublin, Poland at the age of 57. Several years later, his body was moved to the Novodevichy Cemetery in St. Petersburg.

In 1890-91, it was Isidor Arthur Gunsberg (1854-1930), born in Budapest, that challenged Steinitz. The event was organized and held at the Manhattan Chess Club in New York City from December 9, 1890 to January 22, 1891. Again, Steinitz won, scoring 10.5 (6 wins, 4 losses, 9 draws) to 8.5. Steinitz $3,000, and Gunsberg received $1,000. This was the first time a loser of a match took a share of the purse. After the match, Gunsberg returned to England, played in a few more international tournaments, was active as a chess journalist, and became a British citizen in 1908.

In 1892, Chigorin challenged Steinitz again, with the match being held in Havana. At first, Steinitz chose Siegbert Tarrasch for his next challenger. However, Tarrasch did not want to make the long journey to Cuba and he had his professional commitments as a medical doctor. Steinitz won the match against Chigorin, scoring 12.5 to 10.5. The match was to last 20 games; the first player to score 10 1/2 points or win ten games would be the champion. In the event of a 10—10 tie after 20 games the players would continue until one of them had won ten games. If it reached a score of nine wins each, the match would end in a draw and the defending champion Steinitz would retain the title. The stake consisted of $2,000. After twenty games the score was 10—10 with each player having eight wins, so the players continued until one had won ten games. Game 21 was drawn, but Steinitz won games 22 and 23 to win the match and retain the title. The event was held at the Centro Asturiano Club. Chigorin blamed his loss on the heat. Chigorin lost the last game (game 23) by what was called the blunder of the century, allowing mate with the rooks on the 7th rank.

In 1894, Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941), age 26, challenged Steinitz, age 58. Steinitz publicly spoke of retiring, but needed the money. Lasker challenged him, but later changed his mind. Initially Lasker wanted to play for $5,000 a side and a match was agreed at stakes of $3,000 a side, but Steinitz agreed to a series of reductions when Lasker found it difficult to raise the money, and the final figure was $2,000 each, which was less than for some of Steinitz's earlier matches (the final combined stake of $4,000 would be worth about $495,500 at 2007 values). The first player to win 10 games would be champion. The match was played in New York City, Philadelphia, and Montreal from March 15, 1894, to May 26, 1894. Lasker won the match 12 to 7. After the final game of the match, Steinitz stood up and shouted, "Three cheers for tne new World Champion." Until he lost, Steinitz was the oldest world champion at 58 years and 10 days. Steinitz said that he lost due to insomnia. It was agreed that if Steinitz lost, he would have the right for a return match in the same year. Lasker broke the agreement, so Steinitz started calling himself the World Champion again.

In 1896, William Steinitz challenged Lasker in a re-match. The match was played in Moscow from November 1896 to January 1897. The match was played in the main hall of the Moscow Medial Society, near the Bolshoi Theatre. The first player to win 10 games (draws not counting) would be champion. Lasker easily won, scoring 12.5 (10 wins and 5 draws) to 4.5. Lasker received 2,000 rubles and Steinitz received 1,000 rubles. This was the last world chess championship match for eleven years. Shortly after the match, Steinitz had a mental breakdown and was confined for 40 days in a Moscow sanatorium, where he played chess with the inmates. There was also a report (fake news) that Steinitz had died while in Moscow. The headline of the Indianapolis News was "William Steinitz Dead." A dispatch from Moscow says that William Steinitz died in a private hospital, where he had recently been placed because of a mental disorder. The story was retracted several days later after associating chess with brain disease, and that Steinitz was not dead, but hopelessly insane. After his world championship return match, Steinitz saw a decline in his chess. He took 5th in Cologne in 1898 and 10th in London in 1899. Steinitz died a pauper in the Manhattan State Hospital on Ward Island of a heart attack on August 12, 1900. He was 64 years old.

From January to April 1907, Frank James Marshall (1877-1944) challenged Lasker. The match took place in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore, Chicago, and Memphis. The first player to win 8 games would be champion. Lasker won 8 games, Marshall didn't win a single game, and there were 7 draws. After the match, Marshall said, "In two years I expect to challenge for a return match and hope then to be in a position to back myself. Had all the games been played in one place and we could have avoided journeying about the country, the chances of my holding my own would have been much improved. The privacy afforded by clubs would have suited me much better than playing in public, as we did on most occasions."

In 1908, Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch (1862-1934) challenged Lasker. The match was played in Duesseldorf and Munich. The first player to win 8 games would be World Champion. Lasker was convinced that Tarrasch had hypnotic powers and wanted to play the match from a different room (Tarrasch was a medical doctor who specialized in hypnosis). Tarrasch refused to shake hands during the match, made a stiff little bow at the beginning of the match, and said "To you, Herr Lasker, I have only three words to say: "Check and mate." Lasker won 8 games, Tarrasch won 3 games, with 5 draws. Lasker received 4,000 marks for his winnings and 7,500 marks for the appearance fee. After the match, Tarrasch blamed the climate for his loss. He said it was too rainy and foggy and was generally depressing.

In January 1910, Carl Schlechter (1874-1918) challenged Lasker. The match was played in Vienna and Berlin. The winner would be the player with the best score after 10 games (the shortest match of any world chess championship). The match was drawn (1 game won by each player and 8 draws). Lasker had to win the final 10th game to hold his world championship title. Lasker received 1,000 marks for each game played. After the match, the public decided to call this match a world chess championship match. There is little evidence that Lasker considered this a world championship match where he would lose his title if he lost this short match. No contract has ever been found to prove this was a world championship match. The American Chess Bulletin of 1910 stated that the two players agreed to play a series of games, but the result would not affect the world championship title. However, The New York Times reported that Lasker retained the title of chess champion of the world after the match. It stated that Schlechter had challenged Lasker for the world championship title, and that the final game decided the championship. If the game had been drawn, Schlechter would have been the world champion. On December 27, 1918, Schlechter died from pneumonia and starvation in Budapest, Hungary, during the war-imposed famine in Central Europe. He never mentioned to any of his acquaintances that he needed food or money. He was found in a room without any money, heat or food. He was buried in Budapest on December 31, 1918. He was only 44.

In November 1910, David Janowski (1868-1927) challenged Lasker. The match was held in Berlin. The first player to win 8 games would be World Champion. Lasker won 8 (the last 5 in succession), Janowski didn't win a single game, and there were 3 draws. This was the most one-sided world chess championship of all time. Lasker had defended his world championship title 6 times in 4 years. Lasker would not play serious chess for another 3.5 years. He wouldn't play for another world championship for another 10 years, 2 months, and 8 days.

In 1920, Lasker resigned his world championship title in a dispute over match conditions, but agreed to take part as challenger in 1921 (partially due to his having lost a lot of money due to the First World War).

In 1921, Jose Capablanca challenged Lasker. The match was held in Havana. The championship was set to last for 24 games: the first player to accumulate 12 1/2 points (or win eight games) would be World Champion. Lasker had won the previous championship, but he resigned it in 1920, meaning that technically he was the challenger and Capablanca the incumbent for this match, even though the two had never met in a title match before. The games were played on the same table that was used by Steinitz and Chigorin in their world championship match in Havana. Capablanca won 4 games and drew 10 games before Lasker finally resigned without winning a single game. Lasker was paid $13,000 for playing in the match, more than what Capablanca got as the winner ($12,000). Lasker had been world chess champion for 26 years and 337 days. Lasker had 52 career wins in world championship play. He played in 8 world championship matches.

In 1927, Alexander Alekhine challenged Capablanca, who demanded that a challenger had to put up $10,000. The match was held in Buenos Aires in September-November 1927. The first player to win 6 games would be World Champion. The Argentine Chess Club (Club Argentino de Ajedrez) of Buenos Aires put up $10,000 (40,000 pesos). $4,800 was to go to the winner, $3,200 was to go to the loser, and $2,000 was for Capablanca's appearance fee. Alekhine, a Russian, became a naturalized French citizen during the match. Alekhine won 6-3, with 25 draws. Alexander Alekhine defeated Jose Capablanca in Buenos Aires for the world chess championship after 73 days. 32 out of 34 games began with the same opening, the Orthodox Defense of the Queen's Gambit Declined. All the games in Buenos Aires took place behind closed doors. There were no spectators or photographs. The only time-out was when Alekhine had 6 teeth extracted during the match. After the final game, Alekhine was carried through the streets of Buenos Aires by a crowd of 10,000 chess fanatics. Capablanca wanted a rematch, but Alekhine demanded that Capablanca put up the same sum of $10,000 for the right to a return match. Capablanca was unable to to raise the require amount of money and never played a return match.

In 1929, Efim Bogoljubow challenged Alekhine. The match was held in Wiesbaden, Heidelberg, Berlin, The Hague, and Amsterdam. Alekhine and Bogoljubow signed an agreement in Wiesbaden for a match. The rules differed from the London Rules (6 wins, draws not counting) with the number of maximum games limited to 30 games, but the winner must still score at least 6 wins. The match was not played under the auspices of the World Chess Federation (FIDE — Federation Internationale des Echecs) or the London Rules. Alekhine took on Bogoljubow at Wiesbaden (first 8 games), Heidelberg (3 games starting October 3), Berlin (6 games), The Hague, and Amsterdam. Alekhine had 11 wins (the most wins of any world championship) in his world championship match with Bogoljubow, the most wins in a match in world championship play. There has only been one checkmate in world championship play. Alekhine checkmated Bogoljubow in 29 moves in this match. Alekhine scored 15.5 points to 9.5 points for Bogoljubow.

In 1934, Bogoljubow challenged Alekhine again. The match was held in 12 cities in Germany (Baden-Baden, Villingen, Freiburg, Pforzheim, Stuttgart, Munich, Bayreuth, Bad Kissingen, Nuremburg, Karlsruhe, Manheim, and Berlin) between Alekhine and Bogoljubov. The first player to win six games and score more than 15 points would be champion. Alekhine retained his title, scoring 15.5 and 8 wins. The stake was $10,000, with $6,000 going to the winner. After the match, Alekhine tabled his annual challenge from Capablanca and accepted a world championship match with Max Euwe.

In 1935, Max Euwe (1901-1981) challenged Alekhine. The match was held in 13 cities (Amsterdam, Delft, Rotterdam, Utrecht, Gouda, Gravenhage, Groningen, Baarn, Hertogenbosch, Eindhoven, Zeist, Ermelo, and Zandvoort) in the Netherlands between Alekhine and Euwe. Euwe was the winner by overcoming a three-point deficit as late as the ninth game. Euwe scored 15.5 points with 9 wins. Euwe won $10,000 for his efforts. This was the first world championship match to officially have seconds to help in analysis during adjournments. Salo Landau, a Dutch Jew, was Alekhine's second and Geza Maroczy was Euwe's second. After the 26th game, Landau withdrew after a disagreement with Alekhine.

In 1937, Alekhine was the challenger in the re-match with Euwe. The world championship match was held in the Netherlands (The Hague, Rotterdam, Haarlem, Groningen, and Amsterdam). Alekhine regained his title. Alekhine did what no other world champion before him had been able to do - he regained the world championship in a return match. He won 10 games, drew 11, and lost 4.

Alekhine died in 1946. In 1948, a 5-player round-robin tournament was played to determine the new World Chess Champion. The tournament was organized by FIDE, the World Chess Federation, and held in The Hague and Moscow. Mikhail Botvinnik won the 5-player championship tournament to become World Champion. He scored 14 points out of 20. The other players were Vasily Smyslov (11 points), Paul Keres (10.5 points), Samuel Resheshevsy (10.5 points) and Max Euwe (4 points). Botvinnnik's prize was equivalent to $5,000. Since Keres lost his first four games (out of 5) against Botvinnik, suspicions are sometimes raised that Keres was forced to "throw" games to allow Botvinnik to win the Championship. Botvinnik won with 14 points and had a plus score against all the other players.

In July-August 1948, an interzonal tournament was held at Saltsjobaden, 15 miles east of Stockholm, Sweden. The top 8 finishers qualified for the Candidates tournament. The top 9 finishers were David Bronstein, Laszlo Szabo, Isaac Boleslavaky, Alexander Kotov, Andor Lilienthal, Igor Bondarevsky, Miguel Najdorf, Gideon Stahlberg, and Salo Flohr. The last four players tied for sixth place were to have played off for three spots in the Candidates tournament, but Bondarevsky had to withdraw due to illness, so the other three qualified automatically.

In April-May 1950, the Candidates tournament was held in Budapest. The players who finished second through fifth in the 1948 championship tournament (Smyslov, Keres, Reshevsky, and Euwe) were seeded directly into the tournament, along with Reuben Fine, who had been invited to the 1948 tournament but declined, and the top eight finishers from the Interzonal. Reshevsky said he didn't want to participate, so he didn't play. Euwe declined due to work commitments, and Bondarevsky was too ill to play. In the end, Bronstein and Boleslavsky tied for 1st. Bronstein then played a match with Boleslavsky in Moscow and won. Thus, Bronstein became the next world championship challenger.

In 1951, the world championship match was held in Moscow between Botvinnik and David Bronstein (1924-2006). Botvinnik retained his title after 24 games and a 12-12 tie. Both players won 5 games each and 14 games were drawn. This was the first World Championship match under FIDE rules.

In September-October 1952, an interzonal was held at Saltsjobaden, Sweden. The top 8 finishers qualified for the Candidates tournament. The top 8 finishers were Alexander Kotov, Mark Taimanov, Tigran Petrosian, Efim Geller, Yuri Averbakh, Gideon Stahlberg, Laszlo Szabo, and Svetozar Gligoric.

In August-October 1953, the Candidates tournament was held in Zurich, Switzerland. The players included the top eight from the 1952 Interzonal, the top five from the previous Candidates Tournament (Bronstein, Boleslavsky, Smyslov, Keres, and Najdorf), and the last two players from the 1948 championships not already qualified (Reshevsky and Euwe). The winner was Vasily Smyslov, who became the next world championship challenger.

In 1954, the world championship match was held in Moscow between Botvinnik and Vasily Smyslov (1921-2010). Botvinnik retained his title after 24 games and a 12-12 tie. Both players won 7 games each and 10 games were drawn.

In August-September 1955, an interzonal tournament was held in Gothenberg, Sweden. The top 9 finishers qualified for the Candidates tournament. They were: David Bronstein, Paul Keres, Oscar Panno, Tigran Petrosian, Efim Geller, Laszlo Szabo, Miroslav Filip, Herman Pilnik, and Boris Spassky.

In April-May 1956, the Candidates tournament was held in Amsterdam. Smyslov was seeded into the tournament and he won the event, once again becoming a challenger for the world chess championship.

In 1957, the world championship match was held in Moscow between Botvinnik and Vasily Smyslov. After 22 games, Smyslov won the match (12.5 to 9.5) and became the 7th official world chess champion, ending Botvinnik's nine-year reign as world chess champion. Smyslov was awarded the Order of Lenin for his efforts. Smyslov was world champion for 1 year and 12 days (1957-58).

After losing the world championship match in 1957, Botvinnik was entitled to a rematch. In 1958, the world championship match was held in Moscow between Botvinnik and Smyslov. Botvinnik won, scoring 12.5 — 10.5. In Game 15 of this match, Botvinnik had a very favorable position after 55 moves, and had only to make two moves in three minutes in order to adjourn and work out the possibilities. However, he stared at the board and became so absorbed in trying to figure out the win of a piece and which pawn to push that he was quite surprised when referee Gideon Stahlberg informed him that he had forfeited in time. This was the last time a world championship game was lost on time. In August-September 1958, an interzonal was held in Portoroz, Yugoslavia. The top 6 finishers qualified for the Candidates tournament. They were: Mikhail Tal, Svetozar Gligoric, Tigran Petrosian, Pal Benko, Fridrik Olafssin, and Bobby Fischer.

In 1959, the Candidates Tournament was held in Bled, Zagreb, and Belgrade. The top two players from the previous tournament, Smyslov and Keres, were seeded directly into the tournament and joined by the top six from the interzonal. Mikhail Tal won the Candidates Tournament, becoming the challenger in the 1960 world championship match.

In 1960, the world championship match was held in Moscow between Botvinnik and Tal. Tal won by the score 12.5 — 8.5. He became the youngest world chess champion at age 23 up to that time.

Botvinnik was entitled to a rematch. So, in March-May 1961, challenger Botvinnik defeated Mikhail Tal in Moscow, scoring 13 to 8. Botvinnik became world chess champion for the 3rd time. Mikhail Tal was the briefest world champion from 1960 to 1961. He was world chess champion for 1 year and 5 days.

In 1962, an interzonal tournament was held in Stockholm. The players that qualified for the Candidates tournament included Bobby Fischer, Efiim Geller, Tigran Petrosian, Viktor Korchnoi, and Miroslav Filip. For the sixth and final qualifying spot there was a three-way tie at 13 1/2 points. Leonid Stein (USSR), Pal Benko (USA), and Svetozar Gligoric (Yugoslavia) played a double round-robin playoff tournament which was dominated by Stein and Benko. Although Stein won, a rule adopted in 1959 allowed no more than three players from a single Federation to qualify from the Interzonal. Stein could play in the Candidates only if one of the other qualifiers from the USSR (Geller, Petrosian, or Korchnoi) was unable to participate. With Stein excluded, Benko took the final place in the Candidates Tournament.

In 1962, a Candidates Tournament was played as an 8-player, quadruple round-robin in Curacao. The seeded players were Paul Keres and Mikhail Tal. Tigran Petrosian won the Candidates and became the next world championship challenger.

In March-May 1963, Petrosian defeated Botvinnik by the score of 12.5 to 9.5 in Moscow, thus becoming world chess champion. Tigran Petrosian, age 34, defeated Mikhail Botvinnik, age 52, to become world chess champion (one headline read: Ex-Janitor is New World Chess Champ). Over 2,000 spectators jammed the Moscow theater to watch the final game. Botvinnik was not entitled to a rematch. As the loser of championship match, Botvinnik was still an automatic seed in the next Candidates Tournament. However, Botvinnik chose not to exercise this right and retired from championship play. Botvinnik made no attempt to qualify and play in any further world championship qualifiers or matches. Botvinnik never won a match when defending his title. His overall record in match play was 2 wins, 3 losses, and 2 draws. His world championship record was 36 wins, 39 losses, and 82 draws. The shortest game in a world championship was the 21st match game in match. The players agreed to a draw after the 10th move by White (Petrosian). Botvinnik played 157 world championship games. He won 36, lost 39, and drew 82. Petrosian said he trained for the match by skiing two or three hours a day. Petrosian's second was Isaac Boleslavsky (1919-1977).

In May-June 1964, an interzonal was held in Amsterdam. The top 6 qualified for the Candidates tournament (Fischer refused to participate). The top players were Vasily Smyslov, Bent Larsen, Boris Spassky, Mikhail Tal, Leonid Stein, David Bronstein, Borislav Ivkov, Samuel Reshesvsky, and Lajos Portisch. Since FIDE rules only allowed a maximum of three players from the same nation to qualify from the interzonal, Stein and Bronstein were ineligible. Instead Ivkov qualified. The sixth and final place in the Candidates Tournament was decided in a 3-game playoff in which Portisch beat Reshevsky 2 1/2- 1/2.

After the controversy surrounding the previous Candidates tournament of Soviet collusion, the 1965 tournament was the first to be played as a knock-out series of matches. Paul Keres and Efim Geller were seeded directly into the tournament. Spassky won the knock-out tournament, defeating Mikhail Tal in the final. Thus, Spassky became the next challenger for the world championship match.

In 1966, the world championship match was held in Moscow between Tigran Petrosian and Boris Spassky (1937- ). Tigran Petrosian became the first world champion since Steinitz to defeat his challenger to remain world champion. Petrosian had won 4 games, drew 17, and lost 3. He received $2,000 for his efforts.

In October-November 1967, an interzonal was held in Sousse, Tunisia. The top 6 qualified for the Candidates matches. They were: Bent Larsen, Viktor Korchnoi, Efim Geller, Svetosar Gliforic, Lajos Portisch, and Samuel Reshesvky (after a play-off with Vlastimil Hort and Leonid Stein). Bobby Fischer withdrew after 10 rounds over a dispute with the organizers. He was leading at the time and would have easily qualified if he had finished.

Boris Spassky and Mikhail Tal were seeded into the 1968 Candidates knock-out matches. Spassky won the knock-out tournament, defeating Viktor Korchnoi in the final. Thus, Spassky became the next challenger for the second time for the world championship match.

In 1969, the world championship match was held in Moscow between Petrosian and Spassky. Spassky won, scoring 12.5 — 10.5.

In November-December 1970, the interzonal was held in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. The top 6 qualified for the Candidates matches. They were: Bobby Fischer, Bent Larsen, Efim Geller, Robert Huebner, Mark Taimanov, and Wolfgang Uhlmann.

Viktor Korchnoi and Tigran Petrosian were seeded in the 1971 Candidates matches. Fischer won the knock-out tournament, defeating Tigran Petrosian in the final. Fischer finally became a challenger for the world championship match.

In 1972, the world championship match was held in Reykjavik between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer. The Spassky-Fischer world chess championship match was the most widely covered chess match in history. Bobby Fischer was rated 125 points higher (2785) than second-highest rated player, Boris Spassky (2660). Fischer forfeited game 2 of this match. Bobby Fischer defeated Boris Spassky, scoring 12.5 to 8.5. Thus, Fischer became the 11th official World Chess Champion.

In 1973, there were two interzonals — one in Leningrad and won in Petropolis, Brazil. The top three in each interzonal qualified for the Candidates Tournament. In Leningrad, Viktor Korchnoi, Anatoly Karpov, and Robert Byrne qualified. In Petropolis, Henrique Mecking, Efim Geller, Lev Polugaevsky, and Lajos Portisch qualified. Geller lost the playoff with Portisch and Polugaevsky.

In 1974, Spassky and Petrosian were seeded into the Candidates knockout tournament. Karpov won the knock-out tournament, beating Korchnoi in the final. Karpov became the official challenger to play against Fischer for the world championship match.

In 1975, Anatoly Karpov, rated 2705, became world champion after Fischer forfeited his title. Karpov became World Chess Champion before he became the USSR Chess Champion.

In 1976, there were two interzonals — one at Manila and one at Biel. The top 3 from each interzonal qualified for the Candidates Tournament. In Maila, Henrique Mecking, Lev Polugaevsky, and Vlastimil Hort qualified. In Biel, Bent Larsen, Tigran Petrosian, and Lajos Portisch qualified. Tal was knocked out in a playoff with Petrosian and Portisch.

In 1977, Korchnoi and Spassky were seeded into the Candidates knock-out tournament. Korchnoi won the knock-out tournament after beating Boris Spassky in the final. Thus, Korchnoi became the next challenger for the world chess championship.

In 1978, the first player to win 6 games would be world champion. Karpov defeated Korchnoi with 6 wins. Korchnoi had 5 wins and 21 draws. The world championship match was held in Baguio City. The longest world championship game is 124 moves in the 5th game of the 1978 Korchnoi-Karpov match. The game ended in a stalemate with bishop and pawn vs. pawn endgame. (Carlsen and Anand played a 122-move draw in 2014).

In 1979, the two interzonals were held in Riga and Rio de Janeiro. In Riga, Mikhail Tal, Lev Polugaevsky, and Andras Adorjan (who had a better tie-break score ahead of Zoltan Ribli) qualified. In Rio de Janeiro, Lajos Portisch, Tigran Petrosian, and Robert Huebner qualified.

In 1980, Viktor Korchnoi and Boris Spassky were seeded into the Candidates knock-out tournament. Korchnoi won the knock-out tournament after defeating Robert Huebner in the final. Thus, Korchnoi became the challenger for the world championship match again.

In 1981, the first player to win 6 games would be World Champion. Karpov had 6 wins and 2 wins for Korchnoi in the World Championship match, held in Merano, Italy. This victory, much more decisive than Karpov's win in the World Chess Championship 1978, has been dubbed "The Massacre in Merano."

In 1982, there were 3 interzonals. The top two finishers qualified for the Candidates Tournament. At the Las Palmas interzonal, Zoltan Ribli and Vasily Smyslov qualified. At the Moscow interzonal, Garry Kasparov and Alexander Beliavsky qualified. At the Toluca, Mexico interzonal, Lajos Portisch and Eugenio Torre qualified.

In 1983, Viktor Korchnoi and Robert Huebner were seeded in the Candidates Tournament. Garry Kasparov won the knock-out tournament, defeating Vasily Smyslov in the final. Thus, Kasparov became the next world championship challenger.

In 1984/85, the first player to win 6 games would be World Champion. After 48 games, Karpov and 5 wins and Kasparov had 3 wins. There were 40 draws before that match was called off after 5 months of play. The was the longest world championship match. It lasted 48 games and 159 days. At one point, there were 17 draws in a row. Karpov lost 22 pounds during the match. 1,647 moves were made in this match. The winner was the first to win 6 games, but the match was canceled after Karpov had won 5 games, lost 3 games, and drew 40 games. The match was first played at the House of the Unions (Pillar Hall) in Moscow, but the match was later moved away from Pillar Hall when Minister of Defense Dmitry Ustinov, then chief political leader Konstantin Chernenko died, and the building was used for their funerals. The match was the first and only world championship match to be abandoned without result.

In September-November 1985, the world championship match was resumed in Moscow. The restarted match was best of 24, with the champion (Karpov) to retain his title if the match was tied 12—12. Because Karpov's two-point lead from the 1984 match was wiped out, Karpov was granted the right of a return match if he lost. Kasparov won 13 to 11. Kasparov became the youngest world champion at the age of 22 years and 210 days.

In July-October 1986, Karpov was entitled to a rematch. The match was played in London and Leningrad (Saint Petersburg). Kasparov won 12.5 to 11.5.

In 1985, there were 3 interzonals, with 4 players qualifying from each interzonal. In the Tunis interzonal, Artyur Yusupov, Alexander Beliavsky, Lajos Portisch and Alexander Chernin (after beating Viktor Gavrikov in a playoff) qualified. In the Taxco interzonal, Jan Timman, Jesus Nogueiras, Mikhail Tal, and Kevin Spraggett qualified. In the Biel interzonal, Rafael Vaganian, Yasser Seirawan, Andrei Sokolov, and Nigel Short (after beating John van der Wiel and Eugenio Torre in a playoff) qualified.

In October-November 1985, a round robin Candidates Tournament was held in Montpellier. The 12 qualifiers from the Interzonals were joined by seeded players Smyslov, Korchnoi, Ribli, and Spassky. The top 4 qualified for the knock-out phase. The top 4 qualifiers were Artur Yusupov, Rafael Vaganian, Andrei Sokolov, and Jan Timman (after a playoff with Tal).

In 1986, Andrei Sokolov beat Artu Yusupov in the final knock-out tournament. He qualified to play Karpov in a final match in Linares to determine the championship challenger.

In February-March 1987, Karpov beat Sokolov 7.5 to 3.5 to become the challenger to Kasparov for the World Chess Championship.

In 1987, the world championship match was held in Seville between Karpov and Kasparov. The match was played as the best of 24 games. It ended 12-12 and Kasparov retained his title.

In 1987 there were 3 Interzonals. The top 3 from each Interzonal qualified for the Candidates Tournament. At the Subotica Interzonal, Gyula Sax, Nigel Short, and Jon Speelman qualified. At the Szirak Interzonal, Valey Salov, Johann Hjartarson, and Lajos Portisch (after defeating John Nunn in a playoff) qualified. At the Zagreb Interzonal, Viktor Korchnoi, Jaan Ehlvest, and Yasser Seirawan qualified.

In 1988, in addition to the 9 players that qualified from the Interzonals, Sokolov, Timman, Vaganian, Yusupov, and Karpov were seeded into the tournament. Karpov won the knock-out tournament, beating Timman in the finals, 6.5 to 2.5. Karpov, once again, became a challenger for the world championship match with Kasparov.

In June-July 1990, the FIDE Interzonal, played in Manila, was held as a Swiss system tournament for the first time. The top 11 qualified for the Candidates Tournament. The qualifiers were: Boris Gelfand, Vassily Ivanchuk, Viswanatahn Anand, Nigel Short, Gyula Sax, Viktor Korchnoi, Robert Huebner, Predrag Nikolic, Leonid Yudasin, Sergey Dolmatov, and Alexey Dreev.

In 1990, the world championship match was held in NewYork City and Lyon, France between Karpov and Kasparov. Kasparov scored 12.5 — 11.5 and won $1.7 million for defeating Karpov, who took home $1.3 million in their world championship match.

In 1992, Bobby Fischer won $3,650,000 for defeating Boris Spassky, who took home $1.35 million in their unofficial world championship match. The match was held in Sveti Stefan and Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Fischer won 10, lost 5, and drew 15 games.

In 1993, the world chess championship title was split between FIDE and the Professional Chess Association (PCA)/Classical. This lasted until 2006. Kasparov was stripped of his FIDE title. The Elo ratings were removed from the FIDE list for Kasparov and Nigel Short.

In 1991, Karpov, Timman, Yusupov, and Speelman were seeded into the Cadidates knockout tournament. Nigel Short won the knockout tournament, beating Jan Tmman 7.5 to 5.5 in the final round.

In September-October 1993, Gary Kasparov and Nigel Short split from FIDE to set up the PCA. Kasparov beat Short at the PCA World Chess Championship in London, scoring 12.5 to 7.5.

As a result of the unauthorized PCA match, FIDE stripped Kasparov of his title, removed him and Short from their rating lists, and arranged an "official" match between Timman and Karpov, who Short had beaten in the Candidates final and semifinal, respectively. The FIDE match was played in Zwolle, Arnhem, Amsterdam, and Jakarta in September to November 1993. Karpov won, scoring 12.5 to 8.5. Karpov thus regained the FIDE championship title that he had previously held from 1975 to 1985.

In July 1993, the FIDE Interzonal was held in Biel. The top 10 qualified for a Candidates knockout tournament. The qualifiers were Boris Gelfand, Paul van der Sterren, Gata Kamsky, Alexander Khalifman, Michael Admas, Leonid Yudasin, Valery Salov, Joel Lautier, Vladimir Kramnik, and Viswanathan Anand. Karpov won the knockout tournament, defeating Kamsky 10.5 to 7.5 in the final.

In December 1993, the PCA had a qualifying tournament, held in Groningen. The top 7 players qualified for the PCA Candidates Tournament. The qualifiers included: Michael Admas, Viswanathan Anand, Gata Kamsy, Vladimir Kramnik, Sergei Tiviakov, Boris Gulko, and Oleg Romanishin.

In 1994, the FIDE Candidates knockout tournament included the top 10 from the FIDE Interzonal and Karpov, Timman, and Yusupov.

In 1994, Nigel Short was seeded in the PCA knockout Candidates Tournament. Anand won the knockout tournament, beating Kamsky 6.5 — 4.5 in the final round.

In 1995, Kasparov defeated Anand in the PCA World Championship, scoring 10.5 — 7.5. The match was held on the 107th floor of the South Tower at the World Trade Center in New York.

In June-July 1996, the final FIDE world championship match was held in Elista, Russia. Karpov defeated Kamsky 10.5 to 7.5, retaining his world championship title.

In 1996, the PCA folded.

In 1997, FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov proposed a completely new structure: a knockout tournament, consisting of two-game matches, with match tie-breakers using rapid chess and blitz chess if necessary. In addition to the new format, it was proposed by Ilyumzhinov as a way to unify the two rival world titles. To do this, FIDE champion Anatoly Karpov and PCA champion Garry Kasparov were each to be seeded into the semi-finals. Kasparov did not want to defend his title under these circumstances and declined his invitation. The format was then modified to have FIDE champion Karpov seeded directly into the final. Vladimir Kramnik declined to participate in protest against Karpov being seeded in the final.

In January 1998, Karpov beat Anand in the FIDE. championship match, scoring 5 -3. The match was held in Lausanne, Switzerland. Karpov, this retained his FIDE title.

In 1999, the FIDE world championship tournament was a series of knockout short matches, held in Las Vegas. A change from the 1998 championship was that incumbent champion (Anatoly Karpov) had no special privileges, other than that he was seeded into the second round. In protest at this, Karpov refused to play. The FIDE championship final was won by Alexander Khalifman (ranked 44th with a 2616 Elo rating) over Vladimir Akopian (2640), scoring 3.5 to 2.5.

In October-November 2000, the Classical World Chess Championship (known at the time as the Braingames World Chess Championships) was held. Kramnik defeated Kasparov, scoring 8.5 to 6.5. Kramnik was declared World Classical Champion.

In 2000, the FIDE World Chess Championship was held in New Delhi and Tehran. The first 6 rounds of the knockout event were held in New Delhi in November-December 2000. The final match was held in Tehran in December 2000. Anand defeated Alexei Shirov, scoring 3.5 to 0.5.

In 2002, the FIDE World Chess Knockout Championship was held in Moscow. In the final round, Ruslan Ponomariov (2684) defeated Vassicly Ivanchuk (2731). The Ukrainian Grandmaster Ruslan Ponomariov, aged 18 years and 104 days, won the championship and became the youngest FIDE World Champion.

In 2002, the Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting aced as the Candidates Tournament for the Classical World Championship. The winner in the knockout tournament between Peter Leko, Alexei Shirov, Veselin Toplaov, and Evgeny Bareev was Peter Leko. Leko became the Classical World Championship challenger to Kramnik.

In June-July 2004, the FIDE World Chess Knockout Championship was held in Tripoli, Libya. In the final round, Rustam Kasimdzhanov beat Michael Adams, scoring 4.5 to 3.5. Kasimdzhanov won about $100,000 and the title of FIDE World Chess Champion.

In September-October 2004, Kramnik and Leko tied, scoring 7-7. The match was held in Brissago, Switzerland. Kramnik retained his Classical Championship title.

In September-October 2005, the FIDE World Chess Championship was an 8-player double round-robin, held in San Luis, Argentina. The players were Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Peter Svidler, Alexander Morozevich, Peter Leko, Rustan Kasimdzhanov, Michael Adams, and Judit Polgar. Kasparov was invited, but retired. Kramnik was invited, but refused to play. The winner was Veselin Topalov, the new FIDE World Champion.

In September-October 2006, a match between Classical World Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik and FIDE World Chess Champion Veselin Topalov was held in Elista, Russia. Kramnik won, scoring 8.5 to 7,5, becoming the 14th undisputed World Chess Champion and the first undisputed world chess champion in 13 years. Kramnik forfeited game 5 in this match.

In September 2007, the World Chess Championship was held in Mexico City. It was an 8-player double round robin. Viswanathan Anand won the tournament and the title of World Chess Champion. He was the only undefeated player. The other participants were Vladimir Kramnik, Boris Gelfand, Peter Leko, Peter Svidler, Alexander Morozevich, Levon Aronian, and Alexander Grischuk.

In October 2008, Kramnik was granted a world championship match against Viswanathan Anand. Anand won the match, scoring 6.5 to 4.5. The match was held in Bonn, Germany. In 2009, a Challenger Match between Topalov and Gata Kamsky was hled in Sofia, Bulgaria. Topalov won, scoring 4.5 to 2.5. Thus, Topalov became the challenger against Anand for the world championship.

In April-May 2010, Anand defeated Topalov in the World Chess Championship match, scoring 6.5 to 5.5. The match was held in Sofia Bulgaria. Anand retained his world champion title. The prize fund was 2 million euros (60% to the winner). The 2010 World Chess Championship was the first men's world championship without a Soviet player since 1921 (Lasker-Capablanca).

In 2011, the Candidates Knockout Tournament was played in Kazan, Russia. The players were Veselin Topalov, Gata Kamsky, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Boris Gelfand, Levon Aronian, Alexander Grischuk, Teimour Radjabov, and Vladimir Kramnik. The knockout tournament was won by Boris Gelfand, who beat Alexander Grischuk in the final round, scoring 3.5 to 2.5. Gelfand became the next challenger against Anand.

In May 2012, the world championship match was held in Moscow between Anand and Gelfand. The event was held at the Mikhail Vrubel Hall of the State Tretyakov Gallery. This was the first time a world chess championship was held in a museum. The shortest decisive world championship game (other than the Fischer and Kramnik forfeits) occurred between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand in game 8 of this match. Gelfand resigned after Anand's 17th move. Anand defeated Gelfand, scoring 8.5 to 7.5. Anand retained his world champion title. The prize fund was $2.55 million.

In 2013, the Candidates tournament was held in London. It was a double round-robin tournament. This was the first time in 51 years that the round-robin format had been used for a Candidates tournament. Magnus Carlsen won the Candidates tournament on tiebreak over Vladimir Kramnik. The other participants were Peter Svidler, Levon Aronian, Boris Gelfand, Alexander Grischuk, Vassily Ivanchuk, and Teimour Radjabov.

In November 2013, the world championship match was held in Chennai between Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen won 3 games, drew 6 games, and lost none to become the 16th world chess champion. The match gathered record-setting TV audiences in India. Magnus Carlsen earned a special 22-carat gold medal by winning the title.

In March 2014, Anand won the 8-player Candidates Tournament to become the next world championship challenger. The other players were Sergey Karjakin, Vladimir Kramnik, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Dmitry Andreikein, Levon Aronian, Peter Sviler, and Veselin Topalov. The tournament was held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

In November 2014, Magnus Carlsen (2863) beat Viswanathan Anand (2792), scoring 6.5 to 4.5. The match was held in Sochi, Russia. Carlsen retained his title of world chess champion.

In March 2016, the 8-player Candidates Tournament was held in Moscow. It was won by Sergey Karjakin, who became the next challenger for the world championship match with Magnus Carlsen. The other players in the Candidates Tournament were Fabiano Caruana, Viswanathan Anand, Peter Svidler, Levon Aronia, Anish Giri, Hikaru Nakamura, and Veselin Topalov.

In November 2016, Magnus Carlsen (age 25) beat Sergey Karjakin (age 26), scoring 9 -7, to retain the title of world chess champion. The match was held in New York City.

In March 2018, Fabiano Caruana won the 8-player double round-robin Candidates Tournament, held in Berlin. He becomes the challenger to Magnus Carlsen for the world championship match, to be played in London in November 2018. The other Candidate players were Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Sergey Karjakon, Ding Liren, Vladimir Kramnik, Wesley So, and Levon Aronian.

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