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It is arguable that history is replete with records of people who took the chess game by the storms during their time. The debate about who makes to the list of the greatest chess players will continue to elicit varied reactions many years to come. Every person has his or her own way of rating different players, and chess players are not an exception. This article appreciates the difficulty and takes into account the achievements of the players during their early years, the number of winnings in major tournaments, the number of successful defenses, and their overall contribution to the world of chess. Here is a list of the five most important chess players of all time based on how each one dominated the world of chess during their active play.
Garry Kasparov (1963)
He is perhaps rated by many as the greatest of all in the history of chess. Unlike any other chess player, Garry proved his prowess in playing the game while his childhood friends were playing boyish games. At the age of 22 years, he won the coveted world chess championship becoming the world’s youngest ever chess player. As they say, every superstar was once a beginner, but Garry had a unique beginning when he was accidentally entered into a championship but which he won. By 1983 (22 years), Garry was surprisingly ranked the world’s number 2 chess player. The following year, he entered a competition to challenge Karpov, the then world’s greatest player but lost narrowly in a 48-game match. Perhaps this remains one of the most compelling moments in his career as a chess player.
As fate would have it, he won the world title the following year and defended his title three times back-to-back. Since this time Garry remained the number one player, a ranking that he defended throughout his remaining period of active play until his retirement in 2005.
He was enrolled at Mikhail Botvinnik’s chess school at the age of 10 years. His illustrious gaming career began to blossom at 15 when he won a professional tournament in which he has been erroneously entered. Perhaps the most memorable loss was in 2000 when he lost to Kramnik. Up to his retirement in 2005, he remained the first on the ranking list. This was the time when he had won the prestigious Linares tournament for the 9th time. The records show that Kasparov dominated the sport for whooping years, becoming the player with the longest and successful career life.
2. Anatoly Karpov (1951)
Karpov is remembered as the youngest ever Soviet National Master at the age of 15 years when he won the World Junior Chess Championship in 1969. He defeated Korchnoj and Spassky and Bobby Fisher, a four-time world champion five years later. When Fischer withdrew his participation, Karpov automatically became the reigning champion between 1975 and 1985 as well as 1993 to 1999. However, in a highly competitive match, he lost to Kasparov in 1985 after he successfully defended it two years in a row. He won the most prestigious Linares tournament in 1995 but unfortunately lost the title in protest over the changes in FIDE rules. All these accomplishments certainly fit him as one of the most important chess players in the history of the game. His most memorable game was in 1994 when he played in a Linares tournament in which he won with a resounding 11/13. Some of the names he outshined during the time include the highly ranked players such as Garry Kasparov, Boris Gelfand, Evgeny Bareev, Vassily Ivanchuk, Vladimir Kramnik just to name a few great players.
3) Magnus Carlsen (1990)
Carlsen’s chess career is laden with many incredible achievements, including the fact that he won the grandmaster title in 2004 at the age of 13 years. Five years later, Magnus Carlsen made an entrance into the Elo rating of over 2800 and became the world’s No.1 according to FIDE rankings. His star as a career chess player continued to shine and it was in 2013 that he made a maiden entrance into the golden league when he defeated the then reigning champion Vishy Anand in a 12-game match becoming the new World Chess Champion. He successfully defended his title in 2005 in a repeat match with Vishy Anand. In 2014, he also won the World Rapid Championship and World Blitz Championships respectively. By May 2014, he reached his highest FIDE ranking of 2882, which was the highest rating in the history of the game. Two years later, he successfully challenged Sergey Karjakin, a Russian Super-GM at the time. What sets Magnus apart as one of the greatest players of all time is that his career placed him on a pedestal of a player without any weaknesses. He is known to play strategic positional chess but at the same time seldom missed tactical opportunities winning at any slightest chance he gets.
4) Wilhelm Steinitz (1836-1900)
Wilhelm Steinitz is regarded as the father of modern chess owing to his mastery of the art of the game. In 1873, he developed a new style or strategy of positional play. This style was perceived to be cowardly compared to the traditional all-out attack style. His contributions to the game of chess through numerous publications have played a crucial role in modern-day chess. Today, Steinitz is known as the father of positional play. Many years after he exited the stage, world’s greatest players such as Lasker and Tarrasch among other important players recognized him is their master. His tactful playing style enabled him to defeat Adolf Anderson, a powerful and great chess player of his time. Although Steinitz did not play many games, he is remembered for winning all of the games, including the one he won against Blackburne in a resounding 7/0. He won the highly regarded world championship in 1886 after a long stay outside of active play. He reigned for 8 years, beating Chigorin and Gunsberg. Later on he lost his title to Lasker in 1894 before retiring from active sports.
5) Jose Raul Capablanca (1888-1942)
He is arguably the undisputed grand master of blitz chess! What is unique about him is that he started his career as a chess player at 4 years and at the age of 13 years, he won against the then Cuban reigning junior champion. At 18 years, he defeated the American Chess Champion, Frank Marshall. In 1921, he defeated Lasker, the world’s reigning champion at the time. As a new champion, he successfully won the world championship 6 times in a row, an achievement that many chess players consider incredible.
Capablanca was the undoubted master of blitz chess and is the player to have started his career at the most tender age of 4. At 13, he defeated the Cuban champion. At 18, he defeated the US Champion Frank Marshall with a score of 15-8. Finally, in 1921, he won the World Chess Championship and ended the reign of Lasker. As the new World Chess Champion, he successfully defended his title for six consecutive years. He stunned the entire world in 1922 when he played 103 games, in which he won 102 games and drew 1! Five years, later, he lost his title to Alehine and although he continued to play in some of the major tournaments, he was not able to reclaim his title until his retirement in 1931.
Why the above Players Merit the title
These five great chess geniuses of their time made a name in the history of the chess game. Their accomplishments and huge contributions to the game have been written in indelible marks and will leave to be remembered by generations to come. This is the reason they qualify to be on the list of the top five great chess players of all time.
The beautiful game of chess boasts a wide array of memorable matches that remain etched in people’s minds. It bridges differences in language, sex, age and education. Some of the world’s greatest chess players have captured the minds of spectators with style, intuitive moves and precision.
The FIDE World Championship Match between defending champion Viswanathan Anand (India) and challenger Magnus Carlsen (Norway) was one of twelve classic chess matches that entertained spectators during the tournament. The competition was held in November 2013 in Chennai, India.
Carlsen’s greatest strengths lie in his remarkable understanding of simplified positions and precision. His coach was amazed at how quickly he could correctly evaluate a cold position, apparently without any calculations. Carlsen is in the lineage of Jose Capablanca and Anatoli Karpov, players who feel harmony on the chessboard in the same way that legendary musicians approach their compilations.
Few players and spectators who witnessed the competitive matches from the 1980s would imagine then that the world would see a match between an Indian and a Norwegian less than 30 years later. In the 1980s Soviet chess players were undisputed champions since the disappearance of Bobby Fischer. Chess is a remarkable universal language. With the likes of Carlsen at the helm, it is clear that the world of chess will never be the same.
Who knows where Carlsen’s challenger will come in ten or twenty years? If the answer is from East Asia, Africa or the Caribbean, then the Carlsen era will have been a great success.
According to Carlsen, his partner Jon Ludvig did a great job by completely blocking Anand with the Whites, thus helping win the match. After 19.Da5, the Sicilian Defense made its appearance on the chessboard. Magnus Carlsen chose solidity with attack: 3.Fb5 + Cd7 4.d4 cxd4 5.Dxd4 a6 6.Fxd7 + Fxd7 7.c4. The famous vice of Maroczy was lethal thanks to the white pawns in e4 and c4. 7 with a first break. The vast majority of commentators were mistaken in having predicted a quick draw, practically without playing 20.Dd2.
Norwegian Magnus Carlsen versus Russian Sergei Kariakine
The two chess prodigies, Sergei Kariakine and Magnus Carlsen met at the World Chess Championship tournament in 2016. The contest was touted as the most interesting chess match in 30 years. The reigning world champion, Carlsen was defending his title against Kariakine.
Rarely has the chess world championship pitted such young players: Kariakine was 26 years old and Carlsen was due to celebrate his birthday on November 30th of that year, the closing day of the competition. It had been a long time since chess fans had witnessed a match with players of the same age.
Both born in 1990, the two players were rivals since their first shots on the chessboard at 12 years of age. The Russian became the youngest international grandmaster in history closely followed by the Norwegian who had obtained the same title at the age of 13.
While Carlsen was popular with the bookmakers, the prodigy Kariakine still stood a chance to win the tournament. In the 12 games scheduled for the competition, players were awarded one point for a win and 0.5 points for a draw. The first to reach 6.5 points is declared the winner of the championship. If there is a tie after the 12 games, additional chess matches would be played.
The Russian, who trained for at least six hours a day was supported by five coaches. Like Kariakine, Carlsen trains largely through computer programs. The duo plays a similar game: solid technique, good openings and has the ability to make decisions quickly.
Born shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the two young men felt a Cold War vibe on the chessboard. They met a time when relations between Moscow and the West face serious tensions.
With a Russian player and a Western player, the championship is reminiscent to a historic match played in 1972 during the Cold War. The contest was nicknamed the “match of the century” during which the Soviet Boris Spassky lost to the eccentric great American master Bobby Fischer. The difference is that spectators expected the same intensity but this time the competition was not an ideological battle.
Match of the century: Boris Spassky versus Bobby Fischer
This match of the century went well beyond the dynamics of chess matches. In the early seventies, the buzz was created by the confrontation of two geopolitical ideologies. On the one hand, communism and its collective pseudo-values, on the other, liberalism and its individualistic pseudo-values.
For the first time since 1948 (the year of the birth of the World Championship under the patronage of FIDE), Soviet superiority on the chessboard was challenged by a master from the United States. The result was a resounding victory that sent shock waves around the world. The upset was a key moment in the psychological warfare between the two camps.
At the end of the championship, which attracted the media of the whole world, the trajectory of the two protagonists was never the same again. Fischer, the contrarian, stopped his professional career. He had just brilliantly proved that he was the best player on the planet. He had completed his ultimate quest. As for the Soviet player Boris Spassky, he became an unpopular figure with the Soviet regime. He could not return to the international scene until after his exile in France.
Viswanathan Anand at the World Championships
Anand won the FIDE 2000 World Championship after defeating Alexei Chirov 3.5-0.5 in the final in Tehran, becoming the first Indian to win the title. At the 2001-2002 World Championships in Moscow, Anand was eliminated in the semifinal by Vassili Ivantchuk. At the 2005 FIDE World Championship, Anand was dominated by Veselin Topalov and finished 2nd-3rd tied with Peter Svidler of Russia.
In 2007, at the world championship in Mexico, Anand became the new world champion in a tournament bringing together eight of the best players in the world. He wins this tournament with 9 points out of 14 without any defeat. In 2008, the Indian beat the official challenger Vladimir Kramnik with the score of 3 wins, 1 loss and 7 draws (6.5 to 4.5). He went on to retain his title in the match against Topalov in Sofia.
At 5.5 everywhere, in the final game where Topalov had the whites, he committed a foul that cost him a point and the match. Anand defended his title again in 2012, against Boris Guelfand, winner of the tournament of the contestants disputed in Kazan in 2011. After 6 draws, he loses the seventh. He won the eighth in 17 shots, which is the shortest part of a world title game in history. Finally, after four other draws, the two players compete in four quick tie-breaker games. Anand won in the second round.
Millions of people watched the game online. The great masters Susan Polgar, RB Ramesh, Laurent Trent and Tania Sachdev were commentators at the 2000 championships. In the end, commentators have become stars and were seen signing autographs and posing on photos with fans. Tania saw the number of followers on Twitter increased from 40 to almost 2,500 during the match. The world championship showed that chess matches had interesting possibilities in television.
During the Carlsen-Anand match, after 22 Dh5, the white position was solid and Magnus played with the draw in the pocket. At that stage, it became apparent that continuing the game was no longer a major priority because the draw would be enough to take the world crown.
Anatoly Karpov and Mikhail Botvinnik
Botvinnik, who had jealously kept the world crown for himself and his country for 15 long years, found a difficult opponent in Zlatoust. A small, slender boy showed exceptional maturity for his age. He calculated the variables with astounding rapidity and precision. The events took place in 1964 when Anatoly Karpov who was 13 years old at the time showed cold determination and ambition for his age.
For a long time, Karpov could not qualify for the USSR championship, a tournament considered difficult than the world championship. These tough, fierce, merciless tournaments have prematurely worn out many young Soviet hopefuls but not Karpov. The youthful player was subjected to a test tube regime.
At the age of 16, Karpov became Junior European Champion in Groningen. The next three years did not allow Western observers to notice Karpov’s progress. Supervised by Botvinnik, the training of the young champion was intense, methodical and programmed.
Botvinnik announced the participation of his young gem at the next Junior World Championship in Stockholm. By winning it, Karpov obtained the title of international master. The following year he was rewarded with the title of international grandmaster. Progress was faster than expected.
Anatoly Karpov went on to study economics at the University of Leningrad. Semyon Furman was in charge of his chess training. A patented theorist and great master of the game, Furman refined Karpov’s style and give it greater solidity in the techniques of openings, mainly with black pieces.
The regularity of the results of Karpov proved that he had despite his physical appearance high sports qualities: resistance, combativeness, composure and speed. Technically, his game had also improved.
In 1971, at the Alekhine Memorial in Moscow, Stein shared first place with newcomer Karpov. The test tube champion upset the scientific data. Karpov shone again the same year at Hastings where he shared the first place with Korchnoi, then tied with Portisch and Petrossian in San Antonio.
Chess boxing is essentially the ultimate test for the body and mind. It artfully combines the mental demands of chess with the physical demands of boxing. Participants take part in alternate rounds that shift between chess and boxing. This sport that is becoming more and more popular but what exactly is it?
Chess boxing is precisely what it claims — an integration of the intellectual components of chess with the physical challenges of boxing. This sport uses the two endurance extremes and craftily blends them together to figure out which participant will prevail in a combat of the mind and the body. Credit for the initial development of the sport is given to Iepe Rubingh, who is a performance artist and painter.
Though, unofficial reports have also stated that the sport was invented back in 1979 by brothers Stewart and James Robinson. Both of these brothers were avid players of chess and they were classed as amateur boxers as well. However, Rubingh has been credited by a number of individuals for the modern version of the sport, which was inspired by Froid Equateur, the 1992 comic that was penned by artist Enki Bilal. The first chess boxing competition took place in 2003 in Berlin.
The World Chess Boxing Organization (WCBO) was established a short time afterwards to help in the expansion of the sport and it has been gaining more and more popularity ever since. In essence, the WCBO governs amateur chess boxing and its main objective is to make sure the sport of chess boxing is established on all continents across the world. The governing body also has a goal of ensuring the official dissemination of chess boxing as an internationally-recognized, self-contained sport.
The organization works totally in line with the philosophy of old ‘mens sana in corpore sano;’ this basically means having a healthy mind and a healthy body. In addition, the Amateur World Championships is organized by the WCBO once per year. The organization is in full support of initiatives for establishing a national organization or chess boxing club all across the world.
What Constitutes a Win?
There are a number of different ways in which fighters can be victorious in a chess boxing battle. During the chess segment of the battle, a winner can be determined by a player exceeding the time limit or via a check mate. During the boxing stage, the winner can be decided by way of a referee decision or knockout. In addition, if the opponent retires, it is possible for a fighter to be victorious in both the chess and boxing segments of the sport.
If there is a situation in which the chess phase of the sport ends in a stalemate, the rival with the top score from the rounds of boxing will be confirmed as the champion. In a case where the points are level, the opponent who has the black pieces in the chess rounds in his or her possession will be declared the winner.
In Which Countries Is the Sport of Chess Boxing Most Popular?
Ever since its inception over the past 15 years, the popularity of chess boxing has rapidly increased. This upsurge in popularity has been especially prevalent across the continent of Europe. Germany, which is the birthplace of chess boxing, is among the countries that have experienced the flourishing of the sport the most in recent years.
In addition, the sport has been thriving in Russia, India and Great Britain. This growth can be attributed to a significant number of the biggest names in the sport hailing from those countries. Furthermore, chess and boxing boast wide levels of participation, in their own right, in these countries. As such, it makes a lot of sense that this hybrid sport merging the two disciplines would become popular there as well.
Because chess boxing is a hybrid sport, it requires participants to master both of the sports involved. As such, it is required for participants to engage in intense practice for both sports. As a rule of the sport, participants are required to be accomplished to a particular standard in both sports, if they wish to take part in an official competition.
There is a minimum requirement that must be met by participants for both chess and boxing in order to participate in any Chess Boxing Global event. There has to be an Elo rating of a minimum of 1600 and a record of no less than 50 bouts in boxing or a comparable martial arts discipline.
During the competition, participants are required to alternate between the intricate mental demands of chess and the extreme physicality of boxing. This indicates that training must imitate the extreme pressure fighters undergo during these competitions.
Fighters have to train to become capable of focusing their thought process with the adrenaline pumping and with an amplified heart rate when sitting at the chess board. Additionally, they must practice to quickly change from a resting position into a bout of boxing.
Participants can also engage in specialized chess boxing training. Opponents widely rely on interval training and speed chess games are typically used during training to mimic the atmosphere of a chess boxing battle.
Rather than boxing between phases of speed chess, the participants are trained in a series of extreme physical exercises. However, there are competitors who stick to their old school training, with a simple arrangement of sparring combined with speed chess.
Famous Chess Boxing Players
Chess boxing players might not have household names like Usain Bolt, Pele, Michael Jordan or other sporting greats. However, there are some chess boxers who have achieved a new level of renown within the sport. Those who have even a passing interest in the sport will definitely have heard of a few of the fighters below.
These fighters are Nikolay “The Chairman” Sazhin, Russia’s past WBCO world champion, Tihomir “Tigertad” Titschko, Bulgaria’s existing WBCO European champion and Tim Woolgar, UK’s GBCBO UK champion. They have become sufficiently famous to have dedicated pages on Wikipedia.
Chess leagues provide a remarkable way for players, at any level of skill, to compete against other players. In the break between matches, individuals with shared interest in chess get the opportunity to socialize with other like-minded chess enthusiasts in a competitive environment. For the majority of leagues, anyone can apply and once you sign up, you will undergo a skill test and then you will be placed into the appropriate skill category. Players who are similarly skilled compete on teams; teams face off against each other and they advance based on collective scores.
Essentially, chess leagues can be likened to “Friday Night Football.” Events are there in which international players participate and enthusiasts can look on. Nonetheless, they are not as grand as chess tournaments, which could be compared to the Super Bowl. In fact, an increasing number of chess leagues are being inspired by professional sports as it relates to relegation and qualification systems. Currently, they are experiencing growth that has become challenging to organize without a bit of assistance from organizations experienced in handling numerous teams with different levels of skill.
Even if you have no interest in personally playing in a league, you still can enjoy it in the role of a spectator. A number of chess enthusiasts have lots of fun gathering around the chess sets and taking in their favorite players as the players make their way through the rankings. There are some who will even bet on the outcome of the matches. Below are two of the top chess leagues:
• Chess960 World League
• Chess960, is the brainchild of Bobby Fischer, Chess Legend and it is basically a specialized variation of chess. It is also known as Fischer Random Chess and it provides a remarkable way of really expanding your chess skills. Additionally, it enables you to play the game as if it were the very first time. It is intended to retain the classic chess feel but interrupt the classic set of pre-planned and openings moves that became the norm.
Each game starts with the chess pieces not in their usual places but with a set of piece positions that are randomly generated as if the player is coming in during the middle of a game. Players are required to use creative thinking and problem-solving skills to determine the best approach based on how each piece is positioned.
This removes the choice for players to just rely on configurations they already know are effective. They have to react to what is on the chessboard and on the fly, find a good solution. There is no need to sit and attempt to recall a particular defense, the players will need to analyze what is currently happening and react accordingly. This play style makes for a truly interesting and dynamic chess league, for both players and spectators.
• Professional Online Rapid (PRO) Chess League
Known formerly as the USCL or United States Chess League, the PRO Chess League has opened up entry for global teams to join the competition. Since then, there has been an increase in interest and enrollment. In fact, after only 2 years of making the change, the league had to place a restriction on the number of permitted teams. In the initial year, pretty much anyone was permitted to apply; however, the changes were implemented in the second season to put a stop to the chaotic vibe that pervaded the first year. This was done by making qualification requirements a lot higher. From the second season onward, only the most skillful players will be competing to prevent the schedule from being clogged with too many matches.
The very energetic PRO Chess League generates a great deal of interest in the world of professional chess. With the team chants, there are even times when watching a PRO Chess League game is similar to being at a noisy football game. This league is very popular, has quite a number of players and a legion of fans.
These popular leagues have a notable presence in cities around the world. Those who are sufficiently skilled, it is possible to become a part of a team to compete at local branches of these leagues. If your skill level is not apt, you can enjoy your role as a spectator and even acquire some new skills.
Outside of these two leagues, amateur leagues are consistently forming at the local level. You should keep your ears and eyes open and you could discover a league forming in your local area. Have discussions with other chess enthusiasts to determine whether anything is brewing in your city or town; you may be pleasantly surprised.
If no local chess league is available and you are not up to starting one, there are online options available. Particularly the PRO Chess League is totally based online. If you can satisfy the rigorous qualification and join a team, you could end up competing in a league from the familiarity and comfort of your home. You could actually be in your pajamas and winning league matches.
In addition, you can be a spectator online, in real time, as the matches are played live. You could watch them by yourself on your free time or use the matches as background ‘music’ as you get others things done. Otherwise, you could host a viewing party and make quite an event out of the matches by inviting over a few other chess lovers to enjoy the experience with you.
Chess leagues provide a remarkable method of interacting with the wider chess world, whether you are just a spectator or a notable player. The matches in the top chess league are pretty much always intriguing. Just by watching the players, you will definitely be able to learn a skill or two to enhance your own chess game. Regardless of your preferences, you will find something to suit you. Best of all, you have the option of playing or observing online or in person.
Chess is a fascinating game of intellect that has been around for almost 1,500 years. It has a strong and rich legacy and, as such, is a great inspiration for movies. As so many similarities have been drawn between the skills applied in chess and problem-solving skills used in every-day life, chess games are the perfect arena in which opponents can epically spar one move at a time. When it comes to the best chess movies, those listed below have become fan favorites.
Searching for Bobby Fischer
Released in 1994, Searching for Bobby Fisher is considered the best chess movie across a number of sources. The American drama was written and directed by Steven Zaillian. The movie relates the story of a young boy, played by Max Pomeranc, who is a chess prodigy. The movie is based on the real-life character Joshua Waitzkin, and Searching for Bobby Fischer was adapted from a novel written by Joshua’s father.
The story follows the prodigy’s journey as his family discovers he is a chess genius and hires a strict instructor, played by Ben Kingsley, to nurture his talent and model him after chess master, Bobby Fischer. Joshua ends up facing the dilemma of whose guidance to follow when he meets a speed chess hustler, played by Laurence Fishburne, whose style pits him against Joshua’s initial instructor. Things come to a head when Joshua decides to follow and cultivate his own chess strategy, and as players must look to the position of their pieces, Joshua must consider every move he makes as a step towards or away from a given result in the game and in life.
Another film about Bobby Fischer, Pawn Sacrifice was released in 2014 and is an American biographical drama. It follows the true story of Fischer’s matches against soviet grandmasters during the Cold War. The film’s climax was the 1972 World Chess Championship when Fischer, played by Toby Maguire, faced Borris Spassky, played by Liev Schreiber.
The film starts when Fischer is a young child that struggles with paranoia. Throughout his discovery of chess, coaching, and becoming a grandmaster, his mental state does not improve. Culminating in the 1972 championship game against Spassky, Fischer’s mental stability is tested to the ultimate as he feels the pressure of his win for himself, his family, fans, and country. While he ultimately wins the match, the fear and anxiety turns into delusions, and he ends up isolating himself as a result. That image of the twisted genius that so many artists, musicians, and champions exhibit shines through in Pawn Sacrifice.
Queen of Katwe
The Queen of Kawtwe is a feel-good Disney movie that chronicles how the discovery of chess changes the world of a Ugandan girl living in the slums of Katwe. Directed by Mira Nair, the life of Phiona Mutesi is inspirational as she rises above the challenges of slum life to become a champion chess player and Woman Candidate Master after her wins at the World Chess Olympiads. The film was adapted from the book by Tim Crothers.
Phiona Mutesi is a 10-year-old girl who discovers the game of chess one day by a missionary man teaching it to onlookers. Mutesi’s daily life consisted of helping her mother, caring for her younger brother, trying to scavenge for food, clothing, and clean water to keep her family healthy. As Mutesi grows and hones her chess-playing skills, she enters more and more competitions. As she progresses, her world opens up beyond the slums she calls home, and she must grapple with who she is, where she comes from, and where she wants to go. With the pressure of a better life for her and her family as the ultimate motivator, Mutesi must learn the true meaning of victory and triumph. Again, the theme of chess mastery coincides with the mental challenges chronicled by the human condition.
Knights of the South Bronx
Knights of the South Bronx stars Ted Danson and relates the true story of a teacher at an inner-city school who helps his students by teaching them the game of chess. Directed by Allen Hughes and written by Jamal Joseph, the story of David MacEnulty is an inspirational story of how the caring of one person can make such a difference in the lives of children.
When Richard Mason (Ted Danson) finds himself in a substitute teacher position at an inner-city Bronx school, he quickly learns that his grade-4 students have very little advantages and suffer due to neglect from parents who are drug addicts, absent, destitute, and who send their children to school only to meet state requirements. As Mason struggles to reach his students, he realizes he needs something they can bond over, and that becomes the game of chess which he teaches his students to play at competition level. Through competitions and victories, Mason’s students learn the values of self-worth, confidence, and the valuable life lesson that anyone can change their stars and rise above humble beginnings.
In Knights of the South Bronx, a disenchanted class of grade-4 students learn that when given the opportunity, they can be just as good as anyone else. Their teacher shows them that the chessboard is blind to color, race, and privilege, and when the class unites and works together, there is little they can’t accomplish, even when up against those with far more privileges and advantages.
Chess is akin to the game of life. It involves the crucial skills of perception, observation, visualization, and strategy. The equalizing power of a game like chess proves excellent fodder for movies that want to tell the stories of people who, although disadvantaged in some way, were able to use the game to lift themselves up. Chess also provides an excellent backdrop for exploring the stigma of the mentally anguished genius like Bobby Fischer. Searching for Bobby Fischer, Pawn Sacrifice, Queen of Katwe, and Knights of the South Bronx make up some of the best chess movies as they chronicle inspirational tales of personal growth and victory on and off the board.
That young children have a vast capacity for learning is known well. In just the first few years of life, children develop from helpless infants to walking, talking individuals. Throughout the toddler stages, children are gaining many various abilities and skills, ranging from the capacity for multiple languages to more physical competencies such as walking, climbing, jumping, and a lot more. This is in addition to the fact that all children love playing games of some sort. They begin playing board games that are simple and targeted for them at very young ages. Chess is no exception, and some children even learn chess as early as two years old.
Chess for kids is no unfathomably difficult accomplishment between parents, teachers, and young students. The key is to focus on teaching youngsters in a way that is oriented to small children rather than depending on standard methods for older children or adult learners. So, how to teach chess for children? The first step is not to hurry. The highly complex game of chess has billions of possibilities and a plethora of rules. Do not overstrain children with a dense array of input. Teach at the correct speed for the age and for the specific child, which will vary according to development speed.
The second step is to acquire a chess set suitable for a small child’s equivalently small hands and still-learning coordination. Choose big plastic pieces that are able to take a beating–and a gnawing–rather than using the family heirloom set. Choose a nice, big board, perhaps even a fabric one, that has plenty of room for each piece to get set down a little haphazardly. Then, continue the primary directive of moving slow. Teach one piece and its moves at a time. Play ‘the chess board is lava’ to teach where the rook can go versus the pawn and the knight versus the bishop. It is ridiculous to sit down with a young child and all six pieces and expect them to master it out of hand. This is too often tried and might well be why some children lose interest very quickly. One sitting is simply too short a span to absorb this kind of information load.
It is advised to start with the rook. Many people begin learning chess by undertaking the movement options of the pawns, but the pawns are more subtle pieces. The rook’s movements are easy to grasp. Many games can be played with just one piece or two on the board. Practice games can help, such as reaching checkmate with a rook and a queen versus a lone enemy king or taking a knight around the board to touch every possible square while following its rules. Just start step-by-step with one chess piece at a time rather than overwhelming younger students with all of them at once.
Why teach such young children such a complex game? The answer is simple: it can be easily absorbed at this time of rapid-fire learning and will help prepare children for school and life. Chess for children teaches many fundamentals ranging from focus to follow-through, problem-solving to patience. If every child were equipped with these abilities prior to entering kindergarten or first grade, learning would be embraced in a different way. Teachers could focus more on knowledge and less on the personal development that the child had already been gaining in chess lessons.
Studies have also shown that chess helps children in the improvement of test scores across a score of subjects including science, math, and reading. Children who have studied chess do better in school. They not only tend to have higher IQ scores, but they also have superior levels of creativity, which is helpful in every subject in school. In particular, focus, concentration, and discipline are learned better through chess, and these weapons are key to the arsenal of success in attacking learning at school. In fact, there are several main reasons children should begin playing this game of strategy and logic which has been around for over 500 years.
As stated, chess improves concentration and memory. According to studies performed at the University of Memphis, chess playing improves children’s attention span, visual memory, and spatial-reasoning ability significantly. In order to do well, you need to focus wholly on your objective. To do this, you must constantly be visualizing the board, its pieces along with their potential moves, both yours and your opponents, at every moment. As this goes on, the power of your concentration grows. Along with that, it becomes easier to remember games past and classic strategies.
Playing chess enhances math and reading skills. With its focus on move variables and problem solving, it is perhaps not surprising that chess can help a child’s math skills. But numerous studies have shown chess to improve reading as well. Studies from various places such as Texas, New York, Los Angeles, and Canada have focused on children of elementary school age and found more improvement in reading assessment scores in chess players than in those of their peers who abstained. One researcher suggested that the cognitive processes for each, reading and chess, are similar, both requiring decoding, comprehension, thinking, and analysis, thus explaining the link.
Chess for children fosters critical thinking, logic, and creativity. Chess success is in favor of if-then thinking styles, along the lines of ‘if I move here, then the other player may move here or here’. That is an example of critical thinking and logic in action. Studies also show, however, that chess-playing boosts creativity, and most dramatically so in one particular area: that of originality. Researchers suggest that by encouraging small children to imagine all the potential move combinations, chess trains the child’s mind to play with potentialities, which is a foundation of original thinking.
Finally, chess for children is solid in the encouragement and rewarding of hard work. It offers immediate feedback. When you as the player lose focus, you lose a piece. Practice and focus on the strategies and you find you win more games. In chess, you are in control of your destiny. Or, as one chess winner opined, with harder work, you get luckier. Encourage children and adults of all ages to play chess. It’s fun, rewarding, and fosters improvement across the age spectrum.
Chess is one of the most demanding board games in the history of mankind. However, its rules are easy to understand. It offers a wide range of possibilities to the players. To gain vital skills, it is important to learn the basic tactics and strategies.
Before starting a game of chess, formulate a battle plan in your mind. Outline the game and determine the type of approach that you will adopt. The strategy is the art of organizing and conducting a game of chess. Tactics are rather the art of directing the battle or the techniques used to defeat an opponent.
The strategy will focus on the planning side (broad outlines) while tactics focus on the operational side (how to maneuver to achieve the expected outcome of the strategy). It must be borne in mind that these two approaches are different but they work together. There is no effective tactic without a coherent strategy and that no strategy can succeed without the implementation of effective tactics.
Types of openings
The first moves you make in a chess game are critical. With these moves, you will build your plans and strive to control the chessboard. As a beginner, you must simply learn the basics of best chess openings.
Here are some of the best openings for beginners:
The Italian opening
The Italian opening is a viable option that begins with 1.e4 e5 2.Cf3 Cc6 3.Fc4. The point is to make rapid moves to gain full control of the center with your pawn and rider. You can proceed to place your pieces on a deadly hunt for the opponent’s pieces. This allows you to protect your king.
The Sicilian defense
The Sicilian defense, on the other hand, is one of the popular openings for blacks after 1.e4. It is an aggressive option. Oftentimes, the whites maneuver through 2.Cf3 before moving to 3.d4 to take control of space and center. However, blacks profit from the switch involving a wing pawn and a central pawn
The French Defense
The French defense is a classic opening that should be learned by all chess player. After e5 (from the whites) both players can take advantage of multiple pawns. The madman in ç8 can be menacing even surrounded by a chain of black pawns.
The Spanish opening (Ruy Lopez)
The Spanish opening or Ruy Lopez is one of the oldest openings available to players. Ruy Lopez was a Spanish monk, he composed one of the first books on chess. The fool is placed in b5 to threaten the rider who protects the e5 pawn. The whites leverage this threat to pile pressure on the black center.
Slav defense is a practical opening, which involves the securing of pawns by blacks in d5.
Develop all your pieces quickly
The main objective of the opening is to develop your pieces and cast as quickly as possible. The opening is completed when one of the players has connected their tricks. The first player to finish their moves wins.
Cavaliers are not as mobile when compared to Madmen and they take more time to navigate to the other side. While the Fools control several squares, the Riders dominate only the squares that are close to them. In the opening, do not move the same piece twice. Moving the same piece twice is a waste of time and can cost you the game.
Movement of pawns must be restricted at the start. A pawn is beneficial in the event that the goal is to unlock diagonals for the Lady or the Fool or to occupy the center. An open position supports the color with the highest number of pieces in play. Thus, it is imperative that the player with a developmental advantage should be allowed to open the game.
During the opening stages, make an effort to place the lady just behind a chain of friendly pawns. The Lady is undoubtedly the most influential piece of the game; however, it is also susceptible to deadly attacks by the opponent. For this reason, always strive to position your piece next to a pawn. Opting for the second row to allows you to activate the Towers easily.
In general, the exchange of a well-positioned piece against a badly positioned piece is not a good idea. By exchanging a developed piece for an undeveloped piece of the opponent means that you could sacrifice valuable time. Furthermore, if you exchange a piece that has moved more than an enemy piece, you undermine your overall strategy.
The security of the king is one of the most critical factors when opening and mid-game. A king lying in a central position is susceptible to enemy attacks, particularly if the position is open. It is important to place your King comfortably behind a chain of pawns while allowing the development of one of the two Towers.
Prevent your opponent from bartering and control as much space as possible
If your opponent takes time to cast, make an effort to keep his King in the center. One of the most basic techniques is to control one of the boxes, which can play a role in the King’s passage. In some cases, it may be beneficial to pry a pawn with the aim to keep the enemy king in the middle of the board.
The player with an edge gives his pieces a better chance of navigating the chessboard. The pieces can pass move from one side to the other with relative ease. On the other hand, the player with less space has more difficulty moving his pieces, which will be fatal if the pieces need to defend the King.
Advance your pieces to get more space. Although advancing your pawns is the main tactic used to limit the opponent’s position, it is necessary to act with caution. The more pawns you remove, it becomes daunting to defend your positions. In addition, any movement of the pawn creates a weakness in neighboring squares.
The more the pieces move forward, the more difficult they become to protect. As a result, the overall strategy is compromised. A weak pawn is a pawn that is not defended. This means that it must be defended by other pieces when attacked.
Chess is a skill-based strategic board game for two players. It’s played on a checkered board with each player starting with 16 pieces that are manoeuvred around the board with the objective of capturing the other player’s pieces. Of course, there are precise rules involved dictating where you can move and the hierarchy of the pieces. The object of the game is to put the other player’s king under at attack that can’t be escaped from. The history of chess extends as far back as 1,500 years and is a game based on careful observation, strategizing and forethought; therefore, the psychology of chess has become an interesting topic of study that can illuminate certain human psychological processes.
Memory and Visualization
The game of chess boasts a long and rich legacy. It’s known as an intellectual game with cognitive benefits, and the mastery of the game reflects the ability of individuals to successfully navigate their way through the daily tasks and challenges of life.
Psychologists like Christopher Chabris claim that the game of chess is the ideal arena for studying psychological processes such as expertise, analysis, problem-solving, memory and visualization. According to Chabris, the game of chess highlights how visualization and research relates to problem-solving like few other games. Observing how skilled chess players navigate in a variety of situations illuminates the psychological processes that take place with perception, memory, visualization, and expected and unexpected outcomes. Players have to base their moves on what they foresee will happen as a result. They also need to remember former moves and how each move with affect the next.
The Chunking Theory
Studies on thought and choice in the game of chess have proposed that expert players are highly adept at quickly identifying the problem in a position and constructing a solution.
The seminal work of Herbert Simon and William Chase birthed ‘the chunking theory’. The chunking theory asserts that strength in the game of chess is based largely on the player’s ability to identify the defining features in a position and to be able to do so quickly. The theory proposed that the individual features are stored in chunks acting as access points along the road to semantic long-term memory.
According to the chunking theory, it is perception that facilitates the recognition of chunks of information on the board based on the position of the pieces. The piece positions and patterns on the board are then mapped out on the mind which recognizes patterns and possible moves. The activation of the mind’s recognition mechanisms are engaged while the player perceives and visualizes expectations of a piece’s position and move.
Decades after the chunking theory arrived, the template theory was born. The template theory was based on memory research and filled certain gaps within the chunking theory. Template theory assigns more importance to the role of memory as masters of chess can simultaneously recall positions and their outcomes that were in place only briefly, applying the lessons learned from former moves to present and future ones.
The template theory took the chunking theory one step further to link the chunks to additional data like positions, plans, tactical maneuvers, and long-term motives: all aspects of long-term memory. Based on this assumption, common chunks would evolve into complex structures, known as data templates. The templates contain slots into which game variables are encoded. Templates were thought to house data regarding 10 pieces and their positions. This stored information in the mind is thought to need updates and reminders from the external world to maintain the memories. It is thought that a grandmaster chess player has committed approximately 100,000 to 300,000 chunks to memory.
Cognitive Science Society
The Cognitive Science Society proposed that links are generated between the player’s recognition of a chess piece’s place and position on the board and abstract information like tactical advantages and board checks within the chunk. When 60 chess positions involving a king and one additional piece were presented to players of varying ability, stronger players had much faster perception times than the weaker ones. Researchers deduced that not only are stronger players faster at recalling pertinent chunk information, they were also much less likely to spend time double-checking their moves, as lesser players did. This was understood as the ability of the stronger players to memorize larger chunks, as well as having higher confidence levels in their ability and decision-making skills.
Blindfold chess is just as it sounds: a chess game where the players cannot see the board. In a study done by Cognitive Science, hundreds of chess masters had their blindfold chess games analyzed, and the findings were that the masters had such strong memory, mental visualization, and mental imagery skills that not actually seeing the board did not greatly affect their playing ability. The power and ability to visualize is hugely important in the game of chess, and for those that have mastered the game, the mind hones those skills to the point where they become based on instinct and memory, rather than visual-spatial representation on the board.
Chess is a game that has persisted through the ages. It has as firm a place in the gaming cultures of today as it did in ancient times. Known as a game of intellect, the game of chess engages crucial psychological processes and skills such as perception, visualization, memory, learning, problem-solving, and strategizing. The psychological functioning that governs success or failure at chess is thought to be similar to those that affect people’s abilities to navigate their way through the day-to-day challenges of life.
The ability to perceive a situation, map it on the mind, and try and navigate a way out of that situation as quickly and positively as possible is a strategy that is employed in the game and in real life. The further ability to easily recall the chess positions and outcomes is akin to our ability to learn from mistakes and successes in life and apply them to present and future situations.
A phenomenal amount of chess variants are available to today’s players. In fact, the standard chess game familiar to everybody is itself a variant of previous standards. For instance, the queen used to be able to only move one space at a time in a diagonal direction. Some of the more interesting variants have been invented by chess experts and aficionados. They are often tested for approval by students of the game. Here then is a look at some of the more mind-bending chess variants available to players craving either more of a challenge, or simply something different.
Chess Variations Played with Standard Boards and Pieces
— Lord Dunsany’s Chess
Black sets up in normal fashion while White consists of 32 pawns. This has also been called Horde Chess, which is played with 36 pawns.
— Peasants Revolt
Black, the nobles, has the advantage in this game, setting up with a king, pawn, and four knights. White, the peasants, begin the game with just the king and eight pawns.
— Atomic Chess
This was introduced in 1995 on a German chess site. Any capture results in all pieces within eight squares of the capture, except for pawns, to be removed from play.
— Monster Chess
White’s king and four pawns take on Black’s entire army. However, White can move twice each turn.
— Plunder Chess
A capturing piece may take on the capabilities of the captured piece, but only for one move. This option can be used at the discretion of the capturer.
— Swarm Chess
Each player during his turn must move all pieces that can be moved.
— King of the Hill Chess
In this variety of the old child’s schoolyard game, D-4, E-4, D-5, and E-5 serve as the top of the hill. The mission of the two players is to be the first one to get their king to the top of the hill.
Many chess variants rely on using different board types, extra pieces, or even fairy pieces. Fairy pieces are nontraditional game pieces involving tokens with different abilities than traditional pieces. Here are some chess games that require more than just a change of rules.
— 3-D Chess
Believed to have been invented in 1851, 3-D chess took a huge leap in popularity when Star Trek episodes began showing the game being played in its televised episodes. The bottom board belongs to Black, the middle board is neutral, and the top board is White’s. Each side has two movable attack boards. The attack boards consist of 4 squares each and a player may only utilize his attack board if it contains no more than one piece.
— Alice Chess
Nearly one hundred years after its publication in 1865, this book spawned a popular, yet disorienting variation of chess which requires two boards. When one piece moves, it transfers through the so-called looking glass to the other board. Captures can only be made upon the boards where the pieces sit.
— Double Chess
This is exactly what it says. Play with double the armies on a double-sized board.
— Rollerball Chess
Inspired by the classic Jame’s Caan movie of the same name, a standard chessboard may be used, but the center part must be squared out leaving only a two-square lane ringing the board. This will mimic a rollerball rink. Each player sets up at opposite sides of the rink using just a king, bishop, two pawns, and two rooks. They move counterclockwise around the rink.
— Four Player Chess
Four players control four armies on a special board set up for four players.
— Bughouse Chess
This is another, albeit nuttier, way for four players to engage in a match. While a special board isn’t needed, two boards and two sets of pieces are required. Players team up, sitting next to each other, and play chess by the normal rules. However, when one player captures a piece, he hands it off to his teammate. This person can put it into play immediately, or set it aside in reserve to be used at his discretion. These matches are usually played with a time clock and can be chaotic; like a bughouse.
— Blindfold Chess
While the name may conjure up more of a parlor game played after too much drinking, the truth is this is one of the chess variants that require a high degree of skill, concentration, memory, and brain power. Neither player is allowed to see or touch the pieces. They must call out their move while a third party places the piece to the player’s desired square on the board. This game originated when superior chess masters were challenged to play an opponent while blindfolded. This particular variety of game has also been used by chess players to sharpen their game and knowledge of the chessboard.
Chess Variants Using Fairies
Chess fairies are like chess pieces in an alternate world. Some of their names are nightrider, camel, grasshopper, falcon, and centaur. Of course they all have different abilities than the standard chess pieces. The camel, for instance, can move like a knight, except it can go three spaces up or over, as opposed to the two spaces that limit the knight.
Fairies may be bought as their own original piece or can be represented by inverting or marking certain other pieces. They are not used to replace regular chess pieces in the traditional chess games, but are used in their own particular chess variants which require their presence.
Napoleon was an avid chess player who often referred to the battlefield as his chessboard. When considering a general for a particular campaign, Napoleon was often more concerned not with the general’s bravery, abilities, or strategic knowledge. What Napoleon wanted to know whether or not the general was lucky. Winning a chess match takes astonishing amounts of patience, concentration, intelligence, and yes, luck. Try out a couple of these chess variants to either challenge yourself, or just to add a little extra fun to chess night.
Since the standard of play has significantly been raised in woman’s chest over the last few decades, there are now several women competing against the top players in the world. Therefore making any list of the top female chess players of all time is quite a tricky job. With that said let’s take a look at some of the best women to ever play the Royal game of chess.
Judith Polgar is one of the strongest women ever to play the game of chess. She’s never actually won a world woman’s chest championship however there is no doubt that she really is talented. She was one of the best players in the world at the height of her career, male or female, which led her to break the top 10 on the rating list several times. However, her lack of women’s world championships is primarily because she’s never actually tried to win the title, instead always being focused on competing for the ultimate world championship. Polgar finally got that opportunity in the year 2005 when she had the opportunity to play in the year 2005 FIDE world chess championship tournament and ultimately finished in the eighth place.
Maia Chiburdanidze was only 15 years old when she won her first USSR golf championship and then amazingly won the USSR are women’s championship again in the year 1976. This made it clear that she was already one of the best female chess players in the world when she won her first women’s world chess championship in the year 1978. As a bonus, she did this by defeating the reigning champion Nona Gaprindashvili. She thereafter held onto her world title four times in a row until the in 1991. However, since then she has remained active in a hunt for the woman’s world title, making the semifinal matches as recently as 2004.
Susan Polgar is perhaps one of the most famous female chess players in the world. Along with her sisters Judith and Sophia, Susan was recognized as a chess prodigy early in her life. One of the greatest achievements is becoming the first woman to win the Grand Master title for tournament play as opposed to winning the world woman’s chess championship. She was also the first woman to qualify for participation in the world championship cycle, which she took part in during the year 1986. This was made possible for her even though she was not allowed to participate due to her gender. Susan after that chose to compete for the woman’s championship and won her first FIDE title in the year 1996. Throughout her career, Susan Polgar has won a total of four woman’s world championships.
Xie Jun is considered the first authentic Chinese chess star. She won the women’s world chess championship in the year 1991 after defeating Maya Chiburdanidze. She thereafter kept the title until the year 1996 after Susan Polgar defeated her. However, she did when the title back in the year 1999 by beating Alisa Galliamova in the final candidate’s match. She also went on to win the title by forfeit when Paula did not accept the conditions for the title match. Thereafter she held the title until the year 2001.
Nona Gaprindashvili was the first woman to receive the FIDE-title- Grandmaster. She is also a Georgian chess player. She’s the sixth woman’s world chess champion and the most talented female player of her generation. Throughout her career in woman’s chess, Nona has won several awards between 1961 in 1980. Making her one of the greatest female chess players of all time.
Vera Menchik is the first recognized world woman’s chess champion. She was also the first true superstar in woman’s chess. In 1927 she won the first-ever women’s world championship and thereafter successfully defended it a total of six times as she won every championship until she passed away 1944. She also scored an incredible +78 -1= 4 in her championship matches which showed just how far ahead of the competition she really was. Menchik was a chess player in the top class. She finished tied for second at Ramsgate in 1929, finishing tied with Akiba Rubenstein and was just a half a point behind. She was rated by chess metrics as 52nd in the world at the height of her career although there was no official rating system in place at that point in time.
Rohini Khadilkar is perhaps the youngest of the famous Khadilkar sisters. One of the highlights of her career is the fact that she won the Indian woman’s chess championship five times in a row and thereafter went on to compete in the Indian men’s chess championship in 1976. Her participation in the men’s championship was very debatable at the time, calling for a decree from Max Euwe – FIDE president, which explicitly stated that women could not be barred from men’s competitions. Therefore, Rohini pushed for equality by participating in the Indian men’s chess championship. And thereafter opened the door for women all over the world to compete in a wide variety of chess events. Perhaps the most amazing fact is that she was only 13 years old at the time.
So perhaps it does make a difference to start teaching young girls the Royal game of chess from an early age. Some of the greatest chess players throughout history were and are women. So if you have a young lady in the family that has a desire to play chess, why not get them the best training and motivation to ensure that they too can one day achieve the best women chess players recognition. The variations in skin scores in performance between men and woman chess players stem from the simple fact, and that is there far more male players in chess, and they are female players. So is ultimately a matter of statistics. This theory is confirmed by a recent study conducted by the Oxford University’s Merim Bilalic which basically shows that in the event there are two groups of an unequal size competing against each other, the top performers will ultimately come from the larger group for the simple fact that it is larger.