My Top 5 Favorite Chess Players
Just as brilliant as they are insane, these geniuses devoted their entire lives to a completely useless board game. Here is my list of the best chess players of all time. Who is your favorite?
- •Mikhail Tal, LatviaCigarette in hand, Tal was the greatest attacking chess player to ever grace the board. The Latvian born Chess World Champion would decimate the defenses surrounding your king, stopping at nothing until His Majesty lay surrounded and defeated. Tal was a heavy smoker, and his poor health was attributed to his lazy play in his later life. But Tal never made any excuses. When asked why he lost to Botvinnik in 1961, Tal simply replied "I lost because he beat me." A legend until the end, Mikhail Tal.
- •Bobby Fischer, USAThrough each of his moves he demonstrated an understanding of chess akin to Van Gogh's understanding of Starry Night or Jesus's understanding of the New Testament. At the age of 13 he had already played what is still known as the game of the 20th century. Fischer, an outspoken antisemite, filled his later life with hatred and animosity. His personal beliefs were vile, but the movement of Fischer's pieces across the board radiate beauty and understanding of immortal proportions.
- •Alexander Alekhine, USSRThe great Alekhine was a powerful attacking chess player. He danced on the board making his opponents seem like fools though they were strong grandmasters. Like Tal, Alekhine had a heavy drinking problem and often showed up to tournaments drunk, yet still able to play better chess than I ever will. Alekhine lived a sad later life alone with nobody but his chess pieces. Alekhine died on March 24, 1946 alongside a chessboard with the pieces still in their starting position.
- •Garry Kasparov, USSRHis name even sounds like chess. Kasparov was the world's youngest world champion earning the title at the age of 22. Perhaps the most universal player ever, Kasparov could attack ferociously and also play passive, positional chess. His game against the Bulgarian grandmaster Veselin Topalov is considered by many to be the best game of chess ever played. Kasparov is now a political activist who bravely protests Vladimir Putin's regime while still participating in chess tournaments.
- •Anatoly Karpov, USSRUnlike Alekhine or Tal who risked everything to win the head of the enemy king, Karpov preferred a slow, strangling approach. Karpov acted as a boa constrictor; slowly building up small advantages then delivering the final blow, decimating his opponents. During the 1984 WCCh, Kasparov V Karpov, Anatoly lost 10 pounds during the 48 game match. The championship was terminated due to the incredible mental and physical exhaustion the players were enduring. And for someone to say chess isn't a sport!