The history of the top chess players over time

Note: The y-axis is a rating of how well chess players compete against each other. This rating varies over time, from EDO to CMR to ELO, because different data sources cover different periods of time.

•••••••••••• Music By •••••••••••••
‘Mind Over Matter”
Jay Man – OurMusicBox

“Rynos Theme” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

•••••••••••• Data Sources •••••••••••••
EDO Historical Chess Ratings by Rod Edwards (1809-1920)

ChessMetrics Performance Ratings by Jeff Sonas (1910-2005)
(mistakenly says 1915 in the video)

ELO ratings from the FIDE website (2000-2016)

I used cubic interpolation between data points when necessary (EDO and ELO) and applied a 6-month blur to the CMR data to make the lines smoother and easier to follow.

250 Comments

  1. Σπαρτιάτης Σπαρτιάτης says:

    European domination.

  2. Didn't realise James Mason was so good at chess. He was a damn fine actor.

  3. In my opinion Bobby probably hit the highest peak on that chart

  4. Oh, Man, how many people in the world can make visualizations like this perfect one?
    I tried all options in flourish studio for bar chart race, and there was not even 30%, I guess, in comprasion from what you have
    I heard from you, that this work takes a lot of time… Python, Java, … scary words like cubic interpolation, omfg
    I barely know python, and never programmed in Java
    But I wanna do visualizations like you make, I'm not sure in my "ability to work" with new things
    How many times can it take from me? To be able to do just 50% of what you can do, whoah

  5. Fun fact :
    Highest elo rating
    1. Bobby fischer 2893
    2. Magnus carsen 2882
    3. Capablanca
    4. Lasker
    5. Kasparov
    4.

  6. Рафаэль Гаджибутаев says:

    The idols my game:Polerio,Howard Staunton,
    Vishi Anand,Max Euwe,Geza Maroczy,
    Tartakower,Rubinstein,Andrew Mestel,
    Frank Marshal,Tsukertort

  7. Adolf Anderssen 1851 (??) No Aparece.
    (M.08.Febrero.2022).

  8. Botvinnik peak was 2630, what are these ratings?

  9. Kolisch lost his streak, what happened?

  10. If ever someone beats Magnus, we need to update this video.

  11. Ive never been a fan of chess but damn this is good

  12. some of the rivalries:

    de la bourdonnais vs deschapelles
    staunton vs von der lasa
    anderssen vs neumann
    zukertort vs steinitz
    tarrasch vs steinitz
    tarrasch vs lasker
    capablanca vs lasker
    alekhine vs lasker
    capablanca vs alekhine
    euwe vs alekhine
    botvinnik vs alekhine
    smyslov vs bronstein
    tal vs petrosian
    spassky vs fischer
    karpov vs korchnoi
    karpov vs fischer
    karpov vs kasparov
    anand vs kramnik

  13. My friend recently just started chess (May 12th 2022) and hasn't played it before. Mainly it was for fun and playing against each other, with experience over them. I won mostly. But in the past 2 days they have went from; below 200 rating to 1500 rating with only 5 days of experience. I'm just asking if thats even possible?

  14. fun fact: it took 95 years for someone to reach 2800 (Capablanca, Feb 1915)

  15. First to 2200: Alexander Petrov, Jun 1814
    First to 2300: Aaron Alexandre, Aug 1818
    First to 2400: Alexandre Deschapelles, Sep 1820
    First to 2500: Alexandre Deschapelles, Sep 1820
    First to 2600: Alexandre Deschapelles, Sep 1820
    First to 2650: Louis de la Bourdonnais, Dec, 1835
    First to 2700: Paul Morphy, Nov 1850
    First to 2750: Paul Morphy, Feb 1853
    First to 2800: Jose Raul Capablanca, Feb, 1915
    First to 2850: Jose Raul Capablanca, Feb, 1919

  16. If you like this sort of thing, I strongly suggest you play it at half speed (.5). It makes it a lot easier to follow reading the names as everything is fluctuating all the time and the music slows down to a cool almost trancelike vibe.
    Normal speed was too fast with all the names & numbers changing so rapidly. Anyway half-speed worked great for me, give it a try.

  17. 1) Bobby Fischer 2893
    2) Garry Kasparov 2882
    3) Mikhaïl Botvinnik 2882
    4) Magnus Carlsen 2878
    5) José Raul Capablanca 2870
    6) Alexander Alekhine 2854

  18. ..even if it was short..Bobby Fischer 2893 I think is highest rating ever.

  19. Bobby Fischer at 4:26 of the video (Jan 1972) reminds me of Secretariat in 1973 Belmont stakes..no #2 even remotely close..thats insane.

  20. Who defeated casparov its "vishy anand"…….

  21. The numbers are wrong… those in the past were given well over 2800 when they never achieved that.

  22. Shout out to Efim Bogoljubov for holding the #1 spot for less time than anyone else, a little 2-month blip in 1926 (3:14).

  23. Emanuel Lasker 1894 – 1921 = 27 Years WC 2:153:16 😳
    Respekt to all Chessmasters….best "Overview Video" Thanks!

  24. Lasker was the longest at the top. He also wrote philosophy and studies of mathematics. One of great geniuses of history.

  25. Music types :
    0:16 Start to fast forward

    0:21 When Aaron started
    0:41 When Deschapelles

    over the top over the top

  26. In 1:11 Paul Morphy appears, age 12, above everyone else. Damn, what a genius. Wonder what happened to his life to cause this steep decline from 24-31.

  27. Wilhelm Steinitz was older than Paul Morphy, Fischer nearly 150 Rating above everyone else, Kasparov vs Karpov for 15 years, Lasker comebacking at the age of 55 and how some people were just forgotten

  28. Wrong flag on Réti. He was from Czechoslovakia – today Slovakia

  29. Kasparov was the player who informed me existence of a game named chess after his games againts AI Deepblue. But Tal, Fisher and Nezhmetdinov are the players who provided me to love chess.

  30. I'm always somehow puzzled about Botvinnik. He was clearly the strongest player between 1938 and 1948. And yet, during his reign as official FIDE world champion from 1948 to 1960, he was rarely, if ever, number one. It seems, Reshevsky, Bronstein and Smyslov were #1 at various times during the 50s (but with Botvinnik following as a close #2).

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