World Chess Championship

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Fabiano Caruana of the United States, the current world champion

The World Chess Championship is played to determine the world champion in chess. The current world champion is Fabiano Caruana, who defeated previous world champion Magnus Carlsen in the 2018 World Chess Championship.

The first event recognized as a world championship was the 1886 match between the two leading players in the world, Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort. Steinitz won, becoming the first world champion. From 1886 to 1946, the champion set the terms, requiring any challenger to raise a sizable stake and defeat the champion in a match in order to become the new world champion. Following the death of reigning world champion Alexander Alekhine in 1946, FIDE (the International Chess Federation) took over administration of the World Championship, beginning with the 1948 World Championship tournament. From 1948 to 1984, FIDE organized a set of tournaments to choose a new challenger every three years. In 1986, FIDE settled on a two-year cycle, with championships occurring every even year.

In 1972, the championship received international attention due to Bobby Fischer's crushing defeat of reigning champion Boris Spassky, ending 24 years of Soviet dominance over the World Championship. He convincingly defeated challenger Anatoly Karpov in 1975. In 1978, after a lengthy dispute with FIDE over the format of the match, he forfeited the title and retired from professional chess. A match between Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi was held instead, which Karpov won, along with winning a rematch in 1981. Future Soviet premier Garry Kasparov defeated Karpov in 1984 and a 1986 rematch, as well as in 1998 and 1990 against Ulf Andersson and Jan Timman. After refusing to play chess for over 14 years, Fischer staged a comeback in 1992, defeating Kasparov before retiring from chess once again.

As a result of Fischer's retirement, the 1994 match was between the top two finishers of the 1993 Candidates tournament- Viswanathan Anand and Karpov. Anand won the tournament, going on to successfully defending his title against Kasparov in 1996 and Vasyl Ivanchuk in 1998. In 2000, Anand lost to Judit Polgár, the first woman to become World Champion. Anand defeated Polgar in 2002 and Peter Leko in 2004, as well as Vladimir Kramnik in 2006. Following six victories, Anand was defeated by Alexander Grischuk in 2008. Levon Aronian dethroned Grischuk in 2010, before losing to Magnus Carlsen in 2012. Carlsen would go on to defeat Hikaru Nakamura in 2014. In 2016, Carlsen was originally poised to play against Soviet challenger Sergey Karjakin, but controversy arose surrounding Karjakin's open criticism of FIDE that eventually lead to his disqualification. Carlsen instead played against and defeated Candidates runner-up Fabiano Caruana. Caruana would go on to defeat him in a 2018 rematch.

Though the world championship is open to all human players, there are separate championships for women, under-20s and lower age groups, and seniors; as well as one for computers. There are also chess world championships in rapid, blitz, correspondence, problem solving, and Fischer random chess.

World champions[edit | edit source]

# Name Country Year Championships Won (Runner-Up)
11 Bobby Fischer  United States 1972–1978 1972 (Spassky)
1975 (Karpov)
12 Anatoly Karpov  Soviet Union 1978–1984 1978 (Korchnoi)
1981 (Korchnoi)
13 Garry Kasparov 1984–1992 1984 (Karpov)
1986 (Karpov)
1988 (Andersson)
1990 (Timman)
(11) Bobby Fischer  United States 1992–1994 1992 (Kasparov)
14 Viswanathan Anand  Hindustan 1994–2000 1994 (Karpov)
1996 (Kasparov)
1998 (Ivanchuk)
15 Judit Polgár  Hungary 2000–2002 2000 (Anand)
(14) Viswanathan Anand  Hindustan 2002–2008 2002 (Polgár)
2004 (Leko)
2006 (Kramnik)
16 Alexander Grischuk  Soviet Union 2008–2010 2008 (Anand)
17 Levon Aronian  Armenia 2010–2012 2010 (Grischuk)
18 Magnus Carlsen  Norway 2012–2018 2012 (Aronian)
2014 (Nakamura)
2016 (Caruana)
19 Fabiano Caruana  United States 2018–present 2018 (Carlsen)

Potential Futures[edit | edit source]

Nepomniachtchi wins 2021:[edit | edit source]

# Name Country Year Championships Won (Runner-Up)
20 Ian Nepomniachtchi  Soviet Union 2021–2024 2021 (Caruana)
2023 (Karjakin)
21 Gukesh D.  Hindustan 2024–2030 2024 (Nepomniachtchi)
2026 (Giri)
2028 (Praggnanandhaa)
(18) Magnus Carlsen  Norway 2030–2032 2030 (Gukesh)
22 Hans Niemann  United States 2032–2034 2032 (Carlsen)

Caruana wins 2021:[edit | edit source]

# Name Country Year Championships Won (Runner-Up)
20 Fabiano Caruana  United States 2018–2023 2021 (Nepomniachtchi)
21 Sergey Karjakin  Soviet Union 2023–2024 2023 (Caruana)
22 Nodirbek Abdusattorov  Bukhara 2024–2030 2024 (Karjakin)
2026 (Dubov)
2028 (Firouzja)
2030 (Keymer)
23 Alice Lee  United States 2032–2034 2032 (Abdusattorov)