Chess is not an easy game, and, at times, you may feel like you lack the motivation to keep playing and learning. One way to bolster that motivation is to learn more about some of the greatest chess players. Their lives and accomplishments can help motivate you to keep pushing towards your own goals. To that end, here are four record-setting chess players, each of whom has their own unique history and stance on life.
1. Paul Morphy
Born in New Orleans in 1837, Paul Morphy was one of America’s first great chess players. He made a name for himself in the game of chess in the 1850s and 1860s. As a young boy, he would watch the men in his family play chess, and he soon picked up the game himself. His family was well aware of his talents and would urge him to play at family parties.
At 12 years old, Morphy defeated a Hungarian master-player visiting the city, and in 1857, he won the First American Chess Congress tournament in New York City. Despite his vast early success, however, Paul Morphy retired from chess in 1859 when he began practicing as a lawyer. He always regarded chess as a hobby, whereas many later players treated it as a profession.
2. Bobby Fischer
Born in Chicago in 1943, Bobby Fischer is considered by some to have been the greatest chess player of all time. At the age of 15, he was named grandmaster, and at only 20, he won the World Championships with a perfect score of 11 wins in 11 games.
Whereas many chess players come from distinguished families, that was not the case with Bobby. His mother was homeless when he was born, and he spent his early childhood in poverty. He initially taught himself to play chess, and then joined the Manhattan Chess Club at age 12.
Fischer’s later years were a mixture of success and oddity. He took a break from playing competitively between 1972 and 1992, publishing several books with anti-Semitic themes and questionable political opinions. Some suspect that he suffered from undiagnosed schizophrenia. Still, he made many valuable contributions to chess, including a new type of chess clock and a variant of the game known as Fischer Random Chess or Chess960.
3. Anatoly Karpov
Anatoly Karpov is a Russian chess player born in 1951. He was named grandmaster at age 19 and held the title of World Champion for a remarkable 10 years between 1975 and 1985. Karpov and his family took chess seriously from a very young age. He started playing at the age of four, spending long hours in coaching sessions.
Even now, Karpov continues to contribute to the world of chess in a unique way. He has opened several chess schools and visits prisons to teach inmates how to play chess. He often speaks on the benefits of chess and how the game can make a positive impact on one’s life.
4. Gary Kasparov
Born in the USSR in 1963, Gary Kasparov defeated Anatoly Karpov to win the World Championship in 1985. He remained World Champion until 1993. Like many champions, Kasparov had a formal chess education, attending the Botvinnik Chess School as a boy. He was given the title of grandmaster at only 17 years of age.
Kasparov is best known for his games against Deep Blue, an IBM computer programmed to play chess in the 1990s. He won a six-game match against Deep Blue in 1996 but lost a series against an improved version of the computer, called Deeper Blue, the following year.
Hopefully, the stories of these players have helped motivate you to hone your chess skills, regardless of the level at which you currently play. If you are thinking of taking chess lessons, visit Chess Teacher, where you can take online lessons from a knowledgeable teacher.