Best chess players from 1993 to 2006
The International Chess Federation, commonly referred to by its French acronym FIDE, was established in 1924. At the time, José Raul Capablanca was the world chess champion and he continued his reign until 1927. During this period , FIDE began to get involved. in the organization and awarding of the title of world champion. There were some controversies in the years 1924-1945 regarding the matches and events that were to determine who was the chess king. In 1946, everything changed, with the start of the FIDE World Chess Championship cycle.
In chess culture, the title of the strongest chess player in the world closely followed the title of recognized world chess champion. Having official matches and an official federation declaring the champion is part of what makes chess such a storied sport. We can trace a line of world chess champions back to the birthplace of FIDE, and even before FIDE there were generally recognized champions.
The World Chess Champions Wikipedia page sums up the best players from 1886 to the present day.
The strongest players at any given time have been well understood for most of chess history. However, there is a murky period between 1993 and 2006 when several players had different world championship titles. In this article, I will try to determine who were the strongest players during this period based on annual performance ratings and tournament results. Let’s start with a little history lesson on split FIDE.
1980-1984 Karpov World Champion, Kasparov gets closer
In 1985, GM Garry Kasparov defeated then-champion GM Anatoly Karpov, in what Mike Klein considered the fifth greatest chess match of all time. Karpov had reigned as champion for about ten years (1975-1985) before Kasparov overtook him. From 1980 to 1984, Kasparov’s performance rating (2671) was within one point of Karpov’s 2672. To give you an idea of the dominance of these two giants, the third highest performance rating among players with 100+ games was Viktor Korchnoi (2614). A gap of more than 50 points over a span of five years really set these two players apart.
1985-1992 Kasparov’s dominance
Between 1985 and 1992, Garry Kasparov held the highest performance rating every year. The average gap between Kasparov and the second best performance was 36 points! Besides Karpov, the names that took second place were general managers Boris Gelfand, Evgeny Bareev (1990) and Vassily Ivanchuk (1991). The top five players during this period based on performance rating were:
- Garry Kasparov (2697 performances)
- Anatoly Karpov (2659)
- Vasily Ivanchuk (2616)
- Valery Salov (2607)
- Nigel short (2597)
In the semi-finals of the 1991-93 FIDE Candidates cycle, Nigel Short defeated the constant world number 2 Karpov, 6-4. It shocked the world, as this 1993 Sun Sentinel headline notes “KARPOV ELIMINATED IN SEEDING OF CANDIDATESShort went on to win the Candidates, beating Jan Timman 7.5-5.5, and earn the right to challenge Kasparov for the title. Kasparov and Short were unhappy with the way FIDE was handling their championship match. , and the two formed the Professional Chess Association (PCA) In the next few sections, I’ll figure out who I think was the strongest player in each time we had two champions.
1993-1999 Karpov FIDE Champion, Kasparov PCA Champion
Between 1993 and 1997, the two giants only faced each other four times. Kasparov beat Karpov twice and they had two draws. Kasparov had a performance rating of 2737 on Karpov’s 2667 stretch. It is interesting to note that Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik had performance ratings of 2740 and 2719, respectively. During this streak, Kasparov beat Anand 20.5-10.5, including beating Anand at the 1995 PCA World Championship 10.5-7.5. In 1999, GM Alexander Khalifman won the FIDE World Championship Knockout. His performance rating was a respectable 2671 for the year, but Kasparov proved why he is one of the best ever with a performance rating of 2825!
Strongest player 1993-1999: Garry Kasparov
Kramnik won a historic match in 2000, beating Kasparov at the Brain Games World Chess Championship 8.5-6.5. Kramnik also got the better of Kasparov throughout this streak with a score of 14-13. Despite losing the match, Kasparov’s performance rating from 2000 to 2002 was the highest in the world at 2781, and Kramnik’s at 2712. In 2000 however, Kramnik had the highest performance rating (2812!), before having a few health problems from 2001.
Anand won the FIDE title in 2000 and had the second highest performance rating at 2746. Anand lost head-to-head battles with Kasparov (4.5-3.5) and Kramnik (5.5-3.5). Former FIDE Champion Khalifman’s performance was 2681, and next FIDE Champion Ruslan Ponomariov’s performance was 2717. Other players with performance ratings above 2700 were Pierre Leco (2712), Michael Adams (2710) and Bareev (2704).
Strongest player: 2000 Vladimir Kramnik, 2001-2002 Garry Kasparov
2003-2004 Kasparov and Kramnik less active
Rustam Kasimdzhanov won the FIDE Championship in 2003 and achieved a performance rating of 2671 over the two-year period. Active players with performance ratings in the 2700s included Alexander Morozevich (2764), Peter Svidler (2733), Ivanchuk (2726), Adams (2724), Alexei Shirov (2718), and Alexander Grischuk (2707).
Both Kramnik (2733) and Kasparov (2728) were less active during the stretch. By far the most impressive player was Anand, with a performance rating of 2803! Anand won the 2003 and 2004 Corus events and the 2004 Dortmund tournament. Truly an impressive performance.
Strongest Player 2003-2004 Viswanathan Anand
2005-2006 Topalov won the FIDE title
In 2005, Veselin Topalov won the FIDE World Championship, which was a more rigorous double round robin format. Topalov went undefeated, scored 10/14 and beat the field by 1.5 points. The event featured top players Anand, Svidler, Morozevich, Leko, Kasimdzhanov, Adams and Judit Polgar. Topalov then lost to Kramnik in the 2006 reunification match.
Topalov had a performance rating of 2806 over the two-year span. Anand was close at 2775, but no one could match Veselin’s performance on that stretch. In 2005 he won events at Linares, MTel Masters and the FIDE World Championship. In 2006 he won the MTel Masters and placed second in Linares. Oh and he was also 2nd at Dortmund 2005 and 3rd at Corus 2005.
Strongest player 2005-2006: Veselin Topalov
During one of the darkest times in championship chess history, many players can claim to be the best for at least one streak. Here are my best players from 1993 to 2006 based on performance ratings, head-to-head results, and tournament results.
- 1993-1999: Garry Kasparov
- 2000: Vladimir Kramnik
- 2001-2002: Garry Kasparov
- 2003-2004: Viswanathan Anand
- 2005-2006: Veselin Topalov
What do you think of the strongest players from 1993 to 2006? Let us know in the comments below!