Chess records are a massively interesting bunch of facts that are bound to capture the imagination of every chess enthusiast. These fascinating feats reveal to us what is possible in the field of competitive chess. Human beings have been able to break the limits of the game every now and then to set the bar even higher with each passing era.
So, let us sit back and enjoy the sensational chess records that have been established since the time chess was recorded in the annals of history.
For the convenience of our readers, we have divided the chess records segment into 10 parts. Each part will consist of significant achievements made in the field of competitive chess over the ages. So, without further delay, let us dive right into the record charts!
The ‘Bests’ in Chess Records
The chess player with the best success record is William Steinitz. He played a total of 27 competitive games from 1862 to 1896 and had a streak of 25 wins. On the whole, Steinitz achieved victory in 160 chess matches, with 70 losses and 57 draws.
The all-time best-selling book about chess is none other than legendary world chess champion Bobby Fischer’s work ‘Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess’. This outstanding book has sold over a million copies since its release worldwide and continues to sell considerably.
The credit for the best world championship record of all time goes to Vera Menchik-Stevenson. She was the first officially recognised women’s world chess champion and held on to her title from 1927 until her death in 1944. During her long reign as world champion, Ms. Menchik-Stevenson made a successful defence of her title a whopping 6 times.
In her professional chess career, Ms. Merchik-Stevenson came victorious in 78 matches, drew in 4 games, and tasted defeat once.
The ‘Highests’ in Chess Records
The highest chess rating ever to be recorded is a staggering 3358. This computer rating, recorded on April 5, 2016, has been accorded to the chess engine ‘Komodo 9’. In contrast, the reigning undisputed world chess champion Magnus Carlsen is rated at 2851.
Talking about Norwegian Magnus Carlsen, the chess superstar has recorded the highest Elo chess rating ever achieved by a human being – 2882. He reached this peak rating in May 2014. On the other end of the spectrum, the highest a woman chess player has been able to score on Elo rating is 2735. This outstanding feat was achieved by former women’s chess world champion Judit Polgar in July 2005.
Former chess champion Bobby Fischer had the highest performance rating in chess at 3080, and he cemented this achievement after beating Bent Larsen by a score of 6-nil. In the year 2007, another incident took place that came close to Fischer’s feat.
This time Gata Kamsky got a performance rating of 3047 while competing in the Candidates’ matches against the Elo 2709-rated Etienne Bacrot. Their contest finished at 30, with Kamsky taking three wins and securing a draw in the fourth match.
Among the women chess masters, it was the sister of Hungarian former world champion Judit Polgar, Sofia Polgar, who made an effort to get a performance rating of more than 2900 after scoring 8.5 out of a possible 9 in an elite-level tournament in Rome in 1989.
The ‘Largests’ in Chess Records
The largest public library anywhere in the world is the J. W. White Collection, which is part of the Cleveland Public Library in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. This collection boasts more than 32,000 chess books and in excess of 6,000 issues of bound periodicals. When it comes to the largest private library, that crown is worn by grandmaster (GM) Lothar Schmid. In his personal collection, GM Schmid has at least 20,000 books on chess.
The largest chess tournament of all time occurred in 1935-36 in the USSR. It was then that the USSR Trade Unions Chess Championship was held. The competition saw participation from 700,000 candidates, a number unimaginably big. Then in the UK, the 2004 edition of the UK Chess Challenge for school children witnessed 71,000 kids from around 2000 schools taking part in the competition.
This tournament is currently the largest active chess competition on the planet. Two other chess meets worth mentioning here are the US Scholastic Championships of 1985 and the New York Chess Congress of 1973, which hosted 1572 and 1487 chess players, respectively.
It is common knowledge that avid chess players have the habit of collecting all sorts of chess sets. In light of this, it is apt to talk about the largest chess set collection that a person has managed to gather under one roof.
This laurel goes to a man named Floyd Sarisohn, who is the proud owner of about 670 chess sets. Mr. Sarisohn has been an avid chess set collector for the past forty-odd years and is continuing to grow his empire with each passing year.
The ‘Mosts’ in Chess Records
The record for the most chess matches played simultaneously goes to Hungarian chess legend Susan Polgar. In July 2005, Ms. Polgar broke the previous record of 321, held by International Master (IM) Andrew Martin, and competed against 326 contestants concurrently. She came out as a winner in 309 bouts, drew 14 games, and lost only three times. She did all this with a win percentage of a staggering 96.93 %.
The most elaborate world chess championship chess match ever played was the one that transpired between former champion Anatoly Karpov and challenger Viktor Korchnoi. The former is considered one of the most dominant chess champions of all time.
At the same time, the latter is widely accepted as one of the strongest chess players who could not reach the absolute pinnacle of professional chess and become a world champion. This memorable encounter took place during the championship meet in 1978 in Baguio City, The Philippines. In the fifth game, both participants played a total of 124 moves to reach a stalemate.
The last entrant in our list of chess records is the tag of the most number of titles won by a single person. There are a bunch of players who we would like to mention here. Firstly, the American chess player Arkadijs Strazdinis captured the New Britain, Connecticut Chess Club Championship on 30 different occasions, winning the first in 1952 and the final in 1994.
Secondly, another American chess player, named John Kalish, was an International Master who grabbed the national championship of Okinawa, Japan, consecutively for 25 years – from 1959 to 1984. The closest to this marvellous feat anyone has got is Estonian-born New Zealander Ortvin Sarapu. He was crowned the chess champion of New Zealand 20 times between 1952 and 1990.
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