Best at the Board


Home Chess

Kiev chess. Photo by Robert Broadie. License: CC-SA-3.0.

This site provides a comprehensive look at chess history through in-depth profiles of the careers and games of 45 of the greatest chessplayers from the 17th century to the present.

The site includes biographies of the world champions, challengers for the title, serious contenders for the title, and the "pre-champions" or the best players before the World Champion title existed. Additional material of interest, including chess trivia, a timeline, and links and contact information, completes the historical review of the world's best game.

The field of chess has been subject to many changes throughout the centuries, yet few good writers have been willing to venture into the depths of chess history. In fact, many great moguls of literature have used particularly harsh words in their criticisms of chess as a frivolous waste of time. We hope to be able to correct the scarcity by providing well-written and interesting information about chess history.

Although this site is not intended to improve your chess skills, a grasp of the history of the game can provide a frame of reference that might further your understanding. Chess has a long and colorful history. For aspiring champions and amateurs alike, the stories of the best at the board illustrate just how difficult it is to become one of the world's best players.

A word of caution: when first learning chess, you should spend only a small amount of time studying the history of the game, and a large amount of time learning about those intricacies that are sheerly pragmatic...or as pragmatic as anything related to chess might be. If you are in a chess rut, however, your playing strength may benefit if you are motivated and inspired by the stories of history's most talented players. Also, if you are an older player starting out, you may draw comfort from the fact that several of the world's greatest players learned to play the game in their 20s or 30s.

This site demonstrates a theory about chess study rarely found in books of chess literature or heard from the mouths of the game's most brilliant teachers. Despite the fact that new games are most relevant due to modern players' superior knowledge in the technical aspects of chess, a student of chess should not limit his/her study to such games. The complication of these new games often results from the similar levels of expertise held by the players. In days past, when travel was difficult and time-consuming, the world's best players rarely played one another, often consigned instead to play much weaker but more accessible opponents. The games between superstar and average player can prove informative, especially for today's beginners and amateurs. This is why many of the illustrative games on this site are those played between the best at the board and weaker players, rather than solely the games of the chess elite.

At the risk of forcing a player's study habits, the included games cannot be played through using JavaScript. In order to best study the games, you'll need to play through them on your own board. This way, you must force yourself to spend more time than you might like going over and appreciating some incredibly good games of chess. This is an excellent study tool.

Hopefully you have the time and devotion to read through all of the fascinating material included on this website. If you only have the time to read a small part, do take a look at the histories of the Champions. Be sure to read about some of the early founders of the superstar elite as well: Greco, Anderssen, and Morphy. If you want to do research in a chronological manner, use the timeline.

An understanding of history is necessary in order to be well versed in any subject matter. Irreverent people may play excellent chess without the slimmest understanding of the development of the game, but you don't need to be one of them.

All material on this site is Copyright © 2010. A sitemap can be found here.