I'm coming from Switzerland, 50 years old, economist, member of the founding national sports betting team as a bookmaker (the bookies set and change the quota). Chess is a hobby for me, no rating. I do have a passion for chess history, learning the royal game as a child from my father, we followed a small booklet from swiss master Henry Grob (he got the IM title at its inauguration by FIDE in 1950), simply called 'Lerne Schach spielen'.
Best chess player of all time from my point of view: Garry Kasparov. Garry was for more than twenty years in a row the undisputed number one, consecutively at the top in a ultra-intensive and never-ever-before-so-hard-and-rapidly-changing revolutionized computer chess world of the present day; by a nose in front of Bobby Fischer (he was overwhelming dominating for a concise time, from 1970 to 1972, but afterwards volunteerly absent, though inventing the digital clock). Followed then maybe by Capablanca, Karpov, Korchnoi, the Lion from Leningrad, and Tal, the Wizard from Riga, and Anand, and Morphy, of course.
Well, it's insane to compare players from a different epoch, I will focus in the further list on chess players of the <20th century>: Alekhine, Lasker, Botvinnik, Keres, lazy prodigy Spassky, Smyslov, Kramnik, Petrosian, Rubinstein, Maróczy, Larsen, Shirov, Ivanchuk, Marshall, Bogoljubov, Hübner, Tarrasch, Nimzowitsch, Réti, the foremost figure amongst the hypermoderns (as called by Savielly Tartakower), Mir Sultan Khan, and Pillsbury, at the age of 22, he won one of the strongest tournaments of all time (the Hastings 1895 first chess summer congress), maybe only his illness and early death prevented him from challenging for the World Chess Championship, and Chigorin, who served as a major inspiration for the "Soviet Chess School", which dominated the chess world in the middle and latter parts of the 20th century, and Steinitz, founder father of "Modern Chess" (table of names in no particular order and by no means terminating). In chess, and life in general, top players / people of the next generation should acknowledge their debts to their predecessors and sources.
The obligate top-ten-list is already more than full, and legendary, today sometimes 'forgotten' soviet players as Stein (he died so young), Geller, Kholmov, Boleslavsky, Nezhmetdinov, Levenfish, Lilienthal, Ragozin, Makogonov, Kotov, Simagin, Aronin, Ilivitsky, Verlinsky, the first soviet grandmaster in 1927 who was taken away the award in 1931 when the title was abolished to be then reinstalled in 1935 to make Botvinnik the first Soviet GM (all prior to the titles inauguration by FIDE in 1950), Romanovsky, who was the first soviet chess player to be awarded Honored Master of Sport, Bogatyrchuk (Bohatyrchuk), and Iivo Nei, in 1964 the last non-titled winner at Beverwijk / Wijk aan Zee and serving as a second of Spassky at Reykjavik in 1972, are not yet named!
A honorable mention goes also to Prof. Max Euwe, one of the rare amateurs (or just part-time professionals) in modern history as Prof. Reuben Fine, Samuel Reshevsky, Miguel Najdorf, or Wolfgang Unzicker, and so many further chess greats near equal, it all depends of the criteria you use for chess strength & ingenuity:
•paradigm shifting and innovations
•uniqueness, originality, novelties
•energy, stamina, longevity
•theory leading, home/engine preparation
•analyzing power, searching for the truth
•practical otb results, competitive spirit, intuition
•popular acclaim, cultural influence beyond chess
Best player today is obviously magnificient Magnus Carlsen, reigning World Chess Champion since 2013, and clear no. 1 of the world ranking in classical chess, achieving a new all-time-record rating (not taking Elo inflation into account), seeming for some time in a stratospheric distance to the rest of the world - well, there are always hungry guys on the road all over the planet :)
Personal all-time-favourite: the enigmatic and infatigueable Viktor Korchnoi with his highly creative and combative style:
http://www.chessdiagonals.ch/ is honouring his life and chess achievements and gives a comprehensive survey of his tournamant wins, including a historical abstract of the four longest - annually - running major international tournaments, <Hastings> *1920/21 (winter congresses with the first summer congress in 1895), <Wijk aan Zee> / Beverwijk (Hoogovens, later Corus, today Tata Steel) *1938, <Sarajevo> (Bosna) *1957, and <Havana>, sometimes also played at other cuban venues (Capablanca Memorial) *1962; as well as the International Chess Festival of <Biel / Bienne> which is lasting since 1968; plus for the first time in the world wide web, a wrap-up is featuring the legendary chess tournaments of <Banja Luka> and <Lugano>, a big international Open in the 1980s. Further chess chronicles will be added occasionally.
If you have any suggestions, critics, or spot inaccuracies, feel free to write me: diagonal (@) bluewin.ch
The game of chess has been played for centuries. About half a billion people today play chess worldwide, and the game has been adopted by cultures in every continent around the globe.
People of all ages, from every region and walk of life, study and play it. Like all truly classic things, chess stands the test of time and will no doubt continue to fascinate people throughout the world.
I do like: spectacular combination geniuses as the meteoric Tal was - his love for amazing sacrifices reminds unforgettable, strong players who are looking for the "exception of the rules" like the challenging Korchnoj, a brilliant non-conformist, fearless competitor, and although not a prodigy - but virtuous and very versatile, never achieved in his originality of ideas! No matter when, where and against whom, he goes always for a win - very much alive!
Chess heroes in general: attacking players or better: gamblers full of imagination as the mentioned immortal "Wizard of Riga" with his combinative instinct and the courageous "Victor the Terrible" with his never-ending energy to fight every game with determination; and among other honest and independent minds "from an era when the players were made by themselves", let's say David Bronstein, Paul Keres, Max Euwe, Fridrik Olafsson, Bent Larsen, Oscar Panno (from whom the quote above is taken), Vlastimil Hort, Yasser Seirawan, John Nunn, Alexander Beliavsky, Nick DeFirmain, Helmut Pfleger, Jan Timman, Jeroen Piket, Julio Ernesto Granda Zúñiga, Ljubomir Ljubojevic, David Navara, Peter Svidler, Pia Cramling, Hou, Yifan and the three Polgar pioneer sisters, Vishwanathan 'Vishy' Anand, to name spontaneously a very few. I therefore would like to include all players, writers, chess commentators, officials and organizers who devote (a part) of their life to the development of the royal game.
Emotionally driven, I do not especially like: Apparatschiks, Patriarchs, Masters of Prophylaxis & Orthodoxy, hyper-boring and ultra-defensive (positional) remis-players such as... (*sorry, no insults and no more clichés, please*, the ed.), sifting through gigantic databases preparing twenty or thirty moves with the computer, just to find some forced draws...
My first contact with competitive chess: the legendary chess crown duel in 1978 at Baguio City, Philippines between Karpov and Korchnoi.
In September 2014, I had my 10th year anniversary on chessgames.com. Cheers!