Modern Era

Modern Era

The modern era is centred around the brilliant Kasparov who became the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion in 1985 at age 22 by defeating then-champion Anatoly Karpov. This edition features Kasparov's key rivals including Anand, Kramnik, Ivanchuk, Kamsky and Leko. Many consider Kasparov to be the greatest chess player in chess history. Kasparov continued to hold the "Classical" World Chess Championship until his defeat by Vladimir Kramnik in 2000. In spite of losing the title, he continued winning tournaments and was the world's highest-rated player when he retired from professional chess in 2005.

Garry Kasparov

1963 -

Stats: +733 -108 =738

Garry Kasparov  # Games Played 1579
% Games Won 46%
Excels in Chaos 41
Avoids Time Trouble 10
Combativeness 13
Skill Rating 2843

Garry Kasparov is a Russian chess grandmaster, former world chess champion, writer, public speaker and political activist, whom many consider to be the greatest chess player of all time. From 1986 until his retirement in 2005, Kasparov was ranked world No. 1 for 225 out of 228 months. His peak rating of 2851 achieved in 1999, was the highest recorded until being surpassed by Magnus Carlsen in 2013.

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Viswanathan Anand

1969 -

Stats: +636 -223 =1019

Viswanathan Anand  # Games Played 1878
% Games Won 34%
Excels in Chaos 18
Avoids Time Trouble 18
Combativeness 8
Skill Rating 2818

Anand became India's first grandmaster in 1988. He held the FIDE World Chess Championship from 2000 to 2002, thus becoming the first Asian to do so. He became the undisputed World Champion in 2007 and defended his title against Kramnik 2008, Topalov 2010 and Gelfand 2012. In the World Chess Championship 2013 he lost to challenger Magnus Carlsen and lost again to Carlsen in the World Chess Championship 2014. In December 2017, he won the World Rapid Chess Championship.

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Vladimir Kramnik

1975 -

Stats: +529 -158 =937

Vladimir Kramnik  # Games Played 1624
% Games Won 33%
Excels in Chaos 20
Avoids Time Trouble 19
Combativeness 6
Skill Rating 2812

Kramnik was the Classical World Chess Champion from 2000 to 2006, and the undisputed World Chess Champion from 2006 to 2007.

In 2000, he defeated Garry Kasparov in a match played in London, and became the Classical World Chess Champion. Kramnik successfully defended his title against challenger Péter Lékó. In 2006, Kramnik defeated reigning FIDE World Champion Veselin Topalov in a unification match. In 2007, Kramnik lost the title to Viswanathan Anand. He challenged Anand at the World Chess Championship 2008 to regain his title, but lost.

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Vassily Ivanchuk

1969 -

Stats: +819 -278 =1262

Vassily Ivanchuk  # Games Played 2359
% Games Won 35%
Excels in Chaos 16
Avoids Time Trouble 13
Combativeness 9
Skill Rating 2790

A leading player since 1988, Ivanchuk has won significant tournaments Linares, Wijk aan Zee, Tal Memorial, Gibraltar Masters and M-Tel Masters titles. Ivanchuk was also the 2007 World Blitz Chess champion.

In 2016, Ivanchuk won the World Rapid Chess Championship in Doha, Qatar, by defeating the current world champion Magnus Carlsen among many others.

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Gata Kamsky

1974 -

Stats: +470 -238 =630

Gata Kamsky  # Games Played 1338
% Games Won 35%
Excels in Chaos 25
Avoids Time Trouble 16
Combativeness 13
Skill Rating 2752

Kamsky reached the final of the FIDE World Chess Championship 1996 at the age of 22, and reached a ranking of fourth in the world rankings in 1995.

Kamsky won the Chess World Cup 2007. This earned him a Candidates Match against Veselin Topalov, which he lost. Kamsky also competed at the Candidates Tournament in 2011 losing to Boris Gelfand.

Kamsky has won the U.S. Championship no less than five-times.

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Peter Leko

1979 -

Stats: +359 -195 =953

Peter Leko  # Games Played 1507
% Games Won 24%
Excels in Chaos 14
Avoids Time Trouble 9
Combativeness 2
Skill Rating 2751

Leko became the world's youngest grandmaster in 1994 aged just 14 years, 4 months and 22 days. A two-time World Championship Candidate, he challenged Vladimir Kramnik in the Classical World Chess Championship 2004 and drew the match 7–7, with Kramnik retaining the title.

Leko has achieved victories in many major chess tournaments, including the annual tournaments at Dortmund, Linares, Wijk aan Zee and the Tal Memorial in Moscow.

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Boris Gelfand

1968 -

Stats: +544 -283 =1130

Boris Gelfand  # Games Played 1957
% Games Won 28%
Excels in Chaos 4
Avoids Time Trouble 17
Combativeness 6
Skill Rating 2750

A six-time World Championship Candidate (1991, 1994-95, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2013), Gelfand won the Chess World Cup 2009 and the 2011 Candidates Tournament, making him Challenger for the World Chess Championship 2012. Although the match with defending champion Viswanathan Anand finished level at 6–6, Gelfand lost the deciding rapid tie break 2½–1½.

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Valery Salov

1964 -

Stats: +227 -125 =361

Valery Salov  # Games Played 713
% Games Won 32%
Excels in Chaos 14
Avoids Time Trouble 19
Combativeness 11
Skill Rating 2749

Salov qualified twice for the Candidates Tournament for the World Chess Championship. In the 1988 Candidates Tournament for the 1990 Classical Chess World Championship he was defeated in the round of 16 (the first match) by Jan Timman. In the Candidates Tournament for the 1996 FIDE World Chess Championship he won his first two matches against Alexander Khalifman and Jan Timman to reach the quarterfinals, where he was defeated by Gata Kamsky.

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Alexei Shirov

1972 -

Stats: +904 -377 =1031

Alexei Shirov  # Games Played 2312
% Games Won 39%
Excels in Chaos 21
Avoids Time Trouble 1
Combativeness 15
Skill Rating 2747

Shirov became the world under-16 champion in 1988, the world under-20 vice-champion in 1990. In 1998 Shirov's ranking rose to number four in the world and was invited to play a ten-game match against Vladimir Kramnik to select a challenger for World Champion Garry Kasparov. Shirov won the match however the plans for the Kasparov match fell through when sufficient financial backing could not be found. When Kasparov instead played Kramnik for the world title in 2000, Shirov maintained that the match was invalid and he was the rightful challenger.

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Jan Timman

1951 -

Stats: +1180 -695 =1494

Jan Timman  # Games Played 3369
% Games Won 35%
Excels in Chaos 11
Avoids Time Trouble 2
Combativeness 15
Skill Rating 2746

Timman was one of the world's leading players from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. At the peak of his career he was considered to be the best non-Soviet player and was known as "The Best of the West". He won the Dutch Chess Championship nine times and has been a Candidate for the World Championship several times. He lost the title match of the 1993 FIDE World Championship against Anatoly Karpov.

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Michael Adams

1971 -

Stats: +907 -356 =1201

Michael Adams  # Games Played 2464
% Games Won 37%
Excels in Chaos 29
Avoids Time Trouble 15
Combativeness 12
Skill Rating 2745

Adams' highest ranking is world No. 4, achieved several times from October 2000 to October 2002. His peak Elo rating is 2761.

He has achieved good results in World Chess Championship tournaments. Several times a World Championship Candidate, he reached the semifinals in 1997, 1999 and 2000. At the 2004 FIDE Championship, he reached the final, narrowly losing out to Rustam Kasimdzhanov in the tie-break games.

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Vesselin Topalov

1975 -

Stats: +504 -272 =690

Vesselin Topalov  # Games Played 1466
% Games Won 34%
Excels in Chaos 6
Avoids Time Trouble 16
Combativeness 13
Skill Rating 2744

Topalov became FIDE World Chess Champion by winning the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005. He lost his title in the World Chess Championship 2006 against Vladimir Kramnik. He challenged Viswanathan Anand at the World Chess Championship 2010, losing 6½–5½.

He was ranked world number one from April 2006 to January 2007. He regained the top ranking in October 2008 until January 2010. His peak rating was 2816 in July 2015, placing him joint-ninth on the list of highest FIDE-rated players of all time.

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Alexander Morozevich

1977 -

Stats: +419 -238 =409

Alexander Morozevich  # Games Played 1066
% Games Won 39%
Excels in Chaos 26
Avoids Time Trouble 1
Combativeness 19
Skill Rating 2736

Morozevich is a two-time World Championship Candidate (2005, 2007), two-time Russian Champion and has represented Russia in seven Olympiads, winning numerous team and board medals.

He has won both the Melody Amber (alone 2002, shared 2004, 2006, 2008) and Biel (2003, 2004, 2006) tournaments several times.

Morozevich is known for his aggressive and unorthodox playing style. His peak ranking was second in the world in July 2008.

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Evgeny Bareev

1966 -

Stats: +361 -212 =490

Evgeny Bareev  # Games Played 1063
% Games Won 34%
Excels in Chaos 6
Avoids Time Trouble 17
Combativeness 14
Skill Rating 2737

Bareev is a Russian (until 2015) and Canadian (since 2015) chess grandmaster and coach. In October 2003, he was ranked fourth in the FIDE World Rankings, with an Elo rating of 2739.

The biggest success in his career was winning the Corus super-tournament in Wijk aan Zee 2002. In this event he scored 9/13 ahead of elite players like Alexander Grischuk, Michael Adams, Alexander Morozevich, and Peter Leko.

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Peter Svidler

1976 -

Stats: +572 -236 =1070

Peter Svidler  # Games Played 1878
% Games Won 30%
Excels in Chaos 13
Avoids Time Trouble 16
Combativeness 6
Skill Rating 2736

Svidler is an eight-time Russian Chess Champion. Svidler has competed in three World Championship tournaments — in the period with split title the FIDE World Chess Championship 2002 and 2005, and after reunification the World Chess Championship 2007. He also played in three Candidates Tournaments, in 2013, 2014 and 2016. 

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Artur Yusupov

1960 -

Stats: +605 -297 =1038

Artur Yusupov  # Games Played 1940
% Games Won 31%
Excels in Chaos 15
Avoids Time Trouble 19
Combativeness 9
Skill Rating 2730

Yusupov won the World Junior Championship in 1977, which then automatically qualified for the International Master title, qualification as a grandmaster following in 1980.

Chasing the World Championship, Yusupov reached the semi-final of the Candidates Tournament on three occasions: in 1986 (defeated by Andrei Sokolov), 1989 (defeated by Anatoly Karpov) and 1992 (defeated by Jan Timman).

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Nigel Short

1965 -

Stats: +902 -425 =984

Nigel Short  # Games Played 2311
% Games Won 39%
Excels in Chaos 15
Avoids Time Trouble 15
Combativeness 16
Skill Rating 2730

A chess prodigy, Short first attracted significant media attention as a 10-year-old, by defeating Viktor Korchnoi in a simultaneous exhibition.

In 1977 he became the youngest ever participant in the British Chess Championship by qualifying three days before his 12th birthday. Short became (at the time) the youngest International Master in chess history breaking Bobby Fischer's record of 1958.

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Ljubomir Ljubojevic

1950 -

Stats: +522 -341 =852

Ljubomir Ljubojevic  # Games Played 1715
% Games Won 30%
Excels in Chaos 6
Avoids Time Trouble 19
Combativeness 11
Skill Rating 2721

Ljubojević was Yugoslav champion in 1977 (jointly) and 1982. He won the 1974 Canadian Open Chess Championship. In 1983 he was ranked third in the Elo rating list, but he never succeeded in reaching the Candidates Tournament stage of the World Championship.

He played for Yugoslavia in twelve Chess Olympiads, nine times on top board. He won an individual gold medal on third board at Skopje 1972 and three bronze medals (one individual and two team).

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Jaan Ehlvest

1962 -

Stats: +423 -221 =583

Jaan Ehlvest  # Games Played 1227
% Games Won 34%
Excels in Chaos 21
Avoids Time Trouble 18
Combativeness 13
Skill Rating 2715

Ehlvest was the Estonian Chess Champion in 1986.

He was Estonian Athlete of the Year in 1987 and 1989. From July 1990 to July 1991, he was among the top 10 on the FIDE world rankings, peaking at No. 5 in January 1991.

Ehlvest's tournament victories include the 1980 USSR Junior Chess Championship, the 1983 European Junior Championship, the 1994 New York Open, and the 2003 World Open in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Mikhail Gurevich

1959 -

Stats: +391 -187 =520

Mikhail Gurevich  # Games Played 1098
% Games Won 36%
Excels in Chaos 24
Avoids Time Trouble 17
Combativeness 13
Skill Rating 2713

At his peak, between 1989 and 1991, Gurevich was consistently ranked in the top ten players in the world. He took first at Reggio Emilia 1989 and tied for first at Moscow 1990. His highest world ranking was a tie for fifth place on the January 1991 FIDE rating list.

In 2001 he won the Belgian Chess Championship with a perfect 9/9 score and in 2006, Gurevich won the Turkish Chess Championship. In 2009 he tied for first with Michał Krasenkow at the World Chess Open in Leon.

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Jon Speelman

1956 -

Stats: +557 -225 =917

Jon Speelman  # Games Played 1699
% Games Won 33%
Excels in Chaos 19
Avoids Time Trouble 17
Combativeness 8
Skill Rating 2712

A winner of the British Chess Championship in 1978, 1985 and 1986, Speelman has for two Candidates tournaments. In the 1989–1990 cycle, he lost to Jan Timman at the semi-final.
In the following 1990–93 championship cycle, he lost in the first round to Short, the eventual challenger for Garry Kasparov's crown.
Speelman's highest ranking in the FIDE Elo rating list was fourth in the world, in January 1989.

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Alexander Khalifman

1966 -

Stats: +460 -170 =976

Alexander Khalifman  # Games Played 1606
% Games Won 29%
Excels in Chaos 17
Avoids Time Trouble 20
Combativeness 3
Skill Rating 2710

Khalifman's most notable achievement was winning the FIDE World Chess Championship in 1999, a title he held until the following year. He was rated 44th in the world at the time, while "Classical" World Champion Garry Kasparov was rated No. 1. Khalifman played in the Linares chess tournament next year, and performed credibly (though placing below joint winner Kasparov).

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Andrei Sokolov

1963 -

Stats: +260 -139 =602

Andrei Sokolov  # Games Played 1001
% Games Won 26%
Excels in Chaos 18
Avoids Time Trouble 19
Combativeness 4
Skill Rating 2709

Sokolov's career highlight was the 1987 World Championship cycle, where he reached the final of the Candidates Tournament. He lost to Anatoly Karpov - he felt his pre-match mood had been overly optimistic and described his defeat as "very severe".

Nevertheless, in 1987/88 his rating peaked at 2645 and he was listed as the third strongest player in the world behind Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. He even went on to defeat Karpov at Belfort 1988, a World Cup event.

However he was unable to repeat his success in later World Championship cycles. Exceptionally, in 1990, he scored a resurgent win at the Moscow Open.

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Judit Polgar

1976 -

Stats: +461 -273 =485

Judit Polgar  # Games Played 1219
% Games Won 38%
Excels in Chaos 26
Avoids Time Trouble 21
Combativeness 18
Skill Rating 2709

Judit Polgar is generally considered the strongest female chess player of all time. In 1991, Polgár achieved the title of Grandmaster at the age of 15 years and 4 months, at the time the youngest to have done so, breaking the record previously held by former World Champion Bobby Fischer. She was the youngest ever player to break into the FIDE Top 100 players rating list, ranking No. 55 in the January 1989 rating list, at the age of 12.

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Henrique Mecking

1952 -

Stats: +161 -74 =233

Henrique Mecking  # Games Played 468
% Games Won 34%
Excels in Chaos 21
Avoids Time Trouble 18
Combativeness 11
Skill Rating 2708

Mecking, also known as Mequinho, reached his zenith in the 1970s and is still one of the strongest players in Brazil. He was a chess prodigy, drawing comparisons to Bobby Fischer. He won the Interzonals of Petropolis 1973 and Manila 1976. In 1977, when he was ranked No. 3 in the world he was the first Brazilian to become a grandmaster. 

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Alexey Dreev

1969 -

Stats: +662 -255 =958

Alexey Dreev  # Games Played 1875
% Games Won 35%
Excels in Chaos 20
Avoids Time Trouble 19
Combativeness 10
Skill Rating 2707

In the 1990–1993 world championship cycle Dreev qualified for the Candidates Tournament at Manila 1990 Interzonal, but lost his 1991 round of sixteen match to Viswanathan Anand in Madras. In the FIDE World Championship Tournaments, firstly at Groningen 1997, he reached the quarter finals where he lost to Boris Gelfand. In the next four FIDE World Championship tournaments he was knocked out at the last sixteen stage.

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John Nunn

1955 -

Stats: +598 -237 =676

John Nunn  # Games Played 1511
% Games Won 40%
Excels in Chaos 21
Avoids Time Trouble 19
Combativeness 15
Skill Rating

2705

John Nunn is one of England's strongest chess players and was formerly in the world's top ten.

In 1975, he became the European Junior Champion. He gained the Grandmaster title in 1978 and was British champion in 1980. Nunn has twice won individual gold medals at Chess Olympiads. His best performance in the World Chess Championship cycle came in 1987, when he lost a playoff match against Lajos Portisch for a place in the Candidates Tournament.

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Predrag Nikolić

1960 -

Stats: +405 -267 =704

Predrag Nikolić  # Games Played 1376
% Games Won 29%
Excels in Chaos 13
Avoids Time Trouble 17
Combativeness 10
Skill Rating 2704

Nikolić became the Yugoslav National Champion in 1980 and again in 1984. He was a winner at Sarajevo in 1983, at Novi Sad in 1984 and at Reykjavík two years later.

In 1989, he won at Wijk aan Zee and at Portorož/Ljubljana (the Vidmar Memorial tournament). He also qualified for the 1991 Candidates tournament. In his 'final 16' encounter with Boris Gelfand, he was just edged out in a rapid play-off, having drawn the match 4-4.

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Vladimir Tukmakov

1946 -

Stats: +915 -353 =1053

Vladimir Tukmakov  # Games Played 2321
% Games Won 39%
Excels in Chaos 19
Avoids Time Trouble 19
Combativeness 14
Skill Rating 2701

Tukmakov's career first blossomed when he helped and then led the USSR to consecutive wins of the World Student Team Championship from 1966 to 1972, winning nine gold medals along the way.

In his only Olympiad appearance in 1984 he took team gold and in 1973, 1983 and 1989 he played in the European Team Chess Championship, where his collective haul was an amazing 5 (three team and two individual) gold medals.

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Vladimir Akopian

1971 -

Stats: +387 -157 =630

Vladimir Akopian  # Games Played 1174
% Games Won 33%
Excels in Chaos 31
Avoids Time Trouble 18
Combativeness 8
Skill Rating 2701

In 1999 Akopian made his way through to the final of the FIDE knockout World Chess Championship, but lost to Alexander Khalifman by 3.5-2.5. In the 2004 event, he was knocked out in the quarter-finals by the player he had defeated in the 1999 semi-finals, Michael Adams.

In December 2009, he was awarded the title of "Honoured Master of Sport of the Republic of Armenia".

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Leonid Yudasin

1959 -

Stats: +177 -100 =281

Leonid Yudasin  # Games Played 558
% Games Won 32%
Excels in Chaos 10
Avoids Time Trouble 19
Combativeness 11
Skill Rating 2700

Yudasin was ranked number 5 in the world in 1991 when he first qualified as a world championship Candidate. He qualified again in 1994 and this time progressed to the latter stages, losing out to Vladimir Kramnik in the quarter finals.

Arguably his most impressive international tournament success occurred at León in 1993, where he won ahead of Topalov, Karpov and a young Peter Leko.

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Lev Psakhis

1958 -

Stats: +529 -197 =771

Lev Psakhis  # Games Played 1497
% Games Won 35%
Excels in Chaos 25
Avoids Time Trouble 18
Combativeness 10
Skill Rating 2699

Psakhis gained the International Master and International Grandmaster titles in 1980 and 1982 respectively, either side of two momentous Soviet Championship victories in Vilnius 1980 (shared with Alexander Beliavsky) and Frunze 1981 (shared with Garry Kasparov, whom he defeated in round 2).

In the World Championship cycle, he was a runner-up at the Erevan Zonal of 1982 and qualified for the Interzonal at Las Palmas later the same year. Posting only a modest score however, he failed to progress to the Candidates stage of the competition.

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Sergey Dolmatov

1959 -

Stats: +197 -89 =379

Sergey Dolmatov  # Games Played 665
% Games Won 30%
Excels in Chaos 9
Avoids Time Trouble 18
Combativeness 6
Skill Rating 2698

Born in Kiselevsk in the former Soviet Union, Dolmatov's solid yet enterprising style of play was soon to launch him to the forefront of youth chess, culminating in him winning the World Junior Chess Championship in 1978. He was awarded the title of International Master in the same year and became a Grandmaster in 1982.

Despite winning at Hastings (1989–90) and qualifying as a World Championship candidate from the strong Manila Interzonal of 1990, Dolmatov narrowly failed to convert his 'preliminary round' match against Artur Yusupov the following year. Nevertheless, during this period his Elo rating exceeded 2600 and he managed to maintain this level for the next decade. As the new millennium approached, his frequency of play declined and since 2004, he has been more or less inactive.

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Yasser Seirawan

1960 -

Stats: +334 -220 =499

Yasser Seirawan  # Games Played 1053
% Games Won 32%
Excels in Chaos 5
Avoids Time Trouble 14
Combativeness 13
Skill Rating 2695

Seirawan began playing chess at 12; at 13 he became Washington junior champion. At 19 he won the World Junior Chess Championship. He also won a game against Viktor Korchnoi, who then invited Seirawan to Switzerland, where Korchnoi was training for his 1981 world title match against Anatoly Karpov.

Following a series of events Seirawan participated in China during September 2003, there were reports that he would be retiring as a professional player.

In May 2011, Seirawan returned from hiatus to competitive chess, playing in the world team championship taking place in China, as part of the USA team. He had wins versus top GMs Judit Polgar and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov.

Seirawan won the 2011 and 2012 Dutch Open Blitz championship.

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Susan Polgar

1969 -

Stats: +320 -164 =408

Susan Polgar  # Games Played 892
% Games Won 36%
Excels in Chaos 7
Avoids Time Trouble 22
Combativeness 14
Skill Rating 2605

Susan Polgar is famous for having been a child prodigy at chess, for being a pioneer for women in chess, and for being an advocate for chess in education. She is an Olympic and World chess champion, a chess teacher, coach, writer and promoter and the head of the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE) at Webster University as well as the head coach for the 2011 and 2012 National Championship college chess teams at Texas Tech University and the 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 National Championship teams at Webster University.

She is the oldest of the famous "Polgár sisters": Zsuzsa, Zsófia, and Judit. She was the first woman to earn the grandmaster title through tournament play, and is credited with breaking a number of gender barriers in chess.

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Jun Xie

1970 -

Stats: +124 -75 =174

Jun Xie  # Games Played 373
% Games Won 33%
Excels in Chaos 10
Avoids Time Trouble 15
Combativeness 13
Skill Rating 2567

At the age of 20 Xie won the right to challenge for the women's world title, and in 1991 she defeated Maya Chiburdanidze of Georgia, who had held the title since 1978. In 1993 she successfully defended her title against Nana Ioseliani. In the summer of 1994 she was awarded the full Grandmaster title. She lost the 1996 Women's World Chess Championship to Susan Polgar of Hungary but regained the title in 1999 by defeating another championship finalist, Alisa Galliamova, after Polgar refused to accept match conditions and forfeited her title.

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