25 Chess World records most people don’t know about

chess records

The game of chess is incredibly complex and complicated.  There were many champion, many tournaments and matches, many lost and won games. Here we present you the list of top 25 world records in history of the royal game.

You will learn things like who is the best chess match player, how many moves was the longest game , what was the largest chess tournament , etc.

1. Best match player

William Steinitz played 27 chess matches from 1862 to 1896, and won 25 of the 27.  He won 160 games, lost 70, and drew 57.

william steinitz

2. Longest game (moves)

The longest tournament chess game (in terms of moves) is 269 moves (Nikolic-Arsovic, Belgrade 1989).  The game ended in a draw after over 20 hours of play.  10 games have been 200 moves or over in tournament play.

3. Longest game (time)

The game Stepak-Mashian, Israel 1980 was 193 moves and lasted 24 hours and 30 minutes.

longest chess game

4. Shortest game (moves)

The quickest mate possible in chess is known as Fool’s mate (1.g4 e5 2.f3?? Qh4#)

5. Longest world champion

Emanuel Lasker was world chess champion for 26 years and 337 days.

6. Biggest winning streak (consecutive wins)

Mikhail Tal played 95 consecutive tournament games without a loss (46 wins and 49 draws) in 1973-1974.

7. Most games played simultaneously

Grandmaster Susan Polgar player 326 opponents simultaneously at a shopping mall in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida on July, 2005.  She won 309, drew 14, and lost 3.  Her winning percentage was 96.93%.


Note: GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, 9-time Iran national champion, set a new world record of 604 boards for Simultaneous Chess Exhibition by an individual (Feb. 2011).

8. Oldest chess player

Jane Lady Carew (1797-1901) was a chess player who lived to 104.

As pointed out by Mr. Hugh Brodie on Facebook:

Zoltan Sarosy (Toronto, Canada) turned 107 in August (2013). He was a strong correspondence player, and apparently still follows (and occasionally plays) the game.

As pointed out by one of our readers:

Aaron Schwarzman, an strong argentinian chess player (he was 3rd at the Argentinian Championship 1933 and 1935, and won the international Mar del Plata 1934, lived 104 years.

9. Oldest grandmaster

Arthur Dake (1910-2000) was the oldest competitive chess grandmaster.  He was still playing in rated chess tournaments at the age of 89.

Correction: as pointed by one of our readers: GM Enrico Paoli played his last official tournament at the age of 94.

10. Oldest world chess champion

William Steinitz was 58 years, 10 days when he lost his title to Emanuel Lasker on May 26, 1894.

11. Biggest chess match prize

In 1992, Fischer won $3.65 million for defeating  Spassky, who got $1.35 million in their world championship rematch. Total prize fund was $5 million.

Note: there is a confusion associated with this statement since the original Fischer-Spassky World Championship Match took place in 1972. The prize fund wasn’t nearly as big though.

12. Strongest chess computer

The strongest chess computer is Houdini, with a rating of 3300.

storngest chess engine

13. Strongest chess tournament

In 2011, the Tal Memorial in Moscow was a Category 22 tournament, with an average rating of 2776, making it the strongest tournament ever.  Four players were rated 2800 or more.

14. Youngest grandmaster

Sergey Karjakin, born in 1990, became a grandmaster at the age of 12 years, 7 months.  On August 20, 2002 he fulfilled his 3rd and final GM norm at the international tournament in Sudak.

15. Highest performance rating

Bobby Fischer had the highest performance rating of 3080 when he defeated Bent Larsen by the score of 6-0.

chess war

16. Largest age difference in the world championship match

The largest age difference in world championship matches is 32 years when Lasker, age 26, played Steinitz, age 58.

17. Largest chess tournament

In 1935-36, the USSR Trade Unions chess championship was held.  It had 700,000 entrants, the largest of any chess tournament.

18. Latest first capture

White made its first capture after 94 moves (Rogoff-Williams, Stockholm 1969).

first capture

19. Latest castling

In Neshewat – Garrison, Detroit 1994 and Somogyi – Black, New York 2002, Black castled on the 48th move.

20 Longest chess problem

The longest solution to a composed chess problem requires 292 moves.

longest chess problem record

21. Most queens on the board

In Szalanczy-Nguyen, Budapest 2009, 6 Queens were on the board at the same time.

many chess queens

22. Largest rating lead

On the July 1972 FIDE rating list, Bobby Fischer’s rating of 2785 was 125 points ahead of the second-highest rated player, then-reigning World Champion Boris Spassky (2660).

23. Shortest decisive championship game

This game was played between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand in game 8 of the World Chess Championship 2012. The game lasted only 17 moves, ending with Gelfand’s resignation.

24. Highest official FIDE rating

The highest Elo rating a player has ever received from FIDE, the World Chess Federation, is 2872, which Magnus Carlsen achieved on the February 2013 list.

carlsen rating

25. Highest ‘live rating’

Magnus Carlsen had the highest “live rating” ever at 2878.9, achieved on March 27, 2013.

For those who asked to add a blindfolded world chess record here it is:

26. Most blindfold games played simultaneously

German Marc Lang set the world record in November 2011 by playing 46 opponents simultaneously and blindfolded, with 25 wins, 19 draws and just 2 losses.

Yury Markushin   


About Tsogo Sun Moves for Life

Education through Chess. A proven intervention to unlock the potential of SA's children. Moves for Life unlocks the cognitive potential of South African children by structured implementation of chess education where essential aspects of the game are actively linked with math, science and lifeskill concepts. Learning fundamental concepts are made fun and exciting for the child.
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