Facts and figures

Chronology of World Chess Champions: 1886-1894: Wilhelm Steinitz (Austria/USA). 1894-1921: Emmanuel Lasker (Germany). 1921-1927: Jose Raul Capablanca (Cuba).

1927-1935: Alexandre Alekhine (Soviet Union/France).

1935-1937: Max Euwe (Holland).

1937-1946: Alexandre Alekhine (Soviet Union/France).

Alekhine dies before his Challenge round against Mikhail Botvinnik could be arranged. The FIDE organizes a World Championship in 1948 in The Hague and Moscow. Botvinnik wins the five-player league ahead of Vassily Smyslov (Soviet Union), Paul Keres (Soviet Union), Samuel Reshevsky (USA) and Max Euwe (Holland).

1948-1957: Mikhail Botvinnik (Soviet Union). 1957-1958: Vassily Smyslov (Soviet Union). 1958-1960: Mikhail Botvinnik (Soviet Union). 1960-1961: Mikhail Tal (Soviet Union). 1961-1963: Mikhail Botvinnik (Soviet Union). 1963-1969: Tigran Petrossian (Soviet Union). 1969-1972: Boris Spassky (Soviet Union). 1972-1975: Bobby Fischer (USA). 1975-1985: Anatoly Karpov (Soviet Union).

1985-1993: Garry Kasparov (Soviet Union/Russia).

Chaos reigns in chess world 1993-1999: Anatoly Karpov (Russia).

In 1993, Kasparov refuses to play under FIDE jurisdiction, accuses the governing body of corruption and lacking professionalism. He floats the Professional Chess Association. He organises a `World Championship' match against England's Nigel Short and wins. FIDE decides to remove the names of Kasparov and Short from the rating list. Kasparov beats Viswanathan Anand in 1995 and keeps the `title'.

Anatoly Karpov, who beat Jan Timman in 1993, Gata Kamsky in 1996 and Anand in 1998, refuses to participate in the FIDE knockout World Championship in 1999.

1999-2000: Alexander Khalifman (Russia). 2000-2001: Viswanathan Anand (India).

In 2000, Vladimir Kramnik defeats Garry Kasparov in London to earn the tag of the `unofficial' World Classical Champion.

2001-2004: Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine).

In May 2002, FIDE and World number one Garry Kasparov agree on a Unity Plan. Under this, Kasparov is to play World Champion Ponomariov and the winner of the Candidates tournament in Dortmund meets Kramnik. The winners of these two matches are to play for the title of the undisputed World champion in October/November 2003. However, the reunification plan leaves out Viswanathan Anand and the 2001 World Championship runner-up Vassily Ivanchuk.

The Kasparov-Ponomariov match is called off when the Ukrainian refuses to sign his contract in disputed circumstances. It is suggested that Kasparov play the 2004 World Champion.

Hungary's Peter Leko wins the Candidate qualifier at Dortmund in July 2002 and earns the right to play Kramnik. However, Ponomariov declines to sign the contract ahead of his proposed match against Kasparov.

FIDE goes ahead with the 2004 edition of the World Championship in which Ponomariov did not defend his title.

2004: Rustam Kasimdzhanov (Uzbekistan).

In 2004, Kramnik and Leko are locked 7-7 in their match. Kramnik keeps the title.

In January 2005, Kasparov-Kasimdzhanov match is called off when the promised funding fails to materialize. As a result, the Prague Unity Plan fails to unify the world title.

In February, Kasparov announces retirement.

In April, FIDE announces an eight-player World Championship in San Luis. The original list includes the now-retired Kasparov and Kramnik. Kasparov gets busy with a career in politics while Kramnik stays away and indicates that FIDE had not kept part of the promise. Peter Svidler and Judit Polgar come in as replacements.


September-October 2005: Viswanathan Anand, Veselin Topalov, Peter Leko, Peter Svidler, Judit Polgar, Michael Adams, Alexander Morozevich and Rustam Kasimdzhanov form the field in San Luis (Argentina) to find the `undisputed' chess champion of the world.