The 7 Most Amazing Chess Records

Records inspire us all to strive for greatness. The long legacy of chess has birthed some records which have stood for decades, and some that may well stand for centuries.

Here are seven of the most amazing chess records ever etched into history.

Longest Winning Streak: World Champion Bobby Fischer's 20 (or 19) Games

Bobby Fischer, World Chess Champion

Bobby Fischer, world-record holder for most consecutive victories in master chess. | Photo: Wikipedia.

In the title run that ultimately culminated in his match with Boris Spassky, Bobby Fischer won a remarkable 20 games against elite competition. He began his run in the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal of 1970 where he won seven games in a row to finish the tournament. Because Oscar Panno forfeited his game, some chess historians choose to discount this game.

In the Candidates' matches that followed in 1971, Fischer defeated both Mark Taimanov and Bent Larsen with perfect 6-0 scores. An initial win in the next match against Tigran Petrosian was followed by a loss in game two, ending the streak.

Fischer went on to handily defeat both Petrosian and Boris Spassky to become world chess champion.

Honorable Mentions:

  • World Champion Bobby Fischer  11/11 in the 1963/4 U.S. Championship
  • GM Fabiano Caruana's  Seven Wins at the 2014 Sinquefield Cup

Longest Undefeated Streak: World Champion Mikhail Tal's 95 Games

Mikhail Tal, World Chess Champion

Mikhail Tal, world-record holder for most consecutive master games without a loss. | Photo: Wikipedia.

Mikhail Tal was famed for his creative attacking style, which was on full display in his 1960 world championship match against Mikhail Botvinnik. In winning that match, he became the youngest world champion ever at the age of 23: another record, one that stood until Garry Kasparov defeated Anatoly Karpov in 1985 at 22.

Tal's career was plagued by health problems and his inconsistent form may lead some to overlook his incredible later years. Between October 23, 1973 and October 16, 1974, he went 95 games without defeat, an incredible achievement that no player has come close to equaling.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Mikhail Tal's (again!)  85 Games from July 1972 to April 1973
  • World Champion José Raúl Capablanca's 63 Games from February 10, 1916 to March 21, 1924

Longest-Reigning World Champion: Emanuel Lasker's 27 Years

Emanuel Lasker, World Chess Champion

Emanuel Lasker, longest-reigning world champion. | Photo: Wikipedia.

Emanuel Lasker became the second world champion when he defeated Wilhelm Steinitz in 1894. He retained his title until he was defeated by Jose Raul Capablanaca in 1921. He continued to play and perform in elite tournaments into the 1930s. It is often noted that Lasker's reign was extended because the intervention of World War I postponed intended matches with Rubinstein and Capablanca. Even accounting for those uncontested years, Lasker's reign would remain far longer than any other champion.

Honorable Mentions:

  • World Champion Garry Kasparov's 15 Years from 1985 to 2000
  • World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik's 13 Non-Consecutive Years from 1948 to 1963

Highest Elo Ever Recorded: World Champion Magnus Carlsen's 2882

Magnus Carlsen, World Chess Champion

World Champion Magnus Carlsen, the highest-rated player of all time. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Magnus Carlsen made this mark in May of 2014 on the FIDE lists. Unofficially, he reached the even higher mark of 2889 on the live ratings list. Some argue that rating inflation renders these records meaningless.

As of the time of writing, only 12 players have reached a rating of 2800. Carlsen has been the only player to approach 2900.

Honorable Mentions:

  • World Champion Garry Kasparov's 2851 on July 1999
  • GM Fabiano Caruana's 2844 on October 2014

Youngest Player To Become Grandmaster: GM Sergey Karjakin -12 Years, Seven Months

Sergey Karjakin, Chess Prodigy

GM Sergey Karjakin, the youngest grandmaster of all time. | Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Karjakin is, at the time of publication, the only player to have earned the grandmaster title at the age of 12 years old. Karjakin got his first experience of championship match play when having just turned 12, he served as Ruslan Ponomariov's second in his FIDE world championship match with Vasily Ivanchuk.

In 2016, Karjakin got his own shot at the world championship, challenging Magnus Carlsen. The match was eventually decided by rapid tiebreaks in Carlsen's favor after a 6-6 draw across 12 classical games, each player winning one game.

Honorable Mentions:

  • World Champion Bobby Fischer  15 years, 6 months, 1 day in 1958
  • GM Judit Polgar 15 years, 4 months, 28 days in 1991

Most Simultaneous Games: GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami  604 Games

Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, Simultaneuos Chess

GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, world-record holder for simultaneous chess. | Photo: Wikipedia.

A simultaneous exhibition is a set of games against multiple opponents at a time. Usually opponents are seated in a row or circle and the master circles the players, making moves against each opponent before moving on to the next.

Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, the nine-time Iranian champion, played a staggering 604 simultaneous opponents to claim the world record for most simultaneous opponents. He won 580 games, drawing only 16 games and losing eight in a simultaneous exhibition in Tehran, Iran. The exhibition took place on February 8–9 of 2011 in the sports stadium of the Shahid Beheshti University.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Susan Polgar 326 Opponents, Scoring 309 Wins, 14 Draws, 3 Losses in 2005
  • José Raúl Capablanca 103 Opponents, Scoring 102 Wins, 1 Draw in 1922

Most Simultaneous Blindfold Games: GM Timur Gareyev 48 Games

Timur Gareyev, Blindfold Chess

Timur Gareyev, world-record holder for blindfold chess. | Photo: Mike Klein.

One of the most remarkable feats in chess is the blindfold game. In a blindfold game, a player is not allowed to look at the board. Players must hold the entire position in their heads as the moves are communicated by chess notation. In a simultaneous blindfold exhibition, the exhibition giver must hold all of the positions in memory at one time, a staggering feat of chess skill and concentration.

Timur Gareyev set a new world for this format on December 4 of 2016 when he played 48 opponents at one time. He scored 35 wins, seven draws, and six losses.

Honorable Mentions:

  • FM Marc Lang- 46 opponents in 2011
  • GM Miguel Najdorf- 45 opponent games in 1947