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List of FIDE chess world number ones

A total of seven chess players have been the chess world number one on the official FIDE rating list since it was first published in July 1971.

The first world number one, in July 1971, was Bobby Fischer. In January 1976 Anatoly Karpov became the highest-rated player on the FIDE list, FIDE having dropped Fischer (whose rating was higher than Karpov's) from the list due to inactivity. In January 1984, the third world number one was Garry Kasparov. Anatoly Karpov briefly held the world number one ranking in July 1985, and the fourth world number one, Vladimir Kramnik, briefly held the ranking in January 1996. Other than these two brief periods, Kasparov dominated for some 22 years from 1984 until his retirement from professional chess on 10 March 2005. In January 1990, he surpassed Fischer's peak of 2785 and became the first player ever to achieve a 2800 rating. In July 1999, he reached his peak rating, 2851. This was the highest FIDE rating in history until January 2013, when it was surpassed by Magnus Carlsen.

On Kasparov's retirement, the world number one ranking passed to Veselin Topalov, since Kasparov was removed from the rating list in April 2006 due to inactivity. In April 2007, Viswanathan Anand became the sixth player to top the rankings. Kramnik briefly returned to the number one ranking in January 2008, but was again joint number one by rating, being placed first in the list due to having played more games in the rating period in question. For most of the period April 2007 to November 2009, the top ranking was held by either Anand or Topalov. The seventh and current world number one is Magnus Carlsen, who first achieved this ranking in the January 2010 list, and has been world number one since July 2011 after having lost and reclaimed the position from Anand during 2010 and 2011.

List of world number ones

The following is a list of the players ranked number one on the FIDE rating system from the first unofficial list in June 1967 to the present day, along with their ratings during the periods in question.

Year January February March April May June July August September October November December
1967 Spassky (2670) [unofficial rating list]
1968 Fischer (2710) [unofficial rating list]
1969 Fischer (2720) [unofficial rating list]
1970 Fischer (2720) [unofficial rating list]
1971 Fischer (2740) [unofficial rating list] Fischer (2760)
1972 Fischer (2785)
1973 Fischer (2780)
1974 Fischer (2780)
1975 Fischer (2780)
1976 Karpov (2695)
1977 Karpov (2690)
1978 Karpov (2725) supplementary list
1979 Karpov (2705) supplementary list
1980 Karpov (2725) supplementary list
1981 Karpov (2690) Karpov (2690)
1982 Karpov (2700) Karpov (2700)
1983 Karpov (2710) Karpov (2710)
1984 Kasparov (2710) Kasparov (2715)
1985 Kasparov (2715) Karpov (2720)
1986 Kasparov (2720) Kasparov (2740)
1987 Kasparov (2735) Kasparov (2740)
1988 Kasparov (2750) Kasparov (2760)
1989 Kasparov (2775) Kasparov (2775)
1990 Kasparov (2800) Kasparov (2800)
1991 Kasparov (2800) Kasparov (2770)
1992 Kasparov (2780) Kasparov (2790)
1993 Kasparov (2805) Kasparov (2815)
1994 Kasparov (2815) Kasparov (2815)
1995 Kasparov (2805) Kasparov (2795)
1996 Kramnik (2775) Kasparov (2785)
1997 Kasparov (2795) Kasparov (2820)
1998 Kasparov (2825) Kasparov (2815)
1999 Kasparov (2812) Kasparov (2851)
2000 Kasparov (2851) Kasparov (2849) Kasparov (2849)
2001 Kasparov (2849) Kasparov (2827) Kasparov (2838) Kasparov (2838)
2002 Kasparov (2838) Kasparov (2838) Kasparov (2838) Kasparov (2836)
2003 Kasparov (2847) Kasparov (2830) Kasparov (2830) Kasparov (2830)
2004 Kasparov (2831) Kasparov (2817) Kasparov (2817) Kasparov (2813)
2005 Kasparov (2804) Kasparov (2812) Kasparov (2812) Kasparov (2812)
2006 Kasparov (2812) Topalov (2804) Topalov (2813) Topalov (2813)
2007 Topalov (2783) Anand (2786) Anand (2792) Anand (2801)
2008 Kramnik (2799) Anand (2803) Anand (2798) Topalov (2791)
2009 Topalov (2796) Topalov (2812) Topalov (2813) Topalov (2813) Topalov (2810)
2010 Carlsen (2810) Carlsen (2813) Carlsen (2813) Carlsen (2826) Carlsen (2826) Anand (2817)
2011 Carlsen (2814) Anand (2817) Anand (2817) Carlsen (2821) Carlsen (2823) Carlsen (2826)
2012 Carlsen (2835) Carlsen (2835) Carlsen (2835) Carlsen (2837) Carlsen (2837) Carlsen (2843) Carlsen (2843) Carlsen (2848) Carlsen (2848)
2013 Carlsen (2861) Carlsen (2872) Carlsen (2872) Carlsen (2872) Carlsen (2868) Carlsen (2864) Carlsen (2862) Carlsen (2862) Carlsen (2862) Carlsen (2870) Carlsen (2870) Carlsen (2872)
2014 Carlsen (2872) Carlsen (2872) Carlsen (2881) Carlsen (2881) Carlsen (2882) Carlsen (2881) Carlsen (2877) Carlsen (2877) Carlsen (2870) Carlsen (2863) Carlsen (2863) Carlsen (2862)
2015 Carlsen (2862) Carlsen (2865) Carlsen (2863) Carlsen (2863) Carlsen (2876) Carlsen (2876) Carlsen (2853) Carlsen (2853) Carlsen (2853) Carlsen (2850) Carlsen (2850) Carlsen (2834)
2016 Carlsen (2844)

List of world female number ones

The following is a list of the players ranked number one female on the FIDE rating system from the third unofficial list in January 1969 to the present day, along with their ratings during the periods in question.

Year January February March April May June July August September October November December
1969 Gaprindashvili (2420) [unofficial rating list]
1970 Gaprindashvili (2410) [unofficial rating list]
1971 Gaprindashvili (2390) [unofficial rating list] Gaprindashvili (2390)
1972 Gaprindashvili (2450)
1973 Gaprindashvili (2420)
1974 Gaprindashvili (2405)
1975 Gaprindashvili (2410)
1976 Gaprindashvili (2440)
1977 Gaprindashvili (2445)
1978 Gaprindashvili (2425) supplementary list
1979 Gaprindashvili (2405) supplementary list
1980 Chiburdanidze (2400) supplementary list
1981 Chiburdanidze (2425) Chiburdanidze (2405)
1982 Chiburdanidze (2390) Chiburdanidze (2385)
1983 Cramling (2355) Chiburdanidze (2380)
1984 Cramling (2405) Susan Polgar (2405)
1985 Susan Polgar (2430) Chiburdanidze (2450)
1986 Chiburdanidze (2455) Susan Polgar (2455)
1987 Chiburdanidze (2530) Chiburdanidze (2550)
1988 Chiburdanidze (2560) Chiburdanidze (2555)
1989 J. Polgar (2555) J. Polgar (2555)
1990 J. Polgar (2550) J. Polgar (2540)
1991 J. Polgar (2540) J. Polgar (2550)
1992 J. Polgar (2550) J. Polgar (2575)
1993 J. Polgar (2595) J. Polgar (2635)
1994 J. Polgar (2630) J. Polgar (2630)
1995 J. Polgar (2630) J. Polgar (2635)
1996 J. Polgar (2675) J. Polgar (2665)
1997 J. Polgar (2645) J. Polgar (2670)
1998 J. Polgar (2675) J. Polgar (2665)
1999 J. Polgar (2677) J. Polgar (2671)
2000 J. Polgar (2658) J. Polgar (2656) J. Polgar (2656)
2001 J. Polgar (2676) J. Polgar (2678) J. Polgar (2686) J. Polgar (2686)
2002 J. Polgar (2677) J. Polgar (2677) J. Polgar (2681) J. Polgar (2685)
2003 J. Polgar (2700) J. Polgar (2715) J. Polgar (2718) J. Polgar (2722)
2004 J. Polgar (2728) J. Polgar (2728) J. Polgar (2728) J. Polgar (2728)
2005 Susan Polgar (2577) J. Polgar (2732) J. Polgar (2735) J. Polgar (2735)
2006 J. Polgar (2711) J. Polgar (2711) J. Polgar (2710) J. Polgar (2710)
2007 J. Polgar (2727) J. Polgar (2727) J. Polgar (2707) J. Polgar (2708)
2008 J. Polgar (2707) J. Polgar (2709) J. Polgar (2711) J. Polgar (2711)
2009 J. Polgar (2693) J. Polgar (2693) J. Polgar (2687) J. Polgar (2687) J. Polgar (2680)
2010 J. Polgar (2682) J. Polgar (2682) J. Polgar (2682) J. Polgar (2682) J. Polgar (2682) J. Polgar (2686)
2011 J. Polgar (2686) J. Polgar (2686) J. Polgar (2699) J. Polgar (2699) J. Polgar (2701) J. Polgar (2710)
2012 J. Polgar (2710) J. Polgar (2709) J. Polgar (2709) J. Polgar (2709) J. Polgar (2698) J. Polgar (2698) J. Polgar (2705) J. Polgar (2705) J. Polgar (2705)
2013 J. Polgar (2696) J. Polgar (2696) J. Polgar (2696) J. Polgar (2696) J. Polgar (2696) J. Polgar (2696) J. Polgar (2696) J. Polgar (2696) J. Polgar (2696) J. Polgar (2689) J. Polgar (2689) J. Polgar (2693)
2014 J. Polgar (2693) J. Polgar (2693) J. Polgar (2693) J. Polgar (2685) J. Polgar (2685) J. Polgar (2685) J. Polgar (2676) J. Polgar (2676) J. Polgar (2675) J. Polgar (2675) J. Polgar (2675) J. Polgar (2675)
2015 J. Polgar (2675) J. Polgar (2675) Hou Yifan (2686) Hou Yifan (2686) Hou Yifan (2686) Hou Yifan (2676) Hou Yifan (2676) J. Polgar (2675) Hou Yifan (2671) Hou Yifan (2671) Hou Yifan (2683) Hou Yifan (2683)
2016 Hou Yifan (2673)

Publication details

There were unofficial lists in 1964, 1969, 1970 and January 1971, as the Elo rating system was first introduced.

From 1971 to 1980, there was one main rating list published each year (for a total of 10), initially published in July from 1971 to 1973, then once in May (1974), before switching to annual publication in January from 1975 to 1980 (in this period, some supplements and amendments were also published).

From 1981 to July 2000, two lists per year were published, in January and July (for a total of 39 lists). In July 2000, the publication schedule was increased to four times a year (January, April, July, October) operating from July 2000 to July 2009 (for a total of 36 lists). In July 2009, the publication schedule was increased again, to six times a year (January, March, May, July, September, November) operating from July 2009 to July 2012 (for a total of 18 lists). In July 2012 the publication schedule was increased again to the current monthly schedule.

Publication of the rating lists in the 1970s and 1980s was in Chess Informant and other chess publications. The number of games played by individuals during the rating period was added to the lists from July 1985 onwards. Player ID numbers were used from January 1990. From January 1999, the practice of rounding to the nearest five Elo points was discontinued, and ratings were then rounded to the nearest Elo point for publication. From July 2000 onwards, the ratings are available from the FIDE website.

In January 2010 former World Champion Boris Spassky criticized the current emphasis on ratings rather than World Champions. Although Spassky was World Champion during the inception of the FIDE rankings in 1971, he never became the number-one rated player in the world; since July 1971 he and Vladimir Kramnik are the only undisputed World Champions to never become ranked world number-one during their tenure as champions.

Player statistics

As of January 2014, seven players have held the world number one ranking over a period of 42 years and seven months, encompassing 121 rating lists. These seven players include six undisputed world chess champions, with Topalov being the only player to achieve the number one ranking without becoming undisputed world champion, though he was FIDE world champion from 2005 to 2006, and is still an active player. Kramnik and Spassky are the only world champions in the period in question to never have been world number one while being champion.

Fischer was top of the lists successively five times over a period of 4.5 years, though he is considered to have already become the number one player in the world before the official list started, as he topped the unofficial list in 1970. Karpov topped the list 12 times, successively 11 times over a period of 8 years, and once for 6 months. Kasparov has been world number one on the official list a record 54 times over a period of 22 years, and a record 31 times successively over nearly a decade from July 1996 to January 2006; he was number one 3 times successively over 1.5 years, then 20 times successively over 10 years, then finally 31 times over 9 years and 9 months. Kramnik was world number one 2 times (for 6 and 3 months), for a total of 9 months. Topalov has been world number one successively 4 and 6 times (a total of 10 times), for 12 months and 15 months respectively (for a total of 27 months). Anand has been world number one successively 2 and 3 times (a total of 5 times), for 6 months and 9 months respectively (for a total of 15 months).

Time at FIDE number one and youngest age at FIDE number one (through February 1, 2016)
Player Months at No. 1 Peak rating Age at first time No. 1 Date at first time No. 1 Rating at first time No. 1
Garry Kasparov 255 2851 20 years, 263 days January 1, 1984 2710
Anatoly Karpov 102 2780 24 years, 223 days January 1, 1976 2695
Magnus Carlsen 67 2882 19 years, 32 days January 1, 2010 2810
Bobby Fischer 54 2785 28 years, 114 days July 1, 1971 2760
Veselin Topalov 27 2813 31 years, 17 days April 1, 2006 2804
Viswanathan Anand 21 2817 37 years, 111 days April 1, 2007 2786
Vladimir Kramnik 9 2811 20 years, 190 days January 1, 1996 2775
Time at FIDE number one and youngest age at FIDE number one (through February 1, 2016)
Player Months at No. 1 Peak rating Age at first time No. 1 Date at first time No. 1 Rating at first time No. 1
Judit Polgar 312 2735 12 years, 162 days January 1, 1989 2555
Nona Gaprindashvili 102 2495 30 years, 59 days July 1, 1971 2390
Maia Chiburdanidze 78 2560 18 years, 349 days January 1, 1980 2400
Susan Polgar 18 2577 15 years, 73 days July 1, 1984 2405
Pia Cramling 12 2550 19 years, 253 days January 1, 1983 2355
Hou Yifan 10 2686 21 years, 2 days March 1, 2015 2686

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