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List of world records in chess

This is a list of world records in chess as achieved in organized tournament, match, or simultaneous exhibition play.

Game length records

Longest game

The longest tournament chess game (in terms of moves) ever to be played was Nikolić-Arsović, Belgrade 1989, which lasted for 269 moves and took 20 hours and 15 minutes to complete a drawn game. At the time this game was played, FIDE had modified the fifty-move rule to allow 100 moves to be played without a piece being captured in a rook and bishop versus rook endgame, the situation in Nikolić versus Arsović. FIDE has since rescinded that modification to the rule.

The longest decisive tournament game is Fressinet-Kosteniuk, Villandry 2007, which Kosteniuk won in 237 moves. The last 116 moves were a rook and bishop versus rook ending, as in Nikolić - Arsović. Fressinet could have claimed a draw under the fifty-move rule, but did not do so since neither player was keeping score, it being a rapid chess game. Earlier in the tournament, Korchnoi had successfully invoked the rule to claim a draw against Fressinet; the arbiters overruled Fressinet's argument that Korchnoi could not do so without keeping score. Fressinet, apparently wanting to be consistent, did not try to claim a draw against Kosteniuk in the same situation.

The longest game played in a world championship is the fifth game of the 1978 match between Korchnoi and Anatoly Karpov. Korchnoi's 124th move, as White, produced stalemate.

Shortest game

In terms of number of moves, the quickest mate possible in chess is known as Fool's mate (1.g4 e5 2.f3?? Qh4# and variants thereof). This has been known to occur in amateur play. gives a game L. Darling-R. Wood, 1983, that was published on April Fool's Day in Northwest Chess magazine (1.g4 e6 2.f4?? Qh4#). Bill Wall lists, in addition to Darling-Wood, three other games that ended with Black checkmating on the second move. In a tournament game at odds of pawn and move, White delivered checkmate on move 2: W. Cooke-"R____g", Cape Town Chess Club handicap tournament 1908 (remove Black's f-pawn) 1.e4 g5?? 2.Qh5#. The same game had previously been played in Leeky-Mason, Dublin 1867.

The shortest decisive game ever played in master play that was decided because of the position on the board (i.e. not because of a forfeit or protest) is Z. Đorđević-M. Kovačević, Bela Crkva 1984. It lasted only three moves (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 c6 3.e3?? Qa5+ winning the bishop), and White resigned. This was repeated in Vassallo-Gamundi, Salamanca 1998. (In a number of other games, White has played on after 3...Qa5+, occasionally drawing or even winning in this line.)

There have been many forfeited games (which could technically be regarded as losses in zero moves), the most notable examples being Game 2 of the 1972 world championship match between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer, which Fischer defaulted, and Game 5 of the 2006 world championship match between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov, which Kramnik defaulted. A game between Fischer and Oscar Panno, played at the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal 1970, went 1. c4 resigns. Panno refused to play to protest the organizers' rescheduling of the game to accommodate Fischer's desire not to play on his religion's Sabbath. Panno was not present when the game was to begin. Fischer waited ten minutes before making his move and went to get Panno to convince him to play. Fifty-two minutes had elapsed on Panno's clock before he came to the board and resigned. (At the time, an absence of sixty minutes resulted in a forfeit.)

Under recently instituted FIDE rules, a player who is late for the beginning of a round loses the game, as does a player whose cellphone makes any sound in the tournament hall. The former rule was used at the 2009 Chinese Championship to forfeit Hou Yifan for arriving five seconds late for the beginning of a round. The latter rule was used to forfeit Aleksander Delchev against Stuart Conquest after the move 1.d4 in the 2009 European Team Championship.

The German grandmaster Robert Hübner also lost a game without playing any moves. In a World Student Team Championship game played in Graz in 1972, Hübner played one move and offered a draw to Kenneth Rogoff, who accepted. However, the arbiters insisted that some moves be played, so the players played the following ridiculous game: 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Ng1 Bg7 4. Qa4 0-0 5. Qxd7 Qxd7 6. g4 Qxd2+ 7. Kxd2 Nxg4 8. b4 a5 9. a4 Bxa1 10. Bb2 Nc6 11. Bh8 Bg7 12. h4 axb4 draw agreed). The arbiters ruled that both players must apologize and play an actual game at 7 p.m. Rogoff appeared and apologized; Hübner did neither. Hübner's clock was started, and after an hour Rogoff was declared the winner. Wang Chen and Lu Shanglei both lost a game in which they had played no moves. They agreed to a draw without play at the 2009 Zhejiang Lishui Xingqiu Cup International Open Chess Tournament held in Lishui, Zhejiang Province, China. The chief arbiter declared both players to have lost the game.

A game may be drawn in any number of moves, or even no moves, if the tournament officials (unlike those at Graz and Lishui) do not object. According to, in the 1968 Skopje-Ohrid tournament Dragoljub Janosevic and Efim Geller agreed to a draw without playing any moves. Tony Miles and Stewart Reuben did the same thing in the last round of the Luton 1975 tournament, "with the blessing of the controller", in order to assure themselves of first and second places respectively.

Shortest World Championship game

As mentioned above, Fischer (in 1972) and Kramnik (in 2006) each forfeited a world championship game without playing any moves. Other than those unplayed games, the shortest game in a world championship was the 21st match game in the World Chess Championship 1963 between Mikhail Botvinnik and Tigran Petrosian. The players agreed to a draw after the 10th move by White (Petrosian). The shortest decisive world championship other than the two above-mentioned forfeits occurred between Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand in game 8 of the World Chess Championship 2012. Gelfand resigned after Anand's 17th move, 17.Qf2.

Shortest stalemate

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Shortest possible stalemate after 10.Qe6

The shortest known stalemate, devised by Sam Loyd, involves the absurd sequence 1.e3 a5 2.Qh5 Ra6 3.Qxa5 h5 4.Qxc7 Rah6 5.h4 f6 6.Qxd7+ Kf7 7.Qxb7 Qd3 8.Qxb8 Qh7 9.Qxc8 Kg6 10.Qe6. The shortest stalemate with all of the pieces on the board, composed by Charles H Wheeler, occurs after 1.d4 d6 2.Qd2 e5 3.a4 e4 4.Qf4 f5 5.h3 Be7 6.Qh2 Be6 7.Ra3 c5 8.Rg3 Qa5+ 9.Nd2 Bh4 10.f3 Bb3 11.d5 e3 12.c4 f4 (minor variations are possible). Both of those games have occasionally been played in tournaments as a joke, as part of a prearranged draw. The shortest known route to a position where both players are stalemated, discovered by Enzo Minerva and published in the Italian newspaper l'Unità on 14 August 2007, is 1.c4 d5 2.Qb3 Bh3 3.gxh3 f5 4.Qxb7 Kf7 5.Qxa7 Kg6 6.f3 c5 7.Qxe7 Rxa2 8.Kf2 Rxb2 9.Qxg7+ Kh5 10.Qxg8 Rxb1 11.Rxb1 Kh4 12.Qxh8 h5 13.Qh6 Bxh6 14.Rxb8 Be3+ 15.dxe3 Qxb8 16.Kg2 Qf4 17.exf4 d4 18.Be3 dxe3. The shortest genuine stalemate in a serious game was played in Ravenna 1982, when the Italian master Mario Sibilio forced a stalemate on move 27 against grandmaster Sergio Mariotti.

Fewest moves played in a tournament

In the Premier I group at the 2003 Capablanca Memorial tournament, Péter Székely took just 130 moves (an average of 10 moves per game) to draw all 13 of his games.

Latest first capture

In Rogoff-Williams, World Junior Championship, Stockholm 1969, the first capture (94.bxc5) occurred on White's 94th move. Filipowicz-Smederevac, Polanica Zdroj 1966 was drawn in 70 moves under the fifty-move rule, without any piece or pawn having been captured.

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Yates v Znosko-Borovsky 1927, after 39 moves.

Latest first capture in a decisive game

Nuber-Keckeisen, Mengen 1994 lasted 31 moves without a single capture. In the end Keckeisen, facing imminent checkmate, resigned.

In the decisive game Yates-Znosko-Borovsky, Tunbridge Wells 1927, the first capture occurred on move 40.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 Na5 9. Bc2 c5 10. d4 Qc7 11. h3 O-O 12. Nbd2 Bd7 13. Nf1 Nc6 14. d5 Nd8 15. g4 Ne8 16. Ng3 g6 17. Kh2 Ng7 18. Rg1 f6 19. Be3 Nf7 20. Rg2 Kh8 21. Qd2 Qc8 22. Rh1 Rg8 23. Rhg1 a5 24. Kh1 b4 25. c4 a4 26. Bd3 Qa6 27. Qe2 Raf8 28. Nd2 Qc8 29. f3 Ne8 30. Ndf1 Kg7 31. Bc1 h6 32. Ne3 Kh7 33. Rh2 Nh8 34. h4 Rf7 35. Nd1 Bf8 36. Nf2 Bg7 37. f4 Bf8 38. Qf3 Qd8 39. Nh3 Qe7 40. g5 Bxh3 41. f5 hxg5 42. hxg5 Rgg7 43. Rxh3+ Kg8 44. fxg6 Rxg6 45. Nf5 Qd7 46. Rg2 fxg5 47. Rgh2 Bg7 48. Rxh8+ Bxh8 49. Qh5 Rff6 50. Qxh8+ Kf7 51. Rh7+ Ng7 52. Rxg7+ Rxg7 53. Qxg7+ 1-0

Largest number of helpless pinned pieces

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Final position of Chandler-Kynoch, 1981.

In the final position of G. Chandler-R. Kynoch, Edinburgh Club Championship 1981, White's knight on f6 administered checkmate with three black pieces capable of capturing it, except that all three could not do so because they were pinned against Black's king.

Theoretical novelties

The book 1000 TN!! The Best Theoretical Novelties contains the games with the ten highest-ranked theoretical novelties (TNs) that appeared in each of Volumes 11 through 110 of Chess Informant. The earliest such novelty occurred on White's fourth move in Karpov-Miles, Bugojno 1978, namely 1.c4 b6 2.d4 e6 3.d5 Qh4 4.Nc3! The latest occurred on Black's 34th move (34...Kd5!) in Shulman-Marin, Reykjavík Open 2009. The only game to receive a perfect rating from Chess Informant's panel of judges was Miles-Belyavsky, Tilburg 1986, which featured the novelty 18.f4!! It received 90 points, 10 out of a possible 10 from each of the 9 judges.

National records

Greatest concentration of resident grandmasters

In December 2005, Reykjavík, Iceland, with eight grandmasters (Jon Arnason, Jóhann Hjartarson, Margeir Petursson, Fridrik Olafsson, Throstur Thorhallsson, Helgi Gretarsson, Hannes Stefansson, and Bobby Fischer) had a higher percentage of resident grandmasters per capita than any other city worldwide; the city of 110,000 had one grandmaster per 13,750 residents. As of April 2008, the population of Reykjavík had grown to 118,861; Fischer died on January 17, 2008.

Tournament records

Perfect tournament and match scores

In top-class chess it is rare for a player to complete a tournament or match with a 100 percent score. This result was however achieved in tournaments by:

Perfect scores were achieved in matches by:

William Lombardy is the only player ever to achieve a perfect score in the World Junior Chess Championship, open to players under the age of 20 as of January 1 in the year of competition. He scored 11-0 at Toronto 1957.

Vera Menchik won four consecutive Women's World Chess Championship tournaments with perfect scores, a total of 45 games (8-0 at Prague 1931, 14-0 at Folkestone 1933, 9-0 at Warsaw 1935, and 14-0 at Stockholm 1937). She only played 43 of the 45 games, since Harum, the Austrian contestant, was unable to reach Folkestone and thus forfeited all of her games in that double round robin event.

Alekhine scored 9-0 on first board for France at the 3rd Chess Olympiad (Hamburg, 1930), and Dragoljub Čirić scored 8-0 as second reserve (the sixth player on his team) for Yugoslavia at the 17th Olympiad (Havana, 1966), but each played only about half of the possible games. Robert Gwaze scored 9-0 on first board for Zimbabwe at the 35th Olympiad (Bled, 2002). Paul Keres scored 13.5 points out of 14 games (96.4%) playing fourth board for the USSR at the 11th Olympiad (Amsterdam, 1954).

Valentina Gunina won the Women's section of the 2010 Moscow Blitz tournament with a 17/17 score.

Wesley So scored 9/9 in the 2011 Inter-Provincial Chess Team Championship, with a performance rating of 3037, won the gold medal in men's blitz at the SEA Games 2011 at Indonesia with a score of 9/9 and a rating performance of 3183, and won the 2013 Calgary International Blitz Championship with a score of 9/9.

Most tournament victories

As of December 2011, John Curdo had won 865 tournaments.

Most wins in a national championship

As of November 2014, Carlos Juárez has won the national championship of Guatemala 25 times.

Most decisive Interzonal victory

The highest percentage score at an Interzonal was 82.5% (16½ points out of 20 games), scored by Alexander Kotov at the 1952 Stockholm Interzonal. The largest margin of victory was achieved by Bobby Fischer, who won the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal in 1970 with 18½ points out of 23 games, 3½ points ahead of second-place finishers Bent Larsen, Efim Geller and Robert Hübner.

Most games won

Gustav Neumann won all 34 of his games at the aforementioned Berlin 1865 tournament.

Most games lost

Nicholas MacLeod holds the record for the most games lost in a single tournament: he lost 31 games at the Sixth American Chess Congress at New York 1889, while winning six and drawing one. MacLeod was only 19 and the tournament, a 20-player double-round robin, was one of the longest tournaments in chess history. The most games lost by a player who lost all of his games in a tournament was by Colonel Moreau. At Monte Carlo 1903, Moreau lost all 26 of his games.

Lost all games on time

At the Büsum 1969 tournament, Friedrich Sämisch lost all 15 games by exceeding the time control. He lost all 13 of his games at the Linköping 1969 tournament the same way.

Most world champions in a tournament

Nottingham 1936 included five past, current, and future world champions: reigning champion Max Euwe; Alexander Alekhine, who had lost the title to Euwe the prior year, and would regain it the following year; former champions Emanuel Lasker and José Raúl Capablanca; and Mikhail Botvinnik, who would win the championship in 1948. This record was equaled by Moscow 1971 and the 1973 Soviet Chess Championship, each of which included former champions Vasily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal, and Tigran Petrosian; Boris Spassky, who was champion from 1969 to 1972; and future champion Anatoly Karpov.

Largest tie for first

Thirteen players tied for first with 5-1 scores at the National Open held on March 17-19, 2000 in Las Vegas: grandmasters Jaan Ehlvest, Alexander Goldin, Alexander Baburin, Pavel Blatny, Eduard Gufeld, Yuri Shulman, Alex Yermolinsky, Gregory Kaidanov, Dmitry Gurevich, Alexander Stripunsky, and Gregory Serper, and International Masters Rade Milovanovic and Levon Altounian.

Highest percentage of players below 50% in a tournament

At the Linares 2001 tournament, five of the six players (83.3%) finished with a minus score. Garry Kasparov won with 7½/10, while Judit Polgár, Alexander Grischuk, Peter Leko, Alexei Shirov, and Anatoly Karpov tied for second to sixth places, each with 4½/10.

Highest percentage of draws in a tournament

At the 1999 Petrosian Memorial tournament, 42 of the 45 games (93.3%) were drawn. Five of the ten players drew all nine of their games.

Highest performance rating in a tournament

  1. 3102, Fabiano Caruana, Sinquefield Cup 2014
  2. 3001, Magnus Carlsen, Pearl Spring 2009
  3. 2999, Gabriel Sargissian, Zafra 2007

Note: If one includes performances before ELO was established, then Emanuel Lasker's score of 13 out of 13 in the 1893 Tournament in New York has a Chessmetrics performance of 3190. The tournament was Category 12 and Lasker's rating at that point was 2749.

Fewest Sicilian Defences in a tournament

At the 10th Edmonton International Tournament in 2015, the Sicilian Defence, the most popular opening, was not played once in the tournament's 45 games.

Playing records

Consecutive wins

Wilhelm Steinitz won his last 16 games at Vienna 1873, including a two-game playoff against Blackburne at the end. He played no serious chess until an 1876 match against Blackburne that Steinitz swept 7-0. After a long period of inactivity, Steinitz played at Vienna 1882, where he won his first two games before finally ending his winning streak with a draw. Steinitz's 25-game winning streak over nine years has never been equaled.

The modern record of 24 consecutive wins is held by Bobby Fischer. It went from 1963 to 1965.

Consecutive wins against masters

This record of 20 consecutive wins is held by Bobby Fischer. (Some commentators give this as 19, electing not to count Fischer's game against Oscar Panno, who resigned after Fischer's first move as a protest). Fischer won his last seven games at the 1970 Palma de Mallorca Interzonal (including the one-move game against Panno). In the quarter-finals of the Candidates Matches leading to the world championship, Fischer swept Grandmaster Mark Taimanov 6-0. In the semi-finals, Fischer swept Grandmaster Bent Larsen by the same score. In the Candidates Match final, Fischer beat former World Champion Tigran Petrosian in the first game before Petrosian snapped the streak by beating Fischer in the second match game.

Consecutive games without a loss

Between October 23, 1973, when he lost a game in a Soviet championship, and October 16, 1974, when he lost to Kirov at the Novi Sad tournament, Mikhail Tal had a string of 95 tournament games without a loss (46 wins and 49 draws). Tal also has the second-longest unbeaten run in top-level competition. He went unbeaten in 86 games from July 1972, when he lost to Gunnar Uusi in the tenth round at Viljandi, until April 1973, when he lost to Balashov in round two of the USSR Team Championship in Moscow. This streak included 47 wins and 39 draws.

José Raúl Capablanca went eight years without a loss (1916 to 1924, including his World Chess Championship 1921 victory over Emanuel Lasker), but this was "only" 63 games.

Most wins against world champions

Paul Keres and Viktor Korchnoi are the only chess players to have defeated nine undisputed world champions. They have six in common: both defeated Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal, Tigran Petrosian, Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer. Keres also beat José Raúl Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, and Max Euwe, while Korchnoi also beat Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, and Magnus Carlsen. In addition, Korchnoi defeated FIDE world champions Ruslan Ponomariov and Veselin Topalov.

Rating records

Highest rating

The highest Elo rating a player has ever received from FIDE, the World Chess Federation, is 2882, which Magnus Carlsen achieved on the May 2014 list.

Progression of highest rating record
Player Rating Year-month first achieved
Bobby Fischer 2760 1971-01
Bobby Fischer 2785 1972-01
Garry Kasparov 2800 1990-01
Garry Kasparov 2805 1993-01
Garry Kasparov 2815 1993-07
Garry Kasparov 2820 1997-07
Garry Kasparov 2825 1998-01
Garry Kasparov 2851 1999-07
Magnus Carlsen 2861 2013-01
Magnus Carlsen 2872 2013-02
Magnus Carlsen 2881 2014-03
Magnus Carlsen 2882 2014-05

Carlsen also holds the highest unofficial "live rating" of 2889.2, achieved on April 21, 2014.

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). Kasparov's biggest lead at his peak was 82 points in January 2000. As of May 2015, Magnus Carlsen leads the list by 72 points, and his biggest lead was 74 points in October 2013.

Jeff Sonas of Chessmetrics calculates that in April 1876 Wilhelm Steinitz was the top-ranked player in the world, with a rating a record 199 points above that of Henry Bird, the second-ranked player.

Age-related records

Youngest grandmaster

The youngest player to be awarded the grandmaster title by FIDE is Sergey Karjakin. In 2002 he qualified for the title at the age of 12 years, 7 months, and 0 days. See List of youngest grandmasters for the history of this record.

Oldest grandmaster

Several players have been awarded honorary or retrospective grandmaster titles based on their past achievements. The oldest of these was Enrico Paoli, who was awarded the title in 1996 at the age of 88.

Apart from retrospective awards, a number of players have achieved the title by winning the World Senior Championship. The oldest player to gain the title in this way was Yuri Shabanov, who won the 2003 event and was awarded the title at the age of 66.

Youngest player to defeat a grandmaster

On July 28, 2012, Awonder Liang, aged 9 years, 3 months, and 20 days, beat Grandmaster Larry Kaufman in the Washington International tournament.

Simultaneous and blindfold records

Best and worst results in simultaneous exhibitions

In 1922, José Raúl Capablanca, the recently crowned World Champion, played 103 opponents simultaneously in Cleveland. He completed the exhibition in seven hours, scoring 102 wins and one draw (99.5%), the best result ever in a simultaneous exhibition on over 75 boards.

The best result in a simultaneous exhibition solely against grandmasters is former World Champion Garry Kasparov's performance against an Israeli team consisting of Boris Alterman, Alexander Huzman, Ilya Smirin, and Emil Sutovsky at Tel Aviv in 1998. Unusually for simultaneous exhibitions, half of the players played black and half played white. A second round was played 2 days later with colors reversed. Kasparov scored 7-1 against an all 2600+ rated team and considers it one of the peak performances of his career. Paul Morphy gave an arguably even more impressive exhibition. On April 26, 1859, at London's St. James Chess Club, Morphy played "five games simultaneously against a group of masters who could be described as among the top ten players of the day", scoring 3-2. He defeated Jules Arnous de Rivière and Henry Bird, drew Samuel Boden and Johann Löwenthal, and lost only to Thomas Wilson Barnes.

The worst result in a simultaneous exhibition given by a master occurred in 1951, when International Master Robert Wade gave a simultaneous exhibition against 30 Russian schoolboys, aged 14 and under. After 7 hours of play, Wade had lost 20 games and drawn the remaining 10 (16.7%).

Most games in blindfold exhibitions

Miguel Najdorf played against 45 opponents in a simultaneous blindfold exhibition given at Sao Paulo in 1947, winning 39, losing 2 and drawing 4 games (after a similar display in Rosario, Argentina, in 1943, against 40 players). Later Janos Flesch (52 games) claimed to have broken this record, but his exhibition was not properly monitored and so it was not recognized. In November 2011, little-known German master Marc Lang broke Najdorf's record, playing 46 opponents.

Most players taking part in a multi-simul

On October 21, 2006, a gigantic multi-simul was organized in El Zócalo, Mexico City's central square. About 600 masters played against 20 to 25 opponents each. The total number of players was 13,446 according to the authorities. The tables were arranged in squares of different colors, each containing seven simuls. The square resembled in this way a giant chessboard. Anatoly Karpov was a guest at the event but did not play in the simuls as he was busy signing 1951 copies of his latest book. Guinness World Records acknowledged the event as the largest one held in a single day.

This record was broken on December 24, 2010 in Ahmadabad, India, where about 20,500 played simultaneously. Then World Champion Viswanathan Anand was a guest of honor for this event and participated in the simul.

Most simultaneous games

On February 8-9, 2011, Iranian grandmaster Ehsan Ghaem-Maghami achieved the Guinness world record for most simultaneous chess games. He played for 25 hours against 604 players, winning 580 (97.35%) of the games, drawing 16, and losing 8.

Writing-related records

Longest-running chess column

Leonard Barden's daily chess column for the London Evening Standard began in June 1956, and was published daily in the printed newspaper until July 30, 2010, a total run of 54 years and 1 month. It has since continued online, and is still running as of May 26, 2015.