Who was better fisherman or Kasparov?

Who was the best world chess champion of all time?

What if we had a time machine? What if we could bring together the greatest chess players of all time, cancel all advantages such as the development of opening theory or other developed knowledge, and have a super-tournament?

What if Fischer played against Kasparov? Kramnik versus Alekhine? Carlsen versus Morphy?

We were interested in this question that is often asked and never to be answered. Of course we can't answer this question either, as long as we don't invent a time machine, but at least we have Chess.com's CAPS invented that brings us a lot closer to answering this question.

How does this list work?

When we first introduced this (controversial?) Way of measuring skill levels, we received a lot of criticism, because our invention does not include such important factors as Play style, psychology and Opponent skill level. While the ELO points are awarded based on the strength of the opponent, CAPS calculates the points based on the moves played and how close they were to the optimum, measured in a virtual game against a computer.

While a computer now always plays perfectly, it is still a machine and not an opponent. And if you insist that the three points above are more important than finding the strongest or perfect moves, then this article is most likely not of interest to you.

But you can look the other way around on CAPS and use exactly the same arguments. CAPS removes all abstract and immeasurable characteristics of the evaluation of a game of chess or the strength of the player.


It removes the style of play, psychology and strength of the opponents as factors that incorrectly affect the true assessment of how well a person is playing. But if ratings and titles are to remain the only yardstick by which these great masters are measured, then we always remain in the dark about how well they played.Why?

No one in their right mind would argue that Morphy, Steinitz and Lasker were exposed to the same competitive pressures as Botvinnik, Tal and Spassky, let alone Kasparov, Kramnik and Anand, and there were no ratings and championships in the organized way Way like it has been around since the 1960s-70s.

So how can we compare the ELO number of today's player with that of a world champion from a time when there was no ELO? And how can we compare the rating of a Bobby Fischer with that of a Magnus Carlsen when Carlsen's opponents have a much higher ELO than Fischer's opponents had many years ago?

Perhaps this argument is not even fair to Carlsen, because who knows whether he would not have cracked the 2900 mark if his opponents had only had higher ELO numbers!

Anand: 5th place in the all-time best list of the most accurate moves according to CAPS

But with CAPS we are at least able to concentrate on a single point of information and ask ourselves the question: Who played the most like the "chess gods" we know and worship today: "Stockfish, Komodo and Houdini"?

Can we use this tool to project an Elo based on the accuracy achieved compared to the computers and the other world champions?

I think we can. And the results are super interesting and a great basis for discussion.

So why has now Kramnik a better CAPS rating than Kasparovwhen Kasparov is a far greater chess legend? Maybe it is because Kramnik won against Garry the great a few times? Or because he plays a confident, positional chess and takes far fewer risks than Kasparov?

Or is it - and I hardly dare to ask - because he plays chess better than Kasparov?

His calm, positional style led Kramnik to victory in the World Cup final against Leko.

Kasparov's style of play may not be as accurate as Kramnik's, but WOW! This is how chess is fun!

And what about the 2 legends of chess with playing styles that couldn't be more different? Capablanca and Alekhine. These numbers will be many Alekhine Surprise fans! But the truth is in the wine.

Capablanca wove positional cobwebs around his opponents.

Some chess lovers may not like our findings and evaluations of the playing quality of our ancestors, but again we see that the competitions back then were of a lower level (based on the human argument that chess improved over the years) and that the world champions of that time too played less precisely than today's, but this also made these wonderful games possible, which we all admire today.

What's going on here? Could that really be * shake of the head *

We have to wonder if Chess.com is really confident enough to believe that their CAPS system could do better than Elo ratings.


Well, let's first ask ourselves another question: Are we really the first to try a different form of measurement than the FIDE Elo system? Of course not! There are many national organizations with algorithms slightly different from the FIDE Elo system, and the latest news is that other officials in the free chess world also believe that there are better ways to find a player's overall strength than the ELO rating.

Now, contrary to our previous assertion that CAPS is better, I'm not going to say that, just that CAPS is just different. It's a standard that asks a more personal question: How well did you play? As a single player, regardless of the opponent, regardless of the results, regardless of the rating points received.

Reviews are a must. You need to be rewarded for your winnings, punished for your losses, and held responsible for your moves. But do they tell the whole story and are the reviews always that easy to understand?

Isn't it hard to explain to your grandmother why someone who has a 2880+ rating is the best ever? What does this number mean? And is rating inflation a real problem?

Whatever. Telling someone you did 76 percent in a game is easy enough in a culture where everyone knows that 100 percent is the best.

Chess.com is of course aware of the weaknesses in this system, which is why the "CAPS II" will be published shortly, which also allows players to measure their own games with CAPS.

The new version will take a deep look at a player's past. It will also allow us to analyze parts of the game, such as how well you move with a single piece and who played the most accurate game ever (sounds like fun, doesn't it? But how can we improve this comparison now? Perhaps by counting only the top 20 games from each world champion to eliminate the number of games inequality?

I am not saying that our current system cannot be improved. At Chess.com, we would never claim to be perfect anyway. But everything that seems out of reach can still be achieved!

Furthermore, further improvements in chess will not be reflected in a player's CAPS strength, because all players are compared with the same improvements. So all players are always measured with the same yardstick.

This allows the CAPS comparison to really exceed the chess timeline. Yes, we will learn more. Maybe players with very similar CAPS scores (like Smyslov and Spassky) will also swap their ranking positions, but overall we can with the new measurements, learn more about the true power of the game from our greatest champions.

I'm going to make you the same offer Morpheus once made Neo. Take the blue pill and everything is beautiful and colorful and wonderful. Chess strength doesn't increase over time, and Morphy would be a real opponent for Carlsen.

But you can also take the red ball. The red pill reveals the whole world of science to you. Research opens up a world for the reader in which we face reality and accept how good our game has become and how difficult it is for players of the modern era to play against others who have also prepared themselves well with computers.

Today's champions have had to learn to play more accurately. More precise. More like computers. More like gods.

And while we are by no means denying the greatness of those who have come before us by swallowing the red pill, we must acknowledge the truth: The masters of the past did what they had to do to win against the players of their erabut the flaws in their game are undeniable.


Will we one day look at Carlsen with the same eyes that we now look at Euwe, Karpov or Botvinnik?

As a player who, despite all his achievements, missed opportunities that computers and his successors later found, understood and solved?

First you have to understand what went wrong in this endgame ...