Two of the best Chess players to have ever played the game of Kings, Bobby Fischer and Magnus Carlsen. Since they were both Chess prodigies and rose to the top quickly as they started playing competitive Chess as young boys, naturally the question as to who is or was better would be talked about quite frequently.
The only issue in talking about Carlsen vs Fischer is, they never played each other in their prime. They are from different time periods. Although not that far apart, it’s still plenty far apart to them being in two completely different eras.
There is no doubt that Bobby Fischer and Magnus Carlsen are two of the most iconic chess players to ever compete in the game. While Fischer held many major titles and records during his chess-playing career, Carlsen is the world’s current top-ranked player and he continues to grow his already impressive reputation.
Both of them have made a lasting impact on the world of chess that is hard to argue with. Given this fact, they both rank as two of the most recognized figures in the modern history of chess.
With this in mind, it is no surprise that there are often comparisons made between the careers of both players. Comparing the career’s of these two chess icons is the best way to come to a conclusion on who was the better chess player.
Bobby Fischer World Ranking: n/a
Classical (std): n/a
Time Period Active Playing Chess: 1956-1975, 1992
Years Competing in Chess: 20 years
How Old Was He When He Became a Grandmaster?: 15
Magnus Carlsen World Ranking: 1
Classical (std): 2847
Time Period Active Playing Chess: 1999 – present
Years Competing in Chess: 22 years
How Old Was He When He Became a Grandmaster?: 13
About Bobby Fischer
Full Name: Robert James Fischer
Date of Birth: March 9, 1943
Robert James Fischer, better known to the chess community as Bobby Fischer was born on the 9th of March, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois. When he became a Chess Grandmaster in 1958, he was only 15 years old. At the time, this was the world record for the youngest chess player to achieve the status of Grandmaster.
From an early age, it was clear that Fischer was a true chess prodigy. He began playing chess at the age of six when he acquired a game set from a candy store in his local neighborhood. This would be the start of a legendary chess-playing career that would see Bobby Fischer become the Chess World Champion from 1972 to 1975. His peak chess rating was 2785. This was achieved in July of 1972.
During his later life, Bobby Fischer was seen far less on the competitive chess circuit. During the mid-1970s, he would find himself stripped of his Chess World Championship due to his refusal to play title challenger Anatoly Karpov. Regardless of some of the controversies of his later years, there is no doubt that Fischer’s accomplishments during the peak of his career made him one of the all-time greats in the game of chess.
About Magnus Carlsen
Full Name: Sven Magnus Øen Carlsen
Date of Birth: November 30, 1990
Federation: U.S. Chess Federation
Magnus Carlsen was born on November 30th, 1990 in Tønsberg, Norway. He is better known to the international chess community as Magnus Carlsen. When Magnus Carlsen became a Chess Grandmaster in 2004, he was only 13 years old. At the time, this was a new world record for the youngest Chess Grandmaster ever.
The chess-playing career of Magnus Carlsen began at the age of five when he was taught to play the game by his father. By the age of eight, he was already playing in chess tournaments as he quickly showed that he was a child prodigy in the game. 2002 saw Carlsen come in second in the FIDE World Youth Chess Championships in the Under-12 Division.
2004 was a huge year for Magnus Carlsen as has been previously noted. He earned the title of Chess Grandmaster by coming in second at the Dubai Open Chess Championships. Since this time, the legend of Magnus Carlsen has only continued to grow. He is currently ranked as the number one chess player in the world by the International Chess Association (FIDE).
Let’s break down some of the accomplishments in Chess for Magnus and Bobby.
Bobby Fischer’s Accomplishments
The notable career accomplishments of Bobby Fischer include:
- U.S. Chess Champion 1957/1958
- U.S. Chess Champion 1963/1964
- Peak Rating – 2785
- Chess World Champion – 1972-1975
- Chess Grandmaster – 1958
Magnus Carlsen’s Accomplishments
The notable career accomplishments of Magnus Carlsen include:
- Chess Grandmaster – 2004
- Chess World Champion – 2013
- Currently Ranked as Top Player in the World According to FIDE
- 2014 World Rapid Champion
- 2014 World Blitz Champion
- Winner of the Chess Oscars – 2009 – 2013
- Sportsman of the Year by Verdens Gang
- Named as One of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2013
Since both players are from different eras and so much has changed in the Chess community in just the past 50 years, one player may have had access to tools like Chess engines and the other with nothing but a board and pieces. These are factors to consider when comparing players.
Available Resources Bobby Fischer Had Access To
Bobby Fischer’s ability at the game of chess was recognized early on and he was soon able to take advantage of some excellent resources. His experience with the Hawthorne Chess Club was a formative one. He began honing his skills at the club in 1956.
Available Resources Magnus Carlsen Had Access to
There are a lot of factors that helped Magnus Carlsen to become so good at chess. He had the support of his family from a young age and was quickly recognized as an individual with tremendous potential. He also benefitted from growing up in an era of emerging technology and many new resources that allowed him to continue to improve his game.
Impact On The Chess Community
You may or may not take into consideration what the player has does for the Chess community in terms of helping it progress, but it should be mentioned. What an individual player has done or is doing to contribute to the world of Chess for the players and overall game makes a difference in how the community perceives you and the credit that person deserves.
Bobby Fischer’s Impact on the Chess Community
Fischer’s impact and contributions to the Chess community have been monumental.
The contributions that Bobby Fischer made to the game of chess were significant. As a writer, he made many notable contributions that include his book Bobby Fischer’s Games of Chess which was published in 1959. Other notable publications by Fischer include 1966’s Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess.
Bobby Fischer’s excellent endgame technique was one of the most influential in the history of the game. He also helped to shed more light on the game of chess and is one of the key figures responsible for popularizing the game. The life and career of Fischer were highlighted in the 1993 film Searching for Bobby Fischer.
Magnus Carlsen’s Impact On The Chess Community
Like Bobby Fischer, Magnus Carlsen has been a major contributor to the world chess community. His notoriety has helped to expand the reach of the game and has been a catalyst for its growing popularity. His chess skills helped him to earn a spot as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World as compiled by Time Magazine.
In 2016, Magnus Carlsen was the subject of a documentary film entitled Magnus that profiled his life and career as a child chess prodigy. This documentary served to further expose the public to the game of chess.
Though it would have been an incredible sight to see what would have happened if Bobby Fischer and Magnus Carlsen had ever faced off in a chess game, this never occurred. Regardless of this, the two both had many notable games against other top players during their careers. A few of their top games include:
Bobby Fischer’s Notable Games
Bobby Fischer has one of the most famous, most analyzed games in the history of Chess called, The Game of the Century.
The Game of the Century
Fischer vs R. Byrne
1963 saw one of the most iconic games in the career of Bobby Fischer when he played Robert Eugene Byrne at the U.S. Championship. Many chess enthusiasts consider this to be one of his finest performances.
Magnus Carlsen’s Notable Games
Carlsen vs Kasparov
Magnus Carlsen made history when he faced Garry Kasparov.
In 2004, Magnus Carlsen went up against the legendary Garry Kasparov. This legendary match took place when the child prodigy was only 13 years old and it served to put the world chess community on notice that there was a new force in the game.
Carlsen vs Nakamura
In 2019, Magnus Carlsen once again became a Chess World Champion when he competed against Hikaru Nakamura.
This game is notable for the confidence that Carlsen showed with each move.
It is now time to come to a final verdict on who is the better chess player between Bobby Fischer and Magnus Carlsen. This is a difficult conclusion to reach due to the fact that each player experienced their chess playing peak during different eras of the game. Both of them have a list of accomplishments that are truly impressive and quite comparable in many ways.
In the end, the final verdict on who is the better player is up to the individual person. Magnus Carlsen has the record for all-time highest chess rating and became a Chess Grandmaster two years earlier in life than Bobby Fischer.
At the same time, it can be argued that Bobby Fischer was the more dominant of the two players when he was at his absolute peak.
If you are comparing Bobby Fischer to Magnus Carlsen in terms of entertainment value, then the win would most likely go to Fischer who was the more aggressive and creative player.
At the same time, Carlsen takes the win when it comes to factors such as endgames, and his positional judgment. Given these facts, one could be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that this competition is a draw.
For some people, Bobby Fischer is the winner given his run of dominance, but it is also hard to argue with the impressive run that has been enjoyed by Magnus Carlsen.