10 Best American Chess Players of All Time

best american chess players

Can you guess how many Grandmasters America has produced so far? A whopping number of 94!

The United States has continually provided world-class talent in the game, be it Bobby Fischer or Paul Morphy. On the world-chess stage, you will come across Grandmasters such as Fabiano Caruana or Gata Kamsky. They are regulars at the biggest competitions across the globe.

But where do they stand on the list of the greatest American chess players?

Curating a list of the best American chess players of all time is no easy task at all. Nevertheless, after weighing several characteristics against each other, I present a list of the best American players.

10 Best American Chess Players

1. Bobby Fischer


best american chess player - Bobby Fischer
Image Credits: Britannica

Along with Carlsen and Kasparov, Bobby Fischer is one of the strongest world champions and the most notable American chess player in history. Fischer is credited with creating Fischer random chess, also called chess 960, one of the most inventive chess variations.

His absurd and consecutive wins played an instrumental role in reviving American Chess in the 1970s.

For his time, Fischer’s speed and precision were unmatched. His fashion was timeless, stylish, and, most importantly, precise.

Even today, his peak rating of 2785 would still position him as the best player.

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2. Fabiano Caruana

Did you know that Fabiano Caruana beat Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura’s title as America’s youngest grandmaster in Chess?

Caruana is that prodigy who ascended the peak of Chess and arrived at the top.

Fabiano Caruana
Image Credits: Wikipedia

This grandmaster has won several competitions over his career. Moreover, he once had the number two position in the entire globe. In his prime, Fabiano Caruana trails Magnus Carlsen on the live list by just 28 rating points. Only Caruana and Carlsen have a rating above 2800.

Another interesting fact about Caruana is that he won the Italian chess championship four times before joining the United States League. He also won the U.S. chess championship on his first attempt in 2016.

3. Wesley So

Wesley So
Image Credits: Chess.com

He joined the United States Association in 2014.

So has astounded his audience and competitors alike with his precise and safe moves. Initially, many doubted his merit as a chess player because of his safety strategies.

However, such assumptions were proved meaningless when So defeated Carlsen in the first FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship finals in 2019. Nobody questioned his genius and originality after that.

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4. Hikaru Nakamura

best american chess players Hikaru Nakamura
Image Credits: Wikipedia

Grandmaster at the age of 15, Hikaru Nakamura’s chess game has both aggressive and safe chess moves.

Probably the greatest American ever to dominate flash chess, Nakamura has also established himself as a celebrated figure within the domain of internet chess. These are pretty significant titles since most chess matches in 2020 were conducted digitally and under tight time constraints.

In addition, Nakamura has gathered a sizable fan base on Twitch’s live-streaming platform. Wired magazine has also dubbed him “the grandmaster who hooked Twitch on chess.”

Be it the internet or the over-the-board chess game, Nakamura has proved himself as one of the top players after winning the U.S Championship five times.

5. Paul Morphy

Paul Morphy
Image Credits: Wikipedia

Paul Morphy can rightfully be called the founder of American Chess.

Morphy was a chess prodigy at a young age. His elegance, as well as his strategic skills, were approximately a century ahead of his times. He was honored with the title of “the most accurate player ever lived” by World Champion Bobby Fischer.

Many chess enthusiasts might not know that Morphy’s career peaked pretty young. He was only 21 when he participated in the European tour of 1858. He effectively defeated every good opponent the European continent could muster.

6. Leinier Dominguez Perez

best american chess player - Leinier Dominguez Perez
Image Credits: Chess.com

This Cuban-American Grandmaster solidified his position in the Chess world by winning the World Blitz Championship against Grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk. This tournament went down in history since Perez won it by only half a point. I still get goosebumps when I think about this match!

But his achievements don’t end with it. He won several Cuban Championships from 2003 to 2016. FIDE has ranked him third with a rating as impressive as 2700.

He changed to the U.S federation in 2018 and has established himself as one of the strong players who can triumph at any time-restraint game.

7. Abhimanyu Mishra

young grandmaster Abhimanyu Mishra
Image Credits: Chess.com

Did you know that only 5 chess players worldwide have achieved the title of “Grandmaster” before their 13th birthday?

On July 4th, 2021, Abhimanyu Mishra created history! This 12-year-old Indian-American achieved chess history’s youngest grandmaster title. With an Elo rating of 2500, Mishra shattered Grandmaster Sergey Karjakin’s 19-year-old mark. He had also bagged the title of “International Master” in 2019.

Karjakin had to say this about the player: “I hope that he will go on to become one of the top chess players, and it will be just a nice start to his big career. I wish him all the best.”

8. Gata Kamsky

Gata Kamsky american chess players
Image Credits: Wikipedia

A natural at Chess and a true child prodigy, Gata Kamsky, etched his name in the Chess World by becoming the top 8th player in the World Championship of 1990. His win against World Champion Mikhail Tan earned him that spot. That was just the beginning of his Chess career.

Since then, he has won the Tilburg Tournament of 1990, the U.S Championship of 1991, and the FIDE Match of 1994. Winning against Grandmasters such as Vladimir Kramnik and Vishwanathan Anand makes him a worthy competitor!

9. Levon Aronian

Levon Aronian
Image Credits: Twitter

Super Grandmaster Levon Aronian, who is Armenian by birth, has been regarded as one of the greatest chess players of all time. He initially reached the top 20 in 2005 and hasn’t dropped out since. He changed federations from Armenia to the United States in 2021.

Aronian has recently set the standard for consistent, top-level chess performance. But don’t allow his reliability to question what he has already done. With his blitz rating peaking at 2830, he was only three steps behind the most rated players worldwide.

Aronian’s accomplishments include

  • Two Chess World Cup triumphs
  • Many gold medals for the Armenian national team
  • World titles in Fischer Random Chess
  • Blitz chess matches

10. Samuel Shankland

Samuel Shankland
Image Credits: Chess.com

The most exciting fact about Samuel Shankland is that he succeeded in the Under-18 division of the World Youth Championship. With this, he becomes the tenth best American chess player on my list. Three years later, in 2011, Shankland became a Grandmaster.

Shankland played a vital role in establishing the American squad for the 2016 Olympiad. This was the first time they won since 1976.

Reaching a staggering rate of 2700, Shankland brought home the U.S Championship in 2018.


Who is the best American chess player?

Bobby Fischer is considered the best American chess player, with a peak rating of 2785.

Who is the U.S chess master?

Tanitoluwa Adewumi, 2019, recently became the ten-year-old America’s first national chess master.

Who is the current best chess player?

Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen is currently holding the position of a world chess champion.

Is Chess famous in the USA?

Chess hasn’t been this well-liked in America in almost 50 years when American grandmaster Bobby Fischer captivated the nation with his match versus Russian Boris Spassky.




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Whether players of today or yesteryear, these best American chess players have impacted the chess world in their unique ways.

Frank Marshal was the U.S Chess Champion from 1909 to 1936. Reuben Fine was a celebrated figure in the chess psychology domain. Arnold Denker, also called “Dean of American Chess” played an important role in taking Chess to the next level. Some of the other renowned American chess players deserve to be mentioned.

Therefore, compressing America’s chess history into a list was not easy!

If you agree with the above list of the best American chess players, please let us know in the comments below.

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