The world's championship
The first but unofficial chess world master was the German Adolph Anderssen. He won the first modern chess tournament in London, so he was allowed to claim for the best chess player in the world. In 1866, he was defeated by Wilhelm Steinitz who called himself in public "chess world master". After some tournament winnings in the 70s in the 19th century he was accepted as best player of the world. At that time the world's championship was not arranged as we have it today. The world master could determine himself the conditions of the challenger who wanted to win the title. The first rules are set in the "Record of London" of 1922. In this record the conditions of a title match are stipulated. Most of the contents stem from Capablanca. The "Record of London" scheduled, that the challenger has to raise 10,000 dollar. This money was the prize for the winner. That is why Capablanca never defended his title. The first who raised the money was Aljechin who won over Capablanca.
The title was vacant after Aljechin's death. Because of World War II there were no world's championship matches and Aljechin did not lose his title. He took it with him into his grave. After that the FIDE assumed the organization of the world's championship. The FIDE organized a tournament in Moskau and Den Haag in 1948 where the new chess world master should be determined. The tournament was won by Michail Botvinnik. The FIDE also set up rules for the defense of the world master title. The challenger was determined in a candidate tournament and every three years there was a match between the challenger and the world master.
In 1993, the world master Garry Kasparov and his challenger Nigel Short decided to play the world's championship with their rules. Therefor they established the PCA, the professional chess association. After that the FIDE disqualified the world master title of Kasparov. The second and the third, Karpov and Timman, fought for the FIDE title which Karpov won.
In 1999 the world's championship system was completely changed by the FIDE. A tournament was hold in Las Vegas in which the new world master should be determined; the tournament was played in K.O system. 100 grand masters participated but several important players, like Kasparov, Viswanathan and Karpov, were missing. The tournament was surprisingly won by the Russian Alexander Khalifman. Alexander Khalifman reserves the 29th place in the ELO-ranking (with 2656,00 points; on May 11, 2000). Kasparov reserves the first place with 2845,00 points (on May11, 2000). But Khalifman proved his worth as world master, by playing two draws against Kasparov at the super tournament in Linares. That shows that ELO ratings are not everything.
Here you can find followed by the text a table of the world masters:
Playerr Year Adolph Anderssen (Germany) 1862 - 1866 Wilhelm Steinitz (Austria) 1866 - 1894 Emanuel Lasker (Germany) 1894 - 1921 José Raul Capablanca (Cuba) 1921 - 1927 Alexander Aljechin (France) 1927 - 1935 Max Euwe (Netherlands) 1935 - 1937 Alexander Aljechin (France) 1937 - 1946 Michail Botwinnik (UdSSR) 1948 - 1956 Wassilij Smyslov (UdSSR) 1957 - 1958 Michail Botwinnik (UdSSR) 1958 - 1960 Michail Tal (UdSSR) 1960 - 1961 Michail Botwinnik (UdSSR) 1961 - 1963 Tigran Petrosjan (UdSSR) 1963 - 1969 Boris Spassky (UdSSR) 1969 - 1972 Bobby Fischer (USA) 1972 - 1975 Anatoli Karpov (UdSSR) 1975 - 1985 Garri Kasparov (Russia) (since 1993 WM of the PCA) 1985 - **** Anatoli Karpov (Russia) 1993 - 1999 Alexander Khalifman (Russia) 1999 - ****