Many people consider Bobby Fischer the greatest player ever. Not only did he slay a Soviet chess empire, he did it alone over the board without political chicanery -- unlike Anatoly Karpov and Gary Kasparov who dominated the game since he left.
Fischer, 52, lives in Hungary. In 1964, eight years before he won the crown, a magazine asked him to name history's top ten players. Here is a summary of his list, which curiously left out both Emanuel Lasker and Mikhail Botvinnik:
1. PAUL MORPHY. Perhaps the most accurate player who ever lived, he would beat anybody today in a set-match. He had complete sight of the board and seldom blundered even though he moved quite rapidly. I've played over hundreds of his games and am continually surprised and entertained by his ingenuity. 2. HOWARD STAUNTON. His games are completely modern, but very few of them show brilliancies. He understood all the positional concepts we now hold so dear. 3. WILHELM STEINITZ. He always sought completely original lines and didn't mind getting into cramped quarters if he thought that his position was essentially sound. 4. SIEGBERT TARRASCH. Razor-sharp, he always followed his own rules. In spite of devotion to his own supposedly scientific method, his play was often witty and bright. 5. MIKHAIL TCHIGORIN. The first great Russian player and one of the last of the Romantic School. At times he would continue playing a bad line even after it was refuted. 6. ALEXANDER ALEKHINE. Never a hero of mine. His style worked for him, but it could scarcely work for anybody else. His conceptions were gigantic, full of outrageous and unprecedented ideas. It's hard to find mistakes in his games, but in a sense his whole method was a mistake. 7. JOSE CAPABLANCA. He had the totally undeserved reputation of being the greatest living endgame player. His trick was to keep his openings simple and then play with such brilliance that it was decided in the middle game before reaching the ending -- even though his opponent didn't always know it. His almost complete lack of book knowledge forced him to push harder to squeeze the utmost out of every position. 8. BORIS SPASSKY. He can blunder away a piece, and you are never sure whether it's a blunder or a fantastically deep sacrifice. He sits at the board with the same dead expression whether he's mating or being mated. 9. MIKHAIL TAL. Even after losing four games in a row to him I still consider his play unsound. He is always on the lookout for some spectacular sacrifice, that one shot, that dramatic breakthrough to give him the win. 10. SAMUEL RESHEVSKY. From 1946 to 1956 probably the best in the world, though his opening knowledge was less than any other leading player. Like a machine calculating every variation, he found moves over the board by a process of elimination and often got into fantastic time pressure.
Source: Evans on Chess - Dec 1st 1995 from