I thought it would be interesting to list who I think were/are the 5 greatest chess players of all time.
1. Robert James Fischer
A bit controversial to list Fischer at the top of any list of the greatest chess players, mainly because after winning the world title he effectively quit the game, until his controversial rematch with Spassky in 1993. He is my top player because of the tremendous impact he had on the game, he raised the game to levels never before seen and indeed never reached since. His peak rating was 2785 elo, not the strongest on this list, but at the time he was miles better than anyone around.
2. Gary Kasparov
Dominated Chess in the 1990's, his peak rating was in excess of 2800 elo, the first player to breach that magical figure . He was world champion for over 10 years, famously preventing Englishman Nigel Short gaining the title in 1993. Kasparov was known for his amazing tactical ability and thorough opening knowledge. Great at both tournament and match chess, he was the most feared of all Grandmasters.
3. Magnus Carlsen
Current world champion and highest ever ranked player at 2882 elo, you could easily put Carlsen at 2nd spot or even top spot and he is still only 27 years old. He learned the moves at 5 years old and is the world's second youngest Grandmaster of all time, he became world champion in 2013 and is due to play American Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana for the title in London later this year.
4. Anatoly Karpov
Karpov, who won the world title by default when Fischer failed to defend the crown is perhaps the greatest tournament player of all time, not known for his tactical ability (by Super GM standards) but instead a tremendous positional player who many have described like a boa constrictor, he slowly squeezes you to death.
5. Jose Raul Capablanca
Born in Cuba, he learned the moves at 4 years old after watching his father play. Made his mark at the 1911 San Sebastion tournament, but didn't become world champion until 1921 officially (Lasker resigned the title in 1920, but Lasker lost the actual match in 1921). He was undefeated for 8 years from 1916 to 1924, but surprisingly lost the title to Alekhine in 1927, a player he had not previously lost a game to.
Just missing out on this list were :-
Many will question Fischer taking top spot in this list, he abandoned chess and many never forgave him for that. He also became very bitter and twisted in his later years which unfortunately tarnished his image in many peoples eyes.
The two players who could replace him in that top spot, namely Kasparov or Carlsen have had tremendous advantages over Fischer. Fischer never had access to the amount of material that both Kasparov and Carlsen have had the privilege to use. Also the number of events and opportunities to play high level games is much greater now then it was then, mainly thanks to Fischer himself.
Even if Fischer is not considered worthy of top spot on this list in years to come, his legacy to chess will take a long long time to fade.