After the award of Grandmaster, winning the World Chess Championship is probably the pinnacle achievement in the career of a professional Chess player.
You could say it is equivalent to a boxer becoming World Heavyweight Champion of the World ...
Where the sport of Boxing has Ali, Tyson, Lewis, among many esteemed greats; the sport of Chess can boast Kasparov, Fischer, Anand, among other elites.
Unofficial World Champions
Notable Unofficial World Champions, include Jose Raul Capablanca (Cuba) and Emanuel Lasker (Germany).
Prior to 1948, supposed World Championships were matches arranged by private individuals, usually backed by investors, who would bet their money with the intention of claiming a decent proportion of their man's winnings.
Both parties - the backers/investors - would put their money into a single 'purse', from which roughly 50% would go to those who backed the winner.
Of the remainder, the player that won the Championship would get a larger percentage of the spoils, while the backers of the loser would get nothing ... I assume the losing player got a dead leg from his backers.
While the winner would be heralded as having won the World Championship, up until 1948, it was in retrospect - after the game had been played.
It was mainly due to this that such games were considered Unofficial World Championships ...
Official World Champions
To be called Official, the match had to be promoted in advance - it would go down on record and be known that a game was to be played to determine the World Champion ... As people would know about it beforehand, there could be little to dispute what title was at stake.
The first, Official World Championship took place in 1886 and was contested by Wilhelm Steinitz (Austro-Hungary) who played and beat Johannes Hermann Zukertort (German-Polish-Jewish origin), to claim the title.
Steinitz went on to retain his title for a further 8 years, whereupon he was beaten by Emanuel Lasker (Germany) in 1894, who in turn remained unbeaten until 1921.
In 1921, Steinitz lost to Jose Raul Capablanca, who was Undisputed World Champion until 1927.
In 1927, Alexander Alekhine (Russia) beat Capablanca.
While Alekhine was subsequently beaten in 1935, by Max Euwe (Netherlands), he returned to defeat Euwe, in 1937 and continued to hold the title until 1946.
A pivitol point, in the history of the World Chess Championship, was reached in 1948, as this was the year when World governing body for Chess, FIDE, took control of organizing the Championships.
The first player to win the title of World Chess Champion, under FIDE's regulatory control, was Mikhail Botvinnik (Russia).
However, this new Championship collapsed in 2006 and FIDE has once again retained its status as sole organizer of the World Chess Championship.
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