Exercises in Style: From Wilhelm Steinitz to Magnus Carlsen (4/4)

by Johannes Fischer
8/23/2017 – Modern top players are "universal players". They know and play a large variety of openings, they master brilliant attacks, difficult defenses and patient positional play equally well. However, the chess of Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen is still quite different. Can you recognize the style of these four World Champions?

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The first undisputed World Champion in the history of chess was Wilhelm Steinitz, while the 16th and current World Champion is Magnus Carlsen. In this article and previous articles ChessBase presents and presented 16 games by the World Champions — one per World Champion. Without giving any information when, where and against whom these games were played, can you find out which World Champion played which game by just looking at the moves?

To simplify the task, the 16 World Champions were divided into four groups. In the first group were Wilhelm Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker, José Rául Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine, the second group consists of Max Euwe, Mikhail Botvinnik, Vassily Smyslov and Mihail Tal. The third group included Tigran Petrosian, Boris Spassky, Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov. Now, to conclude, follow Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen in the fourth group.

The games were chosen with a random generator. But only tournament and matchgames were taken into account and only wins. Games between two World Champions were also ignored. Can you find out which World Champion played which game?

Game 1


Game 2


Game 3


Game 4


If you want to you can explain your choice the in comments. It is, of course, easy to find out who played which game if you search for the games in the ChessBase Megabase. But this would spoil the fun, so if you do, please keep it to yourself! Moreover, we'll reveal who played which game soon. Have fun!

See also


Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".
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Resistance Resistance 8/30/2017 08:31
Another tough excercise to solve for me; Game 2 I knew it, but the rest... We'll see.

Game 1 - Anand (too sharp a game for Magnus; it isn't your typically clean Kramnik game, either. And I have Kasparov on Game 2).

Game 2 - Kasparov (typical Garry: sharp, dynamic chess at its best. This is a known game of his, though, so no much trouble there getting it).

Game 3 - Carlsen (seems like the kind of game you'd expect from Magnus: slow, almost innocent-looking, then 20 moves later the guy in front of him is lost; might be Kramnik's too, but I think White's play here is closer to Magnus, since neither Game 1 nor 4 felt Magnus-like to me, and Game 2 is Kasparov's).

Game 4 - Kramnik (I wasn't sure of this one; might be Anand's because of its sharp play, but I don't see Vladimir as the one behind the black pieces in Game 1; and it isn't Garry, since I know Game 2 is one of his games).
anonimous anonimous 8/24/2017 07:27
Game 3 is clearly Carlsen, in fact it's a recent game vs. Aronian where Carlsen turns down the draw when a pawn down and when that was enough to win the tournament. Game 2 I think is Anand, that blitzkrieg style is quite characteristic. Game 1 is Kramnik, he used to play the Sveshnikov when he was younger, which explains 2...Nc6. Game 4 is Kasparov: notice the wonderful opening preparation that gives him a comfortable advantage out of the opening, and the aggressive, typical style with which Garry launches himself at the Black king.
drafty drafty 8/24/2017 03:45
This is difficult. 1. Kramnik 2. Anand 3. Carlsen 4. Kasparov.
Peter B Peter B 8/24/2017 01:55
This is the hardest one yet, as styles become more universal. About the only thing I can say with confidence is I don't think Kramnik or Carlsen played Game 2. I think Game 2 is probably Kasparov and the other attacking game, Game 4, looks like it could be Anand. Of the two more positional games, I think Game 1 is more Carlsen like, and I think he's more likely to strike like that with Black, but that is hard too. So 1 Carlsen, 2 Kasparov, 3 Kramnik, 4 Anand, but with no confidence.
WALLFISH WALLFISH 8/23/2017 10:54
1. Kramnik
2. Kasparov
3. Carlsen
4. Anand
RoselleDragon RoselleDragon 8/23/2017 10:40
1:Kasparov 2:Vishy 3:Magnus. 4:Kramnik
vinniethepooh vinniethepooh 8/23/2017 06:22
First of all, the first game wasn't quite clear to me. It looked like Anand or Kramnik.
I decided to move on. Second game definitely felt like Kasparov; the game was based on brute force! So that was quite easy, I'd say.
The third game, well. I knew it should be Carlsen, but I still thought let me go to the next game. Maybe I will get some answer?
I was actually confused in that whether Carlsen or Kramnik (I knew it was most likely Carlsen.)
Then I checked the 4th game. It was clear that Kramnik was the one to smash the Stonewall.
So I got the 3rd game answer-Carlsen! And then also the first game.. Anand! So here is my final, guys:

1.Vishy Anand
2.Gary Kaspy
3.Magnus Carlsen
4.Vlad Kramnik