The top 7 grandmasters of the modern era

The top 7 grandmasters of the modern era

As in any other sport, chess has its champions who have dedicated their entire lives to mastering the noble art of the game. Professional chess not only involves competing for rankings but also categorizing players and awarding titles based on their performance. These categories and titles indicate the skill level of players, determined by their points on various national and international rating scales.

In terms of national ratings, a player's category increases with every 100 points. For instance, players with below 1700 points are not classified into any category. However, players with 1700 to 1800 points are recognized as "Fourth Category Players," and so on: 1800-1900 points for "Third Category," 1900-2000 for "Second Category," and 2000-2100 for "First Category." These classifications can vary by country and also depend on the player's gender.

Once a player reaches 2200 points, they are recognized as a National Master and start to be classified on an international scale, earning the title of Candidate Master. The international FIDE (World Chess Federation) scale includes the following titles:

  • Candidate Master (CM) – 2200 points
  • FIDE Master (FM) – 2300 points
  • International Master (IM) – 2400 points
  • Grandmaster (GM) – 2500 points

Achieving the title of Grandmaster requires significant effort, numerous victories, and exceptional skill, making it a distinction reserved for the very best.

Statistically, only about 250 players worldwide have attained this title.
In this article, you'll read about seven modern Grandmasters who are currently among the best and most skilled in the world.

7. Ding Liren (2762 points)

Image source: fide ratings

Ding Liren, a Chinese chess player born in 1992, is currently ranked as the FIDE World Chess Champion after defeating Ian Nepomniachtchi in the 2023 World Championship. Ding started playing chess at the age of four. At sixteen, he won his first Chinese Chess Championship, becoming the youngest player in China to do so.

He reached the finals of the World Chess Championship in both 2017 and 2019, becoming the first player ever to do so consecutively. In addition to his three Chinese titles, he has two team gold medals and one individual gold medal from Chess Olympiads (plus one team gold from the World Team Championship).

From August 2017 to November 2018, Ding maintained an unbeaten streak of 100 games, the longest in history until Magnus Carlsen surpassed it in October 2019. In May 2018, Ding broke into the world's top five and reached a rating of 2800 in September. He is currently seventh on the FIDE list with 2762 points.

6. Gukesh Dommaraju (2763 points)

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Born on May 29, 2006, Indian Grandmaster Gukesh Dommaraju became the second youngest Grandmaster ever when he began his career at the age of twelve. He will be the youngest challenger in history, having won the FIDE Candidates Tournament at the youngest age ever (18 years old). He will become the youngest World Champion ever if he defeats Ding Liren in the 2024 World Chess Championship.

5. Nodirbek Abdusattorov (2766 points)

Image source: fide ratings

Uzbek Grandmaster Nodirbek Abdusattorov, who was born in 2004, took home the World Rapid Chess Championship in 2021. He participated in the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad as a member of the Uzbekistan first board team. Notably, he accomplished both at the age of 17, being the youngest person to do so in history.
He peaked at number four in the live FIDE ratings in March 2024 and is presently in fifth place with 2766 points. Winning the 2012 World Youth Championship for under-8s was his first significant accomplishment. In a match at age nine, he triumphed over two Grandmasters, Andrey Zhigalko and Rustam Khusnutdinov. At the age of eleven, he broke into the FIDE junior top 100 in April 2015, making history as the youngest player to do so.

4. Ian Nepomniachtchi (2770 points)

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Russian Grandmaster Ian Nepomniachtchi, also known as "Nepo," was born in 1990 and has won the Candidates Tournament twice. He faced Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship in 2021 after winning the 2020–21 Candidates Tournament, but he was defeated in 11 games. He was victorious in the 2022 Candidates Tournament and tied Ding Liren 7–7 in the 2023 World Championship's classical round, but lost in the tiebreak. Despite his failure in the 2024 Candidates Tournament, Nepomniachtchi is still regarded as one of the best players in the game.

3. Hikaru Nakamura (2794 points)

Image source: fide ratings

American Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura was born in Hirakata, Japan in 1987, and immigrated to the US when he was two years old. At seven years old, he started playing chess under the guidance of his stepfather, a FIDE Master, and well-known chess author and instructor Sunil Weeramantry. Nakamura, one of the strongest "blitz" and "bullet" chess players in the world, is widely considered as the best American hope to win back Bobby Fischer's World Championship crown. He is a four-time US Chess Champion (2005, 2009, 2012, and 2015), and with 2794 points, he presently holds the top spot in the US and third place worldwide.

2. Fabiano Caruana (2805 points)

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Fabiano Caruana broke the record for the youngest American Grandmaster previously held by Hikaru Nakamura. In 2018, he faced Magnus Carlsen in the World Chess Championship in London but lost in the playoff tiebreak. He is a three-time US Chess Champion (2016, 2022, 2023). 

Born in Miami, Florida, in 1992, Caruana learned chess as an extracurricular activity after school at age five. By age 10, he became the youngest American to defeat a Grandmaster in an official tournament. His subsequent achievements include winning several national school championships and two gold medals at the Pan-American Youth Championship. In 2004, his family moved to Europe for better training opportunities, and at 14, Caruana became the youngest Grandmaster in US history, breaking Bobby Fischer's record. He is currently second on the FIDE list with 2805 points.

1. Magnus Carlsen (2830 points)

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Magnus Carlsen is considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time. Born on November 30, 1990, in Norway, he became the second-youngest World Chess Champion in 2013 at age 22. Carlsen started playing chess at five and participated in his first tournament at eight.
His beginnings are tied to his very early childhood. His father taught him the most valuable lessons in chess when he was just 5 years old, and by the age of 8, he participated in his first chess tournament.

In January 2004, he won his first tournament in the Netherlands, and in April 2004, he became a Grandmaster after finishing second at the Dubai Open Chess Championship. Carlsen's win at the Nanjing tournament in China in October 2009, with 8 out of 10 possible points, was one of the greatest performances ever. In January 2010, FIDE ranked Carlsen as the world's number one player, making him the youngest to achieve this. He had the longest unbeaten streak from 2018 to 2020 and won his fifth World Championship in Dubai in 2021.

In July 2022, Carlsen announced he would not defend his title in 2023 but continues to play chess. With his extraordinary memory, tactics, and strategies, Carlsen consistently impresses the world and currently holds the top spot on the FIDE Grandmaster list with 2830 points.


Many elite chess players exist, but only the best of the best earn a place on the Grandmaster list. As we've seen, most of the current top Grandmasters started playing chess in early childhood. It's crucial to recognize talent early and provide quality training to develop young prodigies in this sport.

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