The Most Famous

CHESS PLAYERS from Hungary

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This page contains a list of the greatest Hungarian Chess Players. The pantheon dataset contains 376 Chess Players, 20 of which were born in Hungary. This makes Hungary the birth place of the 4th most number of Chess Players behind Ukraine and China.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Hungarian Chess Players of all time. This list of famous Hungarian Chess Players is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Hungarian Chess Players.

Photo of Judit Polgár

1. Judit Polgár (1976 - )

With an HPI of 67.68, Judit Polgár is the most famous Hungarian Chess Player.  Her biography has been translated into 62 different languages on wikipedia.

Judit Polgár (born 23 July 1976) is a Hungarian chess player. She is generally considered the strongest female chess player of all time. Since September 2015, she has been inactive as a tournament player. In 1991, Polgár achieved the title of Grandmaster at the age of 15 years and 4 months, at the time the youngest to have done so, breaking the record previously held by former World Champion Bobby Fischer. She was the youngest ever player to break into the FIDE top 100 players rating list, ranking No. 55 in the January 1989 rating list, at the age of 12. She is the only woman to be a serious candidate for the World Chess Championship, which she did in the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005; she had previously participated in large, 100+ player knockout tournaments for the world championship. She is the first, and to date only, woman to have surpassed 2700 Elo, reaching a career peak rating of 2735 and peak world ranking of No. 8 in 2005. She is the only woman to be ranked in the top ten of all chess players, first reaching that ranking in 1996. She was the No. 1 rated woman in the world from January 1989 until her retirement on 13 August 2014.She has won or shared first in the chess tournaments of Hastings 1993, Madrid 1994, León 1996, U.S. Open 1998, Hoogeveen 1999, Sigeman & Co 2000, Japfa 2000, and the Najdorf Memorial 2000.Polgár is the only woman to have won a game against a reigning world number one player, and has defeated eleven current or former world champions in either rapid or classical chess: Magnus Carlsen, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Boris Spassky, Vasily Smyslov, Veselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand, Ruslan Ponomariov, Alexander Khalifman, and Rustam Kasimdzhanov.On 13 August 2014, she announced her retirement from competitive chess. In June 2015, Polgár was elected as the new captain and head coach of the Hungarian national men's team. On 20 August 2015, she received Hungary's highest decoration, the Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary.

Photo of László Szabó

2. László Szabó (1917 - 1998)

With an HPI of 66.17, László Szabó is the 2nd most famous Hungarian Chess Player.  His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.

László Szabó ([ˈsɒboː ˈlaːsloː] March 19, 1917 – August 8, 1998) was a Hungarian chess player. He was awarded the title of International Grandmaster in 1950, when it was instituted by FIDE. Born in Budapest, Szabó burst onto the international chess scene in 1935, at the age of 18, winning the first of Hungarian Championships, an international tournament in Tatatóváros, and was selected to represent his country at the Warsaw Chess Olympiad. It is thought that the young Szabó studied under Géza Maróczy, then a patriarchal figure in Hungarian chess who had previously trained future world champions, Max Euwe and Vera Menchik. Prior to World War II, there were other successes, including outright victory at Hastings 1938/39 (a tournament he was to hold a long association with). He began a career as a banker, dealing in foreign exchange. At the outbreak of war, Szabó was attached to a Forced Labour Unit and was later captured by Russian troops who held him as a prisoner of war. After the war, he returned to chess and played many major international events. He finished fifth at Groningen 1946, a tournament which included Mikhail Botvinnik, Max Euwe, Vasily Smyslov, Miguel Najdorf, Isaac Boleslavsky and Alexander Kotov. At the Saltsjöbaden Interzonal of 1948, he finished second to David Bronstein and took outright first place at Hastings 1947/48, Budapest 1948 and Hastings 1949/50. A share of fifth place at both the Saltsjöbaden 1952 Interzonal and the Gothenburg Interzonal of 1955, meant that each of his Interzonal finishes had been strong enough to merit him a place in the corresponding Candidates Tournament. It was at his third and final Candidates, held in Amsterdam in 1956, that Szabó made his most promising bid for a World Championship title challenge. He tied for third place with Bronstein, Efim Geller, Tigran Petrosian and Boris Spassky, behind Smyslov and Paul Keres. Into the 1960s and 1970s, he continued to excel in international competition; first at Zagreb 1964, first at Budapest 1965 (with Lev Polugaevsky and Mark Taimanov), first at Sarajevo 1972, first at Hilversum 1973 (with Geller) and tied for first at Hastings 1973/74 (with Gennady Kuzmin, Jan Timman and Mikhail Tal). In total, he represented Hungary at eleven Chess Olympiads, playing first board on five occasions and delivering many medal-winning performances. In 1937, he took the team silver and individual silver medals, in 1952 an individual bronze, in 1956 a team bronze and in 1966, team bronze and individual silver. Szabó was the best player in Hungary for nearly 20 years (eventually being succeeded by Lajos Portisch around 1963/64) and at the peak of his powers, one of the top 12 players in the world. His family donated Szabó's entire chess library and his papers to the Cleveland Public Library John G. White Chess and Checkers Collection. The John G. White Collection of Chess and Checkers is the largest chess library in the world (32,568 volumes of books and serials, including 6,359 volumes of bound periodicals.)

Photo of Géza Maróczy

3. Géza Maróczy (1870 - 1951)

With an HPI of 65.77, Géza Maróczy is the 3rd most famous Hungarian Chess Player.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Géza Maróczy (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈmɒroːt͡si ˈɡeːzɒ]; 3 March 1870 – 29 May 1951) was a Hungarian chess player, one of the leading players in the world in his time. He was one of the inaugural recipients of the title International Grandmaster from FIDE in 1950. He was also a practicing engineer.

Photo of Lajos Portisch

4. Lajos Portisch (1937 - )

With an HPI of 65.74, Lajos Portisch is the 4th most famous Hungarian Chess Player.  His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Lajos Portisch (born 4 April 1937) is a Hungarian chess Grandmaster, whose positional style earned him the nickname, the "Hungarian Botvinnik". One of the strongest non-Soviet players from the early 1960s into the late 1980s, he participated in twelve consecutive Interzonals from 1962 through 1993, qualifying for the World Chess Championship Candidates' cycle a total of eight times (1965, 1968, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1985, and 1988). Portisch set several all-time records in Chess Olympiads. In Hungarian Chess Championships, he either shared the title or won it outright a total of eight times (1958, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1971, 1975, and 1981). He won many strong international tournaments during his career. In 2004, Portisch was awarded the title of 'Nemzet Sportolója' (Sportsman of the Nation), Hungary's highest national sports achievement award. He still competes occasionally. His main hobby is singing operatic arias; he has a fine baritone voice, a quality shared by Vasily Smyslov, a chess world champion and grandmaster who also had talent as an operatic singer. His younger brother, Ferenc (born 1939), is an International Master.

Photo of Isidor Gunsberg

5. Isidor Gunsberg (1854 - 1930)

With an HPI of 64.51, Isidor Gunsberg is the 5th most famous Hungarian Chess Player.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Isidor Arthur Gunsberg (also spelled Günzberg, Hungarian: Gunsberg Artúr Izidor; 1 November 1854 – 2 May 1930) was a Hungarian chess player, best known for narrowly losing the 1891 World Chess Championship match to Wilhelm Steinitz.

Photo of István Bilek

6. István Bilek (1932 - 2010)

With an HPI of 59.79, István Bilek is the 6th most famous Hungarian Chess Player.  Her biography has been translated into 18 different languages.

István Bilek (11 August 1932 – 20 March 2010) was a Hungarian chess grandmaster. He was a three-time Hungarian Chess Champion.

Photo of Endre Steiner

7. Endre Steiner (1901 - 1944)

With an HPI of 59.05, Endre Steiner is the 7th most famous Hungarian Chess Player.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Endre (Andreas) Steiner (27 June 1901 – 29 December 1944) was a Hungarian chess player, born in Budapest. Endre Steiner played for Hungary in five official and one unofficial Chess Olympiads. In 1927, he played at first reserve board at 1st Chess Olympiad in London (+6 –2 =5). In 1928, he played at second board at 2nd Chess Olympiad in The Hague (+10 –3 =3). In 1930, he played at first reserve board at 3rd Chess Olympiad in Hamburg (+7 –2 =5). In 1931, he played at first board at 4th Chess Olympiad in Prague (+5 –7 =3). In 1936, he played at third board at the unofficial Olympiad in Munich (+11 –6 =1). In 1937, he played at third board at 7th Chess Olympiad in Stockholm (+12 –1 =5).He thrice won the team gold medal (1927, 1928 and 1936), twice won a team silver medal (1930 and 1937), and once won an individual silver medal (1937).He died in a Nazi concentration camp near Budapest on 29 December 1944. Endre was the elder brother of Lajos Steiner.

Photo of István Csom

8. István Csom (1940 - )

With an HPI of 58.16, István Csom is the 8th most famous Hungarian Chess Player.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

István Csom (born June 2, 1940, Sátoraljaújhely, Hungary) is a Hungarian chess Grandmaster and International Arbiter. FIDE awarded him the International Master title in 1967 and the Grandmaster title in 1973. He was Hungarian Champion in 1972 and 1973 (jointly). His tournament victories include Olot 1973, Cleveland 1975, Olot 1975, Pula Zonal 1975, Berlin 1979, Copenhagen 1983, Järvenpää 1985 and Delhi 1987. Csom played for the Hungarian team in seven Chess Olympiads (1968–1974, 1978–1982, 1986–1988).Over the course of his career, Csom defeated many top Grandmasters, including Ulf Andersson, Boris Gulko, Tony Miles, Lajos Portisch, Samuel Reshevsky, Nigel Short, former World Champion Mikhail Tal, Rafael Vaganian, and Artur Yusupov.

Photo of Lajos Asztalos

9. Lajos Asztalos (1889 - 1956)

With an HPI of 57.54, Lajos Asztalos is the 9th most famous Hungarian Chess Player.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Lajos Asztalos (Ljudevit Astaloš) (29 July 1889, Pécs – 1 November 1956, Budapest) was a Hungarian chess International Master, professor, and teacher of languages. At the beginning of his career, he tied for sixth-eighth at Budapest 1911 (third HUN-ch, Zoltán von Balla and Zsigmond Barász won); tied for 7-8th at Breslau (Wrocław) 1912 (18th DSB–Congress, B tourn, Bernhard Gregory won); took second, behind Gyula Breyer, at Temesvár 1912 (fourth HUN-ch); won at Debrecen 1913 (fifth HUN-ch); tied for 8-9th at Budapest 1913 (Rudolf Spielmann won), took fifth at Mannheim 1914 (Hauptturnier A); took 4th at Vienna 1917 (Quadrangular, Milan Vidmar won), and took 5th at Kaschau 1918 (Richard Réti won). After World War I, he moved to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later known as Yugoslavia). In 1923, he tied for sixth-seventh in Trieste; (Paul Johner won). In 1924, he took third in Győr (7th HUN-ch, Géza Nagy won). In 1925, he took 5th in Budapest (Lovas and Sterk won), and tied for 13-14th in Debrecen (Hans Kmoch won). In 1926, he took third, behind Hermanis Matisons and Savielly Tartakower, in Bardejov (Bártfa, Bartfeld, Bardiów). In 1927 he took 4th in Kecskemét (Alexander Alekhine won).He represented Yugoslavia in Chess Olympiads: In 1926, in 2nd unofficial Chess Olympiad in Budapest – team silver medal; In 1927, at third board in 1st Chess Olympiad in London (+4 –3 =8); In 1931, at second board in 4th Chess Olympiad in Prague (+7 –3 =6); In 1936, at fourth board in 3rd unofficial Chess Olympiad in Munich (+5 –3 =8).In 1931, he took 13th in Bled (Alekhine won). In 1934, he took sixth in Maribor (Vasja Pirc and Lajos Steiner won). In 1935, he tied for 8-9th in Belgrade (Vasja Pirc and Borislav Kostić won). In 1938, he tied for 5-7th in Ljubljana (Kostić won).During World War II, Astaloš played for Croatia in a match against Slovakia on first board with Ivan Vladimir Rohaček (1 : 1) in Zagreb in December 1941. He returned to Hungary in 1942. Asztalos became Vice President of the Hungarian Chess Union and Secretary of the FIDE Qualification Committee. He was a professor of philosophy and a languages teacher.He died in Budapest during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 against the Soviet Union. He was awarded the International Master (IM) title in 1950 and the International Arbiter (IA) title in 1951. He was the author of A sakkjáték elemei (Budapest 1951).Asztalos Memorial has been held regularly in Hungary since 1958 till 1971.

Photo of András Adorján

10. András Adorján (1950 - )

With an HPI of 57.28, András Adorján is the 10th most famous Hungarian Chess Player.  His biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

András Adorján (born András Jocha, 31 March 1950) is a Hungarian chess Grandmaster (1973) and author. He adopted his mother's maiden name, Adorján, in 1968.

Pantheon has 20 people classified as chess players born between 1854 and 1996. Of these 20, 12 (60.00%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living chess players include Judit Polgár, Lajos Portisch, and István Csom. The most famous deceased chess players include László Szabó, Géza Maróczy, and Isidor Gunsberg. As of October 2020, 7 new chess players have been added to Pantheon including Endre Steiner, István Csom, and Lajos Asztalos.

Living Chess Players

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Deceased Chess Players

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Newly Added Chess Players (2020)

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Which Chess Players were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 8 most globally memorable Chess Players since 1700.