The First Four Official World Chess Champions

The Austrian chess grandmaster Wilhelm Steinitz (1836–1900) eventually emigrated to the United States. He is commonly recognized as the first official World Chess Champion, reigning from 1886 (at the latest) until 1894.

Emanuel Lasker (1868–1941), of Germany was the World Chess Champion for 27 years, defeating Steinitz in 1894 and losing to Capablanca in 1921.

The third official champion was José Raúl Capablanca (1888–1942), from Cuba, reigned from 1921 to 1927. He went eight years without a loss, with only draws and wins in 63 straight games.

Alexander Alekhine (1892–1946) was the fourth World Chess Champion, and the only one to die holding the title. He defeated Capablanca in 1927 and never again played him in a match.