1883: 1st World Champion
William Steinitz (1836-1900) became the first official World Chess Champion in 1886 when he defeated Johannes Zukertort. But the real contribution of Steinitz was his contribution to the understanding of chess. Prior to 1872, chess was played in a romantic, hopeful, and daring style full of reckless attacks. But in 1873 Steinitz unveiled a more positional chess, with a focus on pawn structure, active bishop pair, and knight outposts. His attacks were only launched after careful preparation. And while some initially called his ideas "cowardly", they earned him the nickname of "father of modern chess".