Can anyone provide lists of seconds of famous players?

They can contain the names of people that work/worked with top players for a long period or for a particular match/tournament. Besides the names of the seconds, I'm also curious about the typical strength of seconds and whether there are seconds that worked for different top players.

  • This will be a long list. Best way to extend it are books written about championships and matches, they often contain this info. (I would be much more curious about who is the "worst" second known.) Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 20:08

6 Answers 6


Just to get started, of the top of my head:

  • Magnus Calsen worked with Jon Ludvig Hammer, Laurent Fressinet, Ian Nepomniachi, Peter Heine Nielsen, Michael Adams, Simen Agdestein, Garri Kasparov. He also had training sessions with Ding Liren and Wesley So. Also, this were his seconds for WCC 2016.

  • Vishy Anand worked with Peter Heine Nielsen, Rustam Kasimdzhanov,Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Grzegorz Gazewski, Krishnan Sasikiran, Peter Leko, Surya Ganguly and Sandipan Chanda. He also had at least one training session with Magnus Carlsen.

  • Kramnik worked with Peter Svidler, Miguel Illescas, Evgeny Bareev, Peter Leko, Sergey Rublevsky, Alexander Motylev, Andrey Efimenko.

  • Veselin Topalov worked with Ivan Cheparinov, Paco Vallejo, Dominguez Perez, Romain Edouard.

As you can see the rating of these seconds is generally in the 2650-2750 range. (A notable exception would be Kris Littlejohn, a 2100 player who used to assist Hikaru Nakamura). It is quite common for seconds to work for different top players, at different points in time. (Leko, Motylev, Nielsen, Kasimdzanov … from the list above.) As for the strength of a second, they are typically very strong theoreticians. And often a new second is hired because he is a specialist in a particular opening.This is the main reason why his name might be kept a secret. For example Dominguez is an expert in the Grunfeld and the Najdorf. Michael Adams was clearly hired because of his expertise in the Berlin Defence. Gajewsky introduced a strong counter gambit in a line of the Ruy Lopez …

  • Carlsen also had a training session with Aronian recently and Anand had a training session with Giri too I believe, years ago.
    – RingMaster
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 22:15
  • 1
    ''worked with'' obscures who is second to whom, for those of us not well versed in chess superheroes
    – hkBst
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 16:28

Surprised this doesn't exist somewhere. A few:

'51 WC: Ragozin and Flohr for Botvinnik, and Alexander Konstantinopolsky for Bronstein.

'72 WC: Lombardy for Fischer, Geller, Krogius and Nei for Spassky

'13/'14 WC's: Carlsen has rotated many people through the position, Hammer seems to be a constant, also had Fressinet and Adams in the '14 match. Anand used Sasikiran, Wojtaszek and Gajewski in '14 match, Leko and Chandra '13.

WC match narratives often seem to mention seconds, but no time to dive them all.

Also surprised how often they were unknowns--GMs, but not top-50 types. I guess you don't want to give away your prep to someone you're genuinely worried about facing in the future.

  • 2
    Nice to see some of the oldtimers! But I'm actually surprised of the opposite: Lot's of 2700+ seconds in recent years. Commented Jun 15, 2015 at 8:47

Botvinnik advised Kasparov for quite a few years. Mikhail Tal advised Karpov during his matches with Korchnoi. Spassky got a whole slew of advice in 1972 from Botvinnik, Korchnoi et al, and this was even translated into English and published as a book, Plisetsky and Voronkov's Russians versus Fischer. Botvinnik also gave some advice to Taimanov just before the latter faced Fischer.

Fischer and Benko fought over who Bisguier would help when the two of them played in Curacao Candidates in 1962.

When Kramnik was quite young, he acted as a second for Kasparov briefly.

When the Botvinnik-Fischer game was adjourned at Varna Olympiad 1962, Tal, Spassky, Keres, Geller, Boleslavsky and Furman all helped Botvinnik while the Byrne brothers worked on the position for Fischer.

  • Kasparov went to the Botvinnik and had classes with the patriarch, but I don't think Botvinnik ever accompany him as a second. Kasparov was helped by Nikitin, Magerramov, Vladimirov, much later by Kruppa...
    – Evargalo
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 10:30
  • Wesley So → Vladimir Tukmakov
  • Bobby Fischer → William Lombardy
  • Viswanathan Anand has used Peter Leko, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Sandipan Chanda and Krishnan Sasikiran.
  • Hikaru Nakamura → Kristoffer LittleJohn
  • Fabiano Caruana → Rustam Kasimdzhanov

There is also Dubov, for Magnus, and there is Max Warmerdam for Van Foreest.


One choice surprised many grandmasters at the time : for his Fide World Championship final match against Vassily Ivanchuk in 2003, the eventual winner Ruslan Ponomariov took an 11yo boy in his team of seconds : the future grandmaster and challenger Sergey Karjakin.

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