I keep seeing "Morphy would have beaten Steinitz", which we will never know, but here is some food for thought, from Steinitz' International Chess Magazine of 1886:
(Nov 1886 pp 333-335)
As usual I have my duty as a critic to
perform, and all the editorial tomahawks that are raised by native and
foreign savages, from the Pawn and move downward to the receivers of the
Rook odds, with the kind intention of sacrificing the living on the
shrine of the dead, will not deter me from it. To what I have said on
the subject before, I may only add quite in conformity with the
Anand's easy manner sits on top of a breathtaking attacking verve and capacity for creative counterplay.
The imaginative attacking finish seems to belong to an earlier era,
while the opening play is all modern. The Scandinavian leads to an early
release of central tension, and, if Black can develop smoothly, will
have no problems. This line is an attempt to prevent Black from
developing smoothly, and no end of rule-breaking goes on to that end.
Carlsen often seems to win without doing anything in particular, but
doing it very well. Commentators have tried to explain his peculiar gift
by appealing to 'nettlesome' moves, moves that have no obvious dangers,
but perhaps are surprisingly awkward to meet.
Carlsen, particularly when younger, has been noted more for his
avoidance of sharp and theoretical lines, than having signature opening
systems. He often seems content to aim for a 'normal' White plus in the
opening, hoping to build on it later on, particularly in blitz.
We have entered an era where it is not always obvious what the best
players are doing. They are better than previous generations, they play
all positions well, and they are fighting against players who also do
everything well, and what makes the difference is not apparent to me.
But while Kramnik's play is subtle and deep, there are games which
makes it look as though what he is doing is as simple as it looks.
Kramnik brought to several apparently settled opening systems a new
clarity in pursuing White's main plans. In the Grunfeld, it was White's
Karpov had a marked preference for positional play, although, in his own
words, "if my opponent offers sharp play, I do not object." Karpov had
no soft spots that anyone could discern -- an alleged weakness against
'romantic' openings was less of a handicap than the openings some chose
Karpov has always embraced the need for deep preparation. Here he digs
deep into a position that was all the rage at the time.
Boris Spassky became World Champion on the second attempt, defeating Petrosian in 1969 and losing his title to Fischer in 1972. He had something of a reputation of having a 'universal' style, able to play all positions well, but that is true of anyone who holds the crown of chess, and he has a marked facility with dynamic and attacking play.
opening will rest (or should rest) on several
considerations: your style and temperament as
chessplayer, your time and aptitude for study,
ambitions as a player. The standard recommendation