712

Yosha Iglesias

8 d

The 10 most famous chess games in history

ten most famous chess games in history

Most of these 10 most famous chess games are ancient gems, enjoyed by chess players generation after generation.

Decades or even centuries after they were played, these games are still taught in clubs around the world.

Any ambitious player should know them, and their beauty will make studying them a pleasure.

Any selection is subjective. Other players would have selected other games.

I'll write additional articles on the 10 most famous chess moves in history and the 10 most famous chess combinations in history.

So if your favorite game is missing, you might see it in a future article.

Please also note that they are the most famous chess games, not necessarily the best masterpieces ever played.

The games are sorted in chronological order.

  • Gioachino Greco vs. NN, 1620
  • Sire de Legal vs. Saint Brie, 1750
  • Adolf Anderssen vs. Lionel Kieseretsky - The Immortal Game, 1851
  • Paul Morphy vs. Duke Karl & Count Isouard - The Opera Game, 1858
  • Wilhelm Steinitz vs. Curt von Bardeleben, 1895
  • Georg Rotlewi vs. Akiba Rubinstein - Rubinstein's Immortal, 1907
  • Richard Reti vs. Savielly Tartakower, 1910
  • Edward Lasker vs. George Alan Thomas, 1912
  • Donald Byrne vs. Bobby Fischer - The Game of the Century, 1956
  • Judit Polgar vs. Pavlina Chilingirova, 1988

    You can replay all the games and analysis with the viewer below. Select the game in the upper left corner.

1620.??.?? · ? · C40

Gioachino Greco vs NN, 1620.??.??
NN
0

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

Gioachino Greco
1

1.e4e52.Nf3f6First analysed by Pedro Damiano who called 2...f6?? "The Worst Possible Defense". Black doesn't develop any piece, takes the f6-square away from the g8-knight and more importantly weakens their king.3.Nxe5Already wining by force...fxe5 (3....Qe7was the least of the evils. But then 2...a6? would have been better than 2...f6??4.Nf3Qxe4+5.Be2) 4.Qh5+Ke7 (4....g65.Qxe5+Qe76.Qxh8Nf67.d4Kf78.Bc4+d59.Bxd5+Nxd51-0 (9) Lopez de Segura,R-Leonardo,G Rome 1572) 5.Qxe5+Kf76.Bc4+ White develops with check and forces the Black king to move further into ennemy's territory....Kg6 (6....d5Is a clever try to gain control of the key f5-square, but White wins anyway.7.Bxd5+Kg68.h4h59.Bxb7Bd610.Qa5Bxb711.Qf5+Kh612.d4+) 7.Qf5+Kh68.d4+Discovery check!...g59.h4The most difficult move of the game. White brings in new attackers....Kg7The poor king tries to run away but the White queen makes him come back.10.Qf7+Kh611.hxg5#Double check and mate!

Gioachino Greco vs. NN, 1620

The Royall Game of Chesse-Play by Greco

Born around 1600, Gioachino Greco was the first professional chess player, making a living by playing against rich players in Rome, Paris, London, and Madrid.

Greco was also the first to record entire games, that were published after his death. It's believed that at least some of these games were composed rather than actually played.

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

Key moment: 3.Nxe5!! is already winning by force!

Sire de Legal vs. Saint Brie, 1750

François Antoine de Kermur Sire de Legal was France's most prominent player at the time, spending most of his time at the Café de la Régence playing odds games like this one, down a rook.

He later got surpassed by his own student, a certain François André Danican, better known as Philidor.

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

Key moment: 5.Nxe5!! sacrificing the queen! Accepting the offer leads to a magnificent checkmate, still named Legal's Mate.

Adolf Anderssen vs. Lionel Kieseretsky - The Immortal Game, 1851

Adolf Anderssen

Adolf Anderssen was considered the best player of the middle of the 19th century before he was surpassed by Paul Morphy and later Wilhelm Steinitz.

He played two of the most amazing games in history, The Immortal Game and The Evergreen.

I'll show you the latter in a future article. Anderssen was also an important figure in the development of chess composition.

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

Key moment: 22.Qf6+!! forcing mate in 2 moves. The final touch of a true masterpiece.

Paul Morphy vs. Duke Karl & Count Isouard - The Opera Game, 1858

Paul Morphy

In 1858, the American genius Paul Morphy not only established himself as the best player in the world by beating Adolf Anderssen in a match but produced what might be the most famous chess game of all time!

It was played in a box at the Paris Opera against two players in consultation, the German noble Karl II, Duke of Brunswick, and the French aristocrat Comte Isouard de Vauvenargues.

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

Key moment: the iconic final position!

Chess course suggestion: Paul Morphy - 25 Games to Memorise

Wilhelm Steinitz vs. Curt von Bardeleben, 1895

Wilhelm Steinitz

The first World Chess Champion lost his title to Emmanuel Lasker in 1894.

One year later, at Hastings, he was eager to show the world that he could still play well despite his old age - he walked with two canes and would die five years after.

Steinitz did not win the tournament but was awarded the brilliancy prize for his game against the strong master Curt von Bardeleben.

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

Key moment: The shocking 22...Kf8!! is a fantastic defensive idea, but the old lion had foreseen everything!

You can replay all the games and analysis with the viewer below. Select the game in the upper left corner.

1620.??.?? · ? · C40

Gioachino Greco vs NN, 1620.??.??
NN
0

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

Gioachino Greco
1

1.e4e52.Nf3f6First analysed by Pedro Damiano who called 2...f6?? "The Worst Possible Defense". Black doesn't develop any piece, takes the f6-square away from the g8-knight and more importantly weakens their king.3.Nxe5Already wining by force...fxe5 (3....Qe7was the least of the evils. But then 2...a6? would have been better than 2...f6??4.Nf3Qxe4+5.Be2) 4.Qh5+Ke7 (4....g65.Qxe5+Qe76.Qxh8Nf67.d4Kf78.Bc4+d59.Bxd5+Nxd51-0 (9) Lopez de Segura,R-Leonardo,G Rome 1572) 5.Qxe5+Kf76.Bc4+ White develops with check and forces the Black king to move further into ennemy's territory....Kg6 (6....d5Is a clever try to gain control of the key f5-square, but White wins anyway.7.Bxd5+Kg68.h4h59.Bxb7Bd610.Qa5Bxb711.Qf5+Kh612.d4+) 7.Qf5+Kh68.d4+Discovery check!...g59.h4The most difficult move of the game. White brings in new attackers....Kg7The poor king tries to run away but the White queen makes him come back.10.Qf7+Kh611.hxg5#Double check and mate!

Georg Rotlewi vs. Akiba Rubinstein - Rubinstein's Immortal, 1907

Akiba Rubinstein

While Rubinstein is mostly known for his positional masterpieces and perfect endgame technique, his Immortal Game is full of magnificent tactics!

Rubinstein played it just two months after winning the 1907 Carlsbad tournament, proving to the world he belonged to the very top.

Lasker had planned to play Rubinstein for the World Championship in 1914 but the match got canceled due to World War I.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

h

g

f

e

d

c

b

a

Key moment: Black has just sacrificed their queen and still has a rook, a bishop, and a knight under attack. Notwithstanding all these material issues, Akiba put his other rook en prise by playing 23...Rd2!!

Richard Reti vs. Savielly Tartakower, 1910

Richard Reti

Richard Reti wasn't just one of the elite players in the early 20th century but also one the most influential leaders of the Hypermodern School of Chess and one of the most appreciated study composers.

In this unforgettable miniature, Reti displays creativity in the opening as well as his refined sense of aesthetics.

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

Key moment: A true artist like Reti could not miss the magnificent blow 9.Qd8+!! leading to two different but equally pleasing mating patterns!

Edward Lasker vs. George Alan Thomas, 1912

Edward Lasker

Edward Lasker was one of the best players of the early 20th century, although not of the same class as his friend and distant cousin, the second World Champion Emmanuel Lasker.

In this casual game played at the City of London Chess Club, Edward produced one of the most celebrated chess combinations of all time.

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

a

b

c

d

e

f

g

h

Key moment: 18.Kd2# Instead of giving mate by castling, White mates thanks to a discovered check! It's a very rare case of a piece - the a1-rook - giving checkmate without having ever moved!

Donald Byrne vs. Bobby Fischer - The Game of the Century, 1956

Bobby Fischer

While Bobby Fischer needs no introduction, the best description of this gem played at the Marshall Chess Club in New York was provided by the famous chess author Hans Kmoch, who named it "The Game of the Century" and wrote:

"The following game, a stunning masterpiece of combination play performed by a boy of 13 against a formidable opponent, matches the finest on record in the history of chess prodigies."

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

h

g

f

e

d

c

b

a

Key moment: 17...Be6!! Black leaves their queen en prise. The variations are stunning: 18.Bxe6 Qb5! leading to a smothered mate pattern called Philidor's Legacy, while the game's 18.Bxb6 Bxc4+ led to a nice "Windmill".

Judit Polgar vs. Pavlina Chilingirova, 1988

Judit Polgar

At 12, Judit Polgar was already the youngest International Master ever when she came to Thessaloniki for the 28th Olympiad.

Not allowed to participate in what was back then called the Men&#x