Not sure any more introduction is necessary, these are my 10 favorite chess games of all time! I don't claim to have seen every chess game ever played, that would be a little absurd, but I think I've looked in the right places for all the good ones. I'm going to count the list down from ten with an explanation on the placement and a link to the game, enjoy!
10. "A New Champion"
Anatoli Karpov vs. Garry Kasparov
Karpov-Kasparov World Championship Match 1985 Game 24
Sicilian Defense: Scheveningen, Classical Variation (B84) 0-1
This was the final game of the 1985 World Championship match. From what I've seen, it is also the most impressive game of the match. For starters, all Kasparov (playing black) needed to do was draw with Karpov, as he had done so many times before, and he would win the title of World Champion. But Kasparov played for the win, he never played for a draw. The result was a game with both brilliant tactical AND positional play by Kasparov that made Karpov, one of the greatest chess players of all time, look second rate. Kasparov's move 25...f5!! was recently named by chess.com's favorite IM, Sam Shankland, as the #1 greatest move of all time, and I'd say it isn't far from the truth--it is the accumulation of a number of mysteriously brilliant and subtle positional moves that put Kasparov in the position for an onslaught of equally brilliant tactical manuevers that ended Karpov's reign of World Champion in explosive fashion.
9. "Best By Protest"
Robert James Fischer vs. Boris Spassky
Fischer--Spassky World Championship match 1972, Game 6
Queen's Gambit Declined: Tartakower Defense, Exchange Variation (D59) 1-0
At its root, this game was simply a dominating performance by Bobby Fischer over Boris Spassky to take the lead in this World Championship match. What made this game even more amazing is that it was the first time, to anyone's knowledge that Bobby Fischer played the Queen's Gambit in his professional career! The opening was transcribed from an English opening and was very uncharacteristic of Fischer. On top of this, this specific variation of the Queen's Gambit was something of a speciality for Spassky, most people highly doubted Fischer could win, but Fischer played almost flawlessly and made a number of excellent moves. It may be the case that Spassky was brought down psychologically after seeing his favorite opening torn down in such a resounding manner by the man who would go on to win the WC, never losing the lead he took in this game. Surely the most pivotal game in the match.
8. "Sacre Blue"
Deep Blue (Computer) vs. Garry Kasparov
Sicilian Defense: Alapin Variation, Barmen Defense Modern Line (B22) 1-0
This was the first game in the famous match between Deep Blue, IBM's chess engine and reigning world champion Garry Kasparov. This game had a profound impact on how humans play chess computers, even today. Kasparov attempted to play very sharp, open and tactical, obviously playing to his strengths. The result was something of embarrassment for Kasparov, who tried to outplay Deep Blue with a dubious pawn sacrifice in exchange for an attack on white's kingside. It turns out, Deep Blue was a step ahead of Kasparov and gladly took the pawn, haing already calculated Kasparov's downfall, despite kingside pressure on its own end. From this point on, Kasparov stuck to positional games against Deep Blue, and was able to ultimately win the match, that year...
7. "Boy Wonder"
Vladmir Kramnik vs. Magnus Carlsen
Corus Torunament, 2008, Round 12
English Opening: Symmetrical Variation, Hedgehog Defense (A30) 0-1
This game was a purely positional slugfest between two Titans of chess. The most amazing aspect of this game was how quickly and soundly Carlsen was able to positionally dominate his opponent using the black pieces. Kramnik's attack was held at bay the entire game--caught in a hopeless positional gridlock, then slowly ground down to a pulp. This may have been the game where Carlsen really proved to the world that he could compete at the super GM level, and can he ever! There's not a lot that can be said about this amazing game, see for yourself!
6. "Rubinstein's Immortal"
Georg Rotlewi vs. Akiba Rubinstein
Tarrasch Defense: Symmatrical Variation (D32) 0-1
Rubinstein's tactics in this game were simply a thing of beauty. The simple fact Rubinstein was able to take the game from roughly equal to a mating net in only 10 moves highlights Rubinstein's genius. The game is a thing of beauty, watch how Rubinstein is able to manipulate white's strongest pieces to put white's king in a helpless position to be cornered by every single one of black's remainding pieces. This was one of those games where one player was to get all of his places exactly the way he needed them, regardless of material losses. I really admire the idea behind Rubinstein's attack, it just proves that you don't always need your strongest pieces to be able to checkmate your opponent.
5. "Mophy's Immortal"
Paul Morphy vs. Adolf Anderssen
Casual game, 1858
King's Gambit Accepted, Kieseritsky Gambit, Berlin Defense (C39) 1-0
With a performance as dominating as this, it's hard to imagine how Paul Morphy could have ever lost a chess game. The speed at which he is able to take control of this game and manipulate his hopeless opponent. One of the most amazing things is how many of black's moves are forced in this game, it's quite possible that Morpy didn't make a single mistake in this game. Even with such a dubious opening, it looked as though black had lost before he even began, and Anderssen was certainly no slouch at chess in his day.
4. "A Long Walk Off a Short Pier"
Nigel Short vs. Jan Timman
Tilburg 53/115 1991
Alekhine's Defense: Modern, Alburt Variation (B04) 1-0
This is probably my favorite ending to any game, except for maybe the game at my #2 spot. The reason for Short's famous win here was excellent positional play combined with a brilliant finish in the form of a King walk from g1 to g5 to set up for a forced mate. There aren't many chess players that have the sort of mind and intellect it takes to come up with a move like that. In almost all games, the king is a piece that is to be protected at all costs, not used until the endgame. But here, Short used his King as a powerful attacking piece, with the aid of a secure position. By the time Short's king left his corner of the board to join the queen in attacking Timman's kingside, Timman was already so hopelessly locked in Short's positional wall, that the white king probably could have marched around in circles around the center of the board. Simply amazing performance from Short from start to finish.
3. "Kasparov's Immortal"
Garry Kasparov vs. Veselin Topalov
Hoogovens A Tournament, Wijk aan Zee (Netherlands) 1999
Pirc Defense (B06) 1-0
This is doubtless the pinnacle of tactical play. The depth at which Kasparov was able to analyze these lines were so astounding, I wouldn't be surprised if he had calculated a guaranteed win starting from move 20. Kasparov's pieces moved around the board as if they were the only soliders on the battlefield, chasing around a helpless king. Indeed, Kasparov was able to drag out Topalov's helpless king and chase him around the entire chess board, taking out Topalov's pieces along the way with blazing tempo. The game itself is even aesthetically beautiful to boot. This is surely Kasparov's greatest game.
2. "The Brilliancy Prize"
Robert Eugene Byrne vs. Robert James Fischer
US Championships, 1963
King's Indian Defense: Fianchetto Variation, Immediate Fianchetto 0-1
There are so many things that can be said about this game that is it hard to sum them all up here. For starters, when this game ended, the GMs watching the game believed that Byrne had won, due to a disasterous sacrifice mistake by Fischer, this was far from the truth. Looking at the game, it is impressive that Byrne was even able to recognize the inescapable trouble that his king was in! Fischers plan for victory was lengthy, but accurate, and his moves were simply not understood by either his opponent nor the spectators when he played them on the board. To the untrained eye, it might even seem like Fischer is just giving the game up. Fischer's ability to turn an equal opening position into a mating net in this game was described as "more witchcraft than chess". When Byrne resigned, none of black's pieces were even past the 7th rank! It just may be the case that Fischer sold his soul for this sort of performance.
1. "The Game of the Century"
Donald Byrne vs. Robert James Fischer
Rosenwald Memorial 1956
Gruenfeld Defense: Three Knight Variation, Hungarian Attack (D92)
They don't call this the "Game of the Century" for nothing. This is truly the most amazing game of chess I have ever seen, and may ever seen. When 13 year old Bobby Fischer showed up at the Rosenwald Memorial Tournament, I don't think he was even taken seriously as a chess player, but when he left, there is no doubt he was universally hailed as a chess prodigy. Some people believe this game to be a bit overrated, simply due to Fischer's obscenely young age during the game, but I disagree completely. This game is a huge victory for hypermodernism in general, as Fischer was able to dismantle Byrne's impressive pawn center with relative ease. The queen sacrifice 17...Be6!! is truly the "Shot heard 'round the world" -- the move of the century, and opens up the most impressive and aesthetically beautiful slurry of tactical blows that I have ever seen, in the form of a knight and bishop windmill that kept Byrne at a stand still as Fischer took out a huge chunk of white's defense, while sewing himself the perfect mating net that Byrne was gratious enough to let the young Fischer execute to checkmate. Truly a spectacular performance, worth of its title, in my humble (and completely unprofessional) opinion.
I hope you enjoyed my blog and my list! I'd love to hear what your favorite games are, and if you know of any other great games I mght enjoy, let me know! =)