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The Immortal Game is a chess game played by Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky on 21 June 1851 in London, during a break of the first international tournament. The bold sacrifices made by Anderssen to secure victory have made it one of the most famous chess games of all time. Anderssen gave up both rooks and a bishop, then his queen, checkmating his opponent with his three remaining minor pieces. The game has been called an achievement "perhaps unparalleled in chess literature".
Adolf Anderssen was one of the strongest players of his time, and many consider him to have been the world's strongest player after his victory in the London 1851 chess tournament. Lionel Kieseritzky lived in France much of his life, where he gave chess lessons, and played games for five francs an hour at the Café de la Régence in Paris. Kieseritzky was well known for being able to beat lesser players despite handicapping himself—for example, by playing without his queen.
Played between the two great players at the Simpson's-in-the-Strand Divan in London, the Immortal Game was an informal one, played during a break in a formal tournament. Kieseritzky was very impressed when the game was over, and telegraphed the moves of the game to his Parisian chess club. The French chess magazine La Régence published the game in July 1851. This game was nicknamed "The Immortal Game" in 1855 by the AustrianErnst Falkbeer.
This game is acclaimed as an excellent demonstration of the style of chess play in the 19th century, where rapid development and attack were considered the most effective way to win, where many gambits and counter-gambits were offered (and not accepting them would be considered slightly ungentlemanly), and where material was often held in contempt. These games, with their rapid attacks and counter-attacks, are often entertaining to review, even if some of the moves would no longer be considered the best by today's standards.
In this game, Anderssen wins despite sacrificing a bishop (on move 11), both rooks (starting on move 18), and the queen (on move 22) to produce checkmate against Kieseritzky who only lost three pawns. He offered both rooks to show that two active pieces are worth a dozen inactive pieces. Anderssen later demonstrated the same kind of approach in the Evergreen Game.
Some published versions of the game have errors, as described in the annotations.
White: Adolf Anderssen Black: Lionel Kieseritzky Opening: Bishop's Gambit (ECO C33)
1. e4 e5 2. f4
3. Bc4 Qh4+
4. Kf1 b5?!
5. Bxb5 Nf6 6. Nf3
6... Qh6 7. d3
8. Nh4 Qg5
9. Nf5 c6
10. g4 Nf6 11. Rg1!
12... Qg6 13. h5 Qg5 14. Qf3
15. Bxf4 Qf6 16. Nc3 Bc5
Wow, this really screwed with chess.com's formatting.
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