Personal Mona Lisa of Alexei Shirov

Personal Mona Lisa of Alexei Shirov‎

GM Gserper
24 | Tactics

In my opinion it is impossible to say for sure which game of Alexei Shirov is the best one he ever played. He is one of the most imaginative contemporary players and therefore he has dozens of true masterpieces. So it would be impossible for me to single out just one game for this article if not for the help of GM Shirov himself! When he says: " One can live a whole live of chess for a game like that!" to me it is a clear indication that this is his personal Mona Lisa.  And the name of his opponent only makes this game even better! So, without further ado, let me present you the next brilliance!

(Just like in most of my articles I give you a chance to test your attacking skills, so the games are given as a Quiz.  Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list".)

Just like Gufeld in the previous article, Shirov finds himself in a very dangerous situation. His opponent is about to slowly squeeze the life out of his position, so Alexei starts his trademark "Fire on Board"!


Black has sacrificed the Bishop, but at least he managed to create some threats.  Still it looks like his attack is about to fizzle out. How should Black add more wood to the fire?
Black's pressure becomes very dangerous. One of the many threats for instance is 31...Rg6 and then 32... Qh1+!! 33. Bxh1 Nh2 checkmate! But the next calm move by Kramnik (31.f3) seems to repel the attack or does it?
Black managed to regain all the material he had sacrificed, but how to stop White's passed pawns?
Now the game enters the final and most dramatic part.  White has extra material again but Shirov continues his attack and prevails in the time scramble.
As you could see, Shirov in his comments admits that White had many opportunities to play better and even get a big advantage.  For some chess purists it is a big turn-off since for them, a true gem must be flawless. Nevertheless, I subscribe to the opinion of Michael Tal who once said that he doesn't care if his attack gets refuted after some precise moves which were found weeks or even months after the game. The only thing that really matters is if his opponent can find the best moves during the game.
As I said in the beginning of the article, Alexei Shirov has played dozens of brilliant games and hundreds of brilliant moves.  Naturally, I cannot mention all of them here and yet, I cannot write an article about this great chess artist and exclude one of the best moves ever played in chess.  I bet most of you my dear readers are familiar with this position.  But if you are seeing it for the first time, just try to guess Black's next move.  I promise you'll be astonished!
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