The Greatest Combinations You've Never Seen
In this day and age, nary a chess player is unfamiliar with the most famous tactical games of all time: Morphy-Count Isouard, Anderssen-Kieseritzky (The Immortal Game), Anderssen-Dufresne (The Evergreen Game), Glucksberg-Najdorf (The Polish Immortal), and other famed pearls of chess beauty.
However, it is important to recognize that millions of chess games have been recorded, and that many jaw-dropping combinations and tactical sequences — frequently occuring in low-key events or in games between unknown players — are unjustly overlooked. Today and next Friday, I would like to share some of the most amazing — and most unknown — tactical creations that I have come across in my chess career.
Ironically enough, I will begin with a stunning combination that did not actually occur in the game. In time pressure and with his king under a vicious onslaught, Vietnamese GM Le Quang Liem never suspected that he was staring one of the greatest combinations of all time right in the face.
With his last move (g5-g6), White has created a vicious mating threat along the h-file. Unfortunately for Black, he has no way to directly parry the threats, but White's monarch is not very safe either. A demoralized Le Quang saw no way to exploit his queenside superiority and resigned after two more moves, but the silicon monster indicates that his pessimism was misplaced.
Before viewing the following sequence, do make sure that you are firmly seated in a chair.
This is what I mean by "the greatest combinations you've never seen!" It goes without saying that actually finding this spectacular sequence in time pressure is essentially impossible, but regardless of its objective difficulty, it is probably the most aesthetically beautiful tactical sequence I have ever seen.
Rewind more than 60 years, to an encounter between two obscure American players. To be fair, White had an alternative win in the initial position, but to sacrifice two rooks and three pieces — well, that deserves some recognition, doesn't it?
Note: This game was unearthed by Chess Historian Edward Winter in his excellent work Chess Facts and Fables. To my knowledge, it does not appear in any chess databases, making it very esoteric.
Most people are thrilled to end the game with a rook or queen sacrifice. But to give up an entire army and deliver mate with a pawn — all of it objectively sound — is truly special.
The following combination, probably my personal favorite, is especially noteworthy because it occurs in an extraordinarily complex position, with four queens (not to mention rook and minor pieces) on the board. Amidst the chaos, Georgian GM Bukhuti Gurgenidze uncorked an improbable queen sacrifice, and rounded off the combination with a study-like final move.
I would like to go on and on, but I do want to save some combinations for next week! I will end by giving you the opportunity to recreate a magnificent tactical sequence from the recently concluded World Youth Chess Championship in Durban, South Africa.
Viva la combinación!
RELATED STUDY MATERIAL
- Read GM Naroditsky's last article, The Move You Can't Afford to Miss.
- Watch FM Alisa Melekhina's video on Tal's brilliant miniatures.
- Take a lesson on combinations in the Chess Mentor.
- Practice your combinations in the Tactics Trainer.
- Looking for articles with deeper analysis? Try our magazine:The Master's Bulletin.