More of the Greatest Combinations You've Never Seen

More of the Greatest Combinations You've Never Seen

| 28 | Tactics

Today, we will continue our exploration of brilliant combinations that have been wrongly cast into oblivion.

First, I would like to share one of my own games from many years back, in which I missed a gorgeous mating sequence. It was a very painful experience, but one that nonetheless ignited my love for all things tactical.

I believe that players frequently overlook spectacular combinations (e.g. Ni Hua-Le Quang Liem from last week's article) not only because they are difficult to find, but also because it is hard to believe that such an improbable sequence can actually work.

It is crucial to understand that the primary goal of a combination is objective rather than aesthetic. In other words, you are making moves not because they are elegant, but because they are strong — but who is to say that beauty and strength are mutually exclusive? 

In the following game, which I first saw in an obscure 1966 volume titled Pillsbury's Chess Career, the American master (whose life was tragically cut short by syphilis in 1906) whips up a ferocious sacrificial attack to run the reigning world champion off the board.

Pillsbury's combination is made all the more spectacular by the fact that it is 100 percent objectively sound. 

It is particularly striking that White targeted the most overprotected point in Black's camp. An immaculate display by Pillsbury, and certainly one of my favorite games of the 20th century.

To me, the most beautiful combinations do not necessarily involve the most sacrifices. A two- or three-move sequence that utilizes a particularly memorable tactical motif can be more aesthetically pleasing than a double-rook sacrifice. 

I do not think that I have ever seen the queen trapped in such a way. Simply gorgeous. 

The next two games are given as exercises. Always remember that there is no such thing as too much beauty

The title of this article is rather grandiose, and hopefully, I have delivered. There exists a fascinating world of chess beauty beyond the famous games that everybody has seen and replayed hundreds of times, and I have only shown the tip of the iceberg.

As usual, feel free to share combinations from your own play, or to express your opinion about any of the featured games. Au revoir! 


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