Nezhmetdinov's "Most Beautiful" Chess Game? - Best Of The 50s - Polugaevsky vs. Nezhmetdinov

Nezhmetdinov's "Most Beautiful" Chess Game? - Best Of The 50s - Polugaevsky vs. Nezhmetdinov

NM SamCopeland

"It seems to me that this is the most beautiful game of any that I have played." - Rashid Nezhmetdinov

"I must have beaten him a dozen times, but I would trade them all for this one game." - Lev Polugaevsky

Rashid Nezhmetdinov played many brilliant and beautiful chess games, but in his own estimation, his victory with the black pieces against Lev Polugaevsky is the most beautiful of them all.

Nezhmetdinov was never a grandmaster, but he was a five-time Russian champion and one of the most feared attacking players of his day. He was a friend and sometimes second of Mikhail Tal's and aided the Magician from Riga in his victory over Mikhail Botvinnik in their World Championship match. Tal himself characterized the day he lost to Nezhmetdinov as the happiest day of his life.

Top 10 Games of the 1950s

This game is most known for the dazzling queen sacrifice at the end and the beautiful quiet moves that keep the white king perpetually sealed in the center of the board as his executioners make ready. However, the game is a full-throated affair with Nezhmetdinov demonstrating many excellent attacking ideas such as 19...Be6!! to keep the pressure on Polugaevsky. For his part, Polugaevsky daringly pushes forward with 17.g3! and 19.f4! to challenge Nezhmetdinov to the maximum. Ultimately, the only successful way forward is for Nezhmetdinov to offer the amazing 24...Rxf4!!, a queen sacrifice that has emblazoned this game in the chess annals forever.

Annotations are below. Credit to Douglas Griffin's incredible translations of Nezhmetdinov's notes. Griffin's blog is well worth your time and support.

I also highly recommend "Nezhmetdinov's Best Games of Chess" by Nezhmetdinov himself. [affiliate link supports channel]

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