The Greatest Correspondence Chess Game Ever? - Best Of The 60s - Estrin vs. Berliner, 1965

The Greatest Correspondence Chess Game Ever? - Best Of The 60s - Estrin vs. Berliner, 1965

SamCopeland
NM SamCopeland
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16

There are a lot of "greatest" games in chess history. Greatest game in a world championship, greatest blitz game, greatest bullet game, greatest King's Gambit, etc. The categories seem endless at times, and of course, that is part of the fun. Chess players love to see brilliant games by different players in different contexts. One category full of rich chess that's often missed by chess fans is the "Greatest Correspondence Chess Game."

Today's game, Estrin vs. Berliner, has been widely acknowledged as the greatest in its category. To be honest, I'm not sure I agree with that label as there are some other real masterpieces in the field, and there are some mistakes in this game. Still, the richness of this battle, and the precision of the very beautiful endgame stand the test of time and are sure to please all chess fans.

Top 10 Games of the 1960s

The game is largely defined by relentless aggression from Berliner, including his selected opening variation with ...b5!?, and really exploding with the move 10...e4?! Objectively, e4 is a bad move, and White could have kept things under control and held his material advantage with 15.Bf1!. However, the natural retreat 15.Be2? allowed Berliner to immediately launch a powerful attack that could only be repelled by heading for a pawn-down endgame.

Once the endgame is reached, it's not simple for Berliner to win, but he finds two excellent ideas 28...cxb6!! and 31...Rc8!! to give back the extra pawn but exploit the outside passed pawn and active king to win beautifully.

My annotations with comments from Berliner's work "The System" [Amazon affiliate link supports the content.] are available below.

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