The Most Amazing Chess Draw Ever Played - Best Of The pre-1900s - Hamppe vs. Meitner, 1872

The Most Amazing Chess Draw Ever Played - Best Of The pre-1900s - Hamppe vs. Meitner, 1872

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Draws get a famously unfair bad rap in chess. As is often noted, a perfectly played game of chess is a draw. Still, there are certainly draws that can be dry, unsymmetric, and uninteresting. It's also true that draws have a dramatic disadvantage in that no matter how exciting the chess is on the board, a drawn game doesn't change tournament or match standings. Thus draws are (on average) slightly less exciting or newsworthy to spectators than decisive games.

Today's game, justly known as the Immortal Draw, shows all that a great draw can be. Meitner, playing the black pieces, meets 3.Na4?! with the excellent 3...Bxf2+!! How often do you see a brilliant move on move three?! Seriously... I'm asking. Please post examples of earlier brilliant moves in the comments!

From there, the game only gets more wild. It is by no means a perfect game, but it features much brilliance. On moves 3, 9, 11, and 16, Black finds brilliant sacrifices to put White under huge pressure. For his part, White also must find a brilliant 14th move to escape stunning defeat. Rarely (perhaps never...) has so much action and drama been packed into just 18 moves of chess.

Some have claimed that this game may have been composed because it is just too pretty, too brilliant. That may be true. We will likely never know. For my part, it doesn't much matter what the circumstances were. The game has rightfully stood the test of time and inspired countless chess players.

Top 10 Games from before 1900

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