Paul Morphy called the Evans Gambit, "that most beautiful of openings," and, indeed, until the beast was declawed by Lasker, this particular opening led to some of the most spectacular games. Of all the Evans Gambits ever played, Anderssen's Evergreen Game is, by far, the most famous, possibly the most beautiful, and even after a century and a half, still controversial.
Anderssen's Evergreen Game
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 exd4 7.O-O
A typical postion found in the Evans Gambit
7. . . d3
Black deviates with 7...d6 or even 7... dxc3 being decidedly better.
a strong move that has been criticized by Burgess and Nunn who preferred 8. Re1
8. . . Qf6 9.e5 Qg6 10.Re1 Nge7 11.Ba3
Black is ahead by 2 pawns, but White is adequately compentated with greater development and the initiative.
11. . . b5
Black returns some wood in a valiant attempt to stifle White's impending attack.
12.Qxb5 Rb8 13.Qa4 Bb6
13. . . 0-0 14.Bxe7, if 14. . . Nxe7, then 15. Qxa5
14.Nbd2 Bb7 15.Ne4 Qf5 16.Bxd3 Qh5 17.Nf6+
This temporary sacrifice doesn't force a win, but gave Anderssen the kind of position he loved.
17. . . gxf6 18.exf6 Rg8 19.Rad1
Here's where the great controversy lies.
Back in 1900 James Mason wrote (in Social Chess):
19. QR-Qsq. ! QxKt
20. RxKt+! KtxR
All forced. If 20 . . . K-Qsq ; 21 RxQP+ K-Bsq ;
22. R-Q8+! KtxR ; 23. Q-Q7+! KxQ ; 24. B-B5+
K moves ; 25. B-Q7, mate!
In The Mammoth Book of the World's Greatest Chess Games (Graham Burgess, John Nunn, John Emms), it's written:
19.Rad1 was criticized by Lasker who preferred:
19. Be4 Qh3 20.g3 Rxg3 21 hxg3 Qxg3+ 22. Kh1 Bxh2
23. Bxe7 (if 23. Re2, then 23...Nd4!) 23...Qh3+ 24. Nh2
Qh4 25. Re2 Nd4 26. Bxb7 Nxe2 27. Qxh4 Bxh4 -
In My Great Predecessors, Kasparov offered this variation of Lasker's
line: 24.Nh2 Bxe1 25.Rxe1 Qh4! 26.Qd1! Nxe7 27.Bxb7 Qxf6 28.Qg4
"with the initiative".
Kasparov adds that this position, examined in 1975 by Murey and Fridstein , yeilded this: "after 28...Kd8! White has nothing real." Better for White is 28.Bd5!? Qxc3 (28...Rb6? 29.Qh5! ; less clear is 28...Rb2 29.Qh5 c6 30.Ng4 Qf4 ) 29.Qe2 (29.Bxf7+? Kxf7 30.Qh5+ Kg8 with a draw.) 29...Qb4 (29...Qc5?! 30.Qe5!) 30.Ng4 (30.a3?! Qd6!) 30...Kd8 (or possibly better 30...Kf8)
Consequently, Blacks reply is equally controversial
19 . . . Qxf3
One of the most interesting lines I've noticed relied on the defense of d7:
19 ... Qh3 which defends d7
20 Bf1 Qf5 continuing to defend d7
21 Qe4! Qxf6
22 Bb5 threatening Bxc6 and Qxe7
23 Rxd7 Kxd7
24 Bxe7 Qe6
25 Qd3 Kxe7
26 Rxe6+ Kxe6
27 Qe4+ Draw by perpetual check.
According to Kasparov, 19... Rg4 was much stronger than the text move. Followed by 20.Bc4 (alternately, 20.Re4!? Rxe4 21.Qxe4 d6 22.Re1! Qg6! and Black's defences hold. - Kasparov) 20... Rxg2+! 21.Kxg2 Qg4+ 22.Kf1 Qxf3 23.c5 Qh3+ 24.Kg1. . .
20...Kd8 21.Rxd7+! Kc8! 22.Rd8+! Kxd8 23.Be2+! -Kasparov calls "more prosaic"
21. . . Kxd7 22.Bf5+ Ke8 23.Bd7+ Kf8 24.Bxe7# 1-0
The human mind is a glorious and beautiful thing, but it can only be appreciated through its creative manifestations - through art, music, mathematics, even chess. In a chess game, two minds are pitted against each other. No mind is perfect, and, so, no game is perfect, but beauty that attracts doesn't rely on perfection. We are often drawn to faces that are lovely, yet imperfect with the crooked smile or too-wide eyes becoming the main appeal. When these two imperfect minds struggle to see deeper and to plan more cunningly, and one mind succeeds in most subtle and surprising fashion, a certain beauty can be detected and felt. A century of analysis, later aided by computers, may find a deeper truth in a position and a better plan than what was devised over-the-board, but certainly not a greater beauty. Anderssen, of course, had an imperfect mind, but, like the Mona Lisa with her imperfect smile, it was a work of art.