The 10 Greatest ROMANTIC chess players

killthequeen

Nizamious did a recent articly on "the 10 greatest chess players" but I'm thinking about what people think about the 10 greatest ROMANTIC chess players. For those who are not familiar with the chess term "romantic," it refers to 18th century-ish style of play, which was more short-term tactics than long-term strategy. In my opinion the best romantic players were Paul Morphy, Francois-Andre Philidor and Adolph Anderssen. The first TRULY scientific player was probably Steinitz so he isn't included.

batgirl

I'm not sure I would consider Philidor a Romanticist. I'm not even sure I would agree with the definition.  I don't think Romanticists were short on strategy. Of course, in the 19th century theory was still in its infancy, but strategy, even connecting the endgame to the opening, seemed to be relatively developed. Romanticists seemed to be more drawn to the open game since that type of game is more prone to yeilding combinations, and Romanticists considered combinations the highest and most beautiful aspect of chess. Speilmann was a Romanticist who was able to play in the higher levels during the first half of the 20th century, a feat that would seem impossible for someone lacking in strategical ability.

Steinitz, while he certainly took a scientific approach, started as a Romanticist - and was a good one. But as far as being the first truly scientific player, I don't know. He took many of his ideas from Paulsen who predated him in that style by several years.

kco

you mean someone like Humphey Bogart ?

TheOldReb

Romantic chess was the style of chess prevalent in the 19th century. It was characterized by brash sacrifices and open, tactical games. Winning was secondary to winning with style, so much, in fact, that it was considered unsportsmanly to decline a gambit (the sacrifice of a pawn or piece to obtain an attack). It is no coincidence that the most popular opening played by the Romantics was the King's Gambit accepted. Some of the major players of the Romantic era were Adolf Anderssen, Paul Morphy and Henry Blackburne. The Romantic style was effectively ended on the highest level by Wilhelm Steinitz, who, with his more positional approach, crushed all of his contemporaries and ushered in the modern age of chess.

Daniel3

Top ten: 1.Frank Marshall 2.Paul Morphy 3.Rudolph Spielmann 4.Adolf Andersson...

That's as far as I got.

batgirl

Reb,

Is that a wiki explanation? 
                                                  *frown*
I don't think the person who wrote it could defend some of his assertions and generalities. While Romanticists (if such a class actually existed - some people argue that it's an artificial distinction) were fond of gambits, I've never come across a single instance where it was mentioned that a gambit had to be accepted, so I have the firm believe that's a commonly accepted fallacy. Declined gambits even go back to Greco and were certainly an established part of the fare in the 19th century.  Sacrifices, because they were more common,  weren't necessarily brash. Like in an other chess endeavor, the individual's skill or talent dictated the brashness more than anything.  But, since combinative chess was considered the highest level, sacrifices were routinely considered and incorporated. I also wouldn't say that "winning was secondary to winning with style,"  but rather that winning with style was preferable, all things being equal - Morphy, for example, would occassionally play a slightly inferior move simply because it was a beautiful move - and then depend on his superior skill to win-  but this was certainly no general thing.

If Steinitz signaled the end to Romanticism at the so-called highest level, what can explain the poster's reference to post-Steinitz players such as Speilmann and Marshall? What about the great Romanticist Tarrasch?

I always considered the hallmark opening for Romanticists to be Capt. Evans' Gambit rather than the King's Gambit, but the KG (whether declined by that Romanicistm Falkbeer or accepted) is definitely romantic.

Philidor himself was sort of an anti-Romanticist, at odds with his literary adversaries, Ponziani, Lolli and del Rio - Italian Romanticists from the Greco school.  Philidor almost single-handed ended the Romantic style, such was his popularity, but it held for another century - thank goodness.

rigamagician

Romantics play for the attack using sacrificial combinations.  My top ten would probably include players like Adolf Anderssen, David Bronstein, Mikhail Chigorin, Frank Marshall, Paul Morphy, Alexei Shirov, Boris Spassky, Rudolf Spielmann, William Steinitz and Mikhail Tal.  Honourable mention goes to Rashid Nezhmetdinov, Judit Polgar and Alexander Morozevich.

killthequeen

Boris Spassky was a player of the middle and late 1900s!!. Definitely not 19th century

rigamagician

Romance lives on today still.  Shirov, Morozevich and Polgar are still sacing pawns and pieces left and right.

brandonQDSH

Well obviously the list starts at

1. Morphy

2. Morphy

3. Morphy

Is Tarrasch considered a romantic? He's a pretty bold guy and a bold player. The QGD Tarrasch looks really nice, like chess art. And since guys like Kasparov played it, it's also pretty good too.

nizamious

Idont understand whats romantic chess?

killthequeen

Romantic chess was pretty much the style played in 1800s it revolved around showmanship and flashy sacrifices and stylish play. It was a bit more tactical than long term strategy. The next style of chess which came in the very late 1800s was scientific chess, which revolved around slower, quiter pawn openings. Then hypermordern, ect, ect.

TheOldReb
batgirl wrote:

Reb,

Is that a wiki explanation? 
                                                  *frown*
I don't think the person who wrote it could defend some of his assertions and generalities. While Romanticists (if such a class actually existed - some people argue that it's an artificial distinction) were fond of gambits, I've never come across a single instance where it was mentioned that a gambit had to be accepted, so I have the firm believe that's a commonly accepted fallacy. Declined gambits even go back to Greco and were certainly an established part of the fare in the 19th century.  Sacrifices, because they were more common,  weren't necessarily brash. Like in an other chess endeavor, the individual's skill or talent dictated the brashness more than anything.  But, since combinative chess was considered the highest level, sacrifices were routinely considered and incorporated. I also wouldn't say that "winning was secondary to winning with style,"  but rather that winning with style was preferable, all things being equal - Morphy, for example, would occassionally play a slightly inferior move simply because it was a beautiful move - and then depend on his superior skill to win-  but this was certainly no general thing.

If Steinitz signaled the end to Romanticism at the so-called highest level, what can explain the poster's reference to post-Steinitz players such as Speilmann and Marshall? What about the great Romanticist Tarrasch?

I always considered the hallmark opening for Romanticists to be Capt. Evans' Gambit rather than the King's Gambit, but the KG (whether declined by that Romanicistm Falkbeer or accepted) is definitely romantic.

Philidor himself was sort of an anti-Romanticist, at odds with his literary adversaries, Ponziani, Lolli and del Rio - Italian Romanticists from the Greco school.  Philidor almost single-handed ended the Romantic style, such was his popularity, but it held for another century - thank goodness.


 Guilty as charged batgirl, please forgive me. Frown I think "romantic chess " is more about a certain style of play than a particular time period. However, I guess there was a period of chess history in which there were more such players playing chess and thus the period may be referred to a romantic period in chess. Of todays top players I think Topalov is more of the romantic mold than say Kramnik. Who at that level still sacrifices a piece against his peers in important events ? He also regularly sacrifices a pawn or an exchange. Spassky was of a "universal" style in that he could play in any style and he was dangerous no matter which style he chose. He was certainly a romantic player when he played his kings gambits. I think the reference to Steinitz ushering in the modern age of chess didnt mean there were no romantic players after him, but only that the "romantics" and their style of play, were never again as prevalent/dominate as before Steinitz.

killthequeen

Yes Sorry for the imperfect definition, it is broad and there are many exceptions, but in general its applicable. btw Batgirl, Wikipedia is THE BEST!!Tongue out

Daniel3

I don't understand the accepted notion these days that sacrificing a piece is somehow "risky" or "unacceptable". A sacrifice, like any attack, should not be something you do because you "feel" like you should or because you like to attack. It should be embarked upon because certain conditions on the board suggest that an attack is likely to succeed, or because yoour opponent has made a mistake of some sort. Of course, to be successful one must sacrifice at the correct time. (e.g. One must have an advantage before attacking.)

An attack shouldn't be carried out without any idea of what is going to happen next or how you will continue. All winning attacks are carefully calculated and thought-out before being executed. now tell me; If these attacks are based on so much calculation, why would it be a bad idea to sacrifice in high-level tournaments?

(Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system. Reading Vukovic has begun to influence me! Tongue out)

TheOldReb
Daniel3 wrote:

I don't understand the accepted notion these days that sacrificing a piece is somehow "risky" or "unacceptable". A sacrifice, like any attack, should not be something you do because you "feel" like you should or because you like to attack. It should be embarked upon because certain conditions on the board suggest that an attack is likely to succeed, or because yoour opponent has made a mistake of some sort. Of course, to be successful one must sacrifice at the correct time. (e.g. One must have an advantage before attacking.)

An attack shouldn't be carried out without any idea of what is going to happen next or how you will continue. All winning attacks are carefully calculated and thought-out before being executed. now tell me; If these attacks are based on so much calculation, why would it be a bad idea to sacrifice in high-level tournaments?

(Sorry, I just had to get that out of my system. Reading Vukovic has begun to influence me! )


 Most sacrifices involve some risk, just look at the games of Tal or Topalov , both known to sacrifice and theirs often had risk involved. The more you invest in a sacrifice the bigger the risk you take and that risk is even bigger depending on the strength of the opponent. A sacrifice that leads to mate in 2 or 3 moves has no risk and these are not the type of sacrifices I am talking about. There are "real" sacrifices and "sham" sacrifices. The former involves risk and the latter does not.

rigamagician

Someone forgot to tell Garry that we are now in the era of scientific chess.

batgirl

Reb,

Nothing to forgive. Wiki is an excellent resource when looking for quick and dirty facts. I use it religiously as a springboard.  The problem with wiki arises with opinions presented as facts and with the individual agendas of the folks editing the entries.

I had noted Tarrasch as a Romanticist. I thought this was a curious, but supportable example. Tarrasch didn't much believe in offering gambits, and in that respect he seemed rather anti-romantic, but what put him in the Romantic school, to my way of thinking, was his preference for beauty over pragmatism, for the subjective over the objective.

Chessgames.com lists 4 games between the pragmatist Steinitz and the artist Tarrasch of which Tarrasch won 3 and drew 1. 

Here is an example in which Tarrasch uses Morphy's own response to the Queen's pawn opening - the Dutch (do remember that Steinitz is getting old in 1895) - to defeat Steinitz at Hastings :

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Romanticist Chigorin lost 2 World Champion matches to Steinitz, but, in reality, their skills weren't that far apart. Acording to wiki, Steinitz had a slight lifetime advantage with 28 wins to Chigorin's 24,  plus 8 draws.  Chessgames.com lists a slightly different and closer results with Steinitz maintaining a slight lead with +26-25=8.  Chessgames.com does give the games, of course.

Even more important to this discussion is Chigorin's massive lead in open games. For instance, of the games listed at Chessgames.com, Chigorin played white in 22 Evans Gambits, that hallmark Romantic opening. Of those 22, Chigorin won 11, lost 6 and drew 5.

I'm not sure what this all points to, but it seems to me that Steinitz' presence didn't kill Romanticism at all on any level. I think Reb hinted at the real reason for the decline in Romanitcism at the highest levels. With the advent of tournament play and particularly with the rise of professional players, gambits and combinational chess became far too risky for most players. Professional players are there to win at any ethical cost, so the beauty of the game becomes less relevant (though, still, many beautiful games are played).  This lead to Lasker's practical approach which was more the death knell to Romanticism than Steinitz ever could have been. 

 

 Here is Chigorin beating Steinitz with the Evans

spoiler1

Morphy was not romantic, he understood the position better than most, and he was not a constant gambiteer, I don't consider him romantic, best all around maybe, but best romantic, I don't know....

If your position calls for a tactical sacrafice that works, that's not romantic, that's good chess.

gabisubis
brandonQDSH wrote:

Well obviously the list starts at

1. Morphy

2. Morphy

3. Morphy

Is Tarrasch considered a romantic? He's a pretty bold guy and a bold player. The QGD Tarrasch looks really nice, like chess art. And since guys like Kasparov played it, it's also pretty good too.


 Well...last time Kasparov played Tarrasch,Reagan was president I think Wink

Did he ever play an other Tarrasch in a serious game after Karpov spanked him twice in their first match ?