What attracts you to chess? Is it the so-called “intellectual pursuit” that some say it is? Is it a “search for truth”?
In my opinion, although a lot of chess players spout this type of vague philosophical b.s when asked the above question, I suspect that the main reason for most people is aesthetics.
We are attracted to that which is beautiful in chess
But what is it in chess that is beautiful?
I’m about to break that down for you, so grab a coffee (or preferred beverage) and keep reading.
As we learn chess, we learn a whole bunch of rules about how we should play, good habits/strategy and how to evaluate positions.
Sadly many players never escape these rules and are crying about things like doubled pawns for their entire life, but thats another story…let’s keep going.
In chess, we mostly find beautiful that which is an exception to these rules.
We learn for example as beginners, that leaving pieces unprotected will lead to capture and eventually loss of the game.
So it is no wonder that we find games where many pieces are under attack at once (assuming the position is still under control tactically), the most beautiful.
Here’s an example:
In the game below Bobby Fischer reaches a middlegame with all of his pawns doubled and isolated (known to be bad), but in a situation where there is an exception to the rule (superior piece activity makes it meaningless).
The final move of the game leaves a piece where it can be captured (usually a blunder), but here it is “beautiful” because the exception is that it allows the promotion of the passed a-pawn. Have a look.
With all of these things in mind and without much further ado, let’s move onto our list of 10 Beautiful Games Every Chess Lover MUST See.
10. Levitsky vs Marshall, 0-1
This game (in which the white player admittedly wasn’t the strongest player Marshall had ever faced) was made famous by Marshall’s famous 23rd move and even more famous by the story of the “shower of gold coins” the spectators apparently threw over the board as Levitsky resigned.
9. Rotlewi vs Rubinstein, 0-1
In this game Rubinstein goes from an almost symmetrical position to sacrificing his queen then offering a rook in a combination in which his pieces are hanging all over the place, but everything just works! Its like magic.
8. Reti vs Alekhine, 0-1
In this game Reti uses his own opening to get a significant advantage on the queenside, while Alekhine tries his best to weaken white’s kingside and gain counterplay. Players repeat moves and due to his queenside advantage, Reti avoids the repetition and plays for the win. This turns out to be a mistake as Alekhine was forced to unleash one of his deepest combinations ever, having apparently needed to calculate more than 12 moves ahead through enormous complications!
7. Tylkowski vs Antoni Wojciechowski, 0-1
This has to be one of the most amazing games ever played, yet only a few people are aware of it.
Black is in a position with doubled and isolated pawns and his only trump being that he has a bishop against white’s somewhat passive knight.
Somehow he gets his rook active and then sacrifices it straight away, only to overpower white’s WHOLE army with 3 doubled, isolated pawns! Amazingly brilliant play.
6. Wright vs Hornsgaard, 1-0
In this game, an old friend of mine plays a very 19th century style of game, sacrificing pawns for development and open lines, until he reaches a position where he plays the rook sacrifice Rxh7!!. The move 18.Nd1 is very precise and Neil’s calculation is on point (he later told me he’d seen the entire finish until mate, before playing Rxh7!). The ensuing king-hunt is beautiful.
5. Lasker vs Thomas, 1-0
This game features white sacrificing his queen for one of the most famous king marches in history! Great stuff here.
So with those you have the first 5 games in the chess feast I’ll offer you with this 2 part article.
Certainly all 5 games were beautiful and needed great courage from the player on the winning side, right?
Its inspiring stuff.
Next article I’ll continue on with another 5 of these gems, so don’t forget to check this page soon for part 2.
I’ll see you then! 🙂