The Ten Most Famous Chess Games


Some games are part of our common chess heritage. Every game here will be familiar to some extent to just about every master and tournament player. Just as was Andre'-Francois Philidor (1726-1795) was reported to be the best player of his time and the father of pawn theory, so are many of these chess masters known for their expertise in specific areas of chess.

Most of these games are from long ago. There are several reasons why older games appear so often in lists such as these. First, older games are more often used as references than the newer ones because they are by far more easy to understand the basics in chess concepts in their less complex play and are less difficult to follow. Also players of long ago did not understand defense theory as well as we do today, and their lack of defense led to amazing games that are simply not likely to occur in modern competition.

Some of these games are so well known that they have even been given names! Of course, many people will have a different list of their top ten most famous games then these listed.

1. Adolf Anderssen vs. Lionel Kieseritzky:
"The Immortal Game"
Nowhere is it more evident that in this game that the players of the mid-1880's loved attack first and material last!

The Immortal Game

2. Adolf Anderssen vs. J. Dufresne:
"The Evergreen Game"
Berlin, 1852 (The Evans Gambit)
The Evans Gambit was an old favorite of the Romantic age players and is still dangerous today. White sacrifices material for an advantage in development and open lines for the pieces.

The Evergreen Game

3. Paul Morphy vs. Duke Karl of Braunschweig (The Duke of Brunswick) & Count Isouard
Paris Opera 1858 (Philidor Defense)
This offhand game is one of the most instructive examples of how to develop rapidly and attack. Legend has it that the Duke was roundly criticized in the next day's papers for playing a chess game at the Opera!

Morphy & The Duke of Braunschweig

4.Wilhelm Steinitz vs. Kurt Von Bardeleben
Hastings England 1895 (The Italian Game, Giuco Piano)
This game is famous for the concluding combination and for the report that Von Bardeleben did not bother to resign but simply got up and walked away without a word.

Steinitz - Von Bardeleben

5. Georg Rotlewi vs. Akiba Rubinstein
Lodz, Poland, Russia 1907 (Tarrasch Defense)
This is another game where the few remaining black pieces combine to over whelm the vastly superior white pieces. Rubinstein's combination is remarkable in that he continues to offer material right up until the end. It is know as Rubinstein's Immortal Game.

Rubinstein's Immortal Game

6. Stepan Levitsky vs. Frank Marshall
Breslan, Poland 1912 (French Defense)
After Marshall's 23....,Qg3!! move, the spectators were said to have showered the board with gold pieces! Although legends are more fun to believe in, it should be noted that the chess journalist and international master, I. A. Horowitz reports that Marshall's wife, Caroline, "disclaims even a shower of pennies".

Levitsky - Marshall

7. Emanuel Lasker vs. Jose' Raul Capablanca
St Petersburg, Russia 1914 (Ruy Lopez, Spanish Game, Exchange Variation)
This historical encounter pitted the world champion Lasker versus the sensational young Capablanca. Lasker proves that he wasn't yet ready to roll over and die before the next generation. Besides the historical significance of the game, this match is noteworthy for Lasker's simple winning strategy, seemingly flowing right from the opening. Simple for him, that is! What this game lacks in brilliant combinations is made up for by the sheer elegance of Lasker's play.

Lasker - Capablanca

8. Donald Byrne vs. Robert J. Fischer
New York 1956 (Grunfeld Defense)
Here the young Bobby Fischer plays one of the greatest games of all time. It was quickly dubbed the game of the century, but it was certainly played in the spin of the last century.

Byrne - Fischer

9. Gary Kasparov vs. Viswanathan Anand
New York 1995 (Ruy Lopez)
Although it is dangerous to include such a modern game because we haven't had a chance to digest it yet. I'm convinced that this one will be remembered for a long time. Anand had just taken the lead with a win in game nine, which broke a record streak of draws to open a world championship match. This game was Kasparov's quick answer and features an amazing rook sacrifice in a well known opening.

Kasparov - Anand

10. Deep Blue vs. Gary Kasparov
Philadelphia 1996 (B22 Sicilian)
There's no danger in picking this game for the list of the ten best chess games, however. Never has there been as much pubilicity over a chess game as there was for this match. In this, the first of their six- game match, the computer causes a sensation by defeating the world champion. This is the first time a world champion has been beaten by a computer at regular tournament time controls, and the media all over the world picked up this story.

Deep Blue - Kasparov