Greatest Game?

One could argue that the Morphy-Count Brunswick+Isouard, Paris, 1858 is the greatest game of chess ever played (see “A Well-Known Game”, Sept. 21 2018).


But this is my favorite, my nomination for the greatest game ever played. As you’ll see this game is full of unknowns and tactical surprises. And it probably sets a record for most queen sacrifices and queen promotions in a single game. Bogoljubov is completely outplayed. This is Alekhine at his best!


Hastings, 1922
1.d4 f5

(The Dutch allows many tactical possibilities. Here is another example:

Giampa-Rai. Garcia
La Plata, Argentina, 1998
1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 Nf6 4.Nbd2 d5 5.e3 Be7 6.Bd3 Nbd7 7.O-O c6 8.Ne5 Nxe5 9.dxe5 Ng4 10.Bf4 g5 11.Bg3 O-O 12.Qe2 Nh6 13.f4 g4 14.Kh1 b6 15.c4 Bb7 16.Rfd1 Qe8 17.Rac1 Rd8 18.Nb1 Qh5 19.cxd5 exd5 20.a3 Nf7 21.b4 Nh8 22.Bb5 Qe8 23.Ba4 Qg6 24.Bb3 Nf7 25.Nc3 b5 26.Qb2 Rc8 27.Ne2 Nd8 28.Rc2 Ne6 29.Rdc1 Rfd8 30.Nd4 Nxd4 31.Qxd4 Ra8 32.a4 a6 33.Be1 Qe6 34.a5 Rd7 35.e4 fxe4 36.Qxe4 Rf8 37.Rf2 Qf5 38.Qd4 Bd8 39.Bc3 Rg7 40.Bc2 Qh5 41.g3 Bc8 42.f5 Bg5 43.Rcf1 Qh6 44.Re2 Qh3 45.Rff2 Rgf7 46.f6 Be6 47.Bf5 Re8 48.Bd2 Bxd2 49.Qxd2 Qh5 50.Qc2 Bxf5 51.Rxf5 Qg6 52.Ref2 Re6 53.Qd2 h6 54.R2f4 Rd7 55.Qd1 h5 56.Qd4 Kf7 57.Rf2 Qh6 58.R2f4 Qg6 59.Kg1 Re8 60.Qb6 Re6 61.Qxa6 Qg8 62.Qb6 Qh7 63.a6 d4 64.a7 d3 65.Qb8 d2 66.a8=Q d1=Q+
67.Rf1 Qd4+ 68.R5f2 Rxe5 69.Qf8+ Ke6 70.Qxc6+ Qd6 71.Qe8+ 1-0)

2.c4 [A good move. But 2.g3 and 2.Nf3 are more popular, but for opposite reasons. 2.g3 is played for a small, but certain, advantage, while 2.Nf3 can lead to very wild play (see above.)] 2…Nf6 3.g3 e6 4.Bg2 Bb4+ (A seemingly useless move. But it does eliminate Black’s problem bishop, and more importantly for Alekhine, opens up the board for his tactical talents.) 5.Bd2 Bxd2+ 6.Nxd2 Nc6 7.Ngf3 O-O 8.O-O d6 9.Qb3?! (I don’t like this move as Black has the perfect response with 9…Kh8, getting out of the possible pin, rendering White’s move less effective. 9.Qc2 and 9.Nb3 seem to offer more. ) 9…Kh8 10.Qc3 e5 11.e3 (Pirc-Spielmann, Match, Rogatska Slatina, 1931, continued with 11.dxe5 dxe5 12.Rad1 Qe7 13.Rfe1 e4 14.Nd4 Nxd4 15.Qxd4 c5 16.Qc3 Bd7 17.Nf1 Bc6 18.Ne3 Nd7 19.Bh3 Qg5 20.Rd6 Qh5 21.Kg2 Rae8 22.Nd5 Ne5 23.Nf4 Qf7 24.Nd5 f4 25.Nxf4 g5 26.Be6 Qf6 27.Nh5 Qxf2+ 28.Kh1 Rf6 29.Bd7 Rxd6 30.Bxe8 Rd4 0-1) 11…a5 12.b3 Qe8 13.a3 Qh5 14.h4 Ng4 15.Ng5 Bd7 16.f3 Nf6 17.f4 e4 18.Rfd1 h6 19.Nh3 d5 20.Nf1 Ne7 21.a4 Nc6 22.Rd2 Nb4 23.Bh1 Qe8 24.Rg2 dxc4 25.bxc4 Bxa4 26.Nf2 Bd7 27.Nd2 b5 28.Nd1 Nd3 29.Rxa5 b4
30.Rxa8 bxc3! (Why trade queens while losing the exchange? Well, Black’s pawn can’t be stopped from queening. A good move but even better ones coming later in the game!) 31.Rxe8 c2! 32.Rxf8+ Kh7 33.Nf2 c1=Q+ 34.Nf1 Ne1 35.Rh2 Qxc4 36.Rb8 Bb5 37.Rxb5 Qxb5 38.g4 Nf3+ 39.Bxf3 exf3 40.gxf5 Qe2 41.d5 Kg8 42.h5 Kh7 43.e4 Nxe4 44.Nxe4 Qxe4 45.d6 cxd6 46.f6 gxf6 47.Rd2 Qe2!
(Again Black can willing give up his queen as another one will be promoted within a few moves.) 48.Rxe2 fxe2 49.Kf2
49…exf1=Q+ (Black gives up his third queen to achieve an easily won king and pawn ending.) 50.Kxf1 Kg7 51.Kf2 Kf7 52.Ke3 Ke6 53.Ke4 d5+
0-1 (After 54.Kd4 Kd6, Black will promote a queen for the fourth time. And he won’t have to sacrifice this one!)

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