The Immortal

Let’s get some background information first.

Most of us have played the King’s Gambit, and some of us still do. It’s a good opening to learn tactics and, occasionally, strategies. The majority of the games start with 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3. Black can continue with 3…g5 and try to hold on his extra pawn, or play for his own attacking possibilities.

A rarer response is 3.Bc4, known as the Bishop Gambit. This variation allows White to explore relatively unknown territory.

Black usually counters with 3…Qh4+ moving the king, preventing White from castling, and isolating the h1-rook for at least the time being. But a queen check rarely ends the game. Black needs more active pieces to start any attack. He can try, after 3.Bc4 Qh4 4.Kf1, with 4…d5 and 4…Nf6, both leading to strong tactical play.

But perhaps the stronger reply is also the rarest. Black can play 4…b5!? The idea is since Black is up a pawn, he can give one up and still be of material equality and can even gain a tempo if White plays 5.Bxb5 (which is the most common move). And the extra tempo comes when Black plays 5…Bb7. This puts the bishop on the long diagonal to the white king, unable to castle.

Does this mean the Black wins? Not by a long shot! White has a lot of momentum built up, just waiting for Black to slip.

Here is the Immortal Game!

London, 1851

[The “Immortal Game”]
[Chernev, 1000 Best Short Games of Chess, #945 ; Tartkower, 500 Master Games of Chess, #227 ; Seirawan+Minev, Take My Rooks, pg. ix-xi]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 b5 5.Bxb5 Nf6

[It is a toss-up whether the immediate 5…Bb7 or 5…Nf6, delaying the Bb7 until the knight is better positioned.

Here are two games with 5…Bb7.

London, 1847
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 b5 5.Bxb5 Bb7 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.d3 Bxc3 8.bxc3 Nf6 9.Nf3 Qh5 10.Rb1!? g5!? (Black attacks on the side which the White king resides.) 11.Bxd7+ Nbxd7 12.Rxb7 O-O 13.Rb5 c5 14.d4 Nxe4 15.dxc5 Nxc3 16.Qxd7 Rad8 17.Qf5 Rd1+ 18.Kf2 Rxh1 19.Bb2 Nd1+ 20.Ke2 Nxb2 21.Rxb2 Rxh2 22.Kf2 g4 23.Qxh5 Rxh5 24.Nd4 Rxc5 25.Rb4 Rd8! (White cannot set up an adequate defence.) 26.Ne2 Rxc2 27.Kf1 Rd1+ 28.Kf2 Rdd2 29.Re4 f5 30.Re5 h5 -+

31.Kf1 Rxe2 32.Rxe2 Rxe2 33.Kxe2 Kg7 0-1

Mario Lanzani (2371)-Vladimir Pogosian (2204)
European Club Cup
Rijeka, Croatia, Mar. 14 2010
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 b5 4.Bxb5 Qh4+ 5.Kf1 Bb7 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.d3 Ne7 8.Qf3 Qf6 9.Nge2 g5 10.g3 Qg6 11.h4 f5 12.hxg5 fxe4 13.Nxe4 Bxe4 14.Qxe4 fxg3 15.Qxg6+ Nxg6 16.Kg2 a5 17.Nxg3 a4 18.Ne4 c6 19.Nf6+ Kd8 20.Bc4 d5 21.a3 Bd6 22.Ba2 Ra7 23.Be3 Rb7 24.b4 axb3 25.Bxb3 Nd7 26.Bd4 c5 27.Be3 Be5 28.Raf1 d4 29.Bc1 Nb6 30.a4 c4 31.dxc4 Ra7 32.Bd2 Nd7 33.Nxd7 Rxd7 34.c5 d3 35.Ba5+ Bc7 36.Bc3 Re8 37.cxd3 Rxd3 38.Rd1 Nf4+ 39.Kf1 Ree3 40.Rxd3+ Nxd3 41.Bf6+ Ke8 42.Bc2 Rf3+ 43.Ke2 1-0 RME]

6.Nf3 Qh6 (Easier would be 6…Qh5 and …g5 – Tartakower) 7.d3

[Glazkov and Estrin offer 7.Nc3 as White’s best. They continue 7…g5 (7…Bb7? 8.d4! Nxe4 9.Qe2 f5 10.d5!) 8.d4 Bg7 9.h4 Nh5 10.Rh2 g4 11.Ng5 Ng4+ 12.Ke1! with advantage to White. Perhaps 8…Nh5!? deserves attention. In this way, Black avoids 12.Ke1! – Seirawan+Minev.

Perhaps this was the stem game for Glazkov and Estrin:

London, 1851
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 b5 5.Bxb5 Nf6 6.Nf3 Qh6 7.Nc3 c6 8.Bc4 d6 9.d4 Nh5 10.Ne2 Be7 11.e5 d5 12.Bd3 O-O 13.Rg1 g5 14.Ke1 f6 15.g3 fxg3 16.Nxg3 Bg4 17.Nxg5 Bxd1 18.Nf5 fxg5 19.Nxh6+ Kg7 20.Bxg5 Bxg5 21.Nf5+ Rxf5 22.Bxf5 Kh6 23.Rxd1 Na6 24.Rd3 Rf8 25.Bg4 Rf4 26.Rh3 Re4+ 27.Kf1 Rf4+ 28.Ke2 Re4+ 29.Kd3 Nb4+ 30.Kc3 Nxa2+ 31.Kb3 Nc1+ 32.Ka4 Rxd4+ 33.Ka5 Bd8+ 34.Ka6 Rxg4 35.Rxg4 Bb6 36.Rg8 Ne2 37.e6 Nef4 38.e7 Ne6 39.Rxh5+ Kxh5 40.e8=Q+ 1-0 RME]

7…Nh5 (Here again 7…g5 is a more natural way of defending the gambit pawn. – Tartakower ; Glazkov and Estrin recommend 7…Bc5!? 8.d4 Bb6, we suggest 7…Be7!? followed by 8…Nh5 or 8…O-O. – Seirawan+Minev) 8.Nh4 [A subtle guard against 8…Ng3+, but 8.Kg1 (or 8.Kf2) would be a blunder on account of 8…Qb6+, followed by …Qxb5. – Tartakower] 8…Qg5 [This simultaneous assault on two pieces proves illusory. Better would be 8…g5 9.Nf5 Qg6. – Tartakower ; According to Kieseritzky, the decisive mistake. He recommends 8…g6! and if 9.g4 (9.g3 Be7) Nf6 10.Ng2 Qh3 11.Bxf4 Nxg4 with advantage for Black. – Seirawan+Minev] 9.Nf5 c6?! [In our opinion, this is the decisive error. Better was 9…g6 10.h4 Qf6!? (Not 10…Ng3+ 11.Ke1! Qf6 12.Nxg3 fxg3 13.Qe2, obviously to White’s advantage – Kieseritzky), when Black is still kicking. – Seirawan+Minev] 10.g4 Nf6 11.Rg1 cxb5 12.h4 Qg6 13.h5 Qg5 14.Qf3 (Threatening to win the Queen by 15.Bxf4, as well as 15.e5 attacking the Rook with his Queen while his King Pawn bites at the Knight. – Chernev) 14…Ng8 15.Bxf4 Qf6 16.Nc3 Bc5 (Black seeks salvation in a counter-attack. Steadier, however, would be 16…Bb7 – Tartakower) 17.Nd5! Qxb2

18.Bd6! (“Ganz grossartig gespielt” says Gottschall. – Chernev) 18…Bxg1 [If 18…Qxa1+ 19.Ke2 Qxg1 20.Nxg7+ Kd8 21.Bc7# If 18…Bxd6 19.Nxd6+ Kd8 20.Nxf7+ Ke8 21.Nd6+ Kd8 22.Qf8# – Chernev ; Some confusion exists here. Several authors (e.g. Chernev in “1000 Best Short Games of Chess” and Glazkov, Estrin in Korolevsky Gambit, 1988) give the move order as 18…Bxg1 19.e5 Qxa1. We used the text from “Encyclopedia of Chess Games” and other sources that we felt more authentic. – Seirawan+Minev] 19.e5! (Have another Rook! – Chernev) 19…Qxa1+ (A slight chance of a draw is afforded by 19…Qb2, etc. – Tartakower) 20.Ke2 (With a renewed threat of 21.Nxg7+ Kd8 22.Bc7# – Tartakower) 20…Na6 (Defending against 21.Nxg7+ Kd8 22.Bc7#, but the final blow comes from the other side. – Seirawan+Minev] 21.Nxg7+ Kd8 22.Qf6+! Nxf6 23.Be7mate 1-0 [White has given up a Queen, two Rooks, and a Bishop for one single, miserable Pawn (and mate, the cynic might point out.). – Chernev ; A forced mate by three minor pieces against the full array of the black pieces. – Tartakower]

The “Lesser” Bishop Gambit?

Most chess players know the moves leading to the Bishop Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4). But how many of them know the moves leading to the “Lesser” Bishop Gambit?

Well, the moves are 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2. The main ideas seem to be preventing Black from checking on the e-file and placing the bishop on a square where it could not be easily taken or exchanged.

It seems strange that a player who would play a risky, tactically filled, opening, would want to play conservatively so soon in the game.

Nevertheless, we have this gambit.

So, let’s do a little research into it.

Black has several ways of responding to 3.Be2.

At the start, 3…Nf6 might seem to be a reasonable move. After all, it develops a piece and makes it easier for Black to castle. But after 4.e5, it is White that gains the advantage.

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 Nf6 4.e5

John Shaw-IM Peter Wells
London, 1993
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 Nf6 4.Nc3 d5 5.e5 Ne4 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.d3 Nxc3 8.bxc3 d4 9.O-O dxc3 10.d4 Bg4 11.Bb5 Qd5 12.Bxc6+ bxc6 13.Bxf4 c5 14.Be3 Rd8 15.dxc5 Bxc5 16.Qe1 Qc4 17.Rb1 O-O 18.Rb3 Bxf3 19.Rxc3 Qg4 20.Rxf3 Bb4 21.Rg3

21…Rd1 0-1

Philippe Jaulin-Frederic Coudray
Avoine Open, 1996
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 Nf6 4.e5 Ne4 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.d3
(A move that is often overlooked.) 6…Ng5 7.Bxf4 Nxf3+ 8.Bxf3 d6 9.Bxc6+ bxc6 10.O-O (Even better is 10.Qf3! as White gains a tempo or two.) 10…dxe5 11.Bxe5 Bd6? 12.Bxg7! Qh4 13.Qe2+ [Black’s best is 13…Be6. (not 13…Kd7? 14.Rxf7+). But even stronger is 13.Qe1+! as 13..Qxe1 14.Rxe1+ is check and the White’s has the attack and the material advantage.] 1-0

Black also has 3…Qh4+. And like in the Bishop Gambit, the White is dislodged from a good hiding square. The downside, again copying from the Bishop Gambit, is the Black queen is slightly out of play and facing all of White’s pieces on her own.

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 Qh4+ 4.Kf1

World Computer Ch., 1986
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.e5 Bxc3 7.dxc3 Ng8 8.Nf3 Qh6 9.Qd4 g5 10.h4 Nc6 11.Qe4 Qg6 12.Nxg5 Qxe4 13.Nxe4 f3 14.gxf3 Nxe5 15.Bf4 d6 16.Re1 Bd7 17.Bc4 Kf8 18.Bxe5 dxe5 19.Nc5 Bc6 20.Rxe5 Rd8 21.Kf2 Nf6 22.Rf5 Rd2+ 23.Ke3 Rd6 24.Ne4 Bxe4 25.fxe4 Rg8 26.e5 Rc6 27.exf6 1-0

T. Winterbach-F. Llane
South Africa Open, 1986
[Gluckman, “Levitt Triumphs in 1986 Oude Meester S. A. Open”, The South African Chess Player, May/June 1986, pg. 73]
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 Nc6 5.d4 d6 6.Nc3 g5 7.Nf3 Qh6 8.Nd5 Kd8 9.h4 f6 10.g3 Qg6 11.Qd3 fxg3 12.hxg5 fxg5 13.Nxg5 g2+ 14.Kxg2 h6 15.Qf3 Nge7 16.Kf1 Be6?? 17.Nf4 +-
(and White won in 28)

Wurttenburg League 1987
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 Bc5 5.d4 Bb6 6.Nc3 d6 7.Nd5 g5 8.Nf3 Qh6 9.h4 c6 10.Nxb6 axb6 11.Nxg5 Qf6 12.Bh5 Nh6 13.e5 dxe5 14.Ne4 Qe7 15.dxe5 Qxe5 16.Nd6+ Ke7 17.Nxc8+ Rxc8 18.Qf3 Ra4 19.g3 Qb5+ 20.Kg2 Qd5 21.Re1+ Kf8 22.Bxf4 Qxf3+ 23.Bxf3 Ng8 24.Rad1 Rxa2 25.Bg4 Re8 26.Bd6+ 1-0

Fegan (1872)-Lazarevic (1416)
Southend Open, Apr. 21 2000
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qe7 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.d3 d6 8.Bxf4 Qd8 9.d4 Be7 10.d5 Nb8 11.h3 Nh5 12.Bh2 f5 13.Nd4 Nf6 14.exf5 O-O 15.Kf2 c5 16.Ne6 Bxe6 17.dxe6 Nc6 18.Rf1 a6 19.Kg1 b5 20.Nd5 Nxd5 21.Qxd5 Qc7 22.Qxc5 dxc5 23.Bxc7 Nd4 24.Bf3 Rac8 25.Bh2 c4 26.Be4 Bf6 27.c3 Nc6 28.Bd5 Kh8 29.a4 1-0

Klaus Bolding (2309)-Bruno Wagner (1943) X25
Rhone Open
Lyon, Apr. 27 2003
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qf6 6.Nc3 Bc5 7.Nd5 Qd6 8.d4 Bb6 9.Bxf4 Qg6 10.Bxc7 Qxe4 11.Nxb6 axb6 12.Bd3 Qe6 13.Qd2 Nge7 14.Re1 Qxa2 15.Qg5
(Even after 15…O-O White wins with 16.Bxh7+ Kxh7 17.Qh5+ Kg8 18.Ng5 +-) 1-0

3…f5 does amazing well.

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 f5

Mr. H. Jones & Sir Geo. Newnes – Blackburne
Manchester, England, Nov. 1878
[Blackburne, “Blackburne’s Chess Games”, #159]
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 f5 5.Qe2 Nc6 6.Nf3 Qh5 7.Nc3 Kd8 8.Bxg8 Rxg8 9.Nd5 Bd6
(An unnatural-looking move but necessary to defend the Gambit Pawn.) 10.d4 fxe4 11.Qxe4 Re8 12.Nxf4 Qg4 13.Ne5 (The Allies have nothing better; their position is hopeless.)

13…Nxe5 14.dxe5 Bxe5 15.Qf3 d6 16.Qxg4 Bxg4 17.Nd5 Kd7 18.c3 Re6 19.Bd2 Rf8+ 20.Kg1 Be2 21.Re1 Bc4 22.Ne3 Bd3 23.g3 Be4 24.Ng2 d5 25.Rf1 Rxf1+ 26.Kxf1 Rf6+ 27.Kg1 d4 0-1

Mr. Sutton-Blackburne
Simpson’s Chess Divan
London, 1884
[Blackburne, “Blackburne’s Chess Games”, #176]
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 f5
(Although a favorite defence of mine I do not recommend it to the young amateur.) 5.Nc3 (Qe2 is stronger.) 5…Nf6 6.d3 g5 7.Nf3 Qh5 8.h4 h6 9.Kg1 g4 10.Ne5 Rh7 11.Ne2 (An attack on the Queen persistently followed up in White’s succeeding play.) 11…fxe4 12.Bxf4 Qf5 13.Qc1 d5 14.Bb3 Nbd7 15.Ng3 Bc5+ 16.Kh2 Nxe5 17.Nxf5 (Now White has attained his object, but the fruit is of the Dead Sea.) 17…g3+ 18.Bxg3 (Any other move is equally fatal.) 18…Neg4+ 19.Kh3 Ne3 20.Bf4 Bxf5+ 21.Kh2 Neg4+ 22.Kh3 Nf2+ 23.Kh2 N6g4+ 24.Kg1 Nxd3+ 25.Kf1 Nxc1 26.Rxc1 O-O-O 0-1

London, 1896?
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 f5 4.e5 d6 5.exd6 Qh4+ 6.Kf1 Bxd6 7.d4 Ne7 8.Nf3 Qf6 9.c4 c6 10.c5 Bc7 11.Nc3 Be6 12.h4 Nd7 13.Qa4 h6 14.Bd2 g5 15.d5 Nxd5 16.Nxd5 Bxd5 17.Bc3 Ne5 18.Qd4 O-O-O 19.Qa4 Kb8 20.Rh3 g4 21.Nxe5 Bxe5 22.Bxe5+ Qxe5 23.Ra3 Bxg2+ 24.Kxg2 Qxe2+ 25.Kg1 a6 26.Qxf4+ Ka8 27.Re3 Qxb2 28.Rf1 Rd2 0-1

Vienna 1903
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 f5 4.e5 d6 5.d4 dxe5 6.dxe5 Qh4+ 7.Kf1 Bc5 8.Nh3 Be3 9.Nc3 Be6 10.Nd5 Bxd5 11.Qxd5 Nc6 12.Bc4 Qe7 13.Nxf4 Rd8 14.Bxe3 Rxd5 15.Nxd5 Qh4 16.Nxc7+ Kd7 17.Bxg8 Rxg8 18.Nd5 Qc4+ 19.Kf2 Qxc2+ 20.Kg3 h5 21.Rhd1 h4+ 22.Kh3 Ke6 23.Nc7+ Kf7 24.Rd7+ Kg6 25.Nd5 f4 26.Nxf4+ Kh7 27.g4 Qe4 28.Nd5 Qf3+ 29.Kxh4 Nxe5 0-1

Crowl-C. Purdy
Australia, 1946/8
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 f5 4.exf5 Qh4+ 5.Kf1 d5 6.Nc3 c6 7.d4 Bd6 8.Bd3 Ne7 9.Qe2 O-O 10.Nf3 Qf6 11.g4 fxg3 12.Bg5 Qf7 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.Qxe7 Bxe7 15.Re1 Bd6 16.Kg2 gxh2 17.Nh4 Nd7 18.Ne2 Nf6 19.Ng3 Ng4 20.Rhf1 Bd7 21.Kh3 h1=Q+ 22.Nxh1 Nh6 23.Kg2 Rf7 24.Re5 Re7 25.f6 Bxe5 26.fxe7 Bxd4 27.Rf8+ Rxf8 28.Bxh7+ Kf7 29.exf8=Q+ Kxf8 30.c3 Bf6 31.Ng6+ Kf7 32.Nf2 Bf5 33.Nh8+ Ke6 34.Ng6 Kd6 35.Kf3 Bb1 36.a3 Kc5 37.Ke2 Bf5 38.Nf8 Kc4 39.Bxf5 Nxf5 40.Kd2 Kb3 41.Kc1 d4 42.cxd4 Bxd4 43.Nd3 g5 44.Ne6 g4 0-1

Antwerp 1994
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 f5 4.exf5 Qh4+ 5.Kf1 d5 6.Nc3 c6 7.d4 Bxf5 8.Nf3 Qh6 9.Bd3 Bxd3+ 10.Qxd3 Bd6 11.h4 Ne7 12.g4 Nd7 13.Bd2 O-O-O 14.Re1 Qf6 15.h5 h6 16.Rh2 g6 17.hxg6 Qxg6 18.Qxg6 Nxg6 19.Re6 Ndf8 20.Rf6 Be7 21.Rf7 Ne6 22.Na4 Rde8 23.b4 Rhf8 24.Rxf8 Bxf8 25.b5 Ng5 26.Nxg5 hxg5 27.bxc6 bxc6 28.Rh5 Be7 29.Rh6 Rg8 30.Nb2 c5 31.dxc5 Bxc5 32.Nd3 Bd4 33.Nb4 Ne5 34.Nxd5 Rd8 35.Ne7+ Kb7 36.Nf5 Bc5 37.Rh7+ 0-1

But perhaps the best response is 3…d5, aggressively opening up more lines for an attack. White meets this best with 4.exd5 Nf6, and usually 5.Nf3.

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 (5.Nf3)

New York 1924
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.c4 c6 6.d4 Bb4+ 7.Kf1?! (7.Bd2) cxd5 8.Bxf4 dxc4 9.Bxb8 Nd5 10.Kf2 Rxb8 11.Bxc4 O-O 12.Nf3 Nf6 13.Nc3 b5 14.Bd3 Ng4+ 15.Kg1 Bb7
16.Bf5?! (White’s king needs some breathing room and a chance for activating his rook. He can do both, and even attack a piece, with 16…h3!) 16…Bxc3 17.bxc3 Ne3 18.Bxh7+ Kh8 (Even after 18…Kxh7? 19.Qd3+ Kg8 21.Qxe3 Black still has the advantage due to his more secured king.) 19.Qd3 Bxf3 20.gxf3 Nd5 21.Be4 Nf4 22.Qd2 Qh4 23.Kf1 f5 24.Bc6 Rf6 25.d5 Rd8 26.Rd1 Rxc6 27.dxc6 Rxd2 (Even Capablanca is known to make mistakes as Black does even better with 27…Qh3+ 28.Kf2 Qg2+. ) 28.Rxd2 Ne6 29.Rd6 Qc4+ 30.Kg2 Qe2+ 0-1

corres., 1947
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Qh4+ 5.Kf1 Nf6 6.c4 g5 7.Nf3 Qh6 8.d4 Ne4 9.Kg1 g4 10.Ne5 Qh4 11.Qf1 f3

(If 12.gxf3, then 12…gxf3 13.Nxf3 Rg8+ is painful. Even after the better 13.Bxf3 Rg8+ 14.Bg2 Bh3! 15.Qxf7+ Kd8 White is still lost. And 12.Bd1? f2+ is even worse.) 0-1

Norman Littlewood-Levente Lengyel
Hastings, 1963
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Ne7 5.Bf3 Nxd5 6.Ne2 Be7 7.O-O O-O 8.c4 Nf6 9.d4 g5 10.Nbc3 Kh8 11.b4 Nbd7 12.Bb2 Re8 13.d5 Ne5 14.Ne4 Nxe4 15.Bxe4 Bf6 16.Nxf4 gxf4 17.Qh5 Ng6 18.Rxf4 Bxb2 19.Rxf7 Bd4+ 20.Kh1 Bg7 21.Bxg6 h6 22.Rxg7 Kxg7 23.Bxe8 Qf6 24.Re1 Bf5 25.Rf1 Bg6 26.Qd1 Qc3 27.Bxg6 1-0

J. Meyer-Dickson
corres. 1983
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bd6 6.c4 c6 7.d4 Bb4+ 8.Nbd2 O-O 9.O-O cxd5 10.c5 Ba5 11.Nb3 Bc7 12.Ne1 Re8 13.Bxf4 Qe7 14.Nc1 Bxf4 15.Rxf4 Qe3+ 16.Rf2 Ne4 17.Ned3 Nxf2 18.Nxf2 Nc6 0-1

corres. 1984?
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.Nf3 Be7 6.O-O O-O 7.c4 Ne8 8.d4 g5 9.Bd3 Ng7 10.Qc2 f5 11.Nc3 Bf6 12.c5 Nd7 13.Re1 g4 14.Ne5 Bxe5 15.dxe5 Nxc5 16.Bxf4 Nxd3 17.Qxd3 c6 18.Rad1 cxd5 19.Nxd5 Be6 20.Nf6+ Kh8 21.Qg3 Qe7 22.Qh4 Ne8 23.Bg5 Qf7 24.Bh6 Nxf6 25.Bxf8 Ne4 26.Bh6 Qg6 27.Rd8+ Rxd8 28.Qxd8+ Bg8 29.Qf8 Qb6+ 30.Re3 1-0

Mark F. Bruere (2250)-J.M. Vaassen
corres., WT/M/GT/284
ICCF, 1990
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.Nf3 c6 6.dxc6 Nxc6 7.d4 Bd6 8.O-O
(Castling seems to be overdone in the King’s Gambit Accepted. Better is 8.c4 claiming a stake in the center and still holding the possibility of castling on either side.) 8…O-O 9.c4 Bg4 10.Nc3 Rc8 11.Nb5 Bb8 12.b3 (12.d5!? needs to be investigated.) 12..a6 13.Na3?! (13..Nc3) 13…Re8 14.Nc2 Qc7 15.Bb2 Ba7 16.Kh1 Ne7 17.d5? (Opening attacking lines where Black is the only one who profits. And it also drops a pawn.) 17…Nexd5! 18.cxd5 Qxc2 19.Bxf6 Rxe2 20.Bd4 Bxf3! 0-1

Hessen 1991
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Bd6 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.c4 c6 7.dxc6 Nxc6 8.d4 O-O 9.O-O Bg4 10.Nc3 Nh5 11.Ne5 Bxe2 12.Qxe2 Qh4 13.Nf3 Qg4 14.Nd5 Rfe8 15.Qd3 Re6 16.h3 Qg3 17.Bd2 Rg6 18.Ne1 Qxd3 19.Nxd3 Nxd4 20.N3xf4 Nxf4 21.Nxf4 Rf6 22.Rae1 Bxf4 23.Rxf4 Rxf4 24.Bxf4 Nc6 1/2-1/2

Scottish Ch. 1993
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bd6 6.O-O O-O 7.Nc3 c6 8.d4 Nxd5 9.Nxd5 cxd5 10.Ne5 f6 11.Nd3 g5 12.c3 Be6 13.Bf3 Nc6 14.Bd2 Qd7 15.b4 Kh8 16.Qb3 Qf7 17.Rae1 Rfe8 18.a4 Rad8 19.Rf2 g4 20.Bd1 f3 21.Bf4 Bf5 22.Rxe8+ Qxe8 23.Bxd6 Bxd3 0-1

C. Sánchez-A. Alexander
IECC 2000
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.Nf3 Bd6 6.c4 O-O 7.d4 b6 8.Ne5 c5 9.dxc6 Qc7
(9…Ne4, threatening, …Qh4+ is a possibility.) 10.Bxf4 Nxc6 11.Nc3 a6 12.Nxc6 (12.Bf3!?) 12…Qxc6 13.Bxd6 Qxd6 14.O-O Bb7 15.d5 Rae8 16.Qd2 Ne4 (> 16…c5.) 17.Nxe4 Rxe4 18.Bd3 Rh4? (Black is having problems and he needs to play 18…Re5. The text is simply a waste of time.) 19.g3 Rd4 20.Bxh7+ 1-0

Georg Schweiger (2187)-Martin Markl X25
Regionalliga SO
Bayern, 2000
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Be2 d5 4.exd5 Qh4+ 5.Kf1 Qd8 6.d4 Nf6 7.c4 c6 8. dxc6 Nxc6 9.d5 Ne5 10.Bxf4 Ng6 11.Be3 Bd6 12.Nc3 O-O 13.Qd2 Re8 14.Re1 Bf5 15.Nf3 Ng4 16.Bd3 Qd7 17.Nd1 Re7 18.Qc2 Bxd3+ 19.Qxd3 Rae8 20.Bd2 Rxe1+ 21.Bxe1 Nf4 22.Qd4 Qe7 23.Qd2 Bb4 24.Qxf4 Qxe1+ 25.Nxe1 Rxe1mate 0-1

Fischer, the Invincible

Recently, I was going over some games from the 1963/64 US Championship. That tournament stands out for at least three reasons.

(1) The winner was the first, and so far, the only one, to achieve a perfect score in the Championship.


(2) Fischer won his sixth Championship in a row. He would eventually win eight of them, which was another perfect score as he played in a total of eight Championships.


(3) Fischer played a King’s Gambit, a rarity in a national championship. It was also one of his best games.
Here is the game, annotated by Fischer, with a few additional notes (mostly to highlight some background information) by me (RME).



GM Fischer-GM Evans
US Ch.
New York, Nov. 16 1963
[Fischer, “Exclusive Commentary on Round Two”, Chess Life and Review, Jan. 1964]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 [I knew that my opponent had some prepared line (since he usually plays the Sicilian) but felt that he would be unfamiliar with the King’s Gambit. Besides, I’d made up my mind to play it in this tournament anyway.] 2…exf4 3.Bc4 [Better than 3.Nf3 which is practically refuted by 3…d6 (see my analysis in the American Chess Quarterly.)] 3…Qh4+ [Turning it into an old-fashioned slugfest. The moderns frown on this move and prefer to fight in the center with 3…Nf6 4.Nc3 c6, etc. (But 4…Qh4+ is, by far, still the most common response in the Bishop’s Gambit as it displaces White’s king and prevent him from transposing into other variants of the King’s Gambit. RME.)] 4.Kf1 d6?

[Evans said this game would set chess back a hundred years. He didn’t know how right he was! The defense he chooses was also played by LaBourdonnais against MacDonnell (20th Match Game, 1834) which continued 5.d4 Bg4 6.Qd3 Nc6 7.Bxf7+? Kxf7 8.Qb3+ Kg6 9.Qxb7 Nxd4 10.Qxa8 f3 with a winning attack. More usual is 4…g5 (or d5) 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.d4 Ne7 7.Nf3 Qh5 8.h4 h6 and it’s a hard game.

(Here is the game in its entirety.

Macdonnell-de la Bourdonnais
Match, London, 1834
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 d6 5.d4 Bg4 6.Qd3 Nc6 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qb3+ Kg6 9.Qxb7 Nxd4 10.Qxa8 Nf6 11.Na3 f3 12.g3 Bh3+ 13.Ke1 Qg4 14.Be3 d5 15.Qxa7 Nc6 16.Qxc7 d4 17.Bd2 Qxe4+ 18.Kd1 f2 19.Nxh3 Qf3+ 20.Kc1 Qxh1+ 0-1. RME)]

5.Nc3? [Returning the compliment. It’s natural that White should want to save the juicy tempo (5.Nf3!) and I make the same mistake as MacDonnell by delaying this move.] 5…Be6! [I overlooked this move. Now Black has a choice of where to put his Queen once she’s attacked. (This move also eliminates any quick victories by White as his bishop is thwarted. RME)] 6.Qe2

[Moving the bishop back is really not an option.

Berlin, 1847
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 d6 5.Nc3 Be6 6.Be2?! Qf6 7.d4 g5 8.d5 Bc8 9.Nf3 h6 10.h4 Be7 11.Nb5 Na6 12.Bd2 Qg7 13.Bc3 f6 14.Kg1 g4 15.Nfd4 f3 16.Bf1 Bd8 17.gxf3 gxf3+ 18.Kf2 Nc5 19.Qxf3 a6 20.Na3 Bg4 21.Qf4 h5 22.Re1 Nh6 23.Rg1 Be7 24.b4 Na4 25.Ne6 Qh7 26.Nxc7+ Kd7 27.Nxa8 Nxc3 28.Nb6+ Kc7 29.Nbc4 f5 30.Kg2 fxe4 31.Kh1 Nxd5 32.Qxe4 Qxe4+ 33.Rxe4 Bf3+ 34.Bg2 Bxe4 35.Bxe4 Nxb4 36.Rg7 Kd8 37.Bxb7 Nf5 38.Rf7 Nxh4 39.Na5 d5 40.c3 Ke8 41.Rxe7+ Kxe7 42.cxb4 Kd6 43.Bxa6 Nf5 44.Bd3 Ne7 45.Nc2 Rg8 46.Nb7+ Ke6 47.Nc5+ Kd6 48.a4 Nc6 49.Nb7+ Ke7 50.Nc5 Kd6 1/2-1/2. Fischer didn’t mention this game, but in all fairness, he didn’t have access to the Internet. RME]

6…c6 7.Nf3 (Inaccurate. Having made the mistake of delaying this move once, White should hold off a while longer and play 7.d4, which does not permit Black’s Queen to retreat to e7 without relinquishing his “f” pawn.) 7…Qe7 (If 7…Qh5 8.Nd5! Now, however, Black has time to consolidate his king’s position.) 8.d4 Bxc4 9.Qxc4 g5 (Despite White’s strong center and great lead in development, Black’s position is not easy to crack. If 10.h4 g4 11.Ne1 Bh6, etc.) 10.e5 d5 [During the game I thought Black’s best defense was 10…dxe5 11.Nxe5 (11.dxe5 Nd7 12.Ne4 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Qxe5 14.Bd2 is unclear) 11…Nd7 12.h4 Nxe5 13.dxe5 Qxe5 14.hxg5 O-O-O 15.Bxf4 Qf5 with equality.] 11.Qd3 [11.Nxd5 cxd5 12.Qc8+ Qd8 13.Qxb7 Nd7 is unsound. (14.Nxg5? Rb8). Now the threat is simply 11.Qf5.] 11…Na6 12.Ne2 (Not 12.Qf5 Nh6 13.Qxg5 Qxg5 14.Nxg5 Nb4 15.Bxf4 Nxc2 16.Rd1 Nf5 and Black wins.) 12…Nb4 (12…f6 loses 13.Qf5 Bg7 14.exf6 Bxf6 15.Bxf4! gxf4 16.Nxf4 with a winning attack. It is important to repel White’s queen from its present diagonal.) 13.Qd1 O-O-O (Very complicated, and possibly better, is 13.c3 which leads to a more active defense.) 14.c3 Na6 15.h4 g4 16.Nh2! h5 (Better was 16…f3 17.gxf3 gxf3 18.Nxf3 f6 although White’s king is quite safe and Black lags in development. Also to be considered was 16…Qxh4 17.Nxf4! g3 18.Qg4+ Qxg4 19.Nxg4 with a powerful ending.) 17.Nxf4

17…Qxh4? [The losing move. Relatively best is 17…Kb8 (preventing Nxh5!) (Fischer is referring to White’s threat of 18.Nxh5! Rxh5 19.Qxg4+, winning the rook and the game. RME) but his game is already bad. (The advanced pawn on e5 which is crippling Black’s play on the kingside. RME).] 18.Kg1 (Black apparently underestimated the strength of this move. He has no adequate defense now to the twin threats of 19.Nxg4 and Nf1.) 18…Nh6 (The only way to avoid outright material loss. Black originally intended 18…Bh6 but 19.Nf1 followed by Rxh5 stands him up.) 19.Nf1 Qe7 20.Nxh5 Rg8 (Black already knew he was lost and was shaking his head in amazement at how quickly White’s dead pieces had sprung to life.) 21.Nfg3 Rg6 22.Nf4 Rg5 (If 22…Rg8 23.Nxd5, etc.) 23.Be3 Nc7 (The last hope. 23…f6 is answered by 24.Qd2 fxe5 25.Nxd5, winning a full rook.) 24.Qd2 Rg8 25.Nfe2 (This piquant retreat wins a piece, putting a clear end to black’s agony.) 25…f6 (Black is still hoping for a miracle.) 26.exf6 Qxf6 27.Bxh6 Bd6 28.Rf1 Qe6 29.Bf4 Rde8 30.Rh6 Bxf4 31.Qxf4 Qe7 32.Rf6
[Tripling on the Bishop file. (And being material up, the victory is not too far off. RME)] 32…Ne6 33.Qe5 Ng5 34.Qxe7 Rxe7 35.Rf8+ (Trading down to skin and bones.) 35…Rxf8 36.Rxf8+ 1-0