Some of the greatest chess games ever played

In my Saturday Enrichment chess class, I often share great games with my students as illustrations of great tactical themes and how strong players play. Occasionally I'm asked if I can provide copies of the games for my students to take home. The first two games on this list are the ones I use most frequently. The others are also on my personal "top ten" list of all-time great games. Of course, there are thousands more great games available, these are only a few samples. If your computer chess game can import PGN formatted games, you can load these games on your computer to animate them.


Marshall, a great attacking player, pulls off one of the most surprising moves in the history of the game. Legend says that with his 23rd move, the spectators expected Marshall to resign in disgrace. When Levitzky resigned instead, only then did the spectators see that Marshall's Queen sacrifice could not be accepted. But it could not be refused either. A brilliant win and one of the most memorable games ever played.

[Event "Breslau"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1912.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Lewitzky,S."]
[Black "Marshall,Frank"]
[Result "0-1"][ECO "C03"]

1. d4 e6 2. e4 d5 3. Nc3 c5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. exd5 exd5 6. Be2 Nf6 7. O-O Be7 8.Bg5 O-O 9. dxc5 Be6 10. Nd4 Bxc5 11. Nxe6 fxe6 12. Bg4 Qd6 13. Bh3 Rae8 14. Qd2Bb4 15. Bxf6 Rxf6 16. Rad1 Qc5 17. Qe2 Bxc3 18. bxc3 Qxc3 19. Rxd5 Nd4 20. Qh5Ref8 21. Re5 Rh6 22. Qg5 Rxh3 23. Rc5 Qg3 0-1


Paul Morphy's defeat of the Duke of Brunswick in this "Opera Box" game of 1858 is certainly not of the class of the other games in this collection, but it is a classic example of a professional player systematically dismantling an amateur. Most of the major tactical themes are illustrated in this classic, making it a favorite of chess teachers everywhere.

[Event "Paris"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1858.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Morphy,Paul"]
[Black "Duke of Brunswick"]
[Result "1-0"][ECO "C41"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Bg4 4. dxe5 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 dxe5 6. Bc4 Nf6 7. Qb3 Qe7 8.Nc3 c6 9. Bg5 b5 10. Nxb5 cxb5 11. Bxb5+ Nbd7 12. O-O-O Rd8 13. Rxd7 Rxd7 14.Rd1 Qe6 15. Bxd7+ Nxd7 16. Qb8+ Nxb8 17. Rd8# 1-0


In the following game, Lasker the lessor chases his opponent's King all the way across the board and checkmates him on his own first rank! If only he had castled Queenside on his final move!

[Event "London"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1912.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Lasker, Eduard"]
[Black " Thomas, G"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Opening "Dutch, Staunton G, Staunton's line"]

1. d4 f5 2. e4 fxe4 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 e6 5. Nxe4 Be7 6. Bxf6 Bxf6 7. Nf3 O-O 8. Bd3 b6 9. Ne5 Bb7 10. Qh5 Qe7 11. Qxh7+ Kxh7 12. Nxf6+ Kh6 13. Neg4+ Kg5 14. h4+ Kf4 15. g3+ Kf3 16. Be2+ Kg2 17. Rh2+ Kg1 18. Kd2# 1-0


In what is certainly one of the best games ever played, Botvinnik unleashes an unbelievable Bishop sacrifice on his 30th move. Capablanca accepts the sac and then has to hope that he can keep Botvinnik's king in check to avoid the mate. Botvinnik has calculated further and Capablanca throws in the towel 11 moves later. Probably one of the deepest combinations ever played.

[Event "Netherlands"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1938.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Botvinnik Mikhail M"]
[Black "Capablanca J"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Opening "Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Botvinnik System"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 7. cxd5 exd5 8. Bd3 O-O 9. Ne2 b6 10. O-O Ba6 11. Bxa6 Nxa6 12. Bb2 Qd7 13. a4 Rfe8 14. Qd3 c4 15. Qc2 Nb8 16. Rae1 Nc6 17. Ng3 Na5 18. f3 Nb3 19. e4 Qxa4 20. e5 Nd7 21. Qf2 g6 22. f4 f5 23. exf6 Nxf6 24. f5 Rxe1 25. Rxe1 Re8 26. Re6 Rxe6 27. fxe6 Kg7 28. Qf4 Qe8 29. Qe5 Qe7 30. Ba3 Qxa3 31. Nh5+ gxh5 32. Qg5+ Kf8 33. Qxf6+ Kg8 34. e7 Qc1+ 35. Kf2 Qc2+ 36. Kg3 Qd3+ 37. Kh4 Qe4+ 38. Kxh5 Qe2+ 39. Kh4 Qe4+ 40. g4 Qe1+ 41. Kh5 1-0


The 13-year old Bobby Fischer sacrifices his Queen on move 17. The veteran Donald Byrne can't ignore a brash move like that against some upstart kid, so he grabs the Queen and is then checkmated with machine-like efficiency.

[Event "New York"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1956.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Byrne"]
[Black "Fischer"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D95"]
[Opening "Grunfeld, Russian, Szabo (Boleslavsky) V"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. d4 O-O 5. Bf4 d5 6. Qb3 dxc4 7. Qxc4 c6 8. e4 Nbd7 9. Rd1 Nb6 10. Qc5 Bg4 11. Bg5 Na4 12. Qa3 Nxc3 13. bxc3 Nxe4 14. Bxe7 Qb6 15. Bc4 Nxc3 16. Bc5 Rfe8+ 17. Kf1 Be6 18. Bxb6 Bxc4+ 19. Kg1 Ne2+ 20. Kf1 Nxd4+ 21. Kg1 Ne2+ 22. Kf1 Nc3+ 23. Kg1 axb6 24. Qb4 Ra4 25. Qxb6 Nxd1 26. h3 Rxa2 27. Kh2 Nxf2 28. Re1 Rxe1 29. Qd8+ Bf8 30. Nxe1 Bd5 31. Nf3 Ne4 32. Qb8 b5 33. h4 h5 34. Ne5 Kg7 35. Kg1 Bc5+ 36. Kf1 Ng3+ 37. Ke1 Bb4+ 38. Kd1 Bb3+ 39. Kc1 Ne2+ 40. Kb1 Nc3+ 41. Kc1 Rc2# 0-1


In their second world championship match (the first had been declared null), the challenger Kasparov pulls off a mighty win with black in the Sicilian Defense. By the 20th move, Kasparov's grip on the position was so tight that Karpov had no maneuvering room at all for his own Queen! After this match was over (with Kasparov winning the title from Karpov), Karpov never played 1.e4 against Kasparov again, such was his respect for Garry's mastery of the Sicilian Defense.

[Event "Moscow-Wch II"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1985.??.??"]
[Round "16"]
[White "Karpov, An"]
[Black "Kasparov, G"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2720"]
[BlackElo "2700"]
[ECO "B44"]
[Opening "Sicilian, Szen V, Dely-Kasparov G"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nb5 d6 6. c4 Nf6 7. N1c3 a6 8. Na3 d5 9. cxd5 exd5 10. exd5 Nb4 11. Be2 Bc5 12. O-O O-O 13. Bf3 Bf5 14. Bg5 Re8 15. Qd2 b5 16. Rad1 Nd3 17. Nab1 h6 18. Bh4 b4 19. Na4 Bd6 20. Bg3 Rc8 21. b3 g5 22. Bxd6 Qxd6 23. g3 Nd7 24. Bg2 Qf6 25. a3 a5 26. axb4 axb4 27. Qa2 Bg6 28. d6 g4 29. Qd2 Kg7 30. f3 Qxd6 31. fxg4 Qd4+ 32. Kh1 Nf6 33. Rf4 Ne4 34. Qxd3 Nf2+ 35. Rxf2 Bxd3 36. Rfd2 Qe3 37. Rxd3 Rc1 38. Nb2 Qf2 39. Nd2 Rxd1+ 40. Nxd1 Re1+ 0-1

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