I haven’t played many really beautiful games of chess. But, when I do play one, I feel immense pride and delight. It is a feeling akin to mastering any fine art or difficult puzzle. It is a mixture of aesthetic pleasure, competitive thrill, wonder, and exhilaration. If you don’t play chess, learn the game today, it’ll bring much enjoyment to your life.
Another blogger called dorigo has shown his beautiful move (and it is great!). This inspired me to annotate one of my own games, shameless boaster that I am. It was a five-minute blitz game on the Chessbase server. There’s not much time to think, so gut instinct and feel is everything. I have rarely played as exciting a game in or a game with such good tactics in ages.
Lunchtime 1694 vs. Shodow 1636
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6
Black is playing the Sicilian Najdorf, a particularly energetic and dynamic opening. 6. Bc4
A reply used by Bobby Fischer in his prime. White aims at f7 with his bishop.
6. …e6 7. O-O Be7 8. f4 White should play Bb3 here, to avoid the coming sacrifice. But, I figure that I save a move and get an attack, which is everything in blitz. Fritz says it’s okay for white, but Bobby preferred Bb3. Now, watch this modest f4 pawn…it gets to move all the way up the board and helps to threaten mate in another 10 moves! 8. …Nxe4 Black gets a free pawn, but gets into a scrap. If white takes it back, black plays d5, forking the knight and bishop.
9. f5! Watch this pawn…
My first good move. Ignore the knight and press on with an attack!
9. …Nxc3 10. bxc3 d5 Trying to block out the bishop, but fails to see the following piece sacrifice.
11. fxe6!! Keep on moving…
I give up the bishop to keep his King in the centre and win a couple of pawns. Fritz says this position is almost equal. What?! This goes to prove that computers can play great chess, but humans play it differently. The position is so unbalanced that it is anything but easy for black to play in this position. Instinct is everything and I made this decision in nine seconds. In a real game, played over a couple of hours, I’d invest maybe 15 minutes or more on a move like this. Here, you just gotta go for it.
11. …dxc4 12. exf7+ Kf8
White has managed to trap the king on f8. Although a piece down, I felt I was winning. His rook is out of play on h8 and his position is wide open. Note how the f2 pawn has landed on f7 in four moves! Now for some sharp moves to take advantage of his lack of development.
Another great move. Meanwhile, I get to develop all my pieces from the back rank. It is one thing to play good tactical combinations, but another to play ones that are good even when the opponent doesn’t fall for them.
13. …Nc6 Sensible. If black takes it, I follow with Ne6+, winning his unprotected queen on d8 and mating his king. 14. Nxc6 Qb6+ 15. Nd4 Bxa3 16. Rb1 Qc5 All seems well enough for black. But he has only developed his queen and bishop. White has all his pieces out now. 17. Qe2 Threatening mate on e8. Crude, but effective!
17. …Bd7?? Seems to block off the threat and develop, but only leads to an almost instant loss. Better was Qe7. 18. Rxb7 Rd8?
Can you see the final move? Quite simple really, but it demolishes his entire fortress instantly.
19. Rxd7 Now black loses a piece for nothing. His queen drops on the next move to a knight fork, or if he takes the rook, it is mate on e8. Shodow resigns 1-0
Two bishop sacrifices, an exchange sacrifice, a threatened knight fork, energetic pawns, back rank mate threats. This game certainly wasn’t subtle, but it was one of my finest! I might play for another year and only play one or two more like it.