MY Favorite ALL-TIME Chess Games

 This is actually nothing more than a copy of my  'GeoCities'  chess
web-site  page, dedicated to the "Best All-Time Chess Games."

 (Geo-Cities keeps dumping my whole site (temporarily) for, "exceeding the data-transfer limit."
What this means is that they are punishing me for getting lots of hits!
I think this is grossly unfair and want my fans to be able to have a "back-up," if need be.
So here is an almost complete copy of one of my most popular web pages.)

 What was the best game of chess ever played? 

For instance: was  Botvinnik's  BEST game ever the great game where he played and defeated Capablanca at A.V.R.O. 1938?  (You know the one I am talking about. White sacrificed  TWO  minor pieces in a very simplified setting. As one student said, "This game takes my breath away!") Or was it Botvinnik's little known game where he sacrificed a whole box full of pieces against   GM  L.  Portisch   at Monaco, 1968? (This game was played at a time when Portisch was easily in the "Top Five Non-Soviet Players in the World.") Or was it some other game?


 What was Bobby Fischer's GREATEST ALL-TIME game? 
(Now there's a really tough choice to make!!)

( My choice would be his win over Donald Byrne at the New York Rosenwald Tournament 
of 1956. This is known as,  "The Game of the Century."   But he also played dozens  
of other beautiful games that one could easily classify as his best.  03/2002 
  I just recently concluded analyzing - to a great depth - Fischer's game vs. L. Portisch. 
(Stockholm Izt, 1962.)  This is one of the finest R+P endings ever played. Click  here.
Or click  HERE  to see another great Fischer game.  Another great game is  Fischer's 
win over  GM Oscar Panno.
   Its here!  {November, 2002.}


What was  Garry Kasparov's  best game?   Was it his win over V. Topalov? 
Or was it his  win over Karpov  - from the 1985 World Championship Match? 
(This is the game Garry himself considered his  "supreme creative achievement" ... 
for many, many years.)  Or was it some other game that Kasparov has played? 
 (Click here to see his game vs. Portisch from Niksic, Yugoslavia; 1983.) 


What was Paul Morphy's greatest game?  Anderssen's best chess game? 
What was Steinitz's best ever chess game?  What was Emanuel Lasker's 
greatest achievement over the chess board?  (Click  here  to see one of 
Lasker's game. While maybe not his greatest win, it is a very original idea - 
at the time it was actually played.  Feb. 24th, 2003. A friend gave me a new
book for my birthday. In this game the author made reference to the game 
Emmanuel Lasker - Lee; London, 1899. I went over this game in another 
book. Truly one of Lasker's best games. Hopefully I will annotate this game 
and bring it to you in the VERY near future!) 
What was Capablanca's greatest game? (Or this game?) And so on?


How about one of the greatest tactical geniuses who ever lived, 
The (late) Great  Mikhail Tal?   What was his most explosive brilliancy?
(Tal played SO MANY great and epic games ...  it is hard to pick just one!!
GM A. Soltis - and many others! - consider his win over Hjartarsson his best game.
This is the game,  GM M. Tal - GM J. Hjartarsson;  Reykjavik, 1987.) 


What was  GM Anatoly Karpov's  greatest game? 
(I am almost clueless here. Curiously ... I can only find  Karpov's 
 losses  in GM A. Soltis's book, "The 100 Best!") 

(I have several books on Karpov, including the latest: "My 300 Best Games.")

 Possibly two games could be nominated as Karpov's best: 

S. Tatai - A. Karpov;   Las Palmas, 1977
 (Karpov DOMINATED this tournament as the reigning World Champ. 
He scored 13.5 out of 15, and was 2.5 points ahead of GM B. Larsen.) 
  This win is one of timeless beauty.  

The other game would probably be:
 GM A. Karpov - GM Veselin Topalov;  Linares, 1994
(Karpov also dominated this event as well, scoring 11 out of 13. 
Kasparov was a very long distance away {tied for 2nd} with 8.5 points!!) 
 This game - a Rook sack from nowhere - is a flight if fancy that Fischer 
 or Tal would have been proud to play.  


What about one of my favorite players,  GM Vicktor Korchnoi? 
What is his very best game? 
 (GM Andy Soltis seems to think it was his win over fellow Soviet player, 
Mikhail Tal  ...  U.S.S.R. Championship; Erervan/RUS/1962.
 A simply fantastic game of chess ...  and  Its here!  12/15/02) 


 What was  Issac Boleslavsky's  greatest game? (click here

 What was  GM Nigel Short's  greatest game of chess? (click here


How about your favorite player? What was his (or her) best game?


Let me know what  YOU  think!!!

One reader/fan/visitor wrote me an e-mail (Mar./Apr. 2001) that said:


<<  How about one of the greatest tactical geniuses who ever lived ...
World champion Mikhail Tal?  When he was asked what was the happiest 
day of his life, he (Tal) referred to this game:

Nezhmetdinov - Tal,   Baku; 1961.

Tal,  (who was the teacher of Alexei Shirov), had nothing but praise for Rashid
Nezhmetdinov, (Tal's trainer); after he (Tal) defeated Mikhail Botvinnik. (In 1960.)

This must always be considered as one of the very best games he [Nez] ever played:
Polugayevsky - Nezhmetdinov;  Sochi, 1958.  >>

(Soltis - and many others! - consider this to be one of the Ten Most beautiful games 
of all time. [See Below.] I personally feel that this may be rating this game too 
highly ...  it may have been largely the result of home preparation; 
but it certainly ...  easily!, belongs in anyone's Top 50 list.)


An interesting side-note: When Sig Smith attended a [recent-May 2001] tournament 
in Pensacola, he was selling a book called, "Super Nez." This book was about 
Nezhmetdinov's life and games. Apparently he was quite a player, and even had 
plus scores against some world-class GM's!!


Look for a link to one of these games soon!!


{ Just to let you know, I have many Tal games that I like, 
but it would be too hard to pick 10 of the very best. 

>  Tal sacked so many pieces so many times, its hard to pick the one that 
   you like the most! Nearly everyone has his own favorite Tal game!

Certainly his game against Hjartarsson,  [Both Soltis and Nunn rank this game very highly!]; 
and his game vs. Rantanen must be two of his very best efforts. I also like the White French Winawer he played vs. Botvinnik (game # 1, Moscow, 1960) in his first [chess] World's Championship. And several of his games from the Soviet Championships, during the period 1957-1960 stand out. (Like his game vs. Geller in 1957.) And his game vs. Spassky from the Montreal 1979 tournament must surely be one of his best. His games against Simagin, Bobotsov, and Panno are also very outstanding games. 
(Soltis thinks Tal's draw vs. Aronin {Moscow, 1957.} may be the nicest draw ever made!) 
Maybe I will have to make a collection of 50 of Tal's best games for you to download. 
And maybe put the 10 best here on my website! }  


In 1989, BCM  (The British Chess Magazine)  (Editor - GM Murray Chandler) 
took a poll of their readers. (Other polls had been taken previously.) They asked 
what the best chess games ever played were. They received many responses, 
with the following games occupying the top five slots:

  1. Richard Reti - Alexander Alekhine;  Baden-Baden, 1925. 
    (An unbelievable game ending in a queenless attack.)

  2. Yefim Bogolyubov - Alexander Alekhine;  Hastings, 1922. 
    (A great brilliancy, many consider it Alekhine's best.)

  3. Donald Byrne - Robert J. Fischer;  New York, 1956. 
    (The 'Game of the Century.')

  4. Mikhail Botvinnik - Jose R. Capablanca;  A.V.R.O, 1938. 
    (Botvinnik's Immortal Game.)

  5. Harry N. Pillsbury - Seigbert Tarrasch;  Hastings, 1895. 
    (A very beautiful, but lesser known game.)
    (This game is NOT considered by many sources when naming the best 
      games of chess ever played. But it probably belongs on anyone's list 
      of the 'Top 100.')


In 1989, IM Jack Peters  - The columnist for The Los Angeles Times, 
also did a survey of his readers.  

( Many 19th Century games were mentioned very highly on the list. 
Like - Paul Morphy vs. Allies;  
  A. Anderssen - J. Dufresne; Berlin, 1852.  {The EVERGREEN Game.} )

He then obtained the following list: (20th Century Games)

  1. Robert Byrne - Robert J. Fischer;  U.S. Championship, 1963-64.
    (One of Bobby's best!  One of the "Ten Best" of all-time short games.)

  2. R. Reti - A. Alekhine;  Baden-Baden, 1925.
    (A game that ends with an unbelievable queenless attack.)

  3. Emanuel Lasker - J. R. Capablanca;  St. Petersburg, 1914.
    (One of the great games of chess literature.)

  4. Donald Byrne - R.J. Fischer;  New York, 1956.
    ("The Game of The Century.")

  5. M. Botvinnik - J.R. Capablanca;  A.V.R.O, 1938.
    (Botvinnik's 'Immortal Game'.)

  6. Emanuel Lasker - William E. Napier; Cambridge Springs, 1904.
    (A beautiful attack that is refuted by Lasker.)

  7. F. Samsich - A. Nimzovich; Copenhagen, 1923.
    (The "Immortal Zugzwang Game.")

  8. David Bronstein - Ljubomir Ljubojevic;  Petropolis, 1973.
    (One of the most complicated games ever played.  An incredible Alekhine's Defense.
    GM Andy Soltis ranks this game in the "Top 100" of the 20th Century!)

  9. "Any E. Geller win" - R.J. Fischer; [Several]

By now, you should be noticing that several games have repeated themselves. And if you compare the lists given below, you will see many more of these repetitions. This means certain games that are repeated many times on several of these lists are certainly candidates to be in the   "25 Best Chess Games Ever Played." 

See also the "Comparisons" discussion at the bottom of this page.


The Complete Chess Addict 

( 1987) This book gives a list of the 60 greatest chess games, (pg. # 100) but gives the games  chronologically, so there is no way to be sure as to what their list of the "Top Ten" would be. Since it is so hard to tell what the authors 'favorite ten' would be, I have not tried.
 (This is, by the way, a GREAT "Chess-for-the-fun-of-it" book!)
  (Click  HERE  to go to a page where you can re-play nearly ALL of these games!!) 

They begin with the following   ten games

# 1.)  LaBourdonnais - MacDonnell;  The 50th Match Game, 1834. 
         A Queen's Gambit Accepted. One of the first really great games of chess. 
          (So says  GM Ruben Fine.)  Tartakower  says it is one of the very first examples
          of a positional sacrifice. (Easily) One of the best games of the 19th Century!!
# 2.)  McDonnell - LaBourdonnais;  62nd Match Game, 1834. 
          A very cute game, where three Black Pawns defeat the whole of White's army.
          Another game that is  very  brilliant ... and also good to study.  A true,  
          great masterpiece of the chess board. 
# 3.)   A. Anderssen - Kieseritsky;  Casual (Match) Game, London, 1851.  
            (The 'Immortal Game.')   The name says it all. 
# 4.)  A. Anderssen - J. Dufresne;  Casual (Match) Game, Berlin, 1852.  
            (The 'Evergreen Game.')   Again, the name says it all. 
# 5.)  L. Paulsen - P. Morphy;  New York, 1857. 
          (One of the more brilliant games of the 19th century.) 
          (His game against  Theodore Lichtenhein  was ALSO an incredible 
           brilliancy! Click  here  to see that game.)  
# 6.)  P. Morphy - The Duke of Brunswick and The Count Isouard, {Allies}; 
          Paris Opera House, 1858.  Perhaps the most published and well-known 
          game of chess ever played.  (So says the chess legend,  GM Frank Marshall.) 
# 7.)  J. Zukertort - J. BlackburneLondon, 1883.  (The Zukertort  'Immortal Game.') 
          This is easily one of the very best games of the whole of the 19th Century. 
# 8.)  Emmanuel Lasker  -  J.H. Bauer International Tournament. Amsterdam, 1889.  
          One of Lasker's Best Games.  A game that should have brought notice of his talent. 
          (The famous "2-Bishop" sacrifice game.  The  ORIGINAL!!)  
# 9.)  H.N. Pillsbury - S. Tarrasch;   Hastings, 1895.  A pretty game, one of Pillsbury's best.
# 10.)  W. Steinitz - C. Von Bardeleben;  Hastings, 1895. One of the best of the 19th 
            century.  ("The Immortal Giuoco Piano Game."). One of Tal's favorite games!!  ]  


( I now feel - after having studied each one of these games  {immediately above} 
  in depth  - that the above list could also  {easily}  be: 
   "The Ten  Most Beautiful Games  of the Nineteenth {19th} Century!!!!!"  ) 


Simply starting at the end of their list and working backwards, 
(This is obviously not a scientific method, nor [probably] was it the 
method intended by the authors.); we get the following list: 

 "The Chess Addict's Ten Greatest Games of Chess" 

  1. Nigel Short - Garry Kasparov; Brussels, (OHRA) 1986. 
    (Sicilian Defense.)

  2. G. Kasparov - A. Karpov; 16th Game, World Championship Match, 1986. 
    (Ruy Lopez.)  (See below.) 

  3. G. Kasparov - A. Karpov; 16th Game, World Championship Match,1985. 
    (Sicilian Defense)  (See below.)  

  4. A. Belyavsky - J. Nunn;  Wijk aan Zee, 1985. 
    (King's Indian Defense.)  A great game by an Englishman. 

  5. V. Smyslov - Z. Ribli; Candidates Semi-Final, 1983. 
    (Queen's Gambit Declined.)

  6. G. Kasparov - L. Portisch;  Niksic', 1983. 
    (Queen's Indian Defense.)  Mostly a product of preparation. 

  7. V. Korchnoi - G. Kasparov; Lucerne Olympiad, 1982. (Modern Benoni.) 
    (Easily one of the best and momentous clashes on Board One of any Olympiad.)

  8. A. Karpov - T. Miles; European Team Championships, Skara, 1980. 
    (St. George's Defence)  GM Tony Miles defeats the reigning World Champ! 

  9. A. Karpov - Dorfman; Soviet Championship, Moscow, 1976. 
    (Sicilian Defense.)  A great game, but one of the all-time best??? 

  10. A. Karpov - V. Korchnoi; 2nd Game, Candidates Final, 1974. 
    (Sicilian Dragon.)  Truly a great contest, and one of best Dragon games. 

I must admit that these British Authors (Mike Fox & Richard James) certainly 
give a little too much credence to games by British/English players.

Several of these games are certainly some of the 
best chess played in the period 1974 to 1986!

(The Mammoth Book of)
"The World's Greatest Chess Games," 
by Nunn, Emms & Burgess.


Since I personally rank this as one of the 10 best chess books ever written, 
(See My "Best Books" Page.)
; I thought it would be appropriate to mention 
which games this book rates very highly. (May 22, 2001.)

Since this book was written by Two [British] GM's who are very well-respected author's in their own rights, (GM John Nunn, GM John Emms.); and the very well-known FM Graham Burgess; I thought it would be very tantalizing to try to figure out what the "Ten Most Beautiful Games" 
ever played were, at least according to these gentlemen.

This book's criterion is not nearly as strict as that of Soltis. Basically, each author was given a list of around 200 games. The games were chosen for their quality and brilliance of play by both contestants, originality, their instructive value, and their historical significance

  Then each author was asked to rate the games from 1 to 5,  
 using the following scale: 

Thus, the best any game could score was 15. In the end, only two games in their book scored this elusive perfect score. (The first two games listed below.) After that, I just had to go by their scoring system to figure out what was the 10 best games of chess ever played were. 

NOTE: The authors do  NOT  rate the games this way. If asked to do this, they 
may have balked. But certainly this fairly precise system is a good indicator of 
which games the authors thought  very highly of. 

 Games that are given the same score by the authors have been  
 given a sequence that is my    own    choosing.  

(Drum roll please.)

Now according to these illustrious authors, {see above!} 
{from (Mammoth Book of) "The World's Greatest Chess Games"}
The "10 Greatest Games of Chess Ever Played," are:

  1. A. Karpov - G. Kasparov; Chess World Championship Match, Moscow, 1985. 
    (Game # 16.) This is the game where Garry Kasparov sacrificed a pawn in a Sicilian, and tied his opponent up hand and foot. He then finished off brilliantly to cap an immortal performance, especially at the World Championship level. It is maybe one of the most brilliant WCS games ever played, very certainly in - or near the top ten in anyone's book. 
     A favorite of  MANY  modern-day Grand-Masters!   (Score of 15.)

    A chess editor (in a northern state) sent out an unofficial survey via e-mail. (And 
    in a flyer inside their magazine.) This game was picked more by his readers than 
    any other game. (By over a 3-to-1 margin.) 
    Over 200 people responded to this survey.  

    (Strangely, this is only game # 89 in the Soltis book.)

    Note:  I have been working on annotating this game for over 3 years now ... although 
    I will readily admit I have been anything but consistent!  The bottom line? While this 
    game is really good - much better than average - I no longer think it is as good as 
    I once did. Not only this, I may have found several new improvements. 08/25/02

  2. M. Botvinnik - J.R. Capablanca; A.V.R.O; 1938. 
    Another incredibly beautiful game at the highest level - as this tournament was to determine a challenger for Alekhine. (The tournament was won by Fine and Keres.)  Botvinnik plays an incredibly brilliant game through-out and caps off his masterpiece by sacrificing two pieces in an incredibly simplified situation. One of my students once remarked that this game, "Just takes my breath away." Me too! One of the greatest masterpieces ever created over the chess-board. 
     A favorite of MANY GM's that I have asked, over the years!    (15.) 
    (It would probably have to be on my 'Top Ten' list of the best chess games ever played.)

    Note: According to Burgess, Emms, and Nunn; the above two games 
    were the ONLY ones to get a perfect score of 15. (See above.)

    (This is only game # 21 in Soltis's book. This is a very low rating, considering 
    how highly it placed with most other GM's. Many GM's have told me they thought 
    this was one of  the  most beautiful games ever played.)

  3. G. Kasparov - A. Karpov; Chess World Championship Match, 
    Leningrad 1986. 
    (Game # 16.)  This is Garry's masterpiece, one of my favorites. It is easily one of the most complex and amazing games played at the World Championship level. (Most W.C.S. games are boring, safe, and timid affairs.) Garry sacrifices a whole bundle of pieces. And the notes are full of many more incredible possibilities that are much more stunning than the game! This may be one of the "Ten Prettiest Ruy Lopez" (Opening) games ever played, and that is saying a lot. Karpov does not handle the defense perfectly, but it is still a great game, none-the-less. (14.)

    (Strangely enough, I could not find this game in the Soltis book! This is 
     especially curious, as I have seen this game mentioned in many magazines 
     and books. I wonder how Soltis would have ranked this game. Surely, having 
     looked at over 7000 games, this was one of the ones he examined? Why was 
     this game left out? Curious minds want to know!)

  4. R. Reti - A. Alekhine; Baden-Baden, 1925.  (Tournament Game.)
    This is the famous Alekhine brilliancy where Reti declines a possible repetition, and Alekhine sacrifices an entire box of pieces for mate. What is so unusual about this game is: A.) The unbelievable and intricate way the variations hold together; and B.) The fact that Queens had already been exchanged! I saw this game many, many years ago, but I still remember it well. I particularly remember a very pleasurable afternoon spent with my friend - and very strong Pensacola Chess Player - Phil Snyder, going over this game. I also remember spending nearly an entire day with a young Navy [candidate] pilot. He was so stunned by this game, he demanded to go through it several times. He then asked me in awe, "Is this the most beautiful game of chess ever played?" It certainly is one of the most beautiful queenless attacks ever played!!! 
     A favorite of MANY well-known chess authors and chess historians!   (14.) 

    (I originally stated, "It would probably have to be on my 'Top Ten' list of the best 
     chess games ever played."  But AFTER playing over this game - connected with 
     preparing this list - I decided that it was NOT worthy for inclusion in the top ten 
     best games ever played. White spurns a nearly forced draw, after repeating moves. 
     And White's 27th move is nearly a blunder. There were just too many other pretty 
     chess games - that did not contain such flaws - for me to include this game.)  

    (This is game # 20 in the Soltis books. Originally I had said this game  was left 
     out, but I was mistaken.) 

  5. M. Botvinnik - L. Portisch;  Monte Carlo, 1968.  (Tournament Game.)
    Another one of Mikhail Botvinnik's greatest games. It starts off as an English, and then turns into a Reversed Sicilian Dragon. The grand old man of chess, (as he was then being called); then [seemingly] tries to sacrifice his entire army of pieces. A brilliant game. A virtuoso performance that was certainly dreamt up at the board. This game should easily go into any critic's top 25 games of chess, even if you are NOT a fan of Botvinnik! A true piece of chess artistry. (Score of 14.)
    (Certainly on  ANYBODY's  list of, "The 100 Most Beautiful Games of Chess Ever Played." !! I don't care who you are, or what your criterion is!)

    (Strangely, this is game # 75 in the Soltis book. Apparently Andy did not think as 
     highly of this game as did Nunn and Emms. And I have seen other writers, such 
     as Krabbe and Gaige, {and others!} who rate this game very highly.)

  6. Robert J. Fischer - Boris Spassky; FIDE Chess World Championship Match, 
    Reykjavik, Iceland; 1972.  
    (Game # 6.) 
    An epic game by anyone's standards. Firstly, there was this match. East (Russia) vs. West (U.S.A.) at the height of the "Cold War." (This match is the chessic equivalent of Ice Hockey's, "Miracle On Ice.") This was the only time in chess history that a chess match was  THE  leading story on all three networks every evening. (When there was only NBC, CBS, and ABC. An era before cable and CNN, which any youngsters out there may not even remember.) The coverage of the match also dominated the written media.

    Then there was this game. For the first time in his life in an important game, Bobby 
    played something other than 1. P-K4. (1. e4.) The game starts off as an English, then
    transposes to a Queen's Gambit Declined, another first for Bobby with the White pieces.
    And you should also be reminded that Boris was playing his favorite "T.M.B." System,  
    a line he had  NEVER  lost with in an important game! (Despite the fact that he had
    played it in numerous Soviet Championships, Candidates Matches, numerous
    International Tournaments, and even other World Championship Matches!!)

    And this was a game to confound the critics and other GM's. I have heard this many  
    times from sources who are 100% reliable, (Many were actually  in  Iceland during 
    the Match. Others, such as Shelby Lyman and others were watching the game as 
    it was being played, and even commenting on them for the press.); that the Soviet 
    GM's  failed again and again  to correctly appraise this position while this game 
    was actually being played!!! 
    (One very strong Russian GM labeled Fischer's 19. NxB/e6!, to be a blunder
     giving up a good Knight for a bad Bishop, and giving Black a solid wall of 
     pawns in the center.)

    Fischer played perfect chess in this game, outflanking Spassky and suddenly and unexpectedly putting great pressure on Black's King. Fischer then proceeds to play with great patience and artistry, tying up poor Spassky hand and foot. He then virtually places him in Zugzwang, an unheard of thing at this level. He then finishes off with an elegant exchange sacrifice, cracking open Spassky's King and forces resignation.

    I do not care who you are, this has to be one of the single greatest games of chess ever played. It certainly has to be one of the Ten Prettiest played at the World Championship level! And considering all the beautiful games played over the years, that is saying a lot!
    (The authors only give this game a score of 14, but it certainly deserves much higher praise. I give it a perfect ten!!!) 
    (It would probably have to be a very strong candidate for my 'Top Ten' list of the best chess games ever played. {A.J.G.})

    (Strangely, I don't believe this game is even in Soltis's "Top 100." I don't understand this.)

  7. W. Steinitz - C. von Bardeleben; Hastings, 1895.  (Tournament game.)
    This is an ultra-brilliant game, and perhaps the "Immortal Giuoco Piano Game." Here the old lion, Steinitz, proves he still has teeth; although he was well-past his prime when this game was played. Bardeleben does very little wrong, yet he is destroyed.
    In some sacrificial attacks, you must give your imagination free reign. And Steinitz completely unfetters his imagination here. Here Steinitz plays like Tal. 
    I can give no higher compliment.
    ( In fact, in response to chess historian Issak Linder's 3rd question: "What game - 
     not one of your own - made the greatest impression on you? Which game had the 
     greatest impact on you?"  The late, great  Tal  picked this one game!! )
    One of Steinitz's most beautiful and imaginative games. (13.)
    (It would probably have to be a very strong candidate for my 'Top Ten' list of 
     the best chess games ever played.

    (Strangely, I don't believe this game is even in Soltis's "Top 100.")

  8. G. Rotlevi - A. Rubinstein; Lodz, 1907/08.  (Tournament Game.) 
    A true classic of great beauty. An incredible piece of chess artistry.
    Notice that this game appears on many "Top Ten" lists, including Chernev's!!!
    ( Scroll down the page to see what I wrote about this game in the Soltis list.
    Another classic.  
       A favorite of MANY Masters!  
    (When I have asked the question, "What do 
    you think is the most beautiful game of chess ever played?)  (Score = 13.)
    Notice that MANY chess writers and historians have picked this game as one of the all-time best. 
    (It would definitely have to be on my 'Top Ten' list of the best chess games 
     ever played.

    The experts all seem to be in a consensus about this game. It is game # 10 in 
    the Soltis book. Everyone seems to agree that this is one of the most 
    beautiful games ever played.

  9. R. Reti - E. Bogoljubow;  New York, 1924.   (Tournament game.) 
    The first truly ultra-brilliant game by a hyper-modern. Certainly this must have been a wake-up call to die-hard classical players everywhere. 

    Reti starts off with his beloved invention, 1. Nf3. Bogo counters with a QGD set-up that just doesn't quite make it, especially considering Reti's super-accurate play. The game proceeds to a series of tactical shots, where many masters who were watching did not know what the outcome would be. It even looked as if the great Bogo had found an adequate defense, but eventually Reti crashes through with a combination that justly won him the First Brilliancy Prize. A gorgeous game and one every chess lover should see. 

    The end of this game has been featured in countless magazines and books. 
    A real classic. 
     A favorite of MANY well-known chess authors and chess historians!   
    (Score = 13.)

    (I do not believe Soltis even thought this game worthy of inclusion in his list.
    In fact, it is his fourth {4th} "Most Over-Rated Game."  See pg. # 20 of his book.)

    July, 2002.  I just spent almost the whole day studying this game. This is a truly 
    great game of chess. Artistry of the 64 squares!! 

  10. Donald Byrne - Robert J. Fischer; Rosenwald Tournament, 1956. 
    "The Game of the Century."  (Tnmt. Game, equal to the U.S. Championship.)
    This had to have been, "The chess shot heard 'round the world." (!!) This was young Bobby's 'business card' to the chess world as a whole. It served notice that this young man, barely 13 at the time this game was played, was a true genius and was going to be a serious contender for the very highest honors in the game.

    The game started off as 1. Nf3 and then transposed to a Gruenfeld Defence.  Fischer's 11...Na5!!! was a move of unparalleled imagination and brilliance. (At first glance, the move looks like an incredible blunder!!) The true beauty and depth of his conception was not realized until he unleashed his move, 17...Be6!! (Sacrificing his Queen.) The game does not clearly become won for Black until many moves later. Eventually Bobby has a Rook and two minor pieces  +  a few pawns for the Queen - that he invested into this attack. Byrne does not resign, so Bobby tracks down the White King and mates him. Another often over-looked fact about this game is that Donald Byrne was easily one of the 5 - 10 or so strongest players in the U.S.A. at the time this game was played.

    I personally believe this to be one of the most complicated games ever played in an actual game of chess, over-the-board. (Not postal or the product of adjournment analysis.) Inspiration and intuition must have surely played a part in this conception, as not even an IBM Super-Computer [Deep Blue?] could have calculated this combination from start to finish.

    Kmoch called this game, "The Game of the Century."  Kirby called it, "A Game for 
    the Ages." Fine called Fischer's 11th move, "Perhaps the most beautiful, brilliant 
    and imaginative move ever played in a game of chess." Chernev called it, 
    "Remarkable." He considered it one of the two greatest games ever played by a 
    prodigy, the other being  Capablanca-Corzo.  (Match Game; Havana, 1900.)  
    Reinfeld, (In his book, "Great Games by Chess Prodigies."); said the game left 
    him speechless. I could go on and on, but I trust by now that you get the point. 

     A favorite of MANY well-known chess authors and chess historians!   
    ( Score of 13.)

    (It would probably have to be on my 'Top Ten' list of the best chess games ever played.)

    { This game also contains (IMOHO) TWO of the most amazing chess moves ever 
      played. See my  web page  of  "The Best Chess Moves Ever Played." }

    This is game # 28 in the Andy Soltis book. As it almost made it into 
    GM Soltis's "Top 25," I am more or less satisfied with that ranking. 


That is it for the list from Burgess, Emms, and Nunn. I am more or less satisfied with this list, as I am familiar with all of the games on their "Top 25." There might be a few oversights in this book, and I would have been highly curious to see what their original list of games was. It would also been interesting to see which games were dismissed and why. But overall, you could simply pick all the games that they chose with scores of 13 or better. From this list you would be very hard pressed to eliminate ANY of these games, as they are all classics of the game of chess. I highly recommend this book. In fact ... this book is in my list of, "The Ten Best Chess Books Ever Written." See my  web page  on the best chess books for more information. 

I skipped a few games to get to this last three in this list. They  ALL  had 
identical scores of  13  by Nunn, Emms, and Burgess. The games I skipped were:

Anderssen - Kieseritsky;  London, 1851.  (The 'Immortal Game')

Nimzowitsch - Tarrasch;  St. Petersburg, 1914.

Averbakh - Kotov;  Candidate Tournament, 1953.

L. Polugaeyevsky - E. Torre;  Moscow, 1981.

Kasparov - Portisch;  Niksic, 1983.

Kasparov - Anand;  PCA World Champ. (10); 1995


(Now all of these games ARE beautiful. But I skipped them for this list.)


My main reasons for skipping these games were as follows:

   # 1.)  I do not consider the Anderssen game, (His "Immortal Game.") a piece of trash 
or rubbish -  as does GM Robert Hubner. The game is beautiful and was an amazing 
(even unbelievable) concept in its day. But I do think the game has many incorrect ideas, 
(minor tactical flaws) that have analytical holes in them.  And it has been superseded 
by far prettier games of chess.
  (And I personally prefer Anderssen's "Evergreen Game.") 
But it is still a grand game of chess. 

 ---->  And a must for any student to study, if he is trying to learn tactics. (!!!) 


   # 2.)  The Nimzovich - Tarrasch game is perhaps the German Teacher's greatest 
brilliancy. But the "Two Bishop" sacrifice is a theme that was played in many games 
before and was probably best [originally] done in Lasker-Bauer. Also Nimzovich's 
play probably left a lot to be desired. But it is still a great game of chess, and one 
of Tarrasch's very best games. 


   # 3.)  The Kotov game is an incredible brilliancy. But yet I think it  (the key part of 
 the game)  may have been figured out by a team of analysts made up of a group 
 of Russian GM's, during an adjournment.  (The queen sacrifice came after  move 40.) 

 (It still belongs in anyone's 'Top 100,' and may be A. Kotov's greatest game.)


   # 4.)  The Polugaeyevsky game is an incredible brilliancy, but has two main flaws: 
a.) It is mostly opening preparation by Polu; and b.) Torre missed many chances 
to strengthen his resistance and play better defense, especially in the endgame.


   # 5.)  It would been unfair to allow Kasparov to dominate this list if I had included 
 the last two games of his. And its entirely possible that both games listed above 
 were largely (or entirely!) the result of opening preparation by Kasparov and his team.
 (Click  here  to


(But they are still pretty games and they all deserve to be in the  'Top 100'  most beautiful games of chess ever played. In fact I would bet if I got many judges to gather together their favorite 25 "Best Games of Chess," Kasparov would certainly have 10 - or more! - games included in ALL the lists. He has played some of the most beautiful and exciting games of chess of the 20th century, and my hat is off to him.)

I just recently (May, 2001.) purchased the book: 

"The 100 Best Chess Games of the 20th Century," (Ranked) 
by GM Andy Soltis.


I first want to say this is a very fine hard-back book. (It was also very expensive, some dealers are charging between fifty and one hundred bucks for this book! Maybe it will be cheaper when - and if - it comes out in paperback.)  But it may be Soltis's best book ever. (!!)

He made a very large list of over  7,000 games,  (!) then narrowed this list down to around 300 games, and then winnowed it down to the best 100 - using come of the most exacting criteria and the most rigorous research data I have ever seen used for chess games.


He graded the games according to the following criteria:
(On a scale of 1 to 20!)


# 1.) Overall Aesthetic Quality.

# 2.) Originality.

# 3.) Level of Opposition.

# 4.) Soundness, Accuracy, Difficulty.

# 5.) Breadth and Depth.


Now, before I give you his list of the ten best chess games, I will tell you I have problems with his list. (And his methodology. See below.)  For instance, he rejects  Adams - Torre  (New Orleans, 1920.); as a  possible  fabrication. I think this is unfair and unproven.

(I personally like that game very much and would probably place it in one of the prettiest games ever played. Its maybe  THE  game for exploiting a weak back-rank. If you click on the name(s), [above] you will be taken to a page where you can replay the entire game on your monitor with a java-script board and moveable pieces.) 

He also dismisses 2 other games as fakes, and they probably are. (Alekhine's infamous 5-Queen game vs. N. Grigoriev is positively, absolutely a fake. And there are strong enough suspicions about  Botvinnik - Chekover;  Moscow, 1935 - to disqualify it.)

He also considers postal games together with regular, over-the-board chess, and I have a slight objection to that, as it is like comparing apples and oranges. He also blows off some other pretty good games, such as Nimzovich's "Immortal Zugzwang Game," which was a personal favorite of mine. And he tosses several others for lacking "breadth and depth." (Games like  Spassky - Petrosian;  Game # 19, World Champ. Match, 1969. Or  Keres - Botvinnik;  USSR Absolute Championship Tournament, 1941. Both of these games, IMOHO, deserve to be in the,  "100 Most Beautiful Games of All Time.")  And upon reflection, I must admit that some of his criticisms are valid in certain cases. But overall, his list is interesting, yet in a way - controversial. But when a writer of Soltis's stature picks a list like this, you have to pay attention. 
   (And I will also admit to being a  big  fan of Andy's - - - I have MANY of his books!!)     



A note on Andy Soltis's methodology. At first glance, it would be easy to look at this book, and assume that GM Soltis was very objective. But upon deeper examination, there are MANY problems with the methods that he used. For instance, he had five categories, and he numbered these from 1-20. But what were the exact criteria used? Logically, the larger the gap, the more open to interpretation the numbers are. 
[ For instance: I might grade a game as an "18" for originality. 
Soltis might give the same game a score of only 15. (Or much less!) ]
I would have chosen a much smaller bandwidth, with a very exact criteria. For instance, "10" might be "GM opposition with above average defense." A "9" might be GM opposition with only average defense. Etc. If Soltis had been more exact in his criteria, or further elucidated what his standards were, then we would know more - and have a greater confidence - in the choices that he made and the methods that he used. As it is, I think his choices are as subjective as the next person. The only thing that gives his choices any weight at all is the name of the author. And I do not believe that is enough. Personally, I have much more confidence in the methods used by Nunn, Emms, and Burgess in their list. 
(But still he tried harder - and attempted to do this in scientific manner. 
MUCH more so than any other player has ever done!) 


Without any further ado, I give you   GM Andy Soltis' list   of:

  1. Y. Estrin - Hans Berliner;  (0-1)  Correspondence, 1965-68.  
    This is indeed a beautiful chess game. It contains one of the most important theoretical innovations of the last half of the century. It is also a very finely played game of chess. Black's attack is brilliantly and forcefully prosecuted. Then a transposition into a Rook and Pawn ending occurs, and it is one of the most accurately played end-games of that type on record. (But, to me, its a little unfair to include postal games in this list.)
    (I could not include this game in my 'Top Ten' list, but it certainly belongs in the Top 100.)
    [Two Knight's, C57.]

    ( This is game # 55 in the Mammoth book. [Overall score-10.] )

  2. L. Polugayevsky - R. Nezhmetdinov; (0-1) Soviet Champ, Sochi, 1958. 
    Another one of the most beautiful attacks of all time. Using Soltis' own strict criteria, I would have to rate this as maybe one of the prettiest games played over the board, in this or any century. (I am not sure if I could include it in my 'Top Ten.')
    (What most people don't know is that this game may have been the result of 
    "home cooking" by "Super NEZ."  {Polu had been using this variation for 
    a very long time prior to this game, and had even used it in speed chess.} 
    And Polu really does  not   handle the defense well, in my opinion. - In fact, 
    Lev Polugayevsky has a distinctly inferior position before move 20 as White! 
    This is obviously NOT good chess!! 
    But its still one of the classics of chess literature.)
    [English/King's Indian, A50.]  

    ( This is game # 40 in the Mammoth book. [Overall score-11.] )

     A favorite of MANY Masters! 

  3. J. Capablanca - F. Marshall;  (1-0) New York, 1918. 
    The very famous debut of the Marshall Attack in the Ruy Lopez. Marshall spent years preparing this innovation, and Capa had to face it for the first time, over-the-board. One of the finest examples of defense ever seen in face-to-face play. Its also a very beautiful game. Andy does a superb job of annotating this game.
    (This game would not be on my 'Top Ten' list, but easily belongs in the Top 100.)
    [The Marshall Attack of the Ruy Lopez, C89.]

    (This is game # 15 in the Mammoth book. [Overall score: 11.] So the experts 
    seem to agree. This win by Capa is easily in the list,  "The Best 100 Games of 
    Chess Ever Played."
      This game has also been highly rated by J. Hanken 
    and Tim Krabbe. AND ... many, many others!) 

  4. Y. Bogolyubov - Dr. A. Alekhine;  (0-1)  Hastings, England, 1922. 
    One of the most brilliant and original games of chess ever played. (Indeed. Chernev - among many others! - considers this to be THE  most beautiful game of chess ever played!) Alekhine rips Bogo's position to pieces in one of the classic games of chess literature. There are dozens of fine points in Alekhine's combination. 
    (This game would have to be at least a strong candidate for my 'Top Ten' list.)
    [QP- 1...f5; or the Dutch Defense. A90.] 

     (Strangely enough, this game is  NOT  to be found in the Mammoth book! 
      An oversight?) 

  5. G. Kasparov - V. Topalov; (1-0) Wijk aan Zee, 1999. 
    One of the most beautiful games of the century, although I personally believe much of this game was the result of extensive home preparation by Garry. Garry shreds his opponent's position in one of the most forceful and elegant attacking games ever played. Maybe the game that holds the record, (in my book, anyway); for the most double exclam moves. A spectacular game against maybe the strongest opposition. (Veselin Topalov has been consistently in the Top Ten in the world for many years now. He also handles the defense in this game very well.)

    (Many GM's consider this to be one of the greatest games ever played.  See for example:  GM Larry Christiansen's [new] book, "Storming The Barricades.
    Also GM Yasser Seirawan absolutely raved about this game in his [now defunct] magazine, 'Inside Chess.Many other authors and writers have called this one of the best games ever played!)

    (This game would at least be a strong candidate to be in my 'Top Ten' list.)
    [Pirc Defense, B07]

    (This is game # 90 in the Mammoth book. The game receives a relatively low rating.  [Overall score 12. This might be considered high for these authors, but certainly this game is close to being a 15?]  And considering how many other authors have ranked this game highly. When I saw GM A. Yermolinsky in New Orleans a few years ago, I asked him to name "The prettiest games of chess ever played." While he could not give me a complete list off the top of his head, he did mention this game as maybe one of the very best of all time. It certainly is a modern masterpiece)

     A favorite of MANY modern-day Grand-Masters! 

  6. A. Lilienthal - V. Ragozin; (0-1) Moscow, 1935. 
    A pleasant surprise. This is a game that someone showed me when I was very young. Its not that I don't believe this isn't a great game, nor was I surprised that it was listed - its just that "The Big-Name Players," usually claim all the top spots for, "The Best Games." (I was pleasantly surprised to see it given so high a spot in Andy's list!) This is a beautiful attack where Black uses virtually uses every tactical trick in the book. Indeed, this game has NO White move that you could hang a question mark on, it is very hard to be sure where the first player went wrong.  Soltis calls this game, 
        "A glittering lesson on the relationship between material and position."

     Using GM Andy Soltis's own criteria, this game would be a hard candidate 
      for the most beautiful game ever played!  

    (It would probably at least a strong candidate to be on my 'Top Ten' list 
     of the best chess games ever played.)
    [Nimzo-Indian Defense, E24.]  

    (Strangely enough, this game is not even mentioned in the Mammoth book. 
      Perhaps it was not included in their initial list of games to consider?)

  7. E. Gufeld - L. Kavalek; (0-1) 
    World Student Olympiad, Marianske Lazne, 1962.
    Another beautiful game. Black assumes the initiative early in the game, and the 
    whole of this encounter was played with incredible energy by Black. Perhaps 
    Kavalek's finest achievement. Certainly one of the prettier games won by Black 
    ever recorded.
    (I would not have this game on my 'Top Ten' list, but after reading Soltis' review 
    and analysis of this game, I guess I would definitely include it in my 'Top 100.')
    [Ruy Lopez, C64.]

    (This is game # 47 [Overall score of 12.]; in the Mammoth book.)

  8. G. Stoltz - H. Steiner; (1-0) Stockholm Interzonal, 1952. 
    As a young teenager, (or perhaps earlier); I thought this must have been one of 
    the, "50 Prettiest Games Ever Played." I thought this, I said it. Repeatedly. 
    Even in public. I was also ridiculed for this opinion by one of the stronger players 
    in Pensacola at that time.  (He said, "What do you know about chess?" 
    Unfortunately the fellow has died quite a few years ago. Because if he were still 
    around I'd have to go the club and show him Andy's book and remind him of that 
    episode.) Maybe one of the prettiest and finest attacking games ever played. 
    Again, I was very pleasantly surprised to see this game so highly ranked. 
    (Usually, it is the games of the "BIG-name Masters that seem to garner most of 
    the accolades.)  It certainly deserves to be better known than it is. 
     One of the prettiest games ever played, and almost an unrecognized masterpiece.  
    Definitely one of the all-time best, no matter who you are.
    (Maybe a strong candidate to be on my 'Top Ten' list.) 
    [English Opening, A21.]

    (Strangely enough, this game is NOT listed in the Mammoth book at all! This 
     is a terrible oversight, as many people have told me this is one of the most 
     brilliant games ever played, especially by a player in an Interzonal.)

     September, 2002: The more I study and analyze this game, the more I like it.   
     No blatantly ugly moves, the opening is even OK by the latest of theoretical   
     standards. And the combination is as brilliant as anything ever played!!! 
      (It is also sound!! YEARS if study has revealed NO refutation!!) 

  9. M. Tal - J. Hjartarsson; (1-0) Reykjavik, 1987.   
    One of Tal's prettiest ever wins. Certainly a beautiful game. I remember seeing it in a chess magazine shortly after it was played, and thinking it almost took my breath away. This is true Tal stuff and a very great game. Tal's attack covers the length and breadth of the board and also features an almost completely unbelievable journey by one of White's Knights. Certainly one of Tal's prettiest ever wins, and that in itself is saying  a lot! Maybe this could be Tal's very best game! (That in itself is also saying something.) 
    (It would probably have to be on my 'Top Ten' list of the best chess games ever played.)
    [Ruy Lopez, C99.]

    (This is game # 82 in the Mammoth book. Since several players - two were 
     GM's! - have told me this is Tal's greatest brilliancy, this seems an undeservedly 
     low ranking. It also received a relatively low overall score. [11]  I also want to point 
     out the Mammoth authors games are arranged chronologically and the game's 
     point score is what is important.)

    October 2002: I have almost finished annotating this game. BUT ... at least for now, 
    there is a very briefly annotated, js-replay version of this game. 

  10. G. Rotlewi - A. Rubinstein; (0-1)  Lodz, Poland. 1907/08. 
    The "Polish Immortal." I have seen this game quite a few times over the years. I have seen it in magazines and I have seen it in quite a few books. (Too many to name here!!) Yet I  never  tire of it. I will look at this game with anyone who wants to look at a game of chess. I might have been only eight when a friend showed this game to me, and it seemed more like magic to me at the time than a game of chess. The chess artist in me greatly appreciates the purity and beauty of this one game. The ultra-brilliance of this game never fails to elicit "ahh's" and "ooohh's" when you show it to someone (who really understands good chess) for the very first time. The shock value of Black's 22nd and 23rd move has also not dimmed for me, even though I must have been over this game literally dozens of times. (Probably more than 200 times now.) A fantastic game by one of the greatest chess geniuses who ever lived.
    (It would definitely have to be on my 'Top Ten' list of the best chess games ever played.)
    [Queen's Gambit Declined, D40.]

    (This is game # 11 in the Mammoth book. [Overall score - 13. Only 2 short of perfect.] Since dozens of players - including MANY Masters - have told me this would be one of the most brilliant games ever played, I would think this ranking is about right.)

     A favorite of MANY Masters! ... and chess fans too! 
    (Additional Note. Many people think G. Rotlewi was just a fish. He was not. He played in and won at least one International Tournament. He played several times in the Polish National Championships. {He won the "B" section of this tournament once.}
    GM Andy Soltis  gives the additional information about this player: 
    " Gersh Rotlewi  {1889-1920}, is one of the tragic losses of 20th Century chess. He was an obscure Pole until winning an amateur section at Hamburg, 1910. This earned him the Master Title, and the right {and invitation} to compete at Carlsbad, 1911. [One of the strongest of the pre-World War I events!]  To the amazement of the spectators he held his own with the world's best players. He beat Aaron Nimzovich, Carl Schlecter, Frank Marshall, and Rudolf Spielmann."  {He also drew many fine game of chess with some of the world's best. A.J.G.}  Soltis continues: "And he would have tied for First Place ... had he won his final game. (!!)  But after this brilliant debut at age 22, Rotlewi was stricken by a serious nervous disorder and never played again." 
    (Perhaps someone could write a book on this nearly forgotten player?) 


Well, that's it for Andy Soltis's list. (My list would certainly have been different!) 
But first, these are beautiful games in their own right, and every chess 
player who likes good chess should go over them at least once!

 Certainly 10 of the very best-quality and most brilliant chess games ever played! 


Now I could argue greatly against Andy Soltis's choices. Black wins a great number of these games, and I was taught that when Black wins a game it generally means that White went sadly astray somewhere, especially in a shorter game.

I also don't see any Fischer wins here, despite the fact that they both played some of the most beautiful chess of the 20th century. And the game Botvinnik - Capablanca; (A.V.R.O; 1938) deserves perhaps to be higher rated. I also think the game Anatoly Karpov - Jan Smejkal; from one of the Olympiads is easily one of the "Top Ten" positional masterpieces of all-time in chess. (This game is left completely OUT of Soltis's book. Did he miss it?) And I could list other games that a strong case could be made for including them here.
And I could go on and on. But I won't.

A funny story is when I bought this book, I expected to see a handful of games I had seen before, and dozens of games that I had not encountered previously. Yet after thorough perusal of this book, I can safely say I was already familiar with every game presented here. I do not know if this is an argument that I am a very erudite chess scholar, or that Andy basically picked the same games every writer picks again and again. Certainly it is a testament to the size and quality of my chess library, as many of these games are in various books that I have.


The following is interesting to note between the Nunn book and the Soltis book. Both books seem to rate several games very highly, i.e. The Tal  - Hjartarsson game, and the game, G. Rotlewi - Akiba Rubinstein. Both books rate the Botvinnik - Capablanca game (A.V.R.O. 1938) very highly, but Nunn and his group rates it as nearly perfect, where its only in Soltis's 'Top 25.'  Both books rate Kasparov's Sicilian Game (where he played Black vs. Karpov,  from Moscow, 1985), very highly, yet Nunn and his group rates it much more highly than Soltis. The Kasparov Brilliancy from his 16th Match game for the 1986 W.C. series,  (London/Leningrad) is also rated very highly by many authors. (Including the ones referred to here!) Fischer's game vs. Spassky, (Game # 6 Iceland; 1972.); is also rated highly by several authors. What I am trying to get at is that while no two persons or groups pick the exact same set  (group/list)  of games, there does seem to be a definite consensus as to what makes up a really great chess game. 

Maybe what we really need to do is all write Chess Life, and see if they could not do a survey of 50 to 500 of the world's Top GM's and the best chess writers. Let each pick his "Top Ten" best chess games and then tabulate the results. We might see that there would be a firm agreement as to what the "Top Ten Chess Games of All Time" would be. Until then we will have to be happy with web pages like this one and lists like the ones above.


Another one of the nice things about Soltis's book? He goes into great detail about some of the other efforts to define the best games. He also has some of the "Near-Misses," (Games other authors may have - or may not have - ranked very highly. All very thoroughly annotated.) and some of the "Most Over-Rated Games." (Games Soltis considers to be not worthy of the best games list.)

The Andy Soltis List of the "Most Over-Rated Games" :

  1. R.J. Fischer - M. Tal;  Olympiad Game, Leipzig, 1960. (French Defense.)
    A great game, but it contains many mistakes and was played a little nervously by both parties. Many other authors have considered this to be a great game and an epic encounter.

  2. F. Samisch - A. Nimzovich;  Tournament Game, Copenhagen, 1923. (Q.I.D.)
    This is Nimzovich's  "Immortal Zugzwang Game." 
    (A personal favorite of mine, especially in my youth.) 
    Soltis almost gleefully points out the [minor] flaws in this game and berates it 
    no end. What he fails out to point out that this game contained many concepts that 
    were new at the time. But after reading the Soltis's annotations of this game, 
    I would not be able to include it in my 'Top Ten.'

  3. E. Lasker - W.E. Napier;  Tournament Game, Cambridge Springs, 1904. (Sicilian)
    A very famous game that many other authors - such as Chernev - have written very 
    highly of it. I personally remember going over this game - I think it was in a book by 
    R.N. Coles - where every other move is given an exclam or even a double exclam. 
    But after going over Soltis's carefully annotated version of this game, where he 
    carefully points out all the mistakes ... AND shows he was aware of what virtually 
    other annotator
    has written about this game ... I probably would have great 
    difficulty including this game in my 'Top 100 list. To say it was an, "Eye-opening 
    experience," is not to do it justice.

  4. R. Reti - Y. Bogoyubov;  Tournament Game, New York, 1924. (Reti Opening.)
    (Scroll up the page to the  Mammoth Book List,  and read what was written 
    about this game.) 
    This is another personal favorite of mine, and Soltis really rakes it over the coals. I simply cannot agree with Soltis's annotations, and I believe he is much too harsh on this game. (I would still - easily - include this game on my 'Top 100' games of chess.) He uses question marks where a '!?' might suffice. And historically, many of the Hyper-Modern concepts were brand new to most players, and therefore highly original. I will say Soltis is certainly more objective than many other authors have been, and one of the first to question many of the moves played in this game. The end of this game is pretty and featured in many problem books ... how many other games can boast this accomplishment? I still think it is a wonderful game.

  5. Emanuel Lasker - Jose R. Capablanca;  Tournament Game, St. Petersburg, 1914.
    (Ruy Lopez.)
    One of the most celebrated games of chess literature, and ranked VERY highly by dozens of other authors. (It occurred in one of the greatest and most historic encounters in all of the history of chess.) Yet Soltis shows that the game was  very  inconsistent, had a few mistakes, and probably played by the great Cuban on an 'off' day. (Of course in many of the "epic encounters" when the top players meet in tournaments, these games are very rarely played well by both players.) Lasker's 35. e5!! and 36. Ne4! remain as one of the great actual examples of a clearance sacrifice by an actual player in a real game. (And not in a composed problem.) Fine called this game, "A landmark of chess history," and it was. Yet Soltis is one of the first to point out that it is also, "One of the worst games Capablanca ever played." (Amos Burn.) The game is still a great game, and many a student would profit by studying it carefully. And I still would have to include it in my 'Top 100' chess games list. Yet after looking at what Soltis has written about the game, I would probably have to move it much farther down the list. (Please note: Soltis does NOT include this game in his 'Top 100,' and this is very unfortunate. It was and is an epic encounter, and deserves a better fate.)

Any real lover of chess would greatly enjoy this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves fine chess books. Destined to be a classic. And maybe Soltis's best book ever!!!

Aside from the books mentioned above,  (mainly the Soltis Book and The Mammoth Book); several of the other books that I have consulted {frequently} in building these pages are: "[The] 1000 Best Short Games of Chess," by Irving Chernev;  "The King-Hunt in Chess," by Cozens and Nunn;  "The Golden Treasury of Chess," by I.A. Horowitz;  "The Fireside Book of Chess," by Chernev and Reinfeld;  "The Chess Companion," by Irving Chernev;  "Modern Chess Brilliancies," by GM Larry Evans; About a dozen [different] books on "Miniatures," (from various openings) by Bill Wall;  "Epic Chess Clashes," and "Epic Battles of the ChessBoard," [both] by R.N. Coles;  "Lesser Known Chess Masterpieces," by Wilson;  "The World's Great Chess Games," by R. Fine;  "The Complete Chess Addict," by Fox and James;  and "Chess Strategy and Tactics,"  by Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld.  While this is not a complete list, it should give you an idea of the EXTENSIVE research that went into building these web pages. These are all excellent books for reading, studying and just having fun in general. 
Check them out! And enjoy! 


This is the list of the games I consider to be the ten best ever played. 
Originally, I had no strict criterion for these games other than a deep study 
of the books and the games listed on this page.
 (I later went back and assigned a "One-to-Five" criterion for several  
 different categories. These games still won out.)  

 I have also tried to give a great deal of weight and consideration to what other strong players have said and written about the best games of chess are!   I also have tried to limit each player to one game.    I have tried to avoid draws,   and also 
 only pick games that were played in actual, serious over-the-board contests. 
 (I feel postal chess is different and should be kept separate.) 

 You definitely will want to scroll up the page and read what I have written  
 about these games previously, I will 
not  repeat anything here.  

  1. Garry Kasparov - Veselin Topalov;  Wijk aan Zee, 1999. 
    Easily one of the most brilliant games ever played. The more I have studied this game,
    the more I like it. Maybe the game that holds the record for the most moves that could 
    be awarded a double exclam. Certainly already a classic of chess literature.  (1-0) 
    (When I did an informal survey of all the writers and chess editors I knew,  
    {May 2001 - on the Internet}  this game was mentioned more than any other.) 
    (This game is BOTH in the Soltis book AND in the Mammoth book! ... 
    And many others!!) 

    (The notes and analysis of this game were maybe the most interesting - and 
      the most work
    - of any game I think I have ever annotated. Real meat!!)  

    (Note: Sept, 2001. I have now thoroughly annotated this game in preparation for 
    posting on the Internet. I am now completely convinced this game belongs in the 
    "Top Ten." One of the greatest achievements of OTB chess of all-time.) 

     A favorite of  MANY  modern-day Grand-Masters! 

    (This game took nearly 12 weeks of continuous work, during which this 
    project was virtually the only chess task I was working on, other than lessons. 
    (And I had already studied this game MANY times!!! On the computer!
     In fact - it took nearly two years to finish annotating this game in CB.)  
    {I was working in ChessBase. I often worked 5-7 hours at a time on 
    this game - sometimes more.} Then I converted it into an HTML document. 
    {CB Does this automatically, although the initial document produced by CB 
    is very, very ugly.}  Then it took  over  four weeks of nearly continuous work to 
    make this document ready for publication on the Internet. {I had to check ALL 
    the lines and color-code them.} Then I took another week to play through every 
    move and compare the HTML document to the document in the ChessBase
    format, {move-by-move} to insure as few errors as humanly possible crept 
    through. Only AFTER this extremely labor-intensive process was completed, 
    was I ready to publish this game on my web page. Please visit this page 
    and let me know what you think.) 

  2. Mikhail Botvinnik - Jose R. Capablanca;   A.V.R.O. 1938. 
    In a simplified setting, Botvinnik sacrifices two pieces. Many GM's have said 
    they consider this one of the most brilliant games ever played. MANY GM's have 
    told me this is one of the prettiest games of chess ever played. (I could have also 
    just as easily picked Botvinnik's game against Portisch. Its just as pretty.)  (1-0) 
    (This game is BOTH in the Soltis book AND in the Mammoth book!)

     A favorite of MANY GM's over the years! (And many fans and writers too!)  

  3. Andre Lilienthal - Vyacheslav Ragozin;  Moscow, 1935. 
    Easily one of the prettiest - and certainly one of the least well known - of all 
    the great games of chess ever played. A true classic. Like a diamond, it is 
    beautiful in every facet. It is worth studying again, and again and again!
    After nearly three months of study, I am convinced this is indeed a beautiful game. 
    It is  VERY  worthy of the number three spot I have given it. 
    For instance, GM Andy Soltis  gives this game a lot of exclams. In fact White gets like
    4 (four!) exclams. Black gets like NINE exclams, (9) and TWO (2!!) DOUBLE EXCLAMATION - point moves. On top of this, there is not a single move that Soltis could hang a question mark on. (Black wins this game.) Perhaps a rare case of one plan being defeated by a superior one. This game could easily have been # 1. A truly wondrous game. Certainly a masterpiece of the chess-board ... one that has many different movements, just like a symphony by one of the great composers.  (0-1) 
      The more I study this game, the more I like it!  
    (This game is NOT in the Mammoth book, as far as I can determine.)

  4. Yefwim Bogolyubov - Alexander A. Alekhine;  Hastings, 1922. 
    Easily one of the most profound conceptions ever conceived of over the chess 
    board. Many authors -  most notably  Irving Chernev  - consider this the  BEST  
    game of chess ever played!! (I had to subtract a few points for Bogo's less than 
    perfect defense.)  (0-1) 
    (This game is NOT in the Mammoth book. And I do not understand this, either!) 

     A favorite of MANY well-known chess authors and chess historians!  

  5. Mikhail Tal - Robert J. Fischer;  Candidates Tournament. Zagreb, 1959. 
      Picking Tal's "greatest brilliancy" was not easy, he played too many great games!   

    (The games against: Simagin, Tolush, Panno; his many great games from the two 
    USSR Championships that he won, back-to-back; a handful of his games from his 
    World Championship encounters with Botvinnik; and his games with Spassky 
    [esp. Montreal, 1979], Thorbergersson,  Hjartarsson,  Hecht, and Rantanen all come 
    immediately to mind. Especially for me! Tal played maybe more 'pretty' games of 
    chess than any other player who ever lived. Having personally watched him play 
    chess at a New York Open one year, I can safely say every Tal win is a thing 
    of beauty. ) 

    But this game, against another one of the best chess players ever to come down 
    the pike; may well be the great Tal's very best effort. He plays brilliantly and creatively, 
    sacs material, and then puts Bobby in Zugzwang. Destined to be one of the great 
    games of chess literature. This game is also in both the Nunn and the Soltis books. 
    (This is also one of the few games I have found in over a dozen different books 
    devoted to great and/or outstanding games of chess.)  (1-0) 

  6. Donald Byrne - Robert J. ("Bobby") Fischer;  
    Rosenwald Tournament. NY 1956. 

    Again, Fischer played so MANY great games of chess, its hard to pick just one game. 
    But this game is a personal favorite of mine. (It is also in BOTH Nunn's and Soltis's books!) A really deep and profound conception. One of the most brilliant games ever played.  The famous "Game of The Century."  (0-1) 
    (Be sure to scroll op the page and read what I said about this game previously!)

     A favorite of MANY Masters and writers! 

    [ A fan recently {Jan. 2002} sent me a copy of Fischer's games - he apparently took 
      the trouble to convert both of Fischer's books to ChessBase files. Going over these
      I was greatly impressed by the fact that Fischer seemed to play a really outstanding 
      game of chess in about one out of every ten games that he played. I recently 
      finished working on the game,  R.J. Fischer - L. Portisch;  Stockholm Interzonal, 
      1962.  (I worked on this game ... on-and-off ... for well over 6 months!)  I was so 
       impressed with this game that I think it belongs in the list of the ten greatest 
       Rook-and-Pawn endings ever played!!! This game coming soon! ]  

  7. Jose R. Capablanca - Frank J. Marshall;  Tournament Game. 
    New York, 1918.
    Since several players authors, and historians have all mentioned this game, I must include it in my list also. It IS a great - no a super game of chess. (1-0) 
    (It is also in BOTH Nunn's and Soltis's books!)

    (Again, I have gone over dozens - if not hundreds - of Capa's games. So many 
    of these have left a lasting impression, it is difficult to pick just one!!)

    Marshall prepared this trap years in advance and then sprung it on Capa. 
    But Capa managed to defend in a truly Herculean effort. This and the fact 
    that so many beautiful possibilities live only in the notes, make this a truly 
    classic game of chess. The ending of this game is rather surprising also.

  8. Boris Spassky - David Bronstein;  U.S.S.R. Championship. 
    Leningrad, 1959.
    (Some sources give this epoch game as being played in the year, 1960.)  
    Easily one of the most brilliant games of chess ever played. (And maybe 
    Spassky's best game ever!) It is also one of the finest specimens of a King's 
    Gambit ever played on a chess board. It is in  MANY  books devoted to the 
    greatest games of chess ever played. It is also maybe one of the few games 
    of chess to be featured in a well-known movie.  
    (Kronstein - vs. McAdams. The  'James Bond'  movie, From Russia With Love.)
    I do not want to spoil this game for you, but Spassky's 15th move is more a 
    flight of fancy and unbelievable inspiration ...   than it is a chess move. A
     great game of chess played in perhaps the sternest of tournaments. (1-0) 
     (It is also in BOTH the Mammoth book and in the Soltis book!) 

  9. Gersh Rotlewi - Akiba Rubinstein;  Tournament game. 
    Lodz, (Poland); 1907/08. 

    One of the most beautiful, brilliant and inspiring games of chess ever played. 
    (You should definitely scroll up the page and see what else I have written about this game!) The Rubinstein Immortal Game from the man who probably won more brilliancy prizes than any other chess-player who ever lived! After you have gone over this game, you will see why dozens of chess writers, authors, and columnists have simply raved about this game. It is truly a work of chess art. (I could have also picked  Rubinstein's game vs. K. Hromkada;  its equally as brilliant.)  (0 - 1)
    (This game is also in BOTH Nunn's and Soltis's books!)

     A favorite of  MANY  Masters! (And fans,  ...  and chess authors too.) 

  10. L. Polugayevsky - R. Nezhmetdinov;  Soviet Champ, Sochi, 1958. 
    Simply too many GM's have picked this as one of the most beautiful games of chess 
    ever played. (From a survey done in the Russian Magazine, Shachmatny Bulletin
    during the 1970's.
    )  Another real chess artist, former World Champ Vassily Smyslov, 
    called this, "A Real Chess Masterpiece." (He also ranked it as maybe one of the best 
    of all time.) High words of praise from a man who also created dozens of great chess
    games! (I consider Smyslov and Rubinstein to be among the few true chess artists!) 
     ( Vassily Smyslov's  14th Match Game  against  M. Botvinnik,  from their  
     World Championship, 1954 ...  is one of the prettiest games ever played;  
     and is game # 11 in  GM A. Soltis's  book. In fact ... if the Polu-Nez game  
     was ever shown to be unsound, I would probably replace it with this game!! 
         March 24, 2002. )   
    It (Poluguaeyevsky - Nezhmetdinov); is a truly beautiful game. One of the prettiest 
    in all of chess.  Many  Master's  (and other chess fans - see the top of this page) 
    have told me that they consider this game one of THE greatest ever played.  (0 - 1) 
    (It is also in BOTH Nunn's and Soltis's books! And ranked very high in both!!)  

     A favorite of MANY Masters and GM's!  (And fans and chess authors too.) 
    (Of the 30 or so Masters that I contacted over the Internet, 11 named this 
       game as one of the prettiest games of all time.)  BUT ...  I still have lingering 
       questions as to the overall soundness of this game!!  


Special (honorable) mentions:  

# 1.)  The greatest king march ever played.  (Click  HERE.) 
# 2.)  The most complicated game ever played?  (Click  HERE.) 

Well, that's it for my list. I reflected for months before finally setting it down on paper. (And on my computer.) While you may not necessarily agree with this list, it represents some really great players, (Some of the all-time greatest!) and some truly fantastic and monumental games of chess. You should definitely go to ChessBase or ChessLab and download these games. 

(Hopefully one day ALL the games on ALL of these lists will be here, thoroughly annotated for you to enjoy. Many of these games are finished in my database. But it takes a great deal of work to annotate these games and bring them to you!) 


These games (and others) all annotated for you to see and enjoy.


(May 23, 2001. You can already go to a js-replay board to play over one {or more} of the 
games on this page by clicking on the players names. In the very near future, I hope to 
have ALL of these games on java-script (replay) board for your enjoyment.)


 (12/10/01)  Since I did NOT include draws in my list, several people have written  
  or e-mailed me and requested I do a list of the  "Ten Most Beautiful Draws."   
  Maybe coming soon?  

Can't wait for me to finish? Want some of these games now? Then go to ChessLab's  web-site  and download the games. Or go to  ChessBase's  website  (or their on-line  database) and download CB lite; and then download your favorite game!!! 

 ( Click  HERE  to go to the page with the game that I think was the,
 "Best Game of Chess EVER Played." )

 (Click  HERE  to go to my page on
 "The Best SHORT Games [of Chess] Ever Played.")

 Click  HERE  to return to my  "Chess Down-Loads"  Home Page.  


  This page last updated:  WednesdayMay 14th, 2003.  

  This pages' correct URL:  (was)  

  Copyright A.J. Goldsby I. A.J. Goldsby, 1977 - 2006. 

  Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, 2007.  All rights reserved.