(1) Steinitz,William - Von Bardeleben,Curt [C54]
Hastings, 1895
[GM Lubomir Kavalek/ Huffington Post]

The weather was very hot in Hastings, England, on Saturday, August 17, 1895, when Steinitz created his masterpiece against von Bardeleben. It won the five pounds sterling top brilliancy prize. The committee noted that " the whole of the play was extremely artistic and beautiful, as well as brilliant." Steinitz considered it his best game overall. During the last 115 years several commentators tried to decipher the game. This is a new take.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3?!
Steinitz loved this old gambit line, published already in 1620 by Greco. [The solid 7.Bd2 Bxd2+ 8.Nbxd2 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Qb3 leads nowhere after 10...Na5 ]

[A wrong reaction. Correct is 7...Nxe4! 8.0-0 Bxc3 9.bxc3 (The Moller Attack 9.d5 was not known at that time, but it is harmless after 9...Ne5!? (9...Bf6 10.Re1 Ne7 11.Rxe4 d6 is more complicated.) 10.Qe2 (10.bxc3 Nxc4 11.Qd4 0-0 12.Qxe4 b5=/+ ) 10...0-0 11.bxc3 Nxc4 12.Qxc4 Nd6 13.Qd3 Qf6 14.Re1 b6 15.Bg5 Qf5 16.Qxf5 Nxf5 17.g4 f6 18.Bf4 Nd6 19.Bxd6 cxd6 20.Nd4 Bb7 21.Nf5 g6 22.Ne7+ Kf7 23.Re3 Ba6 24.Rae1 Rae8 25.h4 Bc4 26.a3 Rh8 27.Kh2 b5 28.Kg3 a5 29.h5 Bb3 30.f4 Bc2 31.f5 g5 32.h6 Bb3 33.Kf2 Rhf8 34.Re4 Bc2 35.R4e3 Bb3 36.Re4 Bc2 37.R4e3 1/2-1/2 Gashimov,V (2740)-Dominguez Perez,L (2713)/Nice 2010) 9...d5 10.Ba3 Be6 Steinitz-Schlechter, Hastings1895. But in the 1896 world championship match, Lasker simply played 10...dxc4 and beat Steinitz twice.]

8.exd5 Nxd5 9.0-0 Be6
[After 9...Nxc3 10.bxc3 Bxc3 11.Qb3! Bxa1 12.Bxf7+ Kf8 13.Ba3+ Ne7 14.Rxa1 a5 15.Re1 wins, for example 15...a4 16.Qc4 b5 17.Rxe7 bxc4 18.Rxc7+ Qe7 19.Rxe7+- ; Also after 9...Bxc3 10.bxc3 Nxc3 11.Qe1+ wins a piece.]

[The most popular move, but the computers showed another way: 10.Nxd5 Bxd5 11.Qb3!? Bxc4 12.Qxc4 Be7 13.d5 Nb4 14.Rd1 0-0 (14...c6? 15.d6 Bxd6 16.Bg5 f6 17.Qe6+ Qe7 18.Qxd6 Qxd6 19.Rxd6 fxg5 20.Re1+ Kf8 21.Rd7+- ) 15.Be3+/- with White's advantage.]

[10...Qd7 11.Bxd5 Bxd5 12.Re1+ Kf8!? The only move. Other moves lose: (12...Be6 13.d5+- ; 12...Be7 13.Ne5! (Kasparov only gives the less forcing 13.Nxd5 ) 13...Nxe5 14.Rxe5 Be6 15.Bxe7 Qxe7 16.d5 0-0-0 17.Qe2 winning a piece.) 13.Qd3!? Bxc3 14.bxc3 f6 15.Bf4+/- ; After 10...Qd7 Zaitsev suggested 11.Nxd5 Bxd5 12.Qb3 Bxf3 13.Qxf3 0-0 14.Rad1 h6 (14...Nxd4?! 15.Qxb7 ) 15.Be3+/= ]

11.Bxd5! Bxd5 12.Nxd5
[After 12.Bxe7 Nxe7 13.Re1 0-0 14.Rxe7 Bxf3! (14...Qxe7? 15.Nxd5 ) 15.Qe1 Bg4 Black survives.]

12...Qxd5 13.Bxe7 Nxe7
[After 13...Kxe7 14.Rc1! Rhe8 (14...Kd7 15.Rc5 Qd6 16.Qb3 Kc8 (16...Nxd4 17.Qa4++- ) 17.Rfc1 with a winning attack.) 15.Rc5 Qd6 16.Qc2!? Rad8 17.d5! wins.]

14.Re1 f6
[In 1896, Emil Schallopp recommended to free the knight from the pin with 14...Kf8 and make it ready for action.]

[In 1973, Igor Zaitsev took a closer look at this game and found an improvement: 15.Qa4+! Kf7 (15...Qd7 16.Qb4 Kf7 17.Qxb7 Rhb8 18.Qe4+- ; 15...c6? 16.Qb4 (16.Qa3 ) 16...Qd7 17.Rxe7+ Qxe7 18.Re1+- ; 15...Kd8 16.Qb4 Ng6 17.Rac1+- ; 15...Kf8 16.Qb4 Re8 17.Rac1+- ) and the knight sacrifice 16.Ne5+! fxe5 (16...Kf8 17.Nd3 Ng6 (17...Qd6 18.Nc5+- ) 18.Rac1 Qd6 19.Nc5+- ) 17.Rxe5 gives white a winning attack, for example: 17...Qd6 (17...b5 18.Qa3 b4 19.Qe3 Qd6 20.Qb3+ Ke8 21.Rae1+- ) 18.Qb3+!? (Slightly stronger than 18.Qc4+ analyzed by Yefim Geller on a long train journey across Russia from Moscow to Murmansk in 1983. ) 18...Kf8 19.Rae1 Rd8 (19...Ng8 20.Rd5 Qc6 21.Qa3+ Kf7 22.Rf5+ Nf6 (22...Kg6 23.Qg3+ ) 23.Re7+ Kg8 (23...Kg6 24.Qg3+ Kxf5 25.Re5# ) 24.Rc5 Qb6 (24...Qd6 25.Qb3+ Nd5 26.Rxd5 Qxe7 27.Rd8# ) 25.Rcxc7 Ne8 26.Qg3 Qxc7 27.Qb3++- ; 19...h5 20.Re6 Qd5 (20...Qd7 21.Qf3+ Ke8 22.Qe4+- ) 21.Qa3+- ; 19...Re8 20.R1e4 Qf6 21.Qe3+- ) 20.Re6 Qd5 21.Qa3+- Kg8 22.Rxe7 h6 23.Qd3 Rf8 24.Rxc7+- ]

[15...Qd6? 16.Nd2! Qd7 17.Ne4 b6 18.Qh5+ Kf8 19.Ng5! fxg5 20.Qf3++- lk]

[Several players tried to improve White's play. 16.Rad1! (Zaitsev) 16...Kf8! (16...Kf7? 17.Qc4+ Nd5 (17...Kf8 18.d5 ) 18.Ne5+! fxe5 19.dxe5+- wins) 17.d5 Nxd5 18.Ng5 Re8!= (18...fxg5?! 19.Qf3+ Qf7 20.Qxd5 Qxd5 21.Rxd5 Kf7 22.Rd7+ Kf6 23.Rxc7 Rhe8 24.Kf1 Rxe1+ 25.Kxe1 Rb8 26.Kd2+/= ) ; Petr Romanovsky suggested 16.d5 but Black may try to survive after 16...Kf7 17.Rad1 Rad8! (but not 17...Nxd5 18.Ng5+ wins.) ; The idea of Paul Keres 16.Qe4 can be met by 16...c6 17.Re2 Kf7 18.Rae1 Nd5 19.Qh4 h5 20.Nd2 g5 and Black is turning the game around; After 16.Nd2 Kf7 (16...c6 17.Rac1 Kf7 18.Ne4 b6 19.Qc4+ Kg6 20.Ng3+/- ) 17.Qh5+ g6 18.Qf3 b6 19.Ne4 Nd5 the chances are equal.]

[The only good defense was 16...Kf7! but Black was perhaps afraid of the exchange sacrifice 17.Qxe7+? Other moves have been suggested: (17.Qc4+ Nd5 is an ideal blockade for Black.; 17.Ng5+ Igor Bondarevsky in 1962 17...fxg5 18.Qf3+ Ke8 (18...Kg8 19.Qxb7 Qd5 (19...Rf8 20.Rxc7 ) ; 18...Kg6 19.Rxc7! Qxc7 20.Re6# ; 18...Qf5 19.Rxe7++- ; 18...Nf5!? the best defense according to Bondarevsky, for example 19.g4 Rhe8 with chances to survive.) 19.Rc5! Kd8 (19...Rf8 20.Qxb7 Rc8 21.Rd5+- ; 19...c6 20.Rce5+/- ) 20.Rxg5 (20.Rce5 Nc8 21.Qxb7 Nb6 22.Qe4+/= ) 20...g6 (20...Nc8 21.Qxb7 Nb6 22.a4 c6 23.Rxg7 Qxb7 24.Rxb7 Nd7= ) 21.Rge5 Re8 22.Qxb7 Rc8 23.Qxa7+- ; Another Bondarevsky's idea was 17.Ne5+ but he believed Black can defend with 17...fxe5 18.dxe5 Qe6 for example 19.Qf3+!? (19.Rxc7 Rhd8!=/+ ) 19...Kg6 (19...Qf5 20.e6+ Kg6 21.Qg3+ Qg5 22.Qd3+ Nf5 (22...Qf5 23.Re4 ; 22...Kh6 23.Re3+- ) 23.e7 (23.Rc5 Rad8 24.Qf3 Rd4 25.e7+- ) 23...Kh6 24.Re6+ g6 25.Rc5+- ) 20.Rxc7 Rab8 (20...b6 21.Qe4+ Kf7 22.Qf4+ Kg8 23.Qf3 Rd8 (23...Nd5 24.Re7 ) 24.Rxa7 h5= ) 21.Qe4+ (21.Rxb7 Rxb7 22.Qxb7 Rd8 23.Qxa7 Qxe5=/+ ) 21...Kf7 22.Qf3+ Kg6= ; 17.Nh4 g6 ) 17...Qxe7 18.Rxe7+ Kxe7 19.Rxc7+ Kd6 20.Rxb7 (After 20.Rxg7 Black can use a rook maneuver pointed out by Richard Reti in the 1920s: 20...Rac8 21.g3 Rc7 ) 20...Rhb8! 21.Rxg7 (21.Rxb8 Rxb8 22.b3 Kd5=/+ ) 21...Rxb2 22.h3 Rxa2 ; 16...Kf8 17.Nd2 b6 18.Qf3 c6 19.Re4+/- ; 16...Kd8 17.Nd2 Nd5 18.Ne4 b6 19.Nc3+- ; 16...Rf8 17.d5 Rf7 18.Nd4 Rc8 (18...0-0-0 19.d6 Nd5 20.dxc7 Nxc7 21.Nb5+- ) 19.Ne6 c6 20.Qg4 g6 21.d6 Qxd6 22.Ng5 Rc7 23.Rcd1 Qc5 24.Ne6 1-0 Steinitz,W-Chizh/Moscow 1896]

Attacking at Black's strongest point. It opens the c-file and vacates the square d4 for the knight, using it as a trampoline to jump to e6. But at the same time, the winning pawn sacrifice is forced. It is an act of desperation since Black threatens to fix his position with Ke8-f7 and block the pawn on d4 with Ne7-d5.

[Forced. Other moves allow White to open the position: 17...Kf7 18.dxc6 Nxc6 (18...bxc6 19.Qc4+ Nd5 20.Nd4+- ) 19.Rcd1 Qg4 (19...Qc8 20.Qc4+ Kf8 21.Qc5+ Kf7 22.Qd5+ Kf8 23.Rd3 Qc7 24.Ng5 fxg5 25.Rf3+ wins.) 20.Rd4 Nxd4 21.Ne5+ wins.; 17...Kf8 18.dxc6 Nxc6 19.Rcd1 Qf7 20.Qc2 Kg8 (20...Qxa2 21.Rd7 ) 21.Nd4 Nxd4 22.Rxd4 h5 23.Rc4 Rh6 24.Rc7 Qxa2 25.h3 Qd5 26.Ree7 and White wins.]

18.Nd4 Kf7 19.Ne6
Threatening 20.Rc7. In general, one of the winning strategies in chess is to anchor a white knight along the sixth rank and you are half there.

[White wins either after 19...Rac8 20.Qg4! ; or after 19...Nc6 20.Nc5 Qc8 21.Qh5+ g6 22.Qxd5+ Kg7 23.Ne6+ Kh6 24.Re3 threatening 25.Rh3 mate.]

20.Qg4! g6
[The only way to defend g7 since after 20...Ng6 21.Ng5+ wins outright.]

(Attacking the black queen.)

[21...fxg5?? 22.Qxd7 wins. Steinitz now begins an amazing 14-move combination.]

[The rook is running amok along the seventh rank. The variation 22.Nxh7 Qxg4 23.Nxf6+ Kf7 24.Nxg4 wins a pawn, but according to Schallopp, it is only for mortals. Steinitz is creating his immortal game.]

What a sight! Incredibly, all four white pieces are hanging. [Black could not take the rook: 22...Qxe7 23.Rxc8+ Rxc8 24.Qxc8+ wins; or 22...Kxe7 23.Re1+ Kd6 24.Qb4+ Rc5 (24...Kc6 25.Rc1# ; 24...Kc7 25.Ne6+ Kb8 26.Qf4++- ) 25.Re6+ wins.]

[23.Qxd7?? Rxc1+-+ ; White can also win after 23.Nxh7+?! Kxe7 24.Re1+ Kd8 25.Qb4 Qxh7 26.Qd6++- Qd7 27.Qxf6+ Kc7 28.Re7+- but it is clumsy.]

[After 23...Qxf7 24.Rxc8+ Rxc8 25.Qxc8+ Qe8 26.Nxh7+ wins.]

24.Rg7+! Kh8!
[After 24...Kf8 25.Nxh7+ Kxg7 26.Qxd7+ wins.]

Black disappeared from the tournament hall without resigning. After his time ran out, Steinitz demonstrated the win: [25.Rxh7+! Kg8 26.Rg7+ Kh8 27.Qh4+ Kxg7 28.Qh7+ Kf8 29.Qh8+ Ke7 30.Qg7+ Ke8 31.Qg8+ Ke7 32.Qf7+ Kd8 33.Qf8+ Qe8 34.Nf7+ Kd7 35.Qd6# ] 1-0