Advent calendar: December 18

by ChessBase
12/18/2016 – From December 1 to December 24 we invite our readers every day to open a door in our advent calendar. Click and enjoy a little chess treat. Today we share some theoretical research and offer a number of not particularly original but perhaps immortal games. Advent calendar, door 18.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


New ideas in old drawing line?

More than 140 years ago, in 1870 - according to the ChessBase Megabase - or in 1872 - according to Wikipedia - Carl Hamppe, "father of the Vienna Game" and Philip Meitner, father of nuclear physicist Lisa Meitner, played a short but tactically rich game in Vienna. A game that became known as "Immortal Draw".

C. Hamppe - P. Meitner


This encounter still inspires chessplayers all over the world. The ChessBase Mega Database 2017 lists 37 games with the line discussed by Hamppe and Meitner and the most recent of these games was played in July 2016. But despite Black's early and bold piece sacrifice and all the ensuing complications, from a theoretical point of view the whole line is rather drawish: 36 of the 37 games in the Mega followed the historical predecessor move by move and ended in a draw by repetition.

The Greek masters Hristos Banikas and Iannis Nikolaidis had a particularly bitter theoretical dispute in this line. On August 20, 2008, they played each other in round four of the Aigialis Open and followed Hamppe - Meitner for the first 17 moves. But then they found no way to improve the play of the old masters and agreed to a draw. About four months later, on December 8, 2008, Banikas and Nikolaidis met again, this time in the Greek Championship, and Banikas again played with White.

Apparently, both players had analyzed their previous encounter intensively and both were ready for another theoretical duel. They again followed the Vienna Masters faithfully but after 17 moves both had to realize how difficult it is to find resounding novelties in well-known lines - and after 18.Kc6 Bb7+ they again settled for a draw.

C. Hamppe - P. Meitner (and a number of other games), position after 17...Bb7+

But in a game played on September 2, 2010, in the Amantea B-Open, Davide and Francesco Zampaglione dared to go new ways. Maybe a minor or major family quarrel had taken place before the encounter, maybe Davide, who was playing with White, forgot over the board what he had read in the books, and had analyzed and prepared at home. Anyway: the two imitated the game Hamppe against Meitner for 16 moves but then White deviated from this and many other previous games and accepted the bishop sacrifice with 17.Kxb7??. An unfortunate idea because after 17...Kd7 18.Qg4+ Kd6 White has no way to stop Black from mating him 19...Rhb8# and therefore resigned.

Davide Zampaglione - Francesco Zampaglione, Amantea 2010, position after 18...Kd6

But maybe all these games would not have been played if the followers of this line had been interested in correspondence chess. In a correspondence game from 1993, which did not find its way to the main databases, M. Wind surprised his opponent T. Winckelmann with a novelty which helped him to a quick win..


A German version of this article first appeared in Schachkalender 2014, p. 44-45

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register