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  1. An Opening Repertoire for Black -- Marovic/Parma
    This is a modest repertoire book -- it recommends the QGD and a variation of the Benoni against 1 d4 and the French and the Pirc against 1 e4 (the idea is to give one solid and one sharp alternative against any approach by white). It includes a nice collection of games to illustrate the various white and black plans in each opening.
    95 games, 1921-1977

  2. Black must win
    Examples of Black having to win and succeeding.
    4 games, 1882-1990

  3. Blatny
    3 games, 1995-1996

  4. Blitz games
    I've always been a snob about blitz, probably because I can't play it, but grandmasters can do amazing things without much time...
    12 games, 1970-2022

  5. Botvinnik minor
    12 games, 1962-1969

  6. Chigorin-Gunsberg Match
    23 games, 1890

  7. Chigorin-Tarrasch match
    This match was contested in St. Petersburg between October 8 and November 14, 1893. The time control was 15 moves an hour; the stakes were 5,000 marks per side. The first player to win ten games would win the match, but if each player won nine games, the match would end without a winner.

    In <Dreihundert Schachpartien>, Tarrasch wrote that he received an invitation "couched in the most flattering terms" from St. Petersburg. On the other hand, Kasparov stated in <On My Great Predecessors I> that Tarrasch challenged Chigorin. In any case, the German arrived in St. Petersburg on October 4 and the match began four days later.

    Tarrasch never trailed, winning the first game in 29 moves, later leading 4-2, but he couldn't shake Chigorin. After 17 games, Tarrasch led +8-5=4, and wrote that "everyone thought (me most of all) that the match was decided in my favor." But Chigorin promptly won three in a row to tie the match again. Tarrasch won the 21st game, but Chigorin took the 22nd in a fascinating endgame. Thus, under the rules, the match ended in a tie: +9-9=4.

    Kasparov praised the match for the "richness of its chess content" and noted that the contestants "fought literally to the to the last pawn: in the first nine games and the six final ones there was not a single draw!" The match is also prized because of its vivid clash of styles. Tarrasch was a renowed exponent of classical chess. Kasparov wrote that "Both in his play, and in his commentaries, Tarrasch aimed to follow general rules, and he methodically formulated them[.]" Chigorin was quite different. As Botvinnik put it, "To get any idea of Tchigorin’s creative style we must realize that he frequently looked not for the rules but the exceptions." The Russian repeatedly adopted 2.Qe2 against Tarrasch's French Defense, leading in a number of cases to the sort of King's Indian Reversed that would become popular in the following century.

    22 games, 1893

  8. Epic Battles of the Chessboard by R.N. Coles
    From the Preface: The artist is a being apart, searching ever after perfection; the rest of us can admire works of art, but we cannot create them. As with art, so with chess, the difference being that we do not leave the playing of the game to the experts; we continue to extract the utmost pleasure from the humble rough-and-tumble chess of which we are capable; and if we occasionally miss a brilliancy because our imagination will not rise to it, we probably get greater pleasure from a greater number of games than does the artist who cannot appreciate anything less than perfection. As long as a game is hard fought, and especially if it is complicated and exciting, that game is enjoyable and good enough for most of us.

    Many collections of games have been made in which the brilliancies that are beyond the average player are beautifully displayed. We admire them but cannot related them to our play over the board. We watch the defeated master struggle in the ineluctable toils, but our own opponents wriggle out of our best laid schemes, and as like as not we then have to struggle to avoid defeat ourselves; we seek to attain supremacy only to find our opponent securing the ascendancy on some other part of the board. This is chess as we know it and as we have to play it.

    <In> the present collection....may be seen how the masters react when a combination goes wrong or their opponents fight back; in these games neither player is content to be smothered by the brilliant imagination of the other, nor to allow master technique to win a game by copybook methods; here is complicated, fighting chess.

    Missing: Barden-O'Kelly, Southsea 1951.

    49 games, 1834-1951

  9. Evgeny Vasiukov
    work in progress
    19 games, 1955-2005

  10. Game Changer
    (Draft) Matthew Sadler and Natasha Regan's exploration of AlphaZero, DeepMind's self-learning artificial intelligence computer, and its 2018 match against Stockfish. A wonderful book, but it could have used an index.

    Page numbers and game titles taken from the book.

    Sometimes full title of game won't fit. Some games were given two different names when discussed in different parts of the book...those games are marked with an asterisk.


    Stockfish-Houdini 2018 from 11th TCEC, p. 29
    "Putting the king in a box", pp. 105, 192, 211
    "Feint on the queenside, punch on the kingside!" pp. 114, 180, 220 (see AlphaZero (Computer))

    Caro-Kann, SF wins, p. 128
    Carlsbad, SF wins, p. 130
    "Attaquer comme Kasparov", p. 215 (draw)
    Gruenfeld, A0 wins, p. 218
    Sadler-Smallfish, p. 250
    "Taking on the Botvinnik", A0 1-0 48, p. 360
    "The rook's pawn symphony", p. 383
    Carlsen-Nakamura, Chess 960 blitz, 1-0 32, p. 391

    55 games, 1881-2018

  11. Goofus v. Gallant
    One player plays, the other sulks
    10 games, 1851-1972

  12. If Botvinnik Had Won, They'd Say It Was Thrown
    1 game, 1950

  13. keypusher's bookmarked games
    work in progress
    182 games, 1851-2015

  14. OMGP V
    106 games, 1954-2003

  15. Petrosian's bad bishops
    9 games, 1954-1981

  16. Phillips & Drew Kings Chess Tournament 1982
    In the early 1980s Phillips & Drew was one of the largest stockbrokers in London and sponsored strong chess tournaments there in 1980, 1982 and 1984. The tournaments were played in County Hall, seat of co-sponsor the Greater London Council, across the Thames from Parliament. The 1982 edition ran from April 15 to April 30, with the following impressive line-up in the principal "Kings" tournament:

    Anatoly Karpov 2720
    Jan Timman 2655
    Lajos Portisch 2630
    Boris Spassky 2625
    Ulf Andersson 2605
    Ljubomir Ljubojevic 2600
    John Nunn 2590
    Larry Christiansen 2585
    Tony Miles 2575
    Yasser Seirawan 2575
    Jonathan Speelman 2550
    Yefim Geller 2545
    Jonathan Mestel 2500
    Nigel Short 2430

    Karpov and Timman were then the highest-rated players in the world.

    Even a great tournament is haunted, though, by the spirits of the strong players who are not playing. At London 1982, the notable absentees were Gary Kasparov, just 19 years old but already a legend, and world #3 Viktor Korchnoi, who had lost a title match for the second time to Karpov at Merano the year before. Soviet chessplayers were not allowed to participate in any tournament with the great defector, and there were three Soviets in the P&D. But Korchnoi was to make his presence felt at County Hall.

    The quiet Swedish GM Ulf Andersson, then near the peak of his strength, won his first two games to take the early lead. But then the tournament was taken over by Lajos Portisch, who after draws in the first two rounds blitzed off five straight wins. Here's a good example of his play. Portisch vs L Christiansen, 1982. With six points after seven rounds, he was a point and a half clear of second-place Andersson and two points clear of Karpov, Spassky, John Nunn and Jon Speelman. But in round 8, Portisch was crushed by Jonathan Mestel who scored his first win! A J Mestel vs Portisch, 1982. Two rounds later, Portisch lost the sole lead and a brilliancy prize game to Jan Timman. Timman vs Portisch, 1982 That same day, April 26, Viktor Korchnoi and a group of protestors from the "Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry" set up shop outside County Hall. Korchnoi wore a placard around his neck with the words, "Let my son join me." His son was then serving a sentence in a Soviet labor camp. Evidently undisturbed by the demonstration, Karpov won a famous game against Nunn and joined Andersson and Portisch in first place. Karpov vs Nunn, 1982

    The very next day, though, young Yasser Seirawan beat Karpov, allegedly with analysis Seirawan and Korchnoi had cooked up the night before. Seirawan vs Karpov, 1982 Undeterred, in the penultimate round Karpov beat the fading Portisch. Going into the last round, Karpov and Andersson at 7 1/2 were a half point ahead of Seirawan and Portisch, with Speelman, Timman, Spassky and Miles all a half point further back.

    In the last round, Spassky got a rare good position against his nemesis Karpov only to go horribly wrong in time pressure and blunder a piece. Ulf Andersson had good luck against Mestel, who overlooked 29....Rd2, which would have forced immediate resignation, and went on to lose. Andersson vs A J Mestel, 1982. The tournament book commented, <This is one of the very best results of Andersson's career, and he is a most popular co-winner.> Portisch lost to Nunn. Thus after scoring 6/7 in the early going Portisch managed only 1 point in the last six. Seirawan beat Miles -- his fourth straight win! to finish clear third.

    As with the great London tournament of 1899 and other old tournaments, there was an ancillary "Knights" tournament to go along with the "Kings." John Fedorowicz and William Watson won the Knights with 10/15, a point and a half ahead of Glenn Flear, Robert Hartoch, Danny Kopec and Daniel King.

    That summer, Korchnoi's wife, son and step-mother were permitted to leave the USSR. Two years later, in 1984, the Soviet boycott of Korchnoi ended.

    The subsequent careers of the contestants in the 1982 P&D are well-known to most kibitzers here. (If you are curious about what Jonathan Mestel is up to these days, look here The fate of some of the institutions involved in the tournament, however, may be less well known. The Greater London Council, scourge of the Tories, was abolished by Margaret Thatcher in 1986. The Soviet Union astonished millions by disappearing in 1991. As for Phillips & Drew, in 1984 came London's "Big Bang," in which ownership restrictions on London brokerages were abolished. In 1987 Phillips & Drew was purchased by the Union Bank of Switzerland, which in its later incarnation as UBS AG was one of the last in a long line of those who (depending on your point of view) were tortured by, or themselves tortured the faintest chess spectre at County Hall in April 1982 -- Bobby Fischer.

    This account draws very heavily on the excellent tournament book, based on the tournament bulletins and edited for the British Chess Magazine by Ray Keene.

    91 games, 1982

  17. St. Petersburg 1895-96
    At the closing banquet for the Hastings 1895 tournament, Chigorin announced that the top prizewinners had been invited to St. Petersburg for a match-tournament to begin in December of that year. The top three finishers (Pillsbury, Chigorin, and Lasker) plus fifth-place finisher Steinitz agreed to play; fourth-place finisher Tarrasch declined. Even so, St. Petersburg was enormously strong; the top five places on the December 1895 Chessmetrics list are occupied by Lasker, Tarrasch, Chigorin, Steinitz, and Pillsbury respectively. Each entrant played six games against the other three.

    The tournament began on December 13, 1895 with 23-year-old Harry Nelson Pillsbury, the victor at Hastings, crushing the 26-year-old world champion, Emanuel Lasker (Lasker vs Pillsbury, 1895). After three cycles (half the tournament), Pillsbury held the lead, having scored 2 1/2 out of 3 against Lasker and 3 out of 3 against Chigorin. But Lasker's 2 1/2 out of 3 against both Steinitz and Chigorin, combined with Pillsbury's loss and two draws against Steinitz, kept it close. At the midpoint, the score stood: Pillsbury 6 1/2 out of 9; Lasker 5 1/2; Steinitz 4 1/2; Chigorin 1 1/2.

    The second half of the tournament began on January 4, 1896, with Lasker facing Pillsbury and scoring perhaps the greatest victory of his long career (Pillsbury vs Lasker, 1896). Pillsbury lost his next two games to Chigorin and Steinitz, so at the end of the fourth cycle Lasker, despite a loss to Steinitz, led the field by a point, and Steinitz had caught up to Pillsbury. In the fifth cycle, Pillsbury again lost to Chigorin and Steinitz, finally ending his miserable run of five straight losses with a drawn game against Lasker on January 19, 1896. Lasker, meanwhile, had beaten Steinitz and drawn with Chigorin, so that after five cycles the identity of the winner was scarcely in doubt, and Pillsbury had fallen to third place: Lasker 9 1/2, Steinitz 7 1/2, Pillsbury 7, Chigorin 6. In the sixth and final cycle, Lasker beat Chigorin and drew with Steinitz and Pillsbury to coast home with 11 1/2 out of 18, two points ahead of Steinitz, who beat Pillsbury (for the fourth time in the tournament!) and drew with Chigorin. Pillsbury also drew with Chigorin and so was able to avoid falling into last place. Final standings: Lasker 11 1/2 (+8-3=7), Steinitz 9 1/2 (+7-6=5), Pillsbury 8 (+5-7=6), Chigorin 7 (+5-9=4). It was a fine result for Lasker, solidifying his position as world champ, and creditable for the 59-year-old Steinitz. But it was a great disappointment for Pillsbury and Chigorin.

    The prizes were: first 50 pounds sterling, second 30 pounds, third 20 pounds, fourth 10 pounds, plus four pounds for a win, two pounds for a draw, and 1 pound for a loss. (I am quoting from a British tournament book, so I don't know if the authors converted ruble prizes into pounds sterling, or whether the prizes were paid in pounds.) Lasker received 99 pounds, Steinitz 74 pounds, Pillsbury 59 pounds, and Chigorin 47 pounds. All players received traveling expenses and incidentals. According to Soltis' <Why Lasker Matters>, there were no brilliancy prizes.

    The head-to-head matchups were intriguing. Pillsbury beat Lasker (3 1/2 - 2 1/2) and Chigorin (3 1/2 - 2 1/2) while scoring a horrible 1-5 (two draws, four losses) against Steinitz -- a result that is even more remarkable when you consider that, outside of this tournament, Pillsbury had a +5-0=2 score against the first world champion! (<Calli>) Lasker beat Steinitz 4-2 and Chigorin 5-1 but, as noted, lost his mini-match to Pillsbury.

    Equally intriguing were the varied fortunes of Chigorin and Pillsbury, compared with the consistency of Lasker and Steinitz. Lasker scored 5 1/2 in the first half, and 6 in the second. Steinitz scored 4 1/2 in the first half, and 5 in the second. Chigorin managed only one win and one draw in the first half of the tournament, but in the second half scored 5 1/2 out of 9, just a half-point less than Lasker. Pillsbury's reversal of fortune was even more dramatic: in the first half he scored five wins, one loss, and three draws to lead the field, but in the second half he obtained three draws, six losses and not a single win.

    Many explanations have been offered for Pillsbury's collapse. It has been said that he caught syphilis from a St. Petersburg prostitute, which caused his poor performance in the second half; it has even been suggested that he received the diagnosis of the disease on the day of his dramatic fourth-cycle encounter with Lasker. (OMGP I, p. 135.) These stories don't seem credible to me. If Pillsbury was infected with syphilis in St. Petersburg, he probably would not have suffered any serious symptoms there. It is also unlikely that he would have been diagnosed as having the disease immediately after catching it; no blood test for syphilis existed in 1895-96. On the other hand, there is no question that Pillsbury was unwell during the second half of the tournament; many of his games had to be postponed. <Calli> has uncovered an article from the Brooklyn Eagle in January 1896 saying that Pillsbury was still suffering from "influenza" that had afflicted him during the second half of the tournament. The symptoms of second-stage syphilis are apparently not that different from severe flu; if Pillsbury had caught syphilis <before> the St. Petersburg tournament, the second stage might have manifested itself during the tournament. Alternatively, of course, he could have just caught the flu.

    Finally, it is worth noting that St. Petersburg posed unusual problems for a 19th century master. "Supertournaments" where every player was a leading master, like Corus or Linares today, were rare back then. Major international tournaments like Hastings or Nuremburg included a number of local masters, who were easy prey for the likes of Pillsbury, Chigorin, Steinitz and Lasker. But at St. Petersburg 1895-1896, there were no weak opponents. A master in bad form, like Chigorin in the first half of the tournament or Pillsbury in the second half, could expect no mercy.

    Later in 1896, the St. Petersburg masters plus many others gathered in Dr. Tarrasch's hometown of Nuremburg. Lasker again emerged the winner. Pillsbury tied for 3rd-4th with Tarrasch; Steinitz finished sixth and Chigorin finished in a tie for 9th-10th. Late in the year, Lasker and Steinitz returned to St. Petersburg for their rematch. Lasker overwhelmed his opponent, 10:2 with 5 draws.

    As for Pillsbury, the St. Petersburg tournament book, echoing <Paradise Lost>, said: "Pillsbury is still young, and the chess world is all before him. A match between Lasker and Pillsbury would be interesting from many points of view." But it was not to be. Pillsbury continued to play strongly, but never repeated his feat at Hastings of winning a leading international tournament. His last major tournament was Cambridge Springs, where he finished in a tie for 8th-9th. But he did have the pleasure of defeating Lasker in the same variation that had brought him disaster at St. Petersburg on January 4, 1896: Pillsbury vs Lasker, 1904.

    My main source for this collection was <The Games of the St. Petersburg Tournament 1895-1896> by James Mason and W.H.K. Pollock.

    36 games, 1895-1896

  18. Tamasz Gelashvili
    This Georgian master, resident in Greece, evolves deadly attacks from eccentric openings. Thanks to, which selected his "tamazing" win over Gagunashivili as its game of the day on September 27, 2004 (thus alerting me to Gelashvili's existence), and also WTHarvey, whose puzzles are the source of almost all of the games on this list.

    I hope to add more games with black and also to add some annotations.

    37 games, 1993-2007

  19. Tarrasch-Walbrodt (1894)
    This match was one of Tarrasch's greatest triumphs. He wrote proudly: "I played with such a level of correctness that never has been reached in any other sequence of games that I know of. Apart from the first game where I made an incorrect move to avoid a draw, I have in these games of in all more than 300 moves not just avoided to make one single mistake, but in at most three cases have I not played the strongest move." Tarrasch's strong play was rewarded by an overwhelming victory:

    Tarrasch 1 1 = 1 1 1 1 1 7.5
    Walbrodt 0 0 = 0 0 0 0 0 0.5

    Did he play the strongest move in all but three cases? As a glance at the kibitzing will show, he was not quite that good; see, for example, Games 3 and 6. But it was certainly a very impressive performance by Tarrasch in his home city of Nuremberg.

    The match was played without a standard time control. Tarrasch reported the relevant clause of the match rules as follows:

    "The games will be played without clocks. If, however, the committee finds that the expenditure of time is excessive, it may demand that from a particular moment the game shall continue at the rate of 12 moves per hour with accumulation of unused time. Overstepping the time limit will not incur loss of the game but will give the committee the right to demand that the offending player shall make the remaining moves up until the 12th, 24th, or 36th (etc) within 5 minutes. Only if this time is exceeded will the game be counted as lost."

    I am indebted to The Focus, who collected all the games of the match and also put the dates on the game pages.

    8 games, 1894

  20. Why Lasker Matters by Andrew Soltis
    This collection gathers the 100 games annotated in Andrew Soltis' 2006 book, _Why Lasker Matters_. Soltis sums up Lasker as follows:

    "[Lasker] employed many of the techniques that have become common today. He violated general principles when he felt confident in doing so. He played "practical" moves. He focused on specifics, such as targets, rather than the theoretical. He didn't calculate what didn't need to be calculated. He realized the clock was the 33rd piece. He complicated before his position got bad. He took calculated risks. He sacrificed for purely positional compensation. He used tactics to advance positional goals.

    It used to be said that Lasker, unlike his contemporaries, formed no school of thought. But we're all his students."

    100 games, 1889-1936

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