214 ( +1 | -1 ) SWEET MELODIES "The beauty of a chess game is assessed, and not without good reason, according to the sacrifices it contains." -- Rudolf Spielmann Brilliancies are the gems of chess. Just one brilliant game can make you famous--even if you lose.
"It is because combinations are possible that chess is more than a lifeless mathematical exercise," said Reuben Fine. "They are the poetry of the game; they are to chess what melody is to music."
Alexander Alekhine once complained that by a peculiar coincidence the two most brilliant wins of his career (vs. Bogolyubow at Hastings 1922 and Reti at Baden Baden 1925) "remains undistinguished because there were no brilliancy prizes awarded in either of these contests!"
The 19th century was a swashbuckling era filled with naive delight in the sacrifice as an end in itself. Along came Wilhelm Steinitz who proclaimed, "a win by an unsound combination, however showy, fills me with artistic horror." Thus began the modern era.
Nowadays risky sacrifices usually are thwarted by ruthless defense. But sweet melodies sometimes are created by players nobody ever heard of. "Full many a gem of purest ray serene...is born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air."
We unearthed this obscure gem played by two unknowns in 1967 and fed the diagram to a computer to see how long it took to find the killer. Presto! A split second.
This king hunt is notable for the last move as well as the dizzying gyrations of Black’s queen from one side of the board to the other. Where did White go wrong?
An old Keres analysis cites 15 Qxe4 Re8 16 d4 as the right path. A better defense also is 19 d3 Qxh2 20 Qxa5 Qxg2 21 Kd1. Later White overlooked 22 Qd4! refuting the attack. Black then missed a win by 23...Qe7! and White in turn could have averted disaster by 24 Nxc6!