The chess “Immortal” – a term reserved not just for a player’s best game but for a work of art so jaw-droppingly brilliant, it captures the imagination of the chess world and propels the winner into the history books for all-time.
Starting 166 years ago with Adolf Anderssen’s 23 move King’s Gambit demolition of Kieseritzky, Immortals have since given us Fischer’s stunning …Na4!! and …Be6!! in “The Game of the Century”, Nezhmetdinov’s crazy queen sacrifice and Kasparov’s mind-blowing sacrifices against Topalov.
And now we have a new one. A game dubbed the Chinese Immortal within hours of it finishing: GM Jinshi Bai – GM Ding Liren. (There’s actually already a game dubbed the Chinese Immortal, played in 1978 when the Chinese were nowhere near the force they are now. It’s a great game but Ding Liren’s is better! See if you can find the finish in that game in this weeks puzzle).
The mesmeric moves began on move 15. Ding Liren (Black) is attacking the c3 knight but his d4 pawn is pinned against his queen. But Ding Liren remembered the advice from the Shankland Method: if your opponent is preventing you from playing you idea, see if you can play it anyway! 15…dxc3!!
After 16.Rxd8 cxb2+ 17.Ke2 Rxd8, Black has a rook and knight for the queen and White’s king is stuck in the center, blocking the development of his kingside pieces. But the fireworks had only just begun!
After some nifty knight jumps, White’s king was forced to f3, where he must have felt safe until he saw 20…Rd4!! Mate in 1 is threatened and the rook cannot be captured for obvious reasons.
GM Bai tried to hide his king away but Ding Liren just offered his rook up a second time with 23…Rd2!!
After 30 moves, White was 3 points up in material and attacking 3 Black pieces and a pawn! His king did look safe on h5 and yet Ding Liren forced mate with 30…Rh8! 31.Nxf7 Bg6+! 32.Kxg4 Ne5+!!
What a phenomenal game by Ding Liren! In your opinion, where does it rank in the greatest games ever played ?
This week’s free video:
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Last newsletter’s puzzle solution:
Jakubiec-Nakamura, 2009. White to play.
Did you find the move that beat Nakamura? 20.Rxe7+! Kxe7 21.Re1+ Kd8 22.Qxf8+ Be8 23.Qxe8#
This week’s puzzle:
Wenzhe-Donner, 1978. White to play.
The original “Chinese Immortal”. Before the game, Donner had claimed it was impossible for a GM to lose to someone from China. How did Liu Wenzhe make him eat his words?
FEN: r2qnr2/pp3kbQ/2npb1p1/2pN1pP1/4P3/8/PPP1BP2/R1B1K1NR w KQ – 2 16
Answer next week!