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 GM Gosta Stoltz - IM Herman Steiner; 
FIDE Interzonal Tournament
Stockholm, (Saltsjobaden) SWE; 1952. 

This is really a great and grand game of chess. I first saw this a long time ago  ...  and I was totally blown away by it. I have seen this game literally dozens of times in books and magazines. I have at least 10 different books that have this game in it. This ranges from some very old books that were printed in the late fifties or early sixties - all the way up to the new Soltis book which came out less than a year ago. I also have seen this game annotated more than once in various magazines. One of my Internet students, who lives in France, was kind enough to gather copies of about six different magazines that this game was originally printed in and send them to me. I have been working on this game now for over 3 years. I have not yet finished my  'long'  version of this game, but I thought I would bring you some form of this game without any further delay. You be the judge:  How brilliant is this game? 

  G. Stoltz (2675) - H. Steiner (2650)  
 Interzonal Tournament 
Stockholm, SWE;  1952.

[A.J. Goldsby I]

No less a writer than the very well known and respected author, GM Andrew Soltis, considers this the EIGHTH (#8) Best Game of the whole of the 20th Century!!! (And it is a really amazing combination.) 

G. Stoltz  was a GM, and also many times the Champion of Sweden. 

H. Steiner was an IM. He was also a U.S. Champion.  


(My analysis here is based almost entirely Soltis's work. See the book, "The 100 Best," by GM Andrew Soltis.)   

1.c4 e52.Nc3 d63.g3 f54.Bg2 Nf65.d4!? Be7
Simple development is probably best for Black here. 

     [ 5...exd4; 6.Qxd4 g6; 7.b3 Bg7; 8.Bb2, "+/=" ].  

6.e3 0-07.Nge2,  
This is probably best. 

     [ White could also play: 7.Rb1!?; or 7.Nh3 ].  

7...Kh88.Qc2 Qe89.b3 Nc610.Ba3 exd4;  
At a first and casual glance, the opening of the position seems to favor Black. 

     [ Maybe better was: 10...a5!?;  - GM Andy Soltis. 
       (Black should follow up with the idea of ...Nb4.) ].  

11.exd4 f4!12.0-0-0! Nh5!?;  
This looks good, but Soltis says Black should sacrifice a pawn for some play instead. 

     [ According to GM A. Soltis, the best line for Black was: 
        12...f3!; 13.Bxf3 Ng4; 14.Bxg4 Bxg4; "~"  {Diagram?} 
        Black has good 'comp' and excellent play for the Pawn. - GM A. Soltis. ].  

13.Be4! g614.Nd5 Qd815.Bb2! f316.Nef4 Bg517.Bxg6!?,  
I think this is a very brilliant sacrifice.   (Maybe - '!' or even '!!')    

     [ But better was: >=  17.Kb1!, {Diagram?} - GM's G. Stoltz  &  A. Soltis. ].  

This looks forced. (To me anyway.) 

     [ Apparently Black had a better defence with: 17...Rxf4!; "~" {Diagram?}
         - GM Andy Soltis. ].  

18.Qxg6 Ng7;  
This seems virtually forced now, in this position. 

     [ Worse for Black was: 18...Nxf4?!19.gxf4 Rxf420.Qh5+ Kg8
        21.Nxf4 Bxf4+22.Kb1, "+/"  and White is clearly better. ].  

 Now comes a sequence of moves so complex and beautiful, that if proven to be totally 
 sound, would probably be in the 'Top Ten' of the best combinations ever played.  
19.h4 Bxf4+20.gxf4! Bf521.Qh6+ Bh722.Ne3! Rf623.Qg5 Rg6;  
24.d5!! Rxg5;   
One Russian analyst, in a Soviet magazine of that era, spends several pages proving 
Black had to take the Queen here. 

      [ If 24...Ne7;  then  25.Qh5, --->  and White has a very powerful attack. ].

25.hxg5 Ne7
26.Ng4! Qc8; []   
This is probably best for Black. (Box.) 

27.g6!! Qxg4; {Box?}   
Once again, Black seems to be making the only move that he can. 

     [  If  27...Nxg628.Nf6 Nf8; {Diagram?}  
        Now White wins with  29.Rdg1, and then  30.Nxh7.  - GM Andy Soltis. ].  

28.Rxh7+ Kg829.Rxg7+ Kf830.Rf7+ Ke831.Re1 (!)  31...Qxg6;  
An extremely brilliant repartee, considering that White also wins with the simple Rg7.  

     [ 33.Rg7 Qd334.Bf6 Qf1+35.Kb2 Qxf2+36.Kc3!,  
        White wins, ("+/-") as Black has run out of any useful checks. ].  

33...Qxf634.Rd7+!,    Black Resigns!  

     [ After the continuation:  34.Rd7+ Ke835.Rxf6 Kxd736.Rf7+ Ke8;  
        37.Rh7, {Diagram?}  White forces a trade of the Rooks, and the resulting K+P 
        ending is completely winning for White. ].  

One of the most brilliant games I have ever had the pleasure to study or analyze. 
Chernev  said this game had had to be in the  'Top 25'  of the last 100 years. 

  1 - 0 

I have been studying this game for over 3 years. (On and off.) I can say - with a high degree of confidence - that while many of the variations given by many annotators are incorrect, the actual combination is 100% sound. It is also one of the most brilliant games ever played. To further complicate matters, GM Andy Soltis finds NOT ONE BLACK MOVE ... on which he can hang a whole question mark. Using Andy Soltis's own criteria, in the strictest possible manner, this game would have to be an incredibly  strong candidate  for the most beautiful game of the 20th Century

 I personally rank this game in the "TOP 25" best (chess) games ... OF ALL TIME!!!   

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