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The Best Moves

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(Some Related Pages.)

  (Click  HERE  to go to my web page with "The Best Games of Chess Ever Played.")  

  (And click HERE to go to my page with, "The Best SHORT Games of Chess.")  


  (Many of the games mentioned on this page can be found - annotated in depth - on the two above pages.) 

An old lithograph.  (best-moves_pic1.jpg, 29 KB)

The first player just made a move that requires some contemplation by both parties ...

This is a page that will be devoted to some of the more amazing moves ever played on a chess board. The game themselves may not be all that great, but these are the moves that really blow your socks off. 

---> The most stunning chess moves ever played.

In 1998 the editor (GM Murray Chandler?) of  The British Chess Magazine (BCM);  
after conducting a fairly lengthy survey, gave a list of, 
"The Ten Most Amazing Chess Moves Ever Played on the Board."

The list given was:

  1. Frank Marshall's  23...Qg3!!  against Stepan Levitsky at Breslau, 1912.

  2. Mikhail Botvinnik's  30. Ba3!!  against J.R. Capablanca at A.V.R.O; 1938.

  3. Boris Spassky's 14...Rh1!!  against Bent Larsen in the epic chess match, 
    "U.S.S.R. vs. The Rest of the World," Belgrade, 1970.

  4. Anatoly Karpov's  14. Ng5!!  against Viktor Korchnoi in the Tenth Game of the 1978 World Championship Match. (Baguio City, The Philippines.) (This move was completely prepared, so to me its impact is not that great.) 

  5. Grigory Sanakoev's  24...Ba3!!  against Klaus Engel in a 1976-1979 postal game. (This is a great game, but how can you compare postal games to the games  played over the board?  "Apples and oranges" ....  ) 

  6. Lev Polugaeyevsky's  17. h4!!  against Eugenio Torre at Moscow, 1981. (This game - and this move - was almost entirely the result of home preparation.) A. Karpov's  47. Ng2! (!!)  against Garry Kasparov in the 9th game of the 1984 - 1985 World Championship Match. (Moscow, USSR) (An amazing move to be sure, but hardly a real "Top Ten" game OR move!) 

  7. Garry Kasparov's  27. h5!!  against V. Kramnik at Novogorod, 1994. (U.S.S.R.) (A very great move and a fantastic game, that probably deserves to be better known. But in my opinion, it is hardly a true 'Top Ten' candidate. I guess I will have to get around to analyzing this game, so you can see what I mean.) 

  8. Vassily Ivanchuk's  21. Qg7!!  against Alexey Shirov at Wijk aan Zee, 1996. (A great move, but Shirov's play in this game was nearly awful!) 

  9. A. Shirov's  47...Bh3!!  against Veselin Topalov at Linares, 1998. (ESP)
    (This game features a move that is pretty, but comes in a position (end-game) when Black is two Pawns ahead! Lots of play against computers will quickly reveal such shots are common when one side is way ahead in material.) 

I personally feel many beautiful and amazing moves were left off this list. I will have my own list of these moves later on. But these are several of the more incredible moves ever played.

Tim Krabbe

The well-known - and very respected chess researcher - Tim Krabbe  ...  formulated his own list of the 110 most amazing moves ever played. 

His top three picks were a little shocking:

# 1.)  Boris Spassky's  16...Nc6!!!  This is a shocking move, yet the game 
          ended in a draw after 57 moves. This is from the game, Averbakh - Spassky;  
          Leningrad, 1956.
          (This game is not very well known. It is a fantastic move, but a mediocre game.) 

# 2.)  Alexey Shirov's  47...Bh3!!  from his game with Veselin Topalov at Linares, 1998.
          (See above for my take on this move by Shirov.)

# 3.)  Frank Marshall's  23...Qg3!!!  from his game vs. S. Lewinsky, Breslau, 1912. 
          (Easily one of the great moves of all time.) 


Not a single White move in the top 5 of Krabbe's list!!!

 This is the game,  D. Byrne - R.J. Fischer

(Rosenwald Tournament, New York, 1956.)
  This is the famous game, Donald Byrne - Robert J. Fischer. Fischer has just played his 11th move.  (best_moves-pos1.gif, 17 KB)

Fischer has just played his move, 11...Na4!!!  


For my money, this is the most amazing move ever played. 
I have many reasons for saying this. 

A few of the reasons are:

  1. The move is incredibly shocking and astounding. It looks like blunder. ('Shock value.') GM R. Fine called it, "One of the most amazing moves ever played on a chessboard."

  2. The move is incredibly deep. One had to be willing to do an enormous amount of calculation over-the-board; to make this move work. Fischer is said to have worked on this move for close to 45 minutes before playing it.

  3. The move is also partially based on intuition. It initiates complications so incredible, only Deep Blue could have calculated most of the variations completely and accurately. The move is also very inspired and shows true genius!!

  4. It is easily the most profound move ever recorded being played by a chess prodigy.

  5. After years of the U.S. being a second-rate chess power to the Soviet Union, this move surely gave the Russians something to worry about. M. Botvinnik is reportedly to have commented:  "We will have to keep our eye on this boy."

  6. It was played at the highest level. The Rosenwald Tournament was the equivalent of the U.S. Championship. (At that time, The actual U.S. Championships were only held bi-annually; or every other year!)

  7. It was played against the strongest possible competition. IM Donald Byrne was easily one of the 4-7 strongest players in the country at that time.

  8. The move is very original. I know of no other move in all of chess literature that is even remotely similar to this one.


Again, from the game,  Donald Byrne - Robert J. Fischer
(Rosenwald Tournament, New York, 1956.)
White just played his King to f1. It is Black's turn to move and make his 17th move.

Fischer gets yet another shot at immortality with his 17th move. Again, from the game, Donald Byrne - Robert J. ["Bobby"] Fischer.  (This position was generated with ChessBase 8.0. See my list for the answer.)  (best_moves-pos2.gif, 15KB)

Black to play. What move would you make?

  {See # 1 in the list, just below.}   



     In my opinion, one of the single most incredible games of chess that was ever played.  (It's a shocker, no doubt. See my list for the answer.)   (best_moves-pos3.gif, 14 KB)
White to play. What move would YOU make?

(From the game,  D. Janowski - F. Samisch;  Marienbad, 1925.)

  {See # 5 in my list, just below.}  



   Black to play, what move would YOU make here?  (lil-rag_pos-1.gif, 15 KB)

 Black to play and make his 27th move. 
From the game, A. Lilienthal - V. Ragozin;  Moscow, 1935. 

 {See # 6 in the list, just below.} 



  From the game, Kasparov - Topalov; Wijk aan Zee, 1999. White to play.  (best_moves_pos-4.gif, 15 KB)
White to play and make his 24th move. 
 From the game, GM G. Kasparov - GM V. Topalov;  Wijk aan Zee, 1999. 

 (See move number seven {# 7.}, in the list below.) 



   Black to play and make his 26th move.  (best_moves_pos-5.gif, 15 KB)
Black  to play his  26th move
maybe the most incredible quiet move ever played!

GM L. Polugayevsky - IM Rashid Nezhmetdinov;
RFSR Championships, Sochi; 1958

 {See # 10 in the list just below.} 


(See the list below for the answers.)


Diagrams and game analysis generated with the help of the program,  ChessBase 8.0.

A.J.'s Top Ten "Most Amazing Moves Ever Played."

(These are move that appealed to me. They did not necessarily have to be from the best games.
They are just some of the more shocking and unusual moves 
that I have seen in my 30+ years of studying chess.) 


  1. The move given above, (From  D. Byrne - R.J. Fischer;   Rosenwald Tournament, New York, 1956.); ... 
     11...Na4!!!,   surely ranks as one of the most amazing moves ever played. The move looks like a blunder and has enormous shock value. (Fischer's 17...Be6!!;  -  from the same game! - was also an astounding move. In a position where many Masters thought he was lost, young Bobby sacrifices his Queen. And he wins in ultra-brilliant style. A game many thought was going to be the [easily] the best of the entire century. Many of the younger players don't realize what a great game this was. Many people today have never heard of it. A game that surpasses superlatives.)
    This is the very famous,   "Game of the Century."   Further words are unnecessary.
    {There are diagrams of both positions given above.} (See my  page  on "The Best All - Time Chess Games Ever Played," for more info on this game.)  

  2. The move  23...Rd2!!!,  from the game, G. Rotlevi - A. Rubinstein;  Lodz, 1907/08. 
    One of the most amazing moves ever played. (A queen down Rubinstein proceeds to sacrifice a WHOLE ROOK!!)  I can still remember at how awed I was when I first saw this move. The entire game made a lasting impact one me. It remains one of the most amazing chess concepts ever played. (Rubinstein's move just prior to this,  22...Rxc3!! is also one of the most amazing chess moves ever played.)  

    This is what some writer's have called, "The Polish Immortal." I much prefer a different title. I choose to call the game, 
      "[Akiba] Rubinstein's Everlasting Masterpiece."   

  3. Frank Marshall's  23...Qg3!!!; from the game  Levitsky - Marshall;  Breslau 1912. Marshall move of thrusting his Queen into a nest of pawns (where it could be captured several different ways), remains one of the most incredible and singularly beautiful moves ever played on a chessboard. Probably the one single move with the highest shock value. (This is the game where supposedly the onlookers  showered the board with gold pieces  after  White's resignation. It really happened. The only question is, Were they rewarding Marshall's brilliance? Or were they paying off their bets?)
        The famous, "Shower of Gold Pieces" game.   
    Even Kasparov agrees that this is one of the most brilliant moves ever played.) 

  4. Mikhail Botvinnik's  30. Ba3!!  (Probably - '!!!')  from his game vs.  J.R. Capablanca  in A.V.R.O; 1938.  This was easily one of the most amazing moves ever played. In a VERY simplified setting - where at first glance White appears to be worse - The Great Botvinnik sacrifices two pieces! A move that has the greatest shock value and was played at the very highest level. (A.V.R.O. 1938 was one of the strongest tournaments ever played. It also produced many great chess games.) This is a true masterpiece. Many consider it the most beautiful game ever played. And his opponent is one player whom many have considered one of the greatest chess players of all time, and maybe "The Greatest Natural Chess-Player Ever." (Capa.) 
    (See "The Complete Chess Addict," by Mike Fox and Richard James.)
    I call this game, "Botvinnik's Superb, Immortal Game."  

  5. David Janowski's  20. Qh6!!  (Maybe a triple exclam.) 
    This is from the game, D. Janowski - F. Samisch;  Marienbad, 1925. 
    A move that looks more like a typo than an actual chess move. In a position where Janowski has NOT castled, and you might think the denouement is a long way off, he plays a move that appears just to drop his Queen. Yet there is no defense to this incredible repartee. His opponent thinks for some time then simply RESIGNS. (This is the game that won FIRST BRILLIANCY PRIZE from a whole panel of judges.)
    Truly a game for the ages. A wonderful work of chess. And a true piece of chess art. 

  6. Vyacheslav Ragozin's  27...Rxe3!!!  (Maybe a quintuple exclam.) 
    This is from the game,  A. Lilienthal - V. Ragozin;  Moscow, 1935. Easily one of the best and most astounding moves ever played on a chess-board. Ragozin sacks two exchanges for almost no compensation. Only many moves after the sacrifices, does it even become apparent that Ragozin has any compensation at all for the material he seemingly just gave away. As pretty - AND as shocking - as any of Tal's brilliancies. This is a wonderful game of chess and deserves to be better known. 
    (For many years, the computers do NOT correctly calculate this sacrifice!!)  

  7. Garry Kasparov's 24. Rxd4!!  (Maybe even a TRIPLE or Quadruple exclam!) 
      (See the diagram above.)   
    This is from the game, G. Kasparov - V. Topalov;  Wijk aan Zee, 1999. 
    A really brilliant move from maybe the greatest game of chess ever played. Indeed, when I first saw this move, I thought it was a mis-print. (Or a blunder!) A truly great move from maybe the best game of chess ever played. A must-see for any chess fan. (Garry sacks one Rook, then promptly offers the other Rook ... for a King hunt that takes nearly 20 moves for White to track down ... and finish off Black's King. This makes this combination one of the longest ones ever played over the board!) 
    (I rate this as  the  greatest game of chess ever played!)   

  8. Boris Spassky's 14...Rh1!!  (Maybe even a TRIPLE exclam.)  
    This is from the game,  B. Larsen - B. Spassky;  U.S.S.R. vs. "The Rest of The World" Match; Belgrade, 1970. Since so many masters (GM's,  IM's and what-not) were present and watching this game, and since almost no one correctly predicted this move, it has to go down in the history books as one of the best and most shocking chess moves of all time. Spassky - as Black, gives away a whole Rook ... just to gain ONE tempo. (By the way, this is the ONLY short game in Soltis's book, "The 100 Best.") (One could have also given Spassky's move, Nd6!!! - from his game vs. Bronstein.)  

  9. Alexander Alekhine's  31...c2!!!  (Maybe even a quadruple exclam.) 
    This is from the game,  E. Bogolyubov - A. Alekhine;  Hastings International Chess Tournament, 1922. Maybe one of the most amazing moves by one of the greatest minds chess has ever produced, in maybe one of the greatest games ever played. (No less an authority than Chernev considered this the greatest game ever played.)  

  10. Rashid Nezhmetdinov's  24...Rxf4!!  (Maybe a triple exclam, or even a quadruple exclam.);  From the game  L. Polugayevsky - R. Nezhmetdinov; at the Russian Federation Championships, from  Sochi, (U.S.S.R.); 1958. Although I am completely unconvinced the play leading up to this position is 100% sound,  this is easily one of the most brilliant sacrifices ever played. It is also one of the prettiest Queen sacrifices ever played. The follow-up,   26...Bg7!!;  is also one of the nicest quiet moves ever actually executed on a chessboard.  



   Well that's it, my list of the:  
"Ten Best and Most Amazing Chess Moves Ever Played."

 Did I miss one? 



( Three other games that are worth mentioning are  D. Ostapenko - P. Yartsev;  U.S.S.R; 1969.  And also  J. Szmetan - G. Garcia-Gonzalez;  Malaga, 1976. Both of these games feature stunning moves ...  that are too awesome to describe. Another great game is : D. Velimirovic - I. Csom;  IBM Open, 1974.  I {initially} sent out over 30 [lightly annotated]  games to everyone on my regular mailing list. The overwhelming consensus was this game was one of the most astounding games of the group!! 
  ---> All of these games can be found on my big Angel-Fire  website.  (Go to the page on "Thematic Games.")  ) 


Another very outstanding game, is the contest: 
GM David Bronstein - GM Ljubomir Ljubojevic
;  Petropolis Interzonal, 1973.  
(GM A. Soltis ranks this game as being in the "Top 50" of the Best Games of the whole of the 20th century.)  White's moves of  15.Bg5!!  and  16.Bb3!!!!   were said to be - by the great GM Paul Keres himself - one of the best and most astonishing moves ever actually executed on a chess board.   


 NOTE:   Jasper wrote me to tell me that he thought I should include the move,  Qh8+!!,  from the very memorable contest, GM Tigran Petrosian - GM Boris Spassky; (FIDE) World Championship, 10th Match game / Moscow, U.S.S.R;  1966.  (July, 2004.)  It is certainly a great game. It is definitely one of the best and prettiest games ever played at the World Championship level.  (But the idea of a Queen sacrifice ... followed by a decisive Knight fork ... had already occurred in literally dozens of chess games. A move also has to be highly ORIGINAL ... to make it on my list!)  

The Ten best and Most Amazing moves of the 19th Century. 

This is not an iron-clad list. Just a few of the more notable games of the 19th Century.  ---> That also definitely contain some of the more surprising moves. (You should also check out "The Immortal Game," and "The Evergreen Game." Please check out my page of "Best SHORT Games of Chess. Click  here.) 

  1. Louis Paulsen - Paul Morphy;  First American Chess Congress, New York, NY; (U.S.A.) 1857.  Black's move, 17...Qxf3!!!;  must surely rank as one of the most surprising moves of that era.  

(Stay tuned for more great chess moves from the 19th Century.) 

  GM John Emms on some great chess moves  


I recently (late September, 2003) purchased the book
 "The Most Amazing CHESS MOVES of All Time,"  by  GM John Emms  

(Copyright © 2000. Published by Gambit Books. ISBN: # 1-901983-29-3; flex-cover.)

In this book he attempts to find and rate the 200 best and most amazing chess moves ever played. A friend had this book, naturally I had to get it to be able to write about it and add some of this material to this web page!! Just the idea of being to examine the 200 best moves ... it almost made my mouth water. Actually, I have only seriously examined about 20 of these positions, but it will take time and energy - and besides, I am in no hurry here!! 


  The following are GM John Emms Ten Best moves of all time:   

# 1.)  The NUMBER ONE  best and most surprising chess move of all time ... at least, according to GM J. Emms ... is  Alexey Shirov's   47...Bh3!!!  against  Veselin Topalov (from their game) at the Linares "Super-GM" Tournament of 1998. And I have already said what I thought of this move. (Not much.) Topalov also said that this was one of the worst games he had ever played. (Shirov was up TWO Pawns - in the ending - when he made this move.) 

# 2.)  The NUMBER TWO  chess move of all time is the VERY unexpected Rook sacrifice, (48...Rxb3+!!!); that David Bronstein made in his game against Brzozka at Miskolc in 1963. A truly stunning and unexpected move. It also deserves to be better known than it is!

# 3.)  The NUMBER THREE  move of all time is the twenty-sixth move of the gameGM Evegeny Vladimirov - GM Vladimir Epishin;  Tashkent, 1987. 
(Black plays 25...Qxb3; what does White play in return?) A truly shocking move! 

# 4.)  The VERY well-known  ...  but extremely brilliant move of  18.Nc6!!!  of the game
GM Ratmir Kholmov
- GM David Bronstein;  USSR Championship, 1964-65. (I had questions concerning the soundness of this whole combination.)

# 5.)  The NUMBER FIVE  move of all time is ...Be3!! of Hindle-Mohring; Tel-Aviv, 1964. 
--->  (My chief complaint against this move is it is almost a carbon-copy of Emms' # 1.)

# 6.)  24.Nb6! (!!) between two nobodies. While this is a VERY nice move ...  it comes in a game where White is TWO pieces up in a game in a very UN-important tournament and in a game between two players no one has ever heard of. Is this really the best move GM John Emms can come up with as the SIXTH BEST chess move of all time???

# 7.)  The NUMBER SEVEN  move of all time is: ...Kh6! (!!) that leads to a draw by stale-mate. Another game between two nobodies. (I am falling asleep here.) 

# 8.)  Qh8+! (!!) of Bura-Puric, Yugoslavia, 1982.  Does GM John Emms really expect me to believe that this is THE EIGHTH GREATEST CHESS MOVE of all time???  (I DON'T buy it!)   

# 9.)  The NINTH GREATEST CHESS MOVE  of all time, at least according to GM J. Emms, is the stroke:  28...Rg6!!!  of the contest: GM Vassily Ivanchuk - GM Artur Yusupov;  Play-Off Game, Candidates Match / Brussels, BEL; 1991. This is definitely a great move, GM Yasser Seirawan considers this one of the greatest chess games of all time! 

# 10.)  The TENTH GREATEST CHESS GAME  of all time - according to Emms - is the wonderful stroke of  36.Bf1!!!  of the contest:  GM Garry Kasparov - GM Veselin Topalov; "Super-GM" Tournament, Wijk aan Zee, 1999. (I rate this as the GREATEST {GM} CHESS GAME ever played!!! Click here to go to my "Best Games" page.)  


  It is ready!   You can click   HERE   to go to a page totally devoted to Emms's book. 

If you would like to study any of these games, I suggest you go to There you can download the FREE program, ChessBase Lite. You can also search their online database and download games. (You can also find games {to download} at See my "Service I Offer" Page for a more complete description of these sites and the services they offer. You should also check my "Cool Sites" Page, among others. 

I plan on soon having all the games listed on this page available as a download.

   Page last updated:  Saturday;  July 18th, 2004.   Last edit/save on: 02/26/2015 .  

 Know of an incredible chess move?  Send it to me! 

A nice video of incredible chess moves!!

  Copyright (©) LM A.J. Goldsby I  

  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 1985 - 2014.  
  Copyright (©) A.J. Goldsby, 2015.  All rights reserved.  

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