Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Adolf Anderssen vs. Lionel Kieseritzky (1851, King's Gambit Accepted)

"The Immortal Game"
"the Immortal Game" (after 18.__Bxg1)

Chess History considers this game as the “Immortal Game”.  Adolf Anderssen “checkmated” Lionel Kieseritzky after the former sacrificed a bishop, both his rooks, and the queen.  The act of sacrificing material that results to mate is impressive. But more significant however is the affirmation that immediate development is better than the unreasonable tenacity of holding on to pieces.   

“Checkmate” is the foremost and primary objective of a chess game. The accumulation of material is only secondary and is subservient to the rapid development of pieces for purposes of an effective attack. Material gain is reduced to nothing in the game of chess if the king is captured. No amount of material can pay for the king’s liberty.  Thus, if a player is faced with the choice  of gaining material and development, it is clear which course of action is to be taken. However, this is not as simple as it may seem. The player still has to continually assess the prevailing situation on the board. If the quest for rapid development results in too much loss in material and the mating attack is unsuccessful, there is nothing to look forward to in the endgame.

If this game is reviewed in-depth, however, it can be seen that the moves played by black are definitely not the most accurate reply to white’s threat.  The insatiable appetite of Kieseritzky has greatly contributed to the capture of his king. Gluttony was meted with the extreme punishment of death. In this regard, it can be said that that Kieseritzky contributed immensely in the making of this masterpiece.

Anderssen is indeed lucky to meet Kieseritzky over the chessboard on 21 June 1851 (or for both to meet one another) and create this “immortal game”. But, I think what makes this game an “immortal” one is that it is Kieseritzky himself who telegraphed the record of the game to the Parisian Chess Club that eventually led to its publication in a French chess Magazine in 1851. In other words, the loser, the conquered and the subdued has unconditionally accepted his defeat and with humility recognized the superiority of his opponent. The loser congratulated his opponent from the bottom of his heart by showing sincere admiration for those amazing moves that led to mate.

In this light, it can be said that Kieseritzky despite losing the game likewise deserves admiration for his “sportsmanship” and humility to accept defeat. In any competition, it is usually painful and difficult for the vanquished to accept and recognized the superiority of one’s opponent. Pride usually prevents the acceptance that at one time someone is much stronger and better.  Yet, a player who has the courage to accept a “lose” and learns from it, rather than getting discouraged by it, is usually successful in the end.  All chess grandmasters start as beginners who, during their learning experience, were easily beaten by more advanced and veteran players. But, each losing game should be considered a valuable lesson. With this attitude, a neophyte player becomes stronger in every loss and soon thereafter would metamorphose into becoming a “master”. In life and in chess, we should always be not afraid to fail.

In one chess tournament held recently, I have seen a participant who is suffering from “epilepsy”. Yet, despite his condition, he actively participated in the tournament finishing all seven rounds. He would dictate his moves to a companion who would enter the move for him. Spectators gathered in every round he plays! Some are in awe and cannot believe what they are seeing. There were instances that he would gain the advantage during the game and even has a clear chance of winning! Everyone admired the courage of this participant. It is perhaps the love for the game of chess that propels him to continue playing.  I hope to see him in future chess tournaments.
[Site "London"]
[Date "1851"]
[Round "?"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Adolf Anderssen"]
[Black "Kieseritzky"]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 b5 5.Bxb5 Nf6 6.Nf3 Qh6
7.d3 Nh5 8.Nh4 Qg5 9.Nf5 c6 10.g4 Nf6 11.Rg1 cxb5 12.h4 Qg6
13.h5 Qg5 14.Qf3 Ng8 15.Bxf4 Qf6 16.Nc3 Bc5 17.Nd5 Qxb2 18.Bd6
Bxg1 19. e5 Qxa1+ 20. Ke2 Na6 21.Nxg7+ Kd8 22.Qf6+ Nxf6
23.Be7# 1-0

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