L’immortelle

[lang_fr]

Partie immortelle

C’est la partie d’échecs jouée par Adolf Anderssen et Lionel Kieseritzky en 1851.

immortel_film

Sommaire

Contexte de la partie

Une grande exposition se tient à Londres en 1851, attirant plusieurs dizaines de milliers de visiteurs des pays étrangers. Le Britannique Howard Staunton, considéré comme le meilleur joueur d’échecs d’Europe, souhaite se mesurer à l’élite européenne. En conséquence, plusieurs pays envoient leurs meilleurs joueurs au tournoi préparé par les soins de Staunton. Les Allemands désignent Anderssen et Karl Mayet.

Staunton ne redoute pas Anderssen, alors relativement inconnu en Grande-Bretagne. En demi-finale, tous deux se font face. En cinq parties, Anderssen élimine Staunton sur le score de 4 à 1. Une défaite que Staunton, homme sombre, ne goûte guère, mais qui assoit définitivement la réputation d’Anderssen comme l’un des meilleurs joueurs d’échecs de l’époque.

Quelques temps après avoir gagné le tournoi, Anderssen, le cœur léger, joue des parties libres, c’est-à-dire des parties sans enjeu et impromptues. S’il gagne, tant mieux ; s’il perd, son manque de préparation explique en grande partie le résultat. Dans l’une de ces parties libres, il affronte Lionel Kieseritzky. C’est cette partie qu’Ernst Falkbeer appela, en 1855, « la partie immortelle ».

immortelle_dessin

Partie commentée

Adolf Anderssen – Lionel Kieseritzky
Londres, 1851
Gambit du roi

Partie immortelle animée

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Fc4 Dh4+ 4. Rf1 b5

C’est Kieseritzky qui a découvert ce coup. Le but est d’écarter le fou du roi de la diagonale a2-g8, tout en préparant une attaque ultérieure de pions.

5. Fxb5 Cf6 6. Cf3 Dh6

Ici, les noirs se trompent. La place de la dame est en h5. Ce coup vient à l’encontre de la suite logique du coup en 5.

7. d3 Ch5 8. Ch4! Dg5 9. Cf5! c6 10. g4 Cf6

Les noirs sont maintenant acculés à la défensive.

11. Tg1!

Ce magnifique sacrifice du fou ôte tout espoir de contre-attaque aux noirs. Les pièces noires développées doivent retourner à leur base.

11…cxb5 12. h4 Dg6 13. h5 Dg5 14. Df3 Cg8

À cause de 15. Fxf4, les noirs sont contraints d’assurer une case de retraite pour leur dame. Un cas tragi-comique !

15. Fxf4 Df6 16. Cc3

Toutes les pièces noires sont revenues à leur base, ou presque.

16…Fc5 17. Cd5

Ce coup direct n’est pas le meilleur. 17.d4 suivi de Cd5 gagne rapidement.

17… Dxb2 18. Fd6! Fxg1

Les noirs ne peuvent prendre le Fd6, car la suite est forcée : 18…Fxd6 19. Cxd6+ Rd8 20. Cxf7+ Re8 21. Cd6+ Rd8 22. Df8 mat. Les Blancs ont une telle avance de développement que la décision ne saurait tarder. Pourtant, il y avait une défense qui permettait peut-être aux Noirs de sauver la partie. Il fallait d’abord prendre en a1 avec la Dame puis revenir en b2 : 18…Dxa1+ 19.Re2 Db2! L’attaque contre le pion c2 permettait aux Noirs de défendre la case c7 et aussi d’attaquer le roi blanc par la menace Dxc2+

19. e5!

La dame noire est privée de la grande diagonale. Une menace de mat, commençant par 20. Cxg7+, est aussi dans l’air.

19…Dxa1+ 20. Re2 Ca6

Kieseritzky s’imagine que la menace de mat est écartée, car la case c7 est protégée. C’est maintenant qu’Anderssen le surprend !

21. Cxg7+ Rd8 22. Df6+!! Cxf6 23. Fe7 mat

La coordination des pièces blanches, au nombre de trois, tout comme la position des pièces noires, toutes présentes sur l’échiquier mais mal coordonnées, ont valu à cette partie le qualificatif d’immortelle. Les Blancs terminent par un mat « modèle », c’est-à-dire que toutes les pièces blanches participent au mat, mais que chaque pièce blanche ne contrôle qu’une seule case du réseau de mat. Falkbeer, qui publia une analyse détaillée de cette partie en 1855 dans la magazine « Wiener Schachzeitung », décida de l’appeler « l’Immortelle ».

Amélioration

Selon Le Lionnais, Richard Réti a trouvé la réfutation de la combinaison d’Anderssen : « Après le 19e coup, les Noirs, au lieu de se montrer trop gourmands en capturant la Tg1, pouvaient sauver la partie en jouant ( 18. … Dxa1+ 19. Re2 ) Db2!, après quoi les Blancs ne peuvent plus gagner. »

[/lang_fr]

[lang_en]

Immortal Game

Game animation.

The Immortal Game was a chess game played on 21 June 1851 by Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky. The very bold sacrifices made by Anderssen to finally secure victory have made it one of the most famous chess games of all time. Anderssen gave up both rooks and a bishop, then his queen, checkmating his opponent with his three remaining minor pieces. It has been called an achievement « perhaps unparalleled in chess literature. »

Contents

General description

Checkmate of the Immortal Game

Adolf Anderssen was one of the strongest players of his time, and many consider him to have been the world’s strongest player after his victory in the London 1851 chess tournament. Lionel Kieseritzky lived in France much of his life, where he gave chess lessons, and played games for five francs an hour at the Café de la Régence in Paris. Kieseritzky was well known for being able to beat lesser players despite handicapping himself — for example, by playing without his queen.

Played between the two great players at the Simpson’s-in-the-Strand Divan in London, the Immortal Game was an informal one, played during a break in a formal tournament. Kieseritzky was very impressed when the game was over, and telegraphed the moves of the game to his Parisian chess club. The French chess magazine La Régence published the game in July 1851. This game was nicknamed « The Immortal Game » in 1855 by the Austrian Ernst Falkbeer.

This game is acclaimed as an excellent demonstration of the style of chess play in the 19th century, where rapid development and attack were considered the most effective way to win, where many gambits and counter-gambits were offered (and not accepting them would be considered slightly ungentlemanly), and where material was often held in contempt. These games, with their rapid attacks and counter-attacks, are often entertaining to review, even if some of the moves would no longer be considered the best by today’s standards.

In this game, Anderssen wins the game despite sacrificing a bishop on move 11, both rooks starting on move 18, and the queen on move 22 to produce checkmate. He offered both rooks to show that two active pieces are worth a dozen sleeping at home. Anderssen later demonstrated the same kind of approach in the Evergreen Game.

The game Friedrich Saemisch – Aron Nimzowitsch, Copenhagen 1923, is often called the  » Immortal Zugzwang Game » because some consider the final position to be a rare instance of zugzwang occurring in the middlegame (see Zugzwang for the position).

Some published versions of the game have errors, as described in the annotations.

The town of Marostica, Italy has replayed the Immortal Game with live players, dressed as chess pieces, every year from 2 September 1923.

Annotated moves of the game

White: Adolf Anderssen moved first but was playing with the black pieces, so is shown here as playing White to match modern conventions regarding White and Black in chess.
Black: Lionel Kieseritzky
Opening: King’s Gambit, C33< 1. e4 e5 2. f4
This is the King’s Gambit: Anderssen offers his pawn in exchange for faster development. Although this was a common opening in the nineteenth century, it is less common today, as defensive techniques have improved since Anderssen’s time.

2. … exf4
Kieseritzky accepts the gambit; this variant is thus called the King’s Gambit Accepted.

3. Bc4 Qh4+
The Bishop’s Gambit. Black’s move will force White to move his king and White will not be able to castle, but this move also places Black’s queen in peril, and White can eventually attack it with gain of tempo with Ng1-f3.

4. Kf1 b5?!
This is the Bryan Counter-gambit, deeply analysed by Kieseritzky, and which sometimes bears his name. It is not considered a sound move by most players today.

5. Bxb5 Nf6 6. Nf3
This is a common developing move, but the knight now attacks Black’s queen, forcing Black to move it instead of developing his own side.

6. … Qh6 7. d3

With this move, White now has solidified control over the critical center of the board. German grandmaster Robert Hübner recommends 7. Nc3 instead.

7. … Nh5
This move threatens Ng3+, and it protects the pawn at f4, but it also sidelines the knight to a poor position at the edge of the board, where knights are the least powerful.

8. Nh4 Qg5

Better was 8. … g6, according to Kieseritzky.

9. Nf5 c6
This simultaneously unpins the queen pawn and attacks the bishop. However, some have suggested 9. … g6 would be better, to deal with a very troublesome knight. Notice how the players in those days developed one or two pieces, then moved them again and again.

10. g4 Nf6 11. Rg1!!
This is an advantageous passive piece sacrifice. If Black accepts, his queen will be moved away from the action, giving White a lead in development.

11. … cxb5?
Hübner believes this was Black’s critical mistake; this gains material, but loses in development, at a point where White’s strong development is able to quickly mount an offensive. Hübner recommends 11. … h5 instead.

12. h4!
White’s knight at f5 protects the pawn, which is attacking Black’s queen.

12. … Qg6 13. h5 Qg5 14. Qf3
White (Anderssen) now has two threats:

  • Bxf4,which will trap Black’s queen (the queen has no safe place to go),
  • e5,which would attack Black’s knight at f6 while simultaneously exposing an attack by White’s queen on the unprotected black rook at a8.

14. … Ng8
This deals with the threats, but undevelops Black even further — now the only black piece not on its starting square is the queen, which is about to be put on the run, while White has control over a great deal of the board.

15. Bxf4 Qf6 16. Nc3 Bc5
An ordinary developing move by Black, which also attacks the rook at g1.

17. Nd5
White responds to the attack with a counter-attack. This move threatens Nc7, which would fork the king and rook. Richard Réti recommends 17. d4 … 18. Nd5, which results in an advantage for White.

17. … Qxb2
Black gains a pawn, and threatens to gain the rook at a1 with check.

18. Bd6!
With this move White offers to sacrifice both his rooks. Hübner comments that, from this position, there are actually many ways to win, and he believes there are at least three better moves than 18. Bd6: 18. d4, 18. Be3, or 18. Re1, which lead to strong positions or checkmate without needing to sacrifice so much material. The commercial version of the chess-playing computer program Junior recommends 18. Nc7+, followed by Re1. The Chessmaster computer program annotation says « the main point of this move is to divert the black queen from the a1-h8 diagonal. Now Black cannot play 18. … Bxd6? 19. Nxd6+ Kd8 20. Nxf7+ Ke8 21. Nd6+ Kd8 22. Qf8++. » Garry Kasparov has pointed out that the world of chess would have lost one of its « crown jewels » if the game had continued in such an unspectacular fashion. The Bd6 move is unusual, because White is willing to give up so much material.

18. … Bxg1?
It is from this move that Black’s defeat stems. Wilhelm Steinitz suggested in 1879 that a better move would be 18… Qxa1+; likely moves to follow are 19. Ke2 Qb2 20. Kd2 Bxg1.

19. e5!
This sacrifices yet another white rook. More importantly, this move blocks the queen from participating in the defense of the king, and threatening mate in 2: 19. Nxg7+ Kd8 20. Bc7#.

19. … Qxa1+ 20. Ke2
At this point, Black’s attack has run out of power; Black has a queen and bishop on the back rank, but cannot effectively mount an immediate attack on White, while White can storm forward. According to Kieseritzky, he resigned at this point. Hübner notes that an article by Friedrich Amelung in the journal Baltische Schachblaetter, 1893, reported that Kiesertizky probably played 20. … Na6, but Anderssen then announced the mating moves. In any case, it is suspected that the last few moves were not actually played on the board in the original game. Garry Kasparov says that Black resigned here.

20. … Na6
The black knight covers the c7 square as White was threatening 21. Nxg7+ Kd8 and 22. Bc7#. Another attempt to defend would be 20… Ba6 allowing the black king to flee via Kc8 and Kb7, although White has enough with the continuation 21. Nc7+ Kd8 and 22 Nxa6 where now on 22… Qxa2 to defend f7 against Bc7+, Nd6+ and Qf7#, White can play 23. Bc7+ Ke8 24. Nb4 d5 25. Nd6+ and White wins or 22… Bb6 (preventing Bc7+) 23. Qa8 Qc3 24. Qxb8 Qc8 25. Qxc8 Kxc8 26. Bf8 h6 27. Nd6+ Kd8 28. Nxf7+ Ke8 29. Nxh8 Kxf8 with a winning endgame for White.

21. Nxg7+ Kd8 22. Qf6+!
This queen sacrifice forces Black to give up his defense of e7.

22. … Nxf6
23. Be7# 1-0
At the end, Black is ahead in material by a considerable margin: a queen, two rooks and a bishop. But the material does not help Black. White has been able to use his remaining pieces – two knights and a bishop – to force mate.

Savielly Tartakower described this as « a beautiful game. »

[/lang_en]