Free Chess Games

One of the best ways to learn about chess, and to improve your own chess play, is by watching or playing through actual chess games - especially those of top chess players. This section of ChessCentral's KnowledgeBase offers plenty of free online chess games, with instructive commentary by chess Masters or the players themselves. These chess games are from the earliest days of chess right up to modern times, and each online chess game offers elements of chess strategy or chess opening play that will benefit every advancing chess player. More importantly, these free chess games are beautiful examples of chess art in action!
An Oddball Bird
If White intends to play 1.f4, Bird's Opening, he can expect to meet From's Gambit with 1...e5 fairly often. This popular attack guarantees an exciting game with many complicated byways, and both players have to know a bit of theory if they are to fight on equal terms. But if White can early on direct the game into uncharted territory - uncharted for his opponent! - then his chances of success are much improved. Read More

An Unusual Ending
One of the first things learned by every chess player are the basic checkmates. King and Queen versus King, Rook and King against King - and on down to the King plus Bishop pair versus King, and the difficult King with Bishop and Knight mating the King. Many good players, however, are completely unacquainted with the final "basic" checkmate, that of King plus two Knights against King and pawn. Even chess experts, those aware of this complex checkmate, are often unskilled in its execution. Read more

Fischer Random in 1875
Even Bobby's "Fischer Random", also known as "Chess960", is not without precedent in our standard chess. We know that Fischer admired Steinitz, and was well aware of the 1st world champion's games and writings. As a teenager Fischer was seen reading the International Chess Magazine, while as recently as 1996 he was observed buying a collection of Steinitz games from a chess shop in Argentina. One may guess whether Fischer was aware of the following game, played in the winter of 1875 between Blackburne and Potter - or of others like this one. It would be interesting to collect pre-Fischer examples of Fischer Random, to see if other piece arrangements were practiced. Steinitz, from The Field (October 1875): Read more


Vienna-Paris Postal Chess
The following game is one of two annotated by Wilhelm Steinitz in the January 1886 issue of the International Chess Magazine. Here we can see Steinitz at work as a chess journalist, facing deadlines and other pressures - yet observe the care and thoroughness taken with his analysis. Both games are given in ChessBase format for download on the web page given in The Collected Works of Wilhelm Steinitz CD, for which complete details may be found there. Hundreds of games were annotated by Steinitz in this manner, which together form the basis of modern chess. Read more.


Steinitz-Zukertort, 1886
This article is a sample of how Wilhelm Steinitz covered the First World Championship and is presented for your enjoyment from The Collected Works of Wilhelm Steinitz. The Introduction to the Steinitz-Zukertort match will give you a taste of the excitement in the atmosphere at the beginning of the first world championship match. The game itself is richly annotated by Steinitz and shows why he is considered the world's greatest chess instructor. This extract features just one of hundreds of games (850+) annotated by the man who was the idol of Bobby Fischer and revolutionized chess into what it is today! And now, Wilhelm Steinitz Read more

Handicap Tournament
London's active chess scene in the 1870s offered plenty of material for The Field's chess column, a magazine which styled itself "The Country Gentleman's Newspaper." Steinitz edited the chess column, presenting a steady stream of chess problems, news and games with first class annotations. Read more
The Sokolsky Opening
We learned previously that A. Alekhine called 1.b4 "an old move" in his 1924 commentary on the Tartakower-Maroczy game. Old maybe, but little played in top tournaments. There is a game Huntington-Kemeny, New York 1891 and then the Tartakower game mentioned above; from that time 1.b4 gets very little attention until Sokolsky himself defeated Salo Flohr (Moscow 1953) using this move. Read more.
Hippopotamus, Anyone?
Many chess players would like to learn an all-purpose chess opening, especially an opening that can be deployed with either color, White or Black, almost regardless of the opponent's moves. Only a few chess openings fit that description, possibly the King's Indian formation and a handful of others. One candidate for such a "universal" system is the Hippopotamus Opening, perhaps the most irregular of the irregular chess openings. Read more
An Unusual Chess Gambit
If White wishes to play the "Bird-Larsen" opening, he most often avoids the very direct 1.f4 d5 2.b3 move order. That is because Black has a chance to cut across this scheme with an early ...d5-d4, as in the game below. If the first player delays b2-b3 in favor of Kingside development, then Black can fianchetto with ...g7-g6 himself to hinder White's plan. In any case, those who play Bird's Opening have found ways to maneuver around this ...d5-d4 thrust, but an aggressive gambit alternative would be welcome too! Read more
A Chess Game You Won't Believe
An aspect of chess research which I really enjoy is the fact that you never know where it'll take you. The other day, while doing some research for a book I'm writing, I came across a really cool little oddity: a game from a 1924 Jose Capablanca simul in which the great man actually lost to an amateur in less than twenty moves. Read more
Monkey Business in Chess
If the first player wants to monkey around in the chess opening he can play 1.b4, the Orangutan Opening. We know that Savielly Tartakower dubbed this debut after "consulting" an orangutan at the Bronx Zoo, and accordingly ventured 1.b4 the next day (on March 21, 1924) against Geza Maroczy. Tartakower got a fine position but, through no fault of the sage simian, only scored a hard fought draw. Read more
The QGD, Semi-Grunfeld Chess Opening
We know from chess openings like the Grunfeld Defense (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5) that Black may control the center with pieces instead of pawns. But what about the Grunfeld's poor cousin, 1.d4 d5 2.c4 g6, clearly a member of this hypermodern family? The first issue of Kamikaze Times (November, 2002) called this line the "Alekhine Defense" against the Queen's Gambit. Alekhine did play this opening, but the editor correctly notes that Blackburne takes precedence. Unusual and seldom seen, there is not much theory to learn nor many games to consult; those who enjoy offbeat chess openings may investigate further. First we have Blackburne at work: Read more
Dr. Ron Plays the Bird!
Play 1.f4 as White? But I've been a 1.e4 player my whole life, since I learned chess from my Father at age three. Double King pawn openings with 1.e4 e5 were the only games we played. During the 70s, I studied for six years under an old Master, Don Brooks (many times Indiana State Champion). His rule for me was "1.e4 - if it's good enough for Bobby Fischer, it's good enough for you." The Ruy Lopez was his opening of choice for me. After my first year with him, I studied the games of Fischer, Bronstein, Tal, Keres, and Alekhine. Read more

Steinitz in New Orleans
Local newspapers avidly recorded the travels of Wilhelm Steinitz, and his 1883 trip to New Orleans was no different. There the city newspaper was the Daily Picayune, which followed the tour of Steinitz to New Orleans on the New Year's holiday of 1883. We know that Steinitz gave a simultaneous exhibition on the 2nd of January, from which game 526 in "Collected Works" is the sole example. Read more

The Steinitz-Martinez Match, 1883
Local and regional newspapers are becoming fruitful in adding to the number of chess games recorded of Wilhelm Steinitz. Chess columns in any city's newspaper would record a visit by the champion, often giving game scores from any exhibitions performed by Steinitz. These papers need only to be read. Read more

A Famous Loser
It is a pleasure to present "A Famous Loser" by chess historian Tomasz Lissowski and Grandmaster Bartlomeij Macieja. Written especially for ChessCentral, this important article provides for many of us our first glimpse into the life and work of Lionel Kieseritzky - perhaps the most famous "loser" in the annals of chess. As we will see, however, Kieseritzky was far more than that; he was indeed a chess artist of the first order, surpassed in his day only by Anderssen and (probably) Staunton. Read More

A Handful of Immortality
Almost all chess players, among the record of their games, have personal "Immortal" games. National "Immortal" games are known too - for example, "The Russian Immortal Game" (Shishkin-Griksberg, St. Petersburg 1889) and "The Polish Immortal Game" (Griksberg-Najdorf, Poland 1935) and many others. Charushin has collected some special Immortal Games! Read more

A Morphy Curiosity
The following is "a possible restoration" of an unknown Morphy game given by Mr. A.G. Sellman, and appearing in issue #1 of The International Chess Magazine (Jan. 1885) edited by Steinitz. A kind of retro-grade analysis, like reverse engineering a chess position! Read more
The Chess Machine
The following game was played late in 1918 by Capablanca as White, against Janowski on the Black side. The Cuban was already widely recognized as the world's top chess player, and Capablanca would officially gain the title of World Chess Champion in 1921 after defeating Lasker. In fact, Capablanca played so convincingly during this period that, as a pre-condition to the match, Lasker insisted on resigning the title, saying in their agreement (June 27, 1920), "You have earned the title not by the formality of a challenge, but by your brilliant mastery." Read more
Meet Herr Löwenthal
One of the "Old Masters" from the pre-modern era of chess is Johann Jacob Löwenthal, a name largely forgotten today - or remembered if at all for losing a chess match against Paul Morphy. Recall that after young Morphy introduced himself by winning the First American Chess Congress (November, 1857) he followed up with a European tour, arriving June of 1858 in London. There Morphy was unable to arrange a match with Howard Staunton, and after some off-hand and exhibition games versus the local experts, a match with Löwenthal was begun in July. The end result of the contest was a convincing win for Morphy, who scored 9 wins with 3 losses and 2 draws. Read more
The "Template" in Chess
Every chess player who wants to improve his game will eventually need a special group of chess opening positions, a select number of key positions that he will know better than anyone else. Not simply an opening variation, but a tableau or template - an arrangement of pieces and pawns in which the player feels absolutely comfortable, and understands the various potentials of that position. The enterprising chess player will attempt to discover every nuance of his adopted tableau, mastering first one such key position then adding others. Some players will be expert in a dozen templates; others will use only four or five; some will specialize in gambits, others in strategical patterns. Read more