The Immortal Game

Edward Winter



No blunder is too elementary to have been made by chess writers at one time or another. R.F. Green’s book Chess (page number varies in different editions) and C.B. Rogers’ How to Play Chess (pages 155-156) both gave the ‘Immortal Game’ as having been won by Kieseritzky against Anderssen.

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When the above item was included on page 314 of A Chess Omnibus we added in a footnote that another instance was page 45 of Chess and Draughts by Albert Belasco (various editions).



Before us lies a modern reprint of R.F. Green’s 1889 book Chess, brought out by the Tynron Press, Stenhouse in 1990. Slothful, uninformed duplicators posing as publishers were referred to in C.N. 3586, and here is another instance. The reprint even perpetuates Green’s blunder (on page 108) of stating that in the Immortal Game Kieseritzky defeated Anderssen.

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It has been shown that the ‘immortal games’ won by Nimzowitsch and Najdorf were not widely published at first. The same applies to the Immortal Game between Anderssen and Kieseritzky, although the loser did give it, with praise for Anderssen, on pages 221-222 of La Régence, July 1851.

Can readers help us to draw up a list of the game’s appearances in print in the mid-nineteenth century?

As mentioned in C.N. 2469, some books have inexplicably stated that Kieseritzky won. Below are the three cases referred to on page 314 of A Chess Omnibus:

anderssen kieseritzky

Chess by R.F. Green (various editions)

anderssen kieseritzky

anderssen kieseritzky

Pages 155-156 of How to Play Chess by Charlotte Boardman Rogers (New York, 1907)

anderssen kieseritzky

Page 45 of Chess & Draughts by Albert Belasco (various editions).

C.N. 1965 (see page 270 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves) noted that the 1930s book Chess and How to Play It by B. Scriven correctly identified Anderssen as the winner but made a peculiar claim about the occasion of the game:

anderssen kieseritzky

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Michael Clapham (Ipswich, England) also mentions that the Immortal Game was published on pages 171-172 of Horć Divanianć by Elijah Williams (London, 1852):

chess

chess

Our correspondent furthermore points out a remark on page 274 of The Game of Chess by George Selkirk (London, 1868):

chess

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Emanuel Lasker’s view of the Immortal Game:

‘It is not very difficult to understand why the “Immortal Game” between Anderssen and Kieseritzky should appeal to the popular mind. Besides the enormous sacrifice of material by White, there is the rare occurrence of all Black’s pieces on the board when he is mated.

The effect of the tremendous labor of the annotators of this game must ultimately result in removing it from the singularly high position in which it has been fixed. The demonstrable fact that White missed a certain win, and that later Black missed a certain draw, practically removes the game from the realms of the classics.

It is a very moot question whether “skittle” games deserve the amount of attention which is bestowed upon them. It may be that irresponsibility and accident produce bewildering, dazzling and even original positions.

“Skittle” playing, as recreation, has a useful function to perform. But, if chess is to be treated as literature, then it is incumbent that the games that are published shall be the product of much thought, of deep imagination, of a sentiment of truth; and above all that the players shall be imbued with a feeling of responsibility, such as follows from tournament or match play.’

The game was then given with detailed notes.

Source: pages 18-20 of the Chess Player’s Scrap Book, February 1907. The periodical, edited by Lasker, was discontinued later that year, after issue 6-7.

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An inscription by Al Horowitz in one of our copies of his book How to Win in the Middle Game of Chess (New York, 1955):

horowitz

From pages 45-46:

horowitz

horowitz

On page 202 of the July 1953 Chess Review Horowitz had given the same material, also mistitled ‘The Immortal Game’.

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Latest update: 3 September 2017.

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