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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Best Games Ever Played – a List

I was looking over the book The Mammoth Book of the World's Greatest Chess Games by Burgess, Nunn and Emms and in it they evaluated games for the book with a numerical value based on quality and brilliance of play by both opponents, instructive value and historical significance. They started out with a list of 180 games and then each game was assigned 5 pts. if it was considered one of the 20 greatest games ever played, 4 pts. in the top 50, 3 pts. in the top 100, if it was not in the top 100 and 1 pt. of it was considered unsuitable for inclusion in the book. So, 15 pts. was a perfect score. What were the games they considered the best ever played? Here's the top games, played prior to 1998 when the book was published. No doubt since then other games could be added to this list. All these games, if anybody is interested, are available online from various sources.

When they annotated these games for the book it was noted that their primary aim was to provide accurate annotations and highlight the instructive points. In many cases they found major errors in previous annotations. The most common problem was “annotation by result” where every move the winner played was praised and all the loser's decisions were criticized. But, it is rarely true that games between really strong players are that one sided. They also noted that many annotations were copied from other sources and if the original notes were bad, they were often copied without a critical examination. They also realized that earlier annotators did not have ChessBase, Fritz and Junior available like the authors did! So, here, in the opinion of Burgess, Nunn and Emms, are the best 17 games ever played

15 pts
Botvinnik – Capablanca, AVRO 1938
Karpov – Ksparov, 16th Match Game 1985
14 pts.
Reti – Alekhine, Baden-Baden 1925
Botvinnik – Portisch, Monte Carlo 1968
Fischer – Spassky, 6th Match Game 1972
Kasparov – Karpov, 16th Match Game 1986
Ivanchuk – Beliavsky, USSR Championship 1989
13 pts.
Anderssen – Kieseritzky, London 1851
Steinitz – von Bardeleben, Hastings 1895
Rotlevi – Rubinstein, Lodz 1907
Nimzovich – Tarrasch, St. Petersburg 1914
Reti – Bogoljubow, New York 1924
Averbach – Kotov, Zurich 1953
D.Byrne – Fischer, US Championship 1956
Polugayevsky – E. Torre, Moscow 1981
Kasparov – Portisch, Niksic 1983
Kasparov – Anand, PCA World Championship 1995

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