Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Immortal Draw?

Our two recent posts on King Hunts reminded me of a remarkable game I had stored away in my memory as The Immortal Draw - a romantic effort on a par with The Immortal Game and The Evergreen Game, I supposed.

Here it is to play over now:

Without a doubt, the game contains many memorable moments: the surprise of the black bishop, queen and knight sacrifices; the way the white king gets caught up in enemy territory, a minefield demarcated by pawns, revealed by variations featuring such unusual mating variations as 17.Kxb7? Kd7! threatening ..Rhb8 mate, and 18.Ka4? Bc4! threatening ...b5 mate; the massive white army sat immobile on the first rank, watching uselessly on. Equally curiously, the line has a certain amount of theory associated with it - similar games and analysis can be found at here at Chess Games. And in fact chess databases will tell you that the entire game has been since replicated identically more than once, presumably as part of prearranged draw pacts.

So is Carl Hamppe versus Philipp Meitner, Vienna 1872, universally agreed amongst chess players to be The Immortal Draw, to be anthologized as such, on a par with all the well-known greats? Unfortunately, it seems not. It turns out Chess Games named the game as such when they featured it as their game of the day in January last year, and whilst Google suggests not much competition for this crown, with only six hits for the phrase support is thin on the ground too.

Still, I think the game deserves to be better known, and I hope you have enjoyed getting to know it a bit. Comments about the immortality or otherwise of this effort are welcome, as are suggestions for alternative claims to the title of Immortal Draw.


ejh said...

presumably as part of prearranged draw pacts

A miserable killjoy writes: we can assume that the original game was not played in that same spirit?

Morgan said... is a blast.

Jonathan B said...

I'd like to nominate the following as the best 12 move draw ever.

[Event "Brussels"]
[Date "1988"]
[White "Sax"]
[Black "Seirawan"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]

1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. f4 Bg7 5. Nf3 c5 6. Bb5+ Bd7 7. e5 Ng4 8.e6 fxe6 9. Ng5 Bxb5 10. Nxe6 Bxd4 11. Nxd8 Bf2+ 12. Kd2 Be3+

All opening preparation from Seirawan of course (though not Sax, apparently he thought for an hour before taking the queen) but still pretty special - especially since until this game was played

8. ... fxe6 was thought to lose to 9. Ng5 as played by Sax

Tom Chivers said...

Maybe, ejh, maybe. Although prearranged for immortality perhaps, rather than some obscure tournament result?! Who knows.

Thanks for the other two draws. I'm not sure how much competition there is for "best 12 move draw ever" so that indeed might be it...

Anonymous said...

@Jonathan - the draw was very clear at 10...Bxd4. In The Immortal Draw till the very end no one is sure which way the game is going. Even if the game is prearranged, thinking of such moves in itself a genius work.