The laws of chess carry no rewards for beauty. Some of the greatest, most aesthetically pleasing ideas have earned their creators only a zero on the score-table. Take this game, for example, from the great Hastings event a century ago.
White: Emanuel Lasker
Black: Wilhelm Steinitz
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.0-0 Nge7 6.c3 Bd7 7.d4 Ng6 8.Re1 Be7 9.Nbd2 0-0 10.Nf1 Qe8
Apparently just a shallow trick, with its blatant threat of 11...Nxd4! but Steinitz would never play such a move without a deep positional idea behind it.
A more recent game, Spassky-Larsen, played in 1969, continued 11.Bb3 Bg4 12.Ne3 Bxf3 13.Qxf3 exd4 14.Nf5, but the moderns always have been rather too impatient for my tastes.
11...Kh8 12.Ng3 Bg4 13.d5 Nb8! 14.h3 Bc8! 15.Nf5 Bd8!! 16.g4 Ne7! 17.Ng3 Ng8!! (see diagram)
A magnificent concept. Having lured White forwards, Black adopts a perfect rearguard formation ready to break out with g6 and f5.
18.Kg2 Nd7 19.Be3 Nb6 20.b3 Bd7 21.c4 Nc8 22.Qd2 Nce7 23.c5 g6 24.Qc3 f5!
Brave and consistent, though 24...h6 might have been more circumspect.
Recognising that he has been strategically outplayed, Lasker complicates.
25...dxe5 26.Qxe5+ Nf6 27.Bd4 fxg4 28.hxg4 Bxg4?
With 28...Kg8! 29.g5 Nexd5! Black would not have been doing badly.
29.Qg5! Qd7 30.Bxf6+ Kg8 31.Bd1 Bh3+ 32.Kg1 Nxd5 33.Bxd8 Nf4 34.Bf6 Qd2 35.Re2!
Calmly returning material to kill off all counterplay.
35...Nxe2+ 36.Bxe2 Qd7 37.Rd1 Qc8 38.Bc4+ Be6 39.Be5 Bxc4 40.Nf5! 1-0
41.Nh6 mate is threatened and 40...Rxf5 41.gxf5 Bf7 42 Qf6 is fatal.
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