In the history of World Chess Championships, since 1886, there were only sixteen champions, but there were many great chess players who remain unknown to the wider chess public. One of those is a German master Anderssen. Meet the second creative genius in another part of this article series. 

In the middle of the 19th-century chess was gaining popularity. There were many strong chess players mainly coming from one of the European countries, who typically played match games against each other. For that time there were no ratings, titles, or chess tournaments, so to find out who is a better chess player, it was commonly decided by the match between two players. In the 1850s popular chess venues in Europe were London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Wroclaw, and Baden Baden… mainly cities where the best chess players came from. The development of international cooperation was felt also in chess. Famous English chess master Howard Staunton, who was regarded as the world’s best chess player, also self-proclaimed “world champion” in 1845, had a wish for a long time to organize a proper chess tournament. Finally, his wish came true with the Great Exhibition in London in 1851.

The Great Exhibition paiting
Great Exhibition 1851

With such an event, Staunton got support from the Saint Georg chess club to organize the first international chess tournament. Among invited were top players of their countries: Sain Amman and Kieseritzky from France, Loewenthal and Szen from Hungary, Petrov, Jaenish and Shumov from Russia, von der Lasa, Horwitz and Mayet from Germany and aside from Howard Staunton many strong British chess players. Some of these best players were unable to join, and so Adolf Anderssen, a less known master from Germany came as von der Lasa’s substitute. He was not a complete mystery for other players, but no one expected that Andressen would have gone all the way. After winning this and few other tournaments that follow, but especially because of his appealing playing style, Anderssen was considered as the world-leading chess player for more than a decade to come.

Karl Ernst Adolf Anderssen (6th July 1818 - 13th March 1879)

Adolf Anderssen

Anderssen was a German chess master. Born in Breslau (today Wroclaw, Poland) where he lived and worked most of his life. He was a math teacher, while his true passion was playing and studying chess. Anderssen is famous for his sacrificing attacking play and two breath-taking games called “Immortal game” from this tournament in London, 1851 against Kieseritzcky and “Evergreen game” from the tournament in Berlin, 1852 against Dufresne. The following game that I have analyzed is also one of Anderssen’s chess miniatures*.

Rosanes, Jacob -Anderssen, Adolf [C32]

Breslau (today Wroclaw),1862

[Peter Kokol]


1.e4 e5 2.f4

Chess moves
King's gambit

[one of the most commonly played lines of that time, was King’s gambit. This was also Anderssen’s favorite weapon when he was playing with white pieces. King’s gambit opening we rarely witness among top players nowadays and with the computer era is now believed to be an incorrect opening for white.]

2…d5 [Falkbeer countergambit is the second most popular option for black]

[2…exf4 accepted King’s gambit gives black clear advantage according to chess engines. Great Capablanca said many times that gambit’s can be refuted only by accepting them.]

3.exd5 e4!? [Staunton line. Black keeps his central e-pawn and limits white development.]


4.Bb5+ [4.d3 Nf6 5.dxe4 Nxe4 6.Nf3 Bc5 7.Qe2 Bf5 8.Nc3 Qe7 9.Be3 Nxc3 10.Bxc5 Nxe2 11.Bxe7 Nxf4 12.Ba3 Nxd5 (12…Nd7) 13.0–0–0 c6 14.Bc4± gives white full compensation for a pawn]

4…c6 5.dxc6 Nxc6 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Qe2?!

Chess moves
Qe2 with a pin feels like a logical move, but Anderessen did not care about losing another pawn

[7.Nge2 Bc5 8.Na4 Bd6 9.0–0 0–0 10.Bxc6 bxc6 11.d4°]

7…Bc5 8.Nxe4? [white is two pawns up, but struggles with development and king in the center. Black has a full compensation]

[8.Bxc6+ bxc6 9.Nf3 0–0 10.Ne5=]

8…0–0! 9.Bxc6 [9.Nxc5?? of course did not work 9…Re8–+]

9…bxc6 10.d3 Re8 11.Bd2 Nxe4 12.dxe4

Chess moves
Position before the beginning of the end

[It seems white has excaped the worst part. Exchange two minor pieces and is now ready to castle.]

12…Bf5! [developing with tempo]

13.e5 [other moves than 13.e5 are no better 13.0–0–0 Rxe4 14.Qd3 Qe7 15.Nf3 Rd8 16.Qc3 Re2-/+ 17.Rhe1?? Rdxd2 18.Rxe2 (18.Rxd2 Rxe1+ 19.Nxe1 Qxe1+ 20.Rd1 Be3+) 18…Rxe2]

13…Qb6 14.0–0–0 [14.Nf3 Qxb2 15.Rc1 Qxa2-/+]

14…Bd4 15.c3 Rab8 [every black move comes with a tempo]

16.b3 Red8 17.Nf3 [17.cxd4 Qxd4]


Chess moves
Sacrifice in Anderssen's style

*Chess miniature is a short game that usually finishes within 20 moves and should not be spoiled by a clear blunder by the losing side. A miniature can also qualify as a brilliancy.

Read more about other glorious losers in the series: Chigorin, Stauton (coming soon), Shirov (coming soon), Morphy (coming soon), Nimyowitsch (coming soon), Tarrasch (coming soon), and Vidmar (coming soon). 

Sources: Wikipedia, Gary Kasparov: My great predecessors, vol.1, Chessbase: Mega database


Young and active FIDE certified chess trainer, devoted to teaching children and adults and promoting the value of the game, with 10 years+ of experience worldwide. Founder of Mustachess brand, and accomplished chess player with FM title and IM norm.

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