Rosanes - Anderssen 1862

by James

The 19th Century was a time of open attacking chess. The following game demonstrates the dominating mood in the chess world in the pre-Steinitz era.

White: Rosanes

Black: Anderssen

1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5

The Falkbeer Countergambit is rarely seen anymore. The King's Gambit is rare enough, and standard practice today is to accept it. However, with both players pushing their pawns into the fray, an open game with plenty of fireworks will ensue.

3.exd5 e4 4.Bb5+

Black's e-pawn is somewhat menacing, and today White would probably try 4.d3 to remove the threat to the center. But in the game, White decides to grab some material.

4...c6 5.dxc6 Nxc6 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.Qe2

Already up a pawn, White decides to go after the e-pawn also. But by doing so, he is falling behind in development. 7.d4 is probably a better try. It also can be very dangerous to line up the Queen in front of the King, especially if the game is going to open up.


Black ignores the threat, and develops his pieces. Black rightly wants to tuck his King away, and to get ready for the opening of the game.

8.Nxe4 O-O

Note if 9.Nxc5, Black responds with 9...Re8, pinning White's Queen. Black's Bishop is untouchable.

9.Bxc6 bxc6 10.d3 Re8 11.Bd2

Where can White get his King to safety? Kingside castling doesn't look attractive, with Black's dark-square bearing down on g1. So White decides to head to the other side.

11...Nxe4 12.dxe4 Bf5

Of course, this Bishop is untouchable too, for the same reason as before.

13.e5 Qb6 14.O-O-O Bd4

Black is threatening checkmate at b2.

15.c3 Rab8

Same song, second verse. Again mate is threatened by moving the Queen to b2.

16.b3 Red8??

Anderssen plays a subtle move, the purpose of which is completely overlooked by Rosanes. Unfortunately, it is not the best move. Anderssen could have maintained his winning game, by playing 16...Qa5, threatening to invade on a3.


But this misses the big picture. Rosanes no doubt saw that 17.cxd4 is answered by Qxd4. White is up a Knight and pawn, but the Queen will invade to a1 to checkmate. It can't be stopped. White is obviously behind in development, and played a natural move. Anderssen now uncorks one of the shots he was so famous for. Modern analysis suggests White might have escaped by playing 17. g4. But Black's seventeenth move is hard to see.


This Queen sacrifice forces mate. Note how Black's sixteenth move cuts off escape along the d-file.

18.axb3 Rxb3 19.Be1 Be3+!

This is the nail in the coffin. It is checkmate next move.


Anderssen wins with an excellent display of attacking chess.

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