The World Champion was expecting resignation, BUT...😱
Chess Endgame Tactics & Calculation

Shocking Turnaround in Chess History!

Shocking Turnaround in Chess History!

Today I’d like to show you one of the biggest turnarounds in the history of chess! It seems like this shocking chess move happens once in a century.

We’re about to explore one of the most incredible comebacks in chess history, which occurs only once every century. We delve into a game played over 100 years ago by Lasker in 20 game simul, where he sacrificed his material for a win, but was stunned by an unexpected sacrifice from this opponent. Let’s dive into the position and see how this game unfolded!

White to play

Now, let’s look at the position, which is the most intriguing and thrilling of the game.

What do we see here? The black king is exposed, and White is setting up something along the f-file. The pawn is ready to capture on h7 and, in addition to that, White is up in exchange, having a rook against a knight. It should be easily winning for White. 

Here are probably a number of ways for White to win this. You may try to find a way to win here. It’s an intermediate-level combination and possible to find, but Lasker, sacrificing for the win, decided to finish the game in style.

A Beautiful Sacrifice

1.Rxc2 Qxc2 2. Qxc2 Rxc2 3. Rf8+!

At first, it’s unclear why would White give up his material for nothing, but then there is the Rf8, another beautiful sacrifice, and it turns out that that was the point. After the king accepts it, the white pawn sneaks into the h-file onto the seventh rank, and there is no way for Black to stop it from being promoted on the next move.

This Is Totally UNEXPECTED!

Lasker was probably proud of himself, expecting Black to resign and to add one more beautiful game to the arsenal of Lasker. A surprising event followed. Check out how the World Champion was shocked by this amateur opponent.

How to Win as White

White still could win this game if he’s just a bit more careful. Let’s see how.

100 Years Later!

Now, let’s move on to another game that happened around 100 years later, between Garry Kasparov and Jan Timman.

In this game, the material is equal, but White’s pawns on the queenside are really dangerous, while Black’s pawns are blockaded by the white king.

1…c4 2. Kxc4 d3

Black tried to pull off an interesting trick by playing pawn c4, trying to trade pawns and simplify the position to reach a draw. However, White could capture the pawn with the king and attack the rook, defending their own pawn on b5.

Black then played pawn to 2..d3, sacrificing their rook on d5. White has no other option than to take the rook on d5.

White to play

3. Kxd5 d2

Now, it’s your task to try to find the solution for White, the move that Kasparov (White) played that caused Timman (Black) to resign.

And also, this is going to be a really useful lesson because you only need to wait for about 100 years to repeat the same motif in your own game. 🙂


Chess is a game that continues to fascinate and surprise us with its endless possibilities and unexpected turns. From Lasker’s beautiful sacrifice to Kasparov’s stunning move, we can see that even the greatest chess players can fall victim to unexpected combinations. But that’s what makes the game so thrilling and exciting.

So, let’s continue to explore the world of chess, discover new strategies, and push the boundaries of what we thought was possible. Who knows, maybe the next big turnaround in the history of chess is just around the corner.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article and want to see the concepts discussed in action, you’re in luck! We have created a video lesson that covers the same material in a more visual and interactive way.

You can download the PGN of these games below:

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want GM Igor Smirnov to help you get better at chess, watch this Masterclass.

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