The Romantic Era of Chess

Following on from the chess pieces, let's talk about some of the men who moved them. The Romantic Era defined chess in the 19th Century. The successors of Philidor, Stamma, Legall and La Bourdonnais had arrived. With them came a fierce desire to play chess in an all out attacking fashion using brilliant combinations to win.

Anderssen followed by Morphy followed by Zukertort were the leading players in the Romantic Generation. They played the 'one step ahead' approach. In many of their games they would finish by mating with a breath taking five or six move combo. Their opponent would often be just one agonizing move from victory yet denied the possibility to ever play it.

There were structural weaknesses to their approaches that were there to be capitalized on but this would not happen until much later when the Modern Era of positional chess was ushered in. Whatever about the foundations they were built on, the innovation and invention of these combinations at least have stood the test of time. They are as inspiring today as they were in the days that they were played. You can also add your own annotated game.

The Heavyweights of Romanticism

Anderssen, Zukertort and Morphy were major players during this period

Anderssen, Zukertort and Morphy were major players during this period

Adolf Anderssen (1818-1879) was a German master or perhaps more of a chess magician. He claimed to have developed his ideas through studying the amazing 85 game odyssey between La Bourdonnais and McDonnell. He was the world's leading player between 1851 and 1866 excepting a brief interruption by Morphy in 1858.

Johannes Zukertort (1842-1888) was a German master of Jewish extraction. He contested the first World Chess Championship in 1886 which marked a watershed in the history of chess. Zukertort, the hero of romanticism was vanquished by Steinitz, the pioneer of modernism (positional chess) and with his defeat the Romantic Era was brought to an end.

Paul Morphy (1837-1884) was the ultimate chess enigma. The greatest chess mind the world had ever witnessed to that point and arguably since, Morphy swept aside all opponents that sat across the board from him including Anderssen. He had, through unswerving determination, emphatically conquered the chess world by the age of 21. He then had promptly walked away by 22, equally determined never to compete again.

The Brilliancies

Anderssen checkmates Dufrense in the famous Evergreen Game

Anderssen checkmates Dufrense in the famous Evergreen Game in Berlin in 1852 with 24.Bxe7#

What is the most famous chess game ever played? What are the most famous moves? Everyone has their favorites but the same old reliables keep coming up. You have Morphy's Night at the Opera, Anderssen's Immortal and Evergreen games and Zukertort's own Immortal.

Steinitz was as fine a Romanticist as anyone else with remarkable victories playing in this style before converting to his positional style. Blackburne and Kieseritzky also played some memorable games.

Literally hundreds of games could have been chosen as examples of the Romantic Era at it's most exhilarating but I cut the roll of honor at 10. Enjoy these breath taking brilliancies.

What's Your Favorite Game From the Romantic Era?

The Romantic Era was the Golden Age for artistic combinations in chess. The popular style of play in those days was all out attack with stylish interplay between the pieces. It left behind it a legacy of beautiful games and we all have our favorites. What chess game from this era most captured your imagination? Enter it here with your annotations explaining the moves. Talk us through the sheer genius behind the combinations. What's your favorite game from the Romantic Era?

Romantic Era Games Left by other Lapocites

Click below to see Romantic Era Games by other Lapocites...

Rosanes - Anderssen 1862 Not rated yet
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. …

Duels Between Masters Not rated yet
Every king, civilization, and country has its own era in which it was influential, progressive and revered. This same theory applies to sports and games …

Click here to write your own.

Moving On

A night at the opera

A Night at the Opera is regarded by many as one of the most famous games ever played

Like everything else in this world chess continues to evolve through a kind of arms race. Many a conventional main line of the past has been refuted and tossed aside. With every problem that is solved, a new question is posed. How to rebutt the rebuttal.

We like to think that the Romantic Era never completely died. We appreciate those fantastic tactical combos when they still pop up amid all of the sensible positional science.

Now that you've experienced some of the finest games from the Romantic Era and your appetite for masterful chess has been whipped up, I want to share with you some of the most famous chess games of all times.

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