The Immortal Game, 21 June 1851. Two of the greatest chess players in the world, Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky, sat down for a casual game during a break in a tournament. Anderssen then proceeds to sacrifice a pawn, a bishop, both rooks, and then his queen ... to checkmate with three minor pieces in twenty-three moves.
Seven years later, in 1858, the American master player Paul Morphy visited Paris, where he was invited to the opera by the Duke of Brunswick and Count Isouard. Both being fairly good chess players in their own right, they decided to challenge Morphy to a game of chess. As it was bad form to refuse such a challenge, Morphy accepted, even though he would rather watch the opera he came for. Going for as short a game as possible, he checkmated his cooperating opponents in only seventeen moves... after which he resumed watching the opera performance. (To this day, the Opera Game is routinely shown to students as a lesson in the value of rapid development and seizing the initiative in chess.)
Bobby Fischer had many, starting with "The Game of the Century", a brilliancynote Chess slang for "crowning game of awesome". won against grandmaster Donald Byrne played in 1956 — when Fischer was thirteen.
The Babson Task is the task of composing a "White to play and mate" problem in which Black can promote a pawn, and whatever piece he promotes to, White has to promote to the same kind of piece. It sounds impossible: why should White have to promote to a rook or bishop when a queen is more powerful? The knight can make moves the queen cannot, but why should White's knight promotion be determined by a promotion at the other end of the board? Pierre Drumare worked on this task for twenty years before coming to the conclusion that it was impossible. It was solved in 1983 by Leonid Yarosh, hitherto a complete unknown in the chess problem world. He subsequently bettered this achievement by creating a version with a "perfect" key. note In chess problems, it is an aesthetic demerit for the key to be a capture, since such moves are more obvious to solvers. (And there was a happy ending for Drumare, who subsequently succeeded in composing his own Babson Task, albeit one with certain aesthetic flaws compared to Yarosh's. In fact, over a dozen Babsons have been composed since then, and Yarosh's is still the best.)
The Turk, a supposedly robotic chess player that toured the courts of Europe in the Eighteenth century and convinced people that it really was an eighteenth-century robot that could play chess. There were endless theories about how it might work, helped along by ingenious design elements that concealed its real "mechanism": a human player inside. The player could tell which pieces were moved by a system of magnets; when a piece was lifted up, the magnet under that square would fall, and when it was put down again, the magnet on the new square would rise. See the other wiki for more, including the Turk's legendary match with Napoleon!
Any checkmate, in formal or informal play at any skill level, where a Pawn delivers the final blow.
Forking the enemy King, Queen and Rook with one's Knight.
No consensus exists on the topic of the greatest game ever played but "Kasparov's Immortal" is a popular choice among aficionados.
Nobody taught Capablanca to play chess. He learned the moves by watching his father play with a friend, and he played his first game because he spotted his father illegally moving his knight two squares diagonally like a bishop. Teased by his son for cheating, Papa Capa crustily told him that he didn't even know how to play the game. So they set the pieces up, and Capablanca won the first game he ever played. Later he was taken to the local chess club and matched up against a proper player, who very kindly gave the untrained four-year-old a Queen start. Capablanca hosed him.
The Immortal Losing Game was this for both David Bronstein and Bogdan Śliwa. Bronstein for setting up an entire series of swindles from a seemingly "lost" position; Śliwa for successfully avoiding each and every one of them.
Just about any move marked with a double exclamation mark (!!). Especially those that result in checkmate. Some ! moves also count.
In 1982, during a "chess awareness" publicity tour stop in Orlando, Florida, then-US Open Chess Champion Andrew Soltis invited a randomly selected twelve year old boy named Aaron Butler up onto the stage from the crowd to play against Soltis in an exhibition game. The idea being that Soltis would teach the boy (and the crowd) to play chess. Butler then proceeded to beat Soltis in two moves, using a combination of moves called the "Fool's Mate", something that a player of Soltis's skill should never have been caught by. When asked about it later, the boy said, "It just seemed like the right thing to do."
Chessmasters tend to enjoy giving "simultaneous exhibitions" — that is, playing many opponents at once (usually amateurs). Others like to play "blindfold", picturing the game in their heads. Many amazing records have been set over the years, but the crown probably belongs to Reuben Fine, grandmaster and psychoanalyst. In 1945, Fine played four simultaneous blindfold rapid-transit games and won them all! (What does "rapid transit" mean? Ten seconds per move, that's what.) The icing on the cake: one of his opponents was Robert Byrne, himself a brilliant player who would go on to be US champion.
A member of Lichess.org, MoralIntentions, has played 26 games against a handicapped AI, where the final board position is both checkmate and displays one of the letters of the alphabet.