The Sicilian Defense

1.e4 c5, or, in other words, Black playing a pawn to c5 to counter White’s opening move of pawn to e4. Controlling the four center squares is key to establishing a good position in the opening game. While this often involves trading pawns, responding to e4 with c5 keeps pressure on the d4 square, but doesn’t leave the pawn hanging.

Oldest Chess Game On Record

Francesco di Castellvi vs. Narciso Vinyoles (1475)
As described in “Scachs d’amor”, written by the two players.

The poem is conceived as a chess game in which the opponents are Franci de Castellvi, as White (in modern chess) and Narcis Vinyoles, playing Black. They debate about love, and Bernat Fenollar comments and establishes the rules. The opening in the game would, centuries later, be called the Scandinavian Defense. Green and Red are still used in xiangqi as colours for the pieces.

The poem uses the game as an allegory for love. Its structure is based upon sixty-four stanzas (the same as the number of chessboard squares), nine verses each. The stanzas are grouped three after three: The first stanza in the group represents White’s move, the second one Black’s move, and the third one a comment on the rules by the arbiter. The three stanzas in the beginning are an introduction and the last one is checkmate.

This is believed to be the earliest documented game of chess with the modern rules concerning the moves of the queen and bishop. [Wikipedia]

Kasparov’s Immortal

“Kasparov’s Immortal” features a rook sacrifice with a sacrificial combination lasting over 15 moves. One of the most commented chess games ever, with extensive press coverage.[Wikipedia]

You are about to witness one of the most extraordinary king-hunts in the history of chess. The opening and early middlegame are relatively quiet: Kasparov adopts an aggressive stance, but Topalov plays flexibly and obtains a fully acceptable position. Indeed, Kasparov is fighting not to be worse from move 14 to move 24, but as so often when a great champion’s back is against the wall, he gives his opponent plenty of chances to go horribly wrong. In a moment of inspiration, an amazing idea pops into Kasparov’s mind, and he embarks upon a sacrificial sequence. Topalov bravely decides to play down the main line when he had a perfectly safe alternative, but it turns out that Kasparov had been right: his pieces and pawns work in perfect harmony to hunt down the errant black king. [Burgess, Nunn, Emms]

Kasparov is playing the white pieces, and Topalov is playing the black pieces. After the final move, Topalov resigns the game. It does not actually end in checkmate.