Chess tactics: A move worth some gold pieces?

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Frank J. Marshall was US Chess Champion from 1909 to 1936 and was regarded as one of the strongest chess players of his time. But he is much better known as a highly attacking player with a penchant for sacrifices at the drop of a hat! Many experts contend that a number of his gambits and sacrifices were more the result of an impulse depending on their surprise value for success than the outcome of a deeply thought out combination. Whatever may be the truth, his games had immense spectator appeal and you can still enjoy playing through his games if you are not a puritan in chess!

In the following game against Russian Master Levitzky (with White pieces), Marshall’s 23rd move had such an electrifying effect that spectators were reported to have thrown gold pieces on the chessboard. The truth of the matter is still debated and some say that the gold coins were only payments against wagers on the game! Without going into those arguments, we can say that the move was one of the best ever played in a game and different experts have held that the move is certainly among the top three if not the top in chess history!

Position after Black’s 18th move

prelude to a sacrifice

19. Rxd5 Nd4
20. Qh5 Ref8
21. Re5 Rh6
22. Qg5 Rxh3 If 23. gxh3 Nf3+ captures the Queen
23. Rc5 Qg3
24. Resigns Black poses too many threats besides 24. … Qxh2#. If 24. hxg3 Ne2#. If 24. fxg3 Ne2+ and mate next move. If 24. Qxg3 Ne2+ 25. Kh1 Nxg3+ 26. Kg1 Nxf1 with Black a whole Rook ahead

Position after Black’s 23rd move

a memorable queen sacrifice

Do you feel like throwing a few pieces of gold this way?