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There are many great candidates for a top 10 list. The process of choosing the absolute best of these was not an easy one.

First a definition:


The criteria for being labeled an "attacking game" must include one of the following:

  1. Storming the Castled Positon
  2. A King Hunt
  3. Attacking the King in the Center.
  4. A sequence that involves a mating strategy against the enemy king.


Part of the problem in selecting games of course is what games to consider? For example Karpov-Kasparov WC 2 1985 Game 16 is a nice win by Garry but is more of a positional crush than a real "attacking game". Even though black sacrifices a pawn for an intiative his whole strategy revolves around the knight at d6 to constrict the life out of whites positon, its not really about attacking the king. In like manner Fischers brilliancy over R. Byrne in 63 in analgous manner has a knight deep at d6 but beginning at move 15 he has planned out his mating attack to the finish. So the K-K game is excluded on that basis, while the Fischer game is included for consideration. Of course there are plenty of other really good Kasparov attacking games to choose from. Some well known and great games may be "missing" from the list. If it meets the parameters under "what is an attacking game" it will have received consideration. Games like the famous Botvinnik-Capablanca, and Bogolyubov-Alekhine, or the less well known but equally brilliant Stolz-Steiner, which feature fantastic combinational play are not included because of not meeting the "attacking game" criteria I have set forth. These games, for example, are about brilliant pawn promotion schemes and not direct attacks or mating strategies against the enemy king.

I am not considering postal games, I am only considering over the board games.

I have went through several hundred well known and some less well known attacking games in formulating my list to choose from. I narrowed the list to 50 and chose my final 10 from that list.

I used Soltis "100 Best Games of the 20th Century" and Nunn and Burgess "Worlds Greatest Chess Games" as starting points. Many of the annotations are based on these books. I also looked through lists such as "The Complete Chess Addict", and also the games in a number of books on atacking chess as well as pgn file downloads.

Original ideas, unique mating schemes, and scintillating sacrifices all receive high consideration.


Obviously this is a "top 10" list so only 10 games can be chosen. I prefer a game be sound, but a speculative attack with immense complications is also practicable. A speculative attack that gives many chances to win is just the kind of chess that I enjoy.


Attacking games are often flawed, that is the losing side usually makes a mistake. In my view this does not take away from the beauty of the attack. Even at the highest level mistakes do occur. This is meant to be a list of the greatest attacks in chess history not the greatest games (though some of the greatest games have great attacks!). I hope that is clear.

Without further ado...

Here are the 10 Greatest Attacking Games of all time annotated:

  1. Kasparov-Topalov, Wijk aan Zee, 1999

  2. Rotlewi-Rubinstein, Lodz, 1907

  3. R. Byrne-Fischer, NY, 1963

  4. Larsen-Spassky, Belgrade, 1970

  5. Steinitz-Von Badeleben, Hastings, 1895

  6. Anderssen-Dufrense, Berlin, 1852

  7. Ivanchuk-Yusopov, Brussells, 1991

  8. Polugaevsky-Nezhmetdinov, Sochi, 1958

  9. Reti-Alekhine, Baden-Baden, 1925

  10. Tal-Hjartarsson, Reykjavik, 1987