Frank Marshall, The Great Swindler

What you’re looking at above is considered by some to be the best move ever played in the history of chess!

Who made it? Frank James Marshall, one of the finest grandmasters the United States has ever produced.

Despite his scholarly appearance, Marshall’s chess game was anything but. He was known for exciting, aggressive and daring play. So adept was he snatching victory from the jaws of defeat that he became known as “The Great Swindler.”

Born in 1887, Marshall won the United States Chess Championship in 1909 and held the title for 27 years.

The move pictured above is truly a stroke of genius. Playing Black in a 1912 game against Levitsky, Marshall has just played 23 … Qg3.

The reader will observe that Marshall has moved his queen into a position where it can be captured in three ways! Yet no matter how White captures, Marshall wins. And if Levitsky refuses the generous queen sacrifice … Marshall still wins. Levitsky had no choice but to resign.You can replay the entire game here.

Many years ago I played chess against an old gentleman who had played Marshall to a draw. (The gentleman beat me in about 15 moves.) He said Marshall was one of the nicest men he’d ever met.

(Image credit – Wikimedia Commons)

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