Depicted above is widely regarded by many greats like Kasparov, Capablanca etc. as the most brilliant game of chess ever played. The game was played in 1851 between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky. The two greats locked horns in this informal game which was played in an official tournament in London during a break.
In this game Anderssen sacrificed a bishop on move 11, both rooks starting on move 18, and the queen on move 22 to produce a checkmate which stands unparalleled in its brilliance.
The moves of the game with small annotations (source: Wikipedia):
White: Adolf Anderssen
Black: Lionel Kieseritzky
Opening: King's Gambit, C33
1. e4 e5 2. f4
This is the King's Gambit: Anderssen offers his pawn in exchange for faster development. Although this was a common opening in the nineteenth century, it is less common today, as Black is often able to eventually equalize development, so White will be down in material.
2. ... exf4
Kieseritsky accepts the gambit; this variant is thus called the King's Gambit Accepted.
3. Bc4 Qh4+
Black's move will force White to move his king and White will not be able to castle, but this move also places Black's queen in peril, and Black will have to waste time to protect it.
4. Kf1 b5?
This is the Bryan gambit, named after Thomas Jefferson Bryan. It is not considered a sound move by most players today.
5. Bxb5 Nf6 6. Nf3
This is a common developing move, but the knight now attacks Black's queen, forcing Black to protect it instead of developing his own side.
6. ... Qh6 7. d3
With this move, White now has solidified control over the critical center of the board.
7. ... Nh5
This move threatens Ng3+, and it protects the pawn at f4, but it also sidelines the knight to a poor position at the edge of the board, where knights are the least powerful.
8. Nh4 Qg5
9. Nf5 c6
This simultaneously unpins the queen pawn and attacks the bishop.
10. g4 Nf6 11. Rg1!
This is an advantageous passive piece sacrifice. If Black accepts, his queen will be moved away from the action, giving White a lead in development.
11. ... cxb5?
White's knight at f5 protects the pawn, which is attacking Black's queen.
12. ... Qg6 13. h5 Qg5 14. Qf3
Anderssen now has two threats:
* Bxf4, which will trap Black's queen (the queen has no safe place to go),
* e5, which would attack Black's knight at f6 while simultaneously exposing an attack by White's queen on the unprotected black rook at a8.
14. ... Ng8
This deals with the threats, but undevelops Black even further — now the only Black piece not on its starting square is the queen, which is about to be put on the run, while White has control over a great deal of the board.
15. Bxf4 Qf6 16. Nc3 Bc5
An ordinary developing move by Black, which also attacks the rook at g1.
White responds to the attack with a counter-attack. This move threatens Nc7, which would fork the king and rook.
17. ... Qxb2
Black gains a pawn, and threatens to gain the rook at a1 with check.
With this move White offers to sacrifice both his rooks. Huebner comments that, from this position, there are actually many ways to win, and he believes there are at least three better moves than 18. Bd6: 18. d4, 18. Be3, or 18. Re1, which lead to strong positions or checkmate without needing to sacrifice so much material. The commercial version of the chess-playing computer program Junior recommends 18. Nc7+, followed by Re1. Garry Kasparov has pointed out that the world of chess would have lost one of its "crown jewels" if the game had continued in such an unspectacular fashion. The Bd6 move is unusual, because White is willing to give up so much material.
18. ... Bxg1?
It is from this move that Black's defeat stems.
This sacrifices yet another White rook. More importantly, this move prevents the Black queen from protecting Black's g7 pawn — in fact, the Black queen will not be able to easily return to defend Black's king at all. It sets up a dangerous possible attack, 20. Nxg7+ Kd8 21. Bc7#.
20. ... Qxa1+ 20. Ke2
At this point, Black's attack has run out of power; Black has a queen and bishop on the back row, but cannot effectively mount an immediate attack on White, while White can storm forward.
21. ... Na6
This move was probably made to counter 21. Nc7, which would fork the Black king and rook, and it prevents the bishop from occupying c7 as part of a mating attack, but White has another dangerous attack available. 20...Ba6 is a much better try.
22. Nxg7+ Kd8 22. Qf6+
This is a queen sacrifice, on top of the earlier sacrifices of a bishop and both rooks, and Black cannot avoid taking the queen.
22. ... Nxf6 23. Be7# 1-0
At the end, Black is ahead in material by a considerable margin: a queen and two rooks, plus the advantage of having both bishops, while having only one fewer pawn. But the material does not help Black. White has been able to use his remaining pieces - two knights and a bishop - to force mate.