What Is The Greatest Move In Chess Ever Played?

What Is The Greatest Move In Chess Ever Played

Chess itself has been around for hundreds of years, making it one of the oldest games in human history. There have been countless moves made on a chess board, raising questions regarding what the greatest chess move of all time is.

Best Chess Move Ever Played

There is one singular move that has a strong consensus as the best move ever played in chess. That would be Alexei Shirov’s purposeful sacrifice of his bishop, typically considered the consensus number one move. In what is now considered a classic match, Alexei was up two pawns vs. opponent Veselin Topalov in an end-game situation. Despite the advantage, there was only one possible path to victory, and it was not a clear one.

Topalov moves his king to the left one square, attempting to meet up with his bishop. A sequence that would likely lead to a stalemate, as it would be difficult to force a checkmate. What Shirov does next is so unexpected, which is what makes it so brilliant.

He moves his bishop into the line of fire of the G2 pawn. At first glance, you would think it is a blunder, accidentally losing his most powerful piece left in the game, but it was extremely calculated. The beauty of this move is that it completely takes white’s two remaining pawns out of the game. Shirov’s black pawn on G6 acted as a roadblock, completely stymieing any advances of Topalov’s pawns towards becoming queens. The move allowed for Shirov to advance his three other pawns with the help of the king, guaranteeing the victory.

The move took place back in 1998, over 20 years ago, yet it has not been overtaken since, a true testament to its brilliance. Since that point, the chess world has sophisticated itself in the form of computer algorithms that can simulate entire chess games, determining what the best route to take is. Analysts have run such simulations on this match, and it has been confirmed that out of ALL the possible moves, this was the only one that would not lead to a stalemate, which is why it tops the list as the greatest chess move of all time. To add to matters, it took place in a battle of grandmasters, the highest-ranking chess players in the world. The out-of-the-box creative thinking, combined with the high-level stage at which the move took place, make this a relatively easy selection for the greatest chess move of all time.

Best Possible Chess Move

chess fools mate

The best possible move one can make is obtaining a checkmate in only two moves. Unlike Shirov’s unique end game sacrifice, this two-move checkmate has been achieved numerous times throughout history. There is only one way to reach checkmate in two moves. It involves both the correct moves made by the player controlling the black pieces and the exact wrong moves by the white player. This is the fastest way a game of chess can end, and it is known as a fool’s mate.

A fool’s mate can only be achieved if white moves the G2 pawn up to G4 and the F2 pawn up to F3. Black must open the door for its queen to enter the field by moving its E7 pawn up to either E6 or E5. This leaves room for the queen to pull off the checkmate by going diagonally to H4. 


In general, the best move a player can pull off in chess is a fork. A fork is when a piece is moved into a position that threatens two of the opponent's pieces. It guarantees that material will be captured on the following turn.

chess forks

One possible example of a fork is if a pawn has entered a spot where both potential diagonals are occupied by opposing pieces. This means it can move diagonally to capture either piece on the subsequent turn. It is a lose-lose situation if you are facing a fork, as you have to decide which piece you would like to lose while moving the other. The guarantee of taking material from the other side is why a fork is the best move one can play during a game. Forks are most typically made with the knight, as it can attack pieces with its unique “L-shaped” pattern of moving. A fork can turn the tide of a match, so if you’re in a game of chess, look to see if you can fork your opponent!