The Evergreen Game
By Bill Wall
The chess game known as the Evergreen game was a casual game between Adolf Anderssen (1818-1879)of Breslau and the German player Jean Dufresne (E.S. Freund) (1820-1893), assumed to have been played in Berlin, Germany in 1852. Dufresne lived in Berlin and Anderssen visited Berlin often. The game was originally published in the September 1852 issue of the Deutsche Schachzeitung, page 338, game 450. Anderssen, the editor of the magazine, had the first 18 moves in the September issue, ending it with a diagram. He finished the moves in the October issue with a diagram after Black’s 20th move, showing a mate in 4 moves. The game was then published in the Chess Player’s Chronicle of 1853, p. 4-11, in the section called “Chess on the Continent.”
After Anderssen’s death in March, 1879, Wilhelm Steinitz annotated the game in 1879 in the March 29, 1879 issue of The Field. He wrote “An evergreen in the laurel crown of the departed Chess hero,” thus giving its name – Evergreen. An evergreen tree is one that has foliage that remains green throughout the year. Steinitz probably called it evergreen because the game would always be new, fresh, and vibrant to new generations of players. The game itself leads to all kinds of branching variations.
In May, 1898, pages 129-134 and June, 1898, pages 161-163 of Deutsche Schachzeitung, Paul Lipke analyzed the Evergreen game in detail and found several defensive possibilities for Black.
The game was analyzed in detail in Schach-Echo 24/1957 and throughout 1958 by Paul Schlensker and readers. ChessBase published some of the analysis.
Kasparov provided analysis in his book My Great Predecessors, Part 1, and a follow-up analysis published as an article for ChessBase.
Anderssen-Dufresne, Berlin 1852
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 [the Evans Gambit Accepted} 5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 [other moves are 6.Qb3 and 6.O-O] 6…exd4 7.O-O d3 [More common is 7…dxc3 8.Qb3 or 7…Nge7 or 7…d6. Black is trying to slow down White’s development.] 8.Qb3 [threatening 9.Bxf7+. 8.Re1 can also be played] 8…Qf6 9.e5 Qg6 [If 9…Nxe5?, then 10.Re1 d6 11.Qa4+, winning a piece] 10.Re1 Nge7 11.Ba3 b5?! [stronger is 11…O-O or 11…d5 or 11…a6] 12.Qxb5 Rb8 [another possibility is 12…d2 13.Rd1 d6] 13.Qa4 Bb6 [13…O-O? 14.Bxe7] 14.Nbd2 Bb7 15.Ne4 Qf5? [according to Lasker, better is 15…d2 16.Nexd2 O-O] 16.Bxd3 [threatening 17.Nd6+ or 17.Nf6+, winning the queen] 16…Qh5 17.Nf6+ [White can also play 17.Rad1 or 17.Ng3 for the advantage. For example, 17.Ng3 Qh6 18.Bc1 Qe6 19.Bc4 Nd5 20.Ng5 Nxc3 21.Qb3 Qe7 22.Bxf7+ Kd8 23.e6 wins for White] 17…gxf6 18.exf6 Rg8 19.Rad1! [setting up a trap. Reuben Fine called this move “A magnificent conception, probably the most profound ever seen in over-the-board chess at that time.” Lasker wrote that 19.Be4 was a more efficient winning move.] 19…Qxf3? [Black threatens mate with 20…Qxg2. However, 19…Qh3 was better as it protects the important d7 square later (19…Qh3 20.Bf1 Qf5). Another idea is 19…Bd4 to block the d-file (20.cxd4 Qxf3 21.Be4 Rxg2+ 22.Kh1 Rxh2+ 23.Kxh2 Qxf2+ draws). Now White has a brilliant sacrifice of rook and queen. Emanuel Lasker suggested 19…Rg4, and White can play 20.Re4. The move 19…Rxg2+ fails to 20.Kxg2 Ne5 21.Qxd7+ Kxd7 22.Bg6+ Ke6 23.Bxh5, with advantage to White ] 20.Rxe7+! [the game ended here when published] 20…Nxe7?? [Black had to play 20…Kd8 (20…Kf8 21.Re3+ wins the queen), but 21.Rxd7+ still wins for White after 21…Kc8 22.Rd8+ Kxd8 (22…Rxd8?? 23.gxf3; 22…Nxd8 23.Qd7+! Kxd7 24.Bf5+ and 25.Bd7 mate) 23.Bf5+ (or 23.Be2+ or 23.Be4+) 23…Qxd1 24.Qxd1 Nd4 25.Nh3! (25.cxd4 Bxg2) Re8 26.cxd4. Now White has a mate in 4 moves] 21.Qxd7+ Kxd7 22.Bf5+ Ke8 [22…Kc6 23.Bd7 mate] 23.Bd7+ Kf8 [or 23…Kd8 24.Bxe7 mate] 24.Bxe7# 1-0
For the Immortal Game between Anderssen and Kieseritsky, see my article “The Immortal Game”
[Event "Casual Game"]
[Site "Berlin GER"]
[White "Adolf Anderssen"]
[Black "Jean Dufresne"]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 exd4 7.O-O
d3 8.Qb3 Qf6 9.e5 Qg6 10.Re1 Nge7 11.Ba3 b5 12.Qxb5 Rb8 13.Qa4
Bb6 14.Nbd2 Bb7 15.Ne4 Qf5 16.Bxd3 Qh5 17.Nf6+ gxf6 18.exf6
Rg8 19.Rad1 Qxf3 20.Rxe7+ Nxe7 21.Qxd7+ Kxd7 22.Bf5+ Ke8
23.Bd7+ Kf8 24.Bxe7# 1-0