Know your History

Below are .pgns (text files readable by chess programs) devoted to the games of some of the greatest players in chess history. They are also some of the most interesting / important players for improvement. Every teacher worth their salt recommends the games of the great masters to their students. Here, I’m trying to make it easy for those student to find those games.

The pgn files come from Bill Wall’s Chess Page, a tremendous (if overwhelming) resource for chess data. Almost all of them are the bare game scores from books about the players. While the files are not complete records of the player’s games, they are, generally speaking, handpicked collections of their best games. This means that the games you’ll study here are all worth your attention.

Chess moves cannot be copyrighted, so there is no issue to the games being hosted here. Note that I make no warranty as to the veracity of any of these files, and that I am not the creator of these files. Also note that the data here may not be clean, standardized, etc. You’ll need to buy a professionally curated database to ensure standardization. Thanks to Bill Wall for allowing me to collect and rehost the data here.

The original books, with the original annotations, are certainly preferable to these files. Still, I’m convinced that you can learn quite a bit by going through these games. Engines (usually included in the software packages / apps described below) can help you answer questions you might have about specific moves.

My advice is to proceed chronologically. Begin with Morphy and work your way down the list. Don’t worry about understanding every nuance and detail. You’re trying to get a general sense of these games and players, at least at first, and you can always go back later and analyze in depth. You should also consider buying well-annotated game collections – the insights given there will far outstrip those gleaned from the engines.

To read the data and play through the games, I provide links to a few readers. The list is not exhaustive, but I have used these and can recommend them. All are free to download.

ChessBase Reader

Everyman Chess Viewer

Everyman Chess Viewer


Paul Morphy
Palau-Paul Morphy.pgn
Soltis – Morphy Chess Masterpieces.pgn | replayable version

Wilhelm Steinitz
Neistadt – Steinitz.pgn | replayable version

Mikhail Chigorin
Adams – Mikhail_Chigorin.pgn | replayable version

Emanuel Lasker
Hannak-Lasker.pgn | replayable version

Frank Marshall
Marshall – Best Games.pgn | replayable version
Soltis – Frank Marshall.pgn

Aron Nimzowitsch
Reinfeld – Nimzovich the Hypermodern.pgn

Harry Nelson Pillsbury
Watts – Pillsburys Chess Career.pgn
Soltis – Pillsbury the Extraordinary.pgn

Akiba Rubinstein
Kmoch – Rubinstein’s Chess Masterpieces.pgn | replayable version

Savielly Tartakower
Tartakower – my best games.pgn

Siegbert Tarrasch
Reinfeld – Tarraschs Best Games of Chess.pgn

Jose Raul Capablanca
Reinfeld – The Immortal Games of Capablanca.pgn

Richard Reti
Golombek – Retis Best Games.pgn

Alexander Alekhine

Max Euwe
Euwe – From my Chess Games 1920-1937.pgn

Arnold Denker
Denker – My Best Chess Games 1929-1976.pgn

Reuben Fine
Fine – Lessons From My Games.pgn

Samuel Reshevsky

Mikhail Botvinnik
Botvinnik-100 Selected Games.pgn
Botvinnik – Best Games _1923-1941.pgn
Botvinnik-Best Games 1942-1956.pgn
Botvinnik-Best Games _1947-1970.pgn

Paul Keres

Issac Boleslavsky
Adams-Boleslavsky Selected Games.pgn

Vasily Smyslov
Smyslov – 125 Selected games.pgn

Mikhail Tal
Clarke – Tals Best Games.pgn
Soltis – Tal the Magnificient.pgn

Rashid Nezmetdinov
Pyskin – Super Nezh Chess Assassin.pgn

Efim Geller
Damsky – Grandmaster Geller.pgn

Leonid Stein
Rattmann – Leonid Stein.pgn

Tigran Petrosian

Boris Spassky
Soltis – The Best Games of Boris Spassky.pgn

Bent Larsen
Larsen – my games.pgn

Robert J. Fischer


World Championship Games (1886-2016)
World Championships.pgn

Soviet Championships
Soviet Championships.pgn