Happy Birthday Alexander Petrov!

Petrov (sometimes written Petroff) was a Russian chess master born on this day in 1794.

He was a noted chess player, becoming the top chess player in Russia when he was only fifteen, a distinction he held for fifty years. In his competitive years he defeated many of the best European players. Notably, he wrote the first Russian handbook on chess.

He is best known for the Petrov Defense, a cunning (and dangerous if misplayed) opening as follows: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6.

One of Petrov’s most extraordinary games is dubbed “Petrov’s Immortal” in retrospect. It was played in 1844, seven years before Adolf Anderssen’s iconic “Immortal Game.” As befits games that are given such titles, Petrov’s Immortal features brilliancies, sacrifices, and tactics that impress to this day.