The Gold Coin Game

By Davide Nastasio

Recently I began writing on a new chess blog (, with a group of passionate chess players: Peter Giannatos and Grant Oen, just to mention a few names that Georgia chess players surely know.



NM Peter Giannatos (left) at the 2016 Masters Open


As always, a meeting of different chess cultures and minds creates richness and knowledge.  NM Peter Giannatos penned an article about GM Nicolas Rossolimo, in which he wrote “The first example may remind you of the famous Gold Coin Game.”  I didn’t know anything about this game, so I began to research it, and ended up with $13.98 less in my pocket–or to be more precise, on my credit card!

I’m going to present to you the famous “Gold Coin game” played by Frank James Marshall, as introduced in his book My Fifty Years of Chess (This is the reason I have $13.98 less in my pocket: I bought a used copy, printed in the 1960 by Dover).  Marshall wrote the following note to his game against Stefan Levitzky (or Levitsky) at Breslau, 1912:

Perhaps you have heard about this game, which so excited the spectators that they “showered me with gold pieces!”  I have often been asked whether this really happened. The answer is–yes, that is what happened, literally!

(Because obviously spectators at chess tournaments, always bring with them gold pieces to shower the winner of a beautiful game.)





Now, before showing you the game in question, I’d like to ask you to find the final move of the game.




Final position in the Gold Coin Game


White just played 23.Rc5, attacking the Qc3.  Can you find the move Marshall played which ended the game immediately and filled his pockets with gold chess pieces?




For those who want to know if they found the right move, here is the game:




Once we learn a move, pattern, or chess idea we can see it in other games as well.  Thanks to chess database programs, it is quite easy to find similar examples in other games.  For example, in the following game we have Klaus Viktor Darga, a German champion from nearly 50 years ago, performing a similar feat.   Watch the following position:




Black just played 25…Nd4; can you guess White’s response?  Also in this case, a move which wins the game!  Unfortunately nobody showered Darga with gold chess pieces!




And now another game from one of the most artistic players in chess history, David Bronstein.






Black just played 19…Rc3; when a lightning bolt from the sky hit and incinerated him!  Notice Black was a candidate to the World Championship 6 times!



GM David Bronstein




We finally come to the game which inspired my discovery and sharing of this beautiful art gallery of chess masterpieces:






Black just played 22…Kh8; now obviously one should calculate and know why to play or not to play a certain move…but I guess the cat is out of the bag after all these examples.  In any case, try to guess what White played–and why.



GM Nicolas Rossolimo, 1951 simul





This is the reason why chess is many things: a sport, a fight, science, but also a spiritual journey.  Just a simple phrase like “The Gold Coin Game” brought us to different places and periods in time to enjoy the artistic beauty that other souls have created, souls who, like us, were on this journey we call chess.



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