Longest Chess Game Ever Played in History

longest chess game ever played

Did you know that Emanuel Lasker holds the record for the longest global chess match?

Knowing chess history is no doubt interesting. But do you want to awe your friends by showing off your knowledge of the longest chess game ever played in history?

If so, then you have come to the right place.

As a chess analyst, I bring to you two of the most engaging and longest chess games in recorded history. In this article, I will tell you why these chess tournaments hold the record of the longest chess games in history.

2 Longest Chess Game Ever Played in History

Who comes to your mind in terms of the longest chess opening game? For me, it is Giuoco Pianissimo.

Getting to know about the longest chess games in history will be a great source of inspiration to get started with the game.

Let’s dive in!

Longest Chess Game in Terms of Moves

In a nutshell

Date: 17 February 1989

Tournament: Marathon Man

Place: Belgrad

White: Ivan Nikolic, Serbia

Black: Goran Arsovic, Serbia

Moves: 269

longest chess game ever played

In 1989, two amateur players- Ivan Nikolic, and Goran Arsovic, met in a small competition in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Nikolic played the white pieces, whereas, Arsovic played the black pieces.

game between Nikolic and Arsovic


After 60 or so moves, the game reached a draw. After 167 moves, it finally became one of the traditional pawnless endgames in chess. Nikolic’s king, rook, and bishop were opposing Arsovic’s king and rook.

longest moves in game between Nikolic and Arsovic

If I look at it purely in terms of theory, Nikolic and Arsovic playing the rooks could potentially draw this game. But it would be difficult for them to keep finding the strongest moves in a competitive situation due to time constraints and exhaustion. Moreover, they were playing with the rooks only.

With the rook and bishop, Nikolic could continue playing with almost little possibility of failing. This is simply what Nikolic did in this match in the hopes that Arsovic would commit a game-ending error.

Nikolic also gained from a tweak to the “fifty-move rule”.

According to the chess rule of “fifty movements,” a player can declare a draw after 50 moves in which neither capture nor a pawn move has been made.

The player with the stronger forces might, in theory, win the game with more than 50 moves. This prediction is according to computer analyses of many endgames, including the rook and bishop with the rook endgame.

As a reason, in 1984, the fifty-move rule was replaced with the hundred-rule move rule. The hundred-move rule was in effect during the time that this game was played.

This answers why Nikolic continued to play after moving 167 for an additional 102 moves until the game was declared a draw after 269 moves.

The rule was adjusted to 75 moves soon after this game was played, if a certain sort of endgame happened.

The rule returned from its original 1984 form in 1992. A chess game will be considered a draw if there are 50 moves after the last pawn move.

Software and professional study of the match, which was played for 20 hours and 15 minutes, revealed that Nikolic missed victories on moves 201, 238, 239, 241, 244, 247, and 255.

Did you know that he actually missed a checkmate at 247?

In a real over-the-board competitive match with standard time constraints, this game continues to maintain the milestone for the most moves made.

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Longest Chess Game Played in a World Championship

In a Nutshell:

Date: 12th December 2021

Tournament: World Chess Championship

Place: Dubai

White: Magnus Carlsen, Norway

Black: Ian Nepomniachtchi, Russia

Moves: 136

In the 2021 World Chess Championship, GM Magnus Carlsen finished the match with a score of 7.5-3.5 after winning four games and drawing seven others.

The first five sets, which were all draws, featured some extremely excellent chess play from GM Ian Nepomniachtchi.

The decisive play of the tournament was the sixth one, which Carlsen won in an unprecedented 136 moves. It will go down as the longest game in world championship history. The world champion won his fifth world championship match after this one, with three more victories and two draws to keep the title.

With his 7th Knight in 2nd position, Carlsen applied a strategy that appeared simple. But as Nepo acknowledged afterwards, White can cause some issues in this scenario. As early as move 10, the first key position was attained.

longest chess game in championship

After hesitating for more than 16 minutes, Nepo moved his 9th Horse to the 5th position, shattering the game’s ideal symmetry. Unexpectedly, Carlsen was out of the book in this situation, but what was further shocking was that he took 40 minutes to decide to play his Queen to e1 from 10th position.

40 minutes to move to 1 position

The most sensible move was to make Queen go from 10th to 4th position. While not without difficulties, may end up well for White. And certainly, Black’s 10.Qe7 response likely resulted in a draw. Nepo chose to move his King from 10th to f8, which is by no way a mistake.

The battle proceeded with a symmetrical pawn layout after Nepo’s ninth move, but Black failed to castle. On move 14, a crucial psychological turning point was seen.

More notably, Anish Giri points to the fact that the Russian played this piece much too rapidly when he called Nepo’s move “questionable.”

Nepo, who occasionally takes rash judgments even in highly critical games, seems overwhelmed by the gravity of the situation. Seven moves later, the Russian committed the match’s first glaring mistake, proving that Giri’s intuition was correct.

The pawn move lets the Queen move from the 22nd to 3rd and King to 8th position, in which White takes a pawn and simultaneously assaults the bishop on d7. Nepo had to accept the truth that he had just committed a terrible error and that Carlsen had a big edge.

Nepo and his squad need to refocus and formulate a completely fresh strategy for moving ahead. Is it time for the King’s Gambit?

Later, Carlsen won the championship to a close.

The result was never in question even if the game dragged along.

Are you a Magnus Carlsen fan?

Read Magnus Carlsen Best Games to know more.


How long can a chess game last?

Tournament games can run anywhere from around 10 minutes (quick chess) to 6 hours or more, while casual games often last 10 to 60 minutes.

What is the shortest chess game ever?

The shortest game between two grandmasters to be recorded required only four moves. In a chess café in Paris, Lazard beat Gibaud in 1924.

What is sudden death in chess?

In sudden death, a certain time frame is allotted for each player’s actions during a game. Sudden-death time limits were seen as being overly restrictive in the 19th and much of the 20th centuries. They might give a player a huge advantage yet leave them with so little time. It will make their losing was unavoidable. Only a few variations of speed chess, such as five-minute chess, in which each player has five minutes to complete all of their moves, allowed sudden death.

Are chess moves infinite?

The 50-move restriction finites a chess game. The 64 squares and 32 pieces does not let a chess game go on for infinity.


It is interesting to see why the longest chess games went on for longer than general chess games.

A chess game can go on for a long time because it takes a while to find and confirm the right course of action. It is totally possible to work on a single move for an hour and yet make mistakes.

If you enjoyed reading my analysis about the world-record games, let me know in the comments!

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