N. Marache - P. Morphy  
 New York, NY. 1857  









 Napoleon V. Marache (2450) - Paul Charles Morphy (2800) 
[C52]
U.S. Championship (Chess Congress) 
New York, NY;   1857 

  [A.J. Goldsby I] 


Chernev writes: 
"Morphy's name is synonymous with brilliancy, but never in his life did Morphy make a  move more dazzling than his nineteenth (move) in this game. It makes a beautiful climax to the attack, and winds the game up in a blaze of glorious Technicolor." 
[ The book, {The} "1000 Best, Short Games of Chess,"  by Irving Chernev. Game # 616; pages # 312-313. ] 

I will only say that the game is beautiful beyond my ability to describe it. I can also (maybe) understand why (some) people tried to discredit Morphy and his contemporaries. After his games, no one else had anything to brag about!!! 

Lawson writes:  << A chess teacher searching for a classic example of a 'positional sacrifice' will find it here on Black's eleventh move. The game itself has a happy ending for everybody: Morphy wins and Marache gets "Knighted." >> 
[ See David Lawson's book, "Paul Morphy, The Pride and Sorrow of Chess." Game # 18, pg. # 349. ]  


1. e4 e52. Nf3 Nc63. Bc4 Bc5;  
One of the oldest lines in all of chess. 

White's next move initiates the, "Evans Gambit." 
(A variant of - and in - the Italian Game. The Italian Game is ANY line after  - - -  1. e4, e5; 2, Nf3, Nc6; 3. Bc4, Bc5;) 

This opening (The Evan's) was once described, "As a gift from the gods to a languishing chess world." (!!!)  I will also say the Evans was considered UNSOUND for virtually my entire career, until Kasparov crushed Anand with it! (Late 90's.)

4. b4!? Bxb4
;  
The gambit accepted. Black should not be afraid to take. 

     [ { 4...Bb6!?; 5.a4 a6; 6.Nc3 Nf6; 7.Nd5 Nxd5; 8.exd5 Nd4; 9.a5 Ba7; 10.d6! cxd6
        11.0-0
0-0; 12.Nxd4 Bxd4; The end of column # 6.  13.c3 Ba7; 14.Qf3,  
         "White has compensation for the material invested." - GM P. Leko. 
       [ See MCO-14; pages 27-28, columns 1-6, (mainly col. #6); and note # (z.).] } ]   

 

5. c3 Ba56.d4!
The most energetic. (White attacks the center in a way that was not all that common in those days.) 

     [ { White can also play the very logical 6.0-0!?, "White has compensation for his pawn."
       6...d6!; This is the "Lasker's Defense." This line virtually killed the Evan's for many years.
       7.d4 Bb6; 8.dxe5 dxe5; 9.Qb3, ('!') The best line for White. 
       ( Less than best is: 9.Qxd8+!? Nxd8; 10.Nxe5 Be6; 11.Be2 Ne7;  
        12.Nc4 Ndc6; 13.Bf4, "=" Anageliev - V. Ivanov; Ashkhabad, 1995. 
        [ See MCO-14; pages 27-28, columns 1-6, (mainly col. 1); and note # (c.).] ) 
        9...Qf6
; 10.Bg5 Qg6; 11.Bd5 Nge7; 12.Bxe7 Kxe7;  The end of column # 1. 
        13.Bxc6
Qxc6; 14.Nxe5 Qe6; 15.Nc4,  Probably the best.
        (15.Qa3+ Qd6; "And Black is OK." - Levenfish.); 
        15...Rd8
; 16.Qb4+ Ke8; 17.Nxb6, ("=") "The position is equal." - Y. Estrin. 
        [See MCO-14; pages 27-28, columns 1-6, (mainly col. # 1); and note # (d.).] } ]   

 

6...exd4;  
 Acceptance is virtually forced. (Black cannot retain the strong-point on e5 without making his position the worse for it.) 

     [ { The computer gives: 6...d6!?; ('?!') 7.Qb3 Qd7; 8.dxe5, Is this forced? 
        ( MCO gives the line: 8.Nbd2 Bb6; 9.a4 Nf6; 10.a5 Nxa5; 11.Rxa5 Bxa5
          12.dxe5 Ng4; "=/+"  The end of column # 4.  "After:  13.exd6 Bb6; 14.h3 Nxf2
          15.Rf1 0-0; 16.Ba3 cxd6; 17.Rxf2 Bxf2+; 18.Kxf2,  a weird material balance arises 
          that is slightly in White's favor." - GM Nick DeFirmian.  ---> Note that the computer 
          greatly favors Black. {"/+"}  But here I prefer the GM's evaluation!  {A.J.G.} 
          [ See MCO-14; pages 27-28, columns 1-6, (mainly col. 4); and note # (o.).] )  
          8...Bb6
; 9.Nbd2 Na5; 10.Qc2 Nxc4; 11.Nxc4 Bc5; 12.exd6 cxd6
          13.Be3
Bxe3; 14.Nxe3 Ne7; 15.0-0 0-0; 16.Rad1 Qc7; 17.Rd2, ("+/=") but I 
          think this line is terrible for Black, he is slightly inferior and has no real chances 
          for generating meaningful counterplay.} ]   

 

7. e5!?,  (Maybe - '?!/?') 
Maybe not the best, although this was (seems to be) "accepted theory" at the time. 
(I have found many examples of this line that pre-date this game!) 

Mednis gives this move a question mark. (I think this is far too harsh.) GM Mednis then goes on to write: "White must look for rapid development as compensation for the sacrificed material. The text does not further development and meets a clear refutation. The developing move, 7. 0-0, is in order when 7...Nge7; is considered by theory to be the only correct response; eventual equality is the most likely outcome." 
[See the book, "Practical {Chess} Opening Tips," by  GM Edmar Mednis. Pg.'s 22-23.]  

---> Of course by modern standards, we (now) know that this move is a waste of time.   

       [  Correct was: 7.0-0!, ("White has compensation for the material invested.") 
           but this move is the result of nearly 200 years of development in opening theory!!
              Sometimes, it is easy - far too easy! - to forget this.   
            7...Nge7;  The best according to theory. 
           ( 7...dxc3?!"The Compromised Defence." 
             - It is considered very risky by modern-day theory.
             8.Qb3 Qf6; 9.e5! Qg6; 10.Nxc3 Nge7; 11.Ba3 0-0; 12.Rad1, 
            "With good compensation for the material AND a strong initiative."  
            [ See MCO-14; pages 27-28, columns 1-6, (mainly col. # 3.); and note # (k.).] )  
             8.cxd4 d5; 9.exd5 Nxd5; 10.Ba3 Be6; 11.Bb5 f6; 12.Qa4 Bb6;  The end of the column.
             13.Bxc6+ bxc6; 14.Qxc6+ Kf7; ("=") (Analysis by Botterill.) 
             "Black is slightly better." - GM Nick DeFirmian. 
             (According to the computers, the position is nearly dead-equal. 
               It also looks very equal to me. - LM A.J. Goldsby I.) 
             [ See MCO-14; pages 27-28, columns 1-6, (mainly col. 2); and note # (h.).]  ]   

 

7...d5!;  
Chernev also awards this move an exclam. 

Black immediately gains some space for his pieces by countering in the center.
(Controlling the center is the single most important thing you do in the opening!)

8. exd6 Qxd69.0-0!
,  
White correctly castles, despite many attractive alternatives.

        [ Interesting is: 9.Qb3!? "~" The position is unclear, or maybe slightly better for Black. ]

9...Nge7!
;  
I believe this is the correct course for Black. (He must develop as quickly as possible. Or perish!) 

      [ Most strong computer programs prefer: 9...dxc3!?; ("/+") giving Black 
        (now) as much better. But White can play: 10.Qb3!, with a very strong attack
        (And some good compensation for the material invested.) ]  

10. Ng5!?
, (Maybe -'?!/'?')   
Sergeant gives this move a question mark, and recommends instead B-R3 followed by R-K1. 
[See the book," "Morphy's Games of Chess," by Phillip W. Sergeant. Game # CLXI, pg. # 223.] 

This may be an improvement over the actual game, but does NOT give White the better game. (Nothing gives White the better game at this point.) 

The move Ng5 is certainly a time waster, and the kind of move Morphy showed his brilliance against. (I must also add I have taught this game dozens and dozens and dozens of times over the years. And a lot of people will pick Ng5 as the move White ought to play here!) 

GM Edmar Mednis writes: (After giving 10. Ng5 a question mark.
"White is insufficiently developed to expect anything from such a Knight sally. 10. Ba3, Qf6; 11. cxd4,  is logical; with some compensation for the pawn." 
[See the book, "Practical {Chess} Opening Tips," by GM Edmar Mednis. Pg.'s 22-23.]

     [ Better is 10.Ba3! Qf4; ("=/+") ]  

10...0-011. Bd3, (!?)  
Maybe not the best. But it is also hard to come up with viable alternative for White.

GM Mednis's comments are very illuminating here. He writes: 
" Notice how White is attempting to attack by moving the same pieces repeatedly ... rather than bringing new soldiers into play. Morphy, therefore, decides that he can both complete his development and gain a safe material advantage by an exchange sacrifice. In return, he will get 2-3 pawns and a clear initiative." 
[See the book, "Practical {Chess} Opening Tips," by GM Edmar Mednis. Pg.'s 22-23.]

I will only add that White threatens Qh5 with a nearly winning attack. Morphy is as brilliant in defense as he is in attack. - LM A.J. Goldsby I 

     [ 11.cxd4 Qxd4; ("=/+")

11...Bf5!;  
This move is given an exclam by no less than GM Mednis. 

     [ My computer likes: 11...h6!?; "(-/+") ]

12. Bxf5 Nxf5
;  
To me, Black's position is not all that impressive. (At least, not right at this moment!) With his next move, White wins the exchange.

13. Ba3
, ('!?') 
White takes the bait. 

(He may as well, he will get little else from Morphy!) 

     [ </= 13.cxd4? Qxd4; "/+" (Maybe - "-/+".) ]

13...Qg6

The Queen gets out of the way. 

Chernev writes: "Black is glad to give up the exchange. For his Rook, Morphy gets a Knight ... and three tempo's! And NOBODY knew the value of time better than Morphy." (The emphasis is mine.)

14.Bxf8 Qxg5!
;   
Perhaps a shock ... especially if you were expecting a simple recapture on f8! (This is a good example of an "In-Between move," or a "Zwischenzug.")  

Now White must lose yet ANOTHER tempo and retreat his Bishop. 

15. Ba3
White must retreat or lose another piece. 

The loss of tempi here is very subtle and easy to miss. (Most of my students have failed to correctly identify where White's big tempo loss was.) 

This piece has already moved 3 times (!!)   {Ba3, BxR/f8, then Bishop back to a3};   and will wind up moving two more times! 

       [ 15.Bb4!? ]

15...dxc3
;  
Amazingly, Black has THREE Pawns for the lost exchange. The pawn on c3 prevents White from moving anything on the Queenside. And he is about to get his Rook on d8 into the game with YET ANOTHER gain of time. (The computers already give the assessment of "-/+" or "Black is winning.") 

GM Mednis writes: "White has no chance of coping with Black's initiative." (To say the least!) 

16. Bc1
,  
A natural looking move. 

White wants the Black Queen to move from its very imposing square. 

GM Mednis writes:  "The attempt to bring over the Bishop to help out on the Kingside will be insufficient, but there is nothing satisfactory."  

Note White has already moved this Bishop four (4!) times, (B-R3, BxR/f8, Bishop back to R3, then B-B1); and will move it once more.  (It maybe the losses of time with this one piece that could be the decisive factor of this game.) 

     [ White could have also played: 16.Qd3!? Ne5!; ("/+") Or maybe ("-/+"). ] 

16...Qg6

The Queen 'ducks'. 

Very subtle. White probably  thinks  he is gaining time by attacking the Black Queen. But since the Queen only loses one tempo, (And gets to a much better square where she is well protected!);  and the Bishop moves for the  FOURTH (4th)  time, Black actually GAINS THREE TEMPI!!  (With this one move!) 

17. Bf4!?
,  
Making a brave attempt. 

White is trying hard; given enough time (!) he may eventually unravel all his pieces. 
(Now the plan is probably Na3-c2, followed by the mobilization of all his other pieces.)

   --->   This is also WHITE's FIFTH (5th) MOVE WITH THIS BISHOP!!!!!   

     [ Maybe White should try: 17.h3!? ]

17...Rd8
;  
Another gain of time. And the White Queen now has few ... if any!!! ... viable squares. (For his lady.)

18. Qc2

Its easy to label this a mistake. 

It is hard (impossible!) to come up with a move or a plan to extricate White. 

       [ 18.Qc1!?

18...Ncd4
;  
And yet another gain of time. One begins to wonder if Chernev could count!! (This is like the 5th one. I thought he said Black only won three tempo!) 

GM Mednis writes: 
"Black just walks in on the fifth-rank central squares, which have been left unattended because of (the) lack of development on White's part."

19. Qe4
,   
Losing. But so did everything else. 

"White's game is lost anyhow." - Sergeant. 

 

     [ Sergeant provides the following variations: 19.Qd3 Ng3; ("-/+") 
        Or 19.Rd1 Ng3!; 20.Qxg6 Nde2#;  Or 19.Qa4 b5!; 20.Qxa5 Ne2+; 21.Kh1 Nxf4
        22.Rg1
(Or 22.g3 Qc6+; 23.f3 Qxf3+; 24.Rxf3 Rd1+; 25.Rf1 Rxf1#) 
        22...Rd1!!
; 23.g3 Qc6+!, etc. ("-/+" ... & mate shortly!) ]  

 

19...Ng3!!;  
White Resigns. 0 - 1. 

Chernev writes:  "If 20. QxQ/g6, then N/d4-e7 is mate! White's Queen is attacked, and if he tries 20. Qe1, then 20...N/d4-e2+; wins the Queen and Bishop for the two Knights. White - of course! - RESIGNED. Everybody was crying!" 

I can only say if someone else had written this, it would not be believable. But Chernev's credentials are impeccable and unimpeachable. I must also note that Chernev gave out VERY FEW double-exclamation points to moves, but Black's 19th move is one of the few to be showered with praise and receive the  "!!" 

This game is one of ultra-brilliance and of the very first magnitude. Easily one of the prettiest games ever played in a U.S. Championship. (Several have called this an "off-hand game," but this conflicts with both what was written about his game in the newspapers, and the game score given by several sources, including the CB database.) One should also remember that many events were  "impromptu,"  and chess organization hardly existed in any form in those days. (Many players felt they had been unfairly excluded from the Congress. They wanted a chance to play the new champ. Morphy, on the other hand, seemed eager to prove himself against all comers!)  One writer, in a N.Y. newspaper, wrote: "This is one of the finest game specimens recorded ever played on American Soil." ]

Sergeant compares this ending to the game, Levitsky- Marshall;  Breslau, 1912. 

Macon Shibut mentions this as one of the best combinations that Morphy ever played. 
[See the book, "Paul Morphy," And The Evolution of Chess Theory." By Macon Shibut. Game # 108, pg. # 214.] 

I have seen this game in literally DOZENS of books over the years. (I have quoted several here in the analysis of this game.) I have also seen this game in  many  magazines over the last 25 years, and I cannot possibly remember all the times I have seen this game mentioned. I also wanted to thank two friends, who asked not to be named. These selfless individuals, (one from New York, one from Cleveland); poured over old newspaper accounts (Micro-film) and copied them and sent them to me. "The White Collection," in Cleveland is a treasure-house of such information. (I have been there a few times, and hope to return again someday.) 
      (I have also taught this game literally hundreds of times over the last 25 years!) 

  Copyright A.J. Goldsby I. (c) A.J. Goldsby, 1983-2003. Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2004. All rights reserved.  

 

     [ Still need to see more proof that White is lost? Then 19...Ng3!!;  

     {See the diagram just below for this picturesque final position.}  

  The final position of the game. There is NO defense to the thunderbolt Morphy has just delivered.
    The final position of the game.

 

       20.Qxd4 , The computer says this move is forced. 
       (Or 20.Qxg6?? Nde2#; Or 20.Qe1? Nde2+; 21.Qxe2[] Nxe2+; 22.Kh1 Nxf4; ("-/+");
        Or 20.hxg3?, White loses his Queen this way on any recapture of the Black 
        Knight on g3! and now Black plays - 20...Qxe4; ("-/+"), with an easy win.)
       
20...Ne2+; 21.Kh1 Rxd4; ("-/+") Black has an easy win on material. ] 


This game is a much shortened version of the game as it exists in my database. (I have shortened it greatly for publication.) That version also contains virtually all the lines and notes in MCO (a repertoire) of the Evan's Gambit. (Plus a few quotes from other sources.) If you would like a copy of that game to study, please  contact me.

    Page last updated:  December 07, 2002.   Last edit/save on: Friday, August 06, 2010 02:33 AM .    


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