P. Morphy - S. Amateur 

  Paul Morphy (2850) - Some Amateur (2200)  
Club/Casual Game 
New Orleans, LA;  1858.

  [Annotator = A.J. Goldsby I]  

A new, and completely fresh look at this classic game. 

MODEL  Morphy game.  (White's execution of his attack is PERFECT!!)  


"Morphy's combinations usually ended in a mate, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. Here he resorts 
to a device rarely seen in his time. He simplifies by a series of exchanges, to reach a position where 
the mere threat of a simple pin clinches the win."  - Irving Chernev
("The 1000 Best Short Games of Chess." Game # 898, page # 485.).  

This is game # 163 in the book: 
  "PAUL MORPHYAnd The Evolution of Chess Theory."
    Copyright (c) 1993, by  Macon Shibut.

1.e4 e52.f4 exf43.Nf3 c6!?; ('?!')   
Controls the center square on d5, but takes the best square away from Black's QN. 


     [  The best line for Black was: 3...d5!; 4.exd5 Nf6; 5.Bb5+ c6; 6.dxc6 Nxc6; 7.d4 Bd6
Be6; 9.Ng5 0-0!; {Black has "compensation."} and Black gets a playable game. 

        Another book line is: 3...d6; 4.d4 g5; 5.h4 g4; 6.Ng1 Bh6; 7.Nc3 c6; 8.Nge2 Qf6
        9.g3!,  {"Unclear."}  with complicated play for both sides. 

     (For a complete survey on the  King's Gambit,  visit the  "Best Games"  page  of my 
      main  web-site, {which was formerly a Geo-Cities web site}; 
...  and click on the game"B. Spassky - D. Bronstein."]  


4.Nc3 Bb4?!;  
Black is in a rush to get rid of White's Knight. Yet later in the game, it is the LONG-RANGE 
Bishop that will be the (MUCH) more dangerous of the two minor pieces. 

"A continuing characteristic of all amateurs is that they rush to exchange off enemy Knights, 
 so that the risk of a nasty knight fork is eliminated." - GM E. Mednis

5.Bc4 Bxc3?
Continuing with the idea expressed by his last move. 

GM Mednis notes this is a bad move - mainly because it terribly weakens the dark-squares. 

      [ Much better was: 5...Qe7!?;  "~"  {Diagram?} 
        when Black is congested, but is not yet lost. 

        Several writers have recommended the line: 5...d5; ('!')  6.exd5 Nf6!?; {"Comp."} 
        gambiting a pawn. ].  


White captures away from the center!  (Violating a general guide-line.) 

He opens up his Queen, his QB, pressures the d-file, prevents ...d5;  and threatens to take 
the pawn on f4.

     [ Normally I teach my students to capture towards the center with,  6.bxc3,  but the text 
        is much sharper and much more accurate. ].  


Black tries to develop. 

     [ The move, ...d5 just drops a pawn, while the move 6...d6?!; {Diagram?} gives Black 
        problems defending the d6-square, after 7.Bxf4, "+/"  ]


7.Qd6!{Diagram?} (Maybe - '!!') 
Normally you do not bring out the Queen early. 

But here there are 2 very good reasons for doing so: 
 # 1.)  The Queen on d6 is almost impervious to attack. 
 # 2.)  The Queen on d6 prevents Black from easily developing his entire Queen-side. 

  Notice Black was also threatening ...d5;  (A break in the center.); which White just prevented. 

"Cramping (preventing) the other fellow's development is just as just as important as completing 
 your own." - Irving Chernev

     [  7.0-0 d5!;  "~" etc. ].  


7...0-08.Bxf4 Ng6;  
Black tries to unravel his pieces. (And develop  ... well, sort of anyway.) 

The best and the most aggressive move here. 

     [  A strong version of the computer program 'Crafty' wants to play the 
         move: 9.Be3, "+/="  instead. ].  


Black is trying defend. 
(This may be the best/forced move in this position.) 

     [ Worse is: 9...Qb6?!; 10.0-0-0!, "+/" ].  


With his next move, White offers Black a pawn. 
10.0-0! Kh8; {Diagram?} 
Which Black probably wisely decides not to accept. 

     [  If 10...Qxe4?!11.Bb3,   (11.Nd4!?)   11...b6; 12.Rae1! Qg4; 13.h3 Qh5; 14.Ne5! Nxe5
        This is nearly forced.   (14...Qxg5? 15.Rxf7 Ne7;   (15...Rxf7?; 16.Bxf7+ Kh8; 17.Nxg6+! hxg6;    
          18.Qf8+ Kh7; 19.Qg8+ Kh6; 20.Qh8#  16.Rxe7+ Kh8; 17.Nf7+ Kg8; 18.Nxg5+ Kh8
          19.Re8 h5; 20.Rxf8#   15.Rxe5 h6; {Diagram?} Black has no good move here. 
        16.Be7, "+/-"  and White has a winning attack. ].  


11.Rae1!,        ----------->    --------------->   ----------------->                            (See the diagram just below.)                                 

   The actual position in the game after White's eleventh move, 11.Rae1.  Note that White has developed/mobilized ALL of his pieces!!  (morphy-samat_rp2.jpg, 29 KB)

White has mobilized his entire army! 
(All pieces - or units from the 1st row - have been deployed  ... on good posts.) 

He avoids moving any other piece until every unit is actively engaged!!! 


GM Edmar Mednis  writes: 
"Again admire Morphy's plan: It is only move 11 and ALL of his pieces have been actively and 
purposefully developed; moreover, his King is safely castled. On the other hand, Black is playing 
WITHOUT his Queenside. Under such conditions, combinations appear as if they, ...   
'fell from out of the sky.' "  - GM Edmar Mednis. 
(From the book:  "Practical Opening Tips,"  page # 20.) 

     [ Several Masters have recommended: 11.Nh4!?,  as winning for White. ].  


Black tries to drive White back.  (He can do nothing right now, with White's pieces so 
deeply entrenched in his half of the board.)  

(This move {...f6} is also the first choice of many computer programs.) 

     [ Black could also have tried:  11...b5!?;  12.Bb3, a5;  13.a4!? {Diagram?}  
       White stops Black's pawn advance on the Queen-side. 
         (Also possible was for White to play: 13.Nh4!? "+/") 
       13...bxa4;  14.Bxa4, Ba6;  15.Rf2, f6;  16.Rf2, "+/=" 
        with the clearly better game for White. 
        (NOTE: These lines are NOT re-playable. I added them later.)  ].   


Morphy insists on opening lines! 

     [ White could also play: 12.Nh4!?,  Or 12.Bd2!? ].   


12...f5!; {Diagram?} 
Black wisely tries to keep lines closed. 

Black MUST have been one of several things:  
#1.)  A very strong player, capable of seeing that if he took the Bishop on g5;  that White would 
get a winning attack;  (and/or)  
#2.)  He knew Morphy liked to open the game, and thus he simply wanted to keep the game closed; 
#3.)  He had been destroyed by Morphy before, and was simply terrified of what the great genius 
might do, if given the chance! 

It might have been this, or any number of things - or a combination of the factors listed above - that 
caused Morphy's opponent to play as he did. 

     [  A good example of what happens if Black foolishly OPENS lines is: 12...fxg5?; ('??') 
Na6; 14.Rxf8+ Qxf8; 15.Re4! Nc5; 16.Qxg6! hxg6; 17.Rh4#.  ].  


With his next move, Morphy prepares to break the game wide open by the vigorous pawn push to e6. 
13.Nd4 f414.e6!,   
Morphy single-mindedly continues to pursue open lines. 

(This is one of the  "Morphy Principles"  in action. One of the things Morphy always did VERY 
 SYSTEMATICALLY  was to always open lines - once he had completed his development!!) 

     [  Maroczy pointed out many years later that White could have played: 14.h4! h6;   (14...f3!?); 
hxg5; 16.hxg6 g4!?; 17.Kf2!,  {Diagram?}  with Mate coming on the h-file.  ].   


14...dxe615.Nxe6 Bxe616.Rxe6 Qc8;   
(This move looks forced.) 

It looks as if Black ALMOST has everything under control. But once again, Morphy finds a 
combination that brilliantly exploits Black's sadly under-developed game. 



I also must point out that: 
A.)  Morphy has calculated this entire combination out, even though it is nearly 10 moves long!!;  & 
B.)  Morphy may have had this whole thing planned well in advance! 


  17.Rxg6!!  (Maybe - '!!!')   
An incredibly brilliant, very forceful, and well though-out sacrifice. 

     [ Other methods, such as:  17.h4!?, {"Compensation?"}  are not nearly as good. ].  


17...hxg618.Qxg6, ('!')   
Seemingly ... the obvious move. 
{But did White have a better one?} 

In fact this is such an obvious move ...  that few people have even bothered to look for 
improvements at this particular point.  But this move is not even in the top three picks of 
most strong computer {chess} programs here. 

Going over some old notes, I find that an improvement was suggested by  (one)  Rick Frye 
during one of my 'PCC' (Pensacola Chess Club) lectures. (Circa approximately 1977.) 

But I had forgotten all about this idea until Bjørnar Snoksrud e-mailed me and mentioned 
it again. (This note added: February 11th, 2004.)  

     [ In all likelihood, White could improve with: >/=  
       18.Rf3!! Re8!19.Rxf4! Re1+20.Kf2! Re4!21.Rf8+! Kh7!?; 
       22.Bg8+!, {Diag?}  Much better than simply grabbing the Queen here. 

            ( Also sufficient was: 22.Rxc8!?, ("+/-") {Diagram?}     
              which is probably good enough to make the average player resign. )      

       22...Kh823.Bf7+ Qxf8 
       This is probably forced.  

            ( </= 23...Kh7?!; 24.Qxg6#. )     

       24.Qxf8+ Kh725.Qg8#.  


        White could have also played: (</=)   
         = 18.Rxf4! Rxf419.Qxf4, ("+/-") {Diagram?}  
         and the only way Black can stop mate is to give 
         up the Queen with ...Qg8. ]    (This note does NOT work in js-script.) 


Black must try to defend. (18...Qg4;  19.h3, Qf5;  is similar to the game.) 

     [  Not 18...Na6??; 19.Qh5#]


Now White (temporarily) sacrifices a Queen. 
"Very beautiful!"  exclaims  GM Edmar Mednis

     [  White has a simple win with: 19.Qh5+! Qh720.Qg4!,  Probably the best move here. 
  (The move 20.Qd1!?, "+/=" {Diagram?} is also good for White.)    20...b5!?; {Diagram?} 
        Black is trying to gain some space ... which is preparing to (finally) finish his development. 
          (The continuation: 20...Qf5!?21.Rxf4!; "+/-"  wins - as in the actual game.) 
        21.Be6 Na6!?;  {Diagram?}  Black tries to finish his development.   (21...Qxc2!?;  
          22.Bf6!! Rxf6!?;  There is no good defense here, in this position.   (Or  22...Qh7; 23.Bf5 Qh6;    
            24.Bg5, "+/-"
)     23.Qh5+ Rh6; 24.Qe8+ Kh7; 25.Bg8+ Kh8; 26.Bf7+ Kh7; 27.Qg8#.)  
        22.Rf3, ("+/-") {Diagram?} There is no defense to the threat of Rh3, winning Black's 
        Queen on the h-file. ].  


The next few moves are pretty much all forced.  
19...Qxg620.Rxf8+ Kh721.Bg8+ Kh822.Bf7+ (!)  22...Kh7;  

23.Bxg6+ Kxg6;  
The stage is set for a simple, but elegant conclusion. 

24.Bf4, ('!') Black resigns. 

He is going to lose a piece due to the pin on the back rank. 

One of Morphy's prettiest games, and one that has withstood the rigors of analysis for nearly 150 years. 
(It was also one of   SIX  {6!} games played in a SIMULTANEOUS and BLINDFOLD exhibition!!!) 

(c) A.J. Goldsby I, 2001. © A.J. Goldsby I, 2002. 


I have seen this game in literally dozens of books over the years. 

The two best that I consulted in preparing this game are:  
# 1.)  "Practical (Chess) Opening Tips,"  by  GM Edmar Mednis.  
# 2.)  "The 1000 Best Short Games of Chess,"  (Game # 898, page # 485); 
by the late (great)  IRVING CHERNEV

(Be sure to visit the web page I have constructed for this game at: 

  1 - 0 

   Game posted on my web-site: Friday / June 28th, 2002. 
(Updated on: Wednesday / February 11th, 2004. Last edit on: Tuesday, October 01, 2013 04:35 AM .)

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