14 November 2012

Lesson of the Week

This week's lesson for my youth chess clubs concerns a game that Paul Morphy won against two men, both French royalty, who collaborated in determining the moves for Black. The game was played at the Paris opera in 1858, and is well-known for the final combination. The checkmate motif known as the Opera Mate derives from this game.

Morphy,Paul - Count Isouard and the Duke of Brunswick [C41]
Paris, 1858

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Bg4

"Nowadays every schoolboy knows this is bad, but in those days it was even played by Harrwitz!"
Garry Kasparov, My Great Predecessors, vol. 1 (2003) 39.

4.dxe5 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 dxe5 6.Bc4 Nf6?

Kasparov points out the alternatives:

6...Qf6 7.Qb3 Bc5
(7...b6?! 8.Nc3 Ne7? 9.Nb5 Na6 10.Qa4 Nc5 11.Nd6+ Kd8 12.Qe8# was published by Greco, according to Kasparov)
8.0–0 Bb6 9.a4 a5 10.Nc3 Ne7 11.Be3 Nd7 12.Rad1;

6...Qd7 7.Qb3

I did not go through these variations with the young players, but spent a minute explaining how White would have won a pawn had Black played 4...dxe5. This alternative was presented to explain Kasparov's comment about 3...Bg4.


Black to move


7...Bd6 8.Bxf7+;
7...Qd7 8.Qxb7


Morphy did not play the best move, but he made a move that illustrates his principles and the reason for his success: he always sought to bring more pieces into the battle.

Black's idea behind 7...Qe7 is made clear by 8.Qxb7 Qb4+ 9.Qxb4 Bxb4+ 10.Bd2;
Kasparov suggests the best line for White as 8.Bxf7+ Kd8 (8...Qxf7 9.Qxb7) 9.Qxb7 Qb4+ 10.Qxb4 Bxb4+ 11.c3 "Black can resign."

8...c6 9.Bg5 b5

9...Na6 is no better 10.Bxa6 bxa6 11.Qc4 h6 12.Bxf6 gxf6 13.0–0–0;
Nor is 9...Qc7 10.0–0–0 Bc5 11.Bxf7+ Qxf7 12.Rd8+

White to move

10.Nxb5! cxb5 11.Bxb5+ Nbd7

I made certain in my comments that the young players observed Morphy's relentless activation of all of his forces, and his effective use of pins.

11...Kd8 is met by 12.0–0–0+

12.0–0–0 Rd8

12...Qb4 is met by 13.Bxf6

White to move


"The point of this sacrifice is quite simple. On the next move, White temporarily obtains a decisive material advantage in the only important area of the board. This is the dynamic of chess--everything is evaluated in motion and everything hanges instantly!" Valerie Beim, Paul Morphy: A Modern Perspective (2005), 127.

13...Rxd7 14.Rd1 Qe6

14...Qb4 is met by 15.Bxf6


Black to move


15...Qxd7 also loses 16.Qb8+ Ke7 17.Qxe5+ Kd8 18.Bxf6+ gxf6 19.Qxf6+ Kc7 20.Rxd7+ Kxd7 21.Qxh8;

15...Ke7 loses to 16.Qb4+ Qd6 17.Qxd6+ Kd8 18.Qb8+ Ke7 19.Qe8#;

15...Kd8 is refuted by 16.Qb8+ Ke7 17.Qe8#

16.Qb8+ Nxb8 17.Rd8# 1–0

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for refreshing this classic in my memory.

    Great job on the blog! More frequent posts though please!