20 November 2012

Lesson of the Week

Henry Bird played top level chess for the last half of the nineteenth century. He was an accountant in his career, but played chess as often as possible. He was 28 years old when he played a match against Paul Morphy (scoring a mere 1.5 in twelve games). Despite the lopsided result, he tested Morphy's skill. As Morphy played stronger and stronger opponents in Europe, his skill grew.

This week's lesson contains two tactical positions from a wild King's Gambit.

Morphy,Paul - Bird,Henry Edward [C30]
London 1858

1.e4 e5 2.f4 Bc5 3.Nf3 d6 4.c3 Bg4 5.Bc4 Nc6 6.b4 Bb6 7.a4 a6 8.h3 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 Nf6 10.d3 Qe7 11.f5 Rd8 12.Bg5 Nb8 13.Nd2 c6 14.Nf1 d5 15.Bb3 Qd6 16.Ng3 0–0 17.Nh5 dxe4 18.dxe4 Nxh5

White to move

19.Rd1 Qc7

19...Bd4 was better, leading to 20.Bxd8 Rxd8 21.Bxf7+ Kxf7 22.Qxh5+ Kg8 23.cxd4+-

20.Bxd8 Rxd8 21.Rxd8+ Qxd8 22.Qxh5 Be3 23.Qd1

Morphy might have played 23.Bxf7+ Kf8 24.Qe2 Bg5 25.Be6+-

23...Qh4+ 24.Ke2 Bb6

Perhaps more stubborn, but still losing is 24...Qf2+ 25.Kd3 Qg3 26.Qe2

25.Kd3 Nd7 26.Qg4 Qf2

Bird might have played 26...Qd8 27.Qe2 a5 28.Kc2 Qc7

White to move

27.f6 1–0

Morphy ends the game with an instructive double attack. If the knight takes the pawn, 28.Qc8+ leads to mate after Black blocks the check with bishop, then knight. If the queen captures the pawn, 28.Qxd7 wins the knight and threatens checkmate.

Black can throw in some spite checks beginning with 27...Qe3+, but once the White king finds security on the queenside, the checkmate threats remain.

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