13 December 2012

Lesson of the Week

This week marks the last lesson from the games of Paul Morphy that most of my young pupils will get this school year. The Tuesday clubs get one final Morphy lesson next week, but the others begin their winter holiday instead of meeting next week. In January, the lessons will come from the games of Seigbert Tarrasch.

When Morphy left for Europe, Adolf Anderssen was acknowledged as the world's top player. When Morphy returned home, Anderssen praised Morphy's skill as superior to his own. In Paul Morphy: A Modern Perspective (2005), Valeri Beim reproduces several quotes from Anderssen, including this one from Harold C. Schonberg, Die Grossmeister des Schachs (1976).

I consider Mr. Morphy the finest chess player who ever existed. He is far superior to any now living, and would doubtless have beaten Labourdonnais himself. In all his games with me, he has not only played, in every instance, the exact move, but the most exact. He never makes a mistake, but, if his adversary commits the slightest error, he is lost.
Beim, 151.
Anderssen's words clearly contain a bit of hyperbole. Morphy could not have always played the "most exact move" nor avoided all mistakes, and still managed to lose three games to Anderssen. Still, Morphy dominated the match, and the casual games that followed, winning twelve of seventeen games.

This week's lesson is from their seventh match game. As was frequently the case in Morphy's play, his pieces are more active. Beim's study concludes that Morphy had an outstanding feel "for the initiative, piece development, and the factor of the interaction of the pieces" (154).

Morphy,Paul - Anderssen,Adolf [B01]
Paris 1858

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 e5 5.dxe5 Qxe5+ 6.Be2 Bb4 7.Nf3 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 Qxc3+ 9.Bd2 Qc5 10.Rb1 Nc6 11.0–0 Nf6 12.Bf4 0–0 13.Bxc7 Nd4 14.Qxd4 Qxc7 15.Bd3 Bg4 16.Ng5 Rfd8 17.Qb4 Bc8 18.Rfe1 a5 19.Qe7 Qxe7 20.Rxe7 Nd5

White to move

21.Bxh7+ Kh8

21...Kf8 is worse 22.Rxf7+ Ke8 23.Re1+ Be6 24.Rxe6+ Ne7 25.Rexe7#

22.Rxf7 Nc3 23.Re1 Nxa2

23...Bd7 24.Bg6 Bc6 25.Rfe7 Rd1 26.Nf7+ Kg8 27.Rxd1 Nxd1 28.Nd6+-

24.Rf4 Ra6 25.Bd3 1–0

Prerequisite to discussing this lesson is completion of the week's worksheet.

Beginning Tactics 9

Find the correct move for White in each diagram. Draw an arrow showing the move. If you promote a pawn, write the name of the piece the pawn becomes.

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