03 January 2013

A Famous Pattern

In Three Hundred Chess Games, Siegbert Tarrasch refers to he and his opponent following patterns from games played by the two strongest players in history. Today, we would not call Paul Morphy and Adolf Anderssen the strongest players ever, but young players in the 1870s had a different perspective. Tarrasch was a teenager when this game was played. Aside from the record of eight games lost to Tarrasch, little is known of Mendelsohn. Presumably, he was older than Tarrasch. Tarrasch mentions concerning the Anderssen chess club in Breslau, "I soon became a regular guest at this club and the only difference between me and the regular players was that I was younger and a stronger player" (9).

Tarrasch,Siegbert -- Mendelsohn,Jozsef [A25]
Breslau, 1879

1.a3 e5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.e3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.Be2 Nxc3

Tarrasch comments:
Both sides follow the famous patterns of Anderssen and Morphy. The latter used to make this faulty exchange, which reinforces White's center considerably. (11)
White to move

The rest of this game is posted in "Lesson of the Week" (2 January 2013). Of interest today is that the diagram position appears in two games in the online ChessBase database: Tarrasch -- Mendelsohn, 1879 and Santos -- Campos, 2009. Why not Anderssen -- Morphy? 3...Nc6 was not played by Morphy. Perhaps Mendelsohn thought he found an improvement. Perhaps he followed famous games with a faulty memory.

1.a3 is called the Anderssen Opening because he played the move three times in his match with Morphy. Those games quickly transposed into a variation of the English Opening. Anderssen's opening move was designed to remove Morphy from home preparation. Anderssen lost his first effort, but he drew the second and won a long battle in the third.

Aspiring players in the 1870s would have studied these games. Their moves would have been imitated in hundreds of games that were not recorded, and others recorded but for which the records did not survive. Perhaps there is still a game score or two in an attic somewhere, deteriorating from the acid in the paper.

Anderssen,Adolf - Morphy,Paul [A22]
Paris m2 Paris (6), 1858

1.a3 e5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e3 Be6 6.Nf3 Bd6 7.Be2 0–0 8.d4 Nxc3 9.bxc3 e4 10.Nd2 f5 11.f4

Black to move

After Mendelsohn's sixth move, Tarrasch comments that the bishop belongs on d6. That's where Morphy developed it. His comment that both sides are following "the famous patterns" does not elucidates the variances between Mendelsohn's play and that of Morphy.


Despite winning this game, Morphy varied in the next. Stockfish concurs that 11...Qh4+ is an improvement.

12.Bc4 Bxc4 13.Nxc4 gxf4 14.exf4 Qe8 15.0–0 Qc6 16.Qb3 Qd5 17.Rb1 b6 18.Qa2

18.Ne5 maintains an advantage for White.

18...c6 19.Qe2 Nd7 20.Ne3 Qe6 21.c4 Nf6 22.Rb3 Kf7 23.Bb2 Rac8 24.Kh1 Rg8 25.d5 cxd5 26.cxd5 Qd7 27.Nc4 Ke7 28.Bxf6+ Kxf6

White to move

Rh3!+- exploits the vulnerability of the Black king. Anderssen miscalculated, playing the combination in the wrong sequence. Consequently, he gave Morphy an opportunity to escape. Morphy seized this opportunity, and a subsequent errors by White gave the American the win.

Both sides have made errors

29...Kf7 30.Rh3 Rg7 31.Qd4 Kg8 32.Rh6 Bf8 33.d6 Rf7 34.Rh3 Qa4 35.Rc1 Rc5 36.Rg3+ Bg7 37.h3 Kh8 38.Rxg7 Rxg7 39.Rc3 e3

White to move

Playing for checkmate without observing the refutation, Anderssen misses the draw. 40.Qf6!=

40...Rxc4 41.Qf6 Rc1+ 42.Kh2 Qxf4+ 0–1

There's plenty in this game that merited study by Tarrasch and his adversaries.

Anderssen,Adolf - Morphy,Paul [A22]
Paris m2 Paris (8), 1858

1.a3 e5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e3 Be6 6.Nf3 Bd6 7.Be2 0–0 8.d4 Nxc3 9.bxc3 e4 10.Nd2 f5 11.f4 Qh4+!N 12.g3 Qh3 13.Bf1 Qh6 14.c4 c6 15.c5 Bc7 16.Bc4 Nd7 17.0–0 b5 18.cxb6 axb6 19.Qb3 Rfe8 20.Bb2 b5 21.Bxe6+ Qxe6 22.Qc2 Qd5 23.Rfc1 Ra6 24.a4 Rea8 25.axb5 Qxb5 26.Qc4+ Qxc4 27.Nxc4 Rxa1 28.Bxa1 Nf6 29.Bc3 Ra2 30.Bd2 Nd5 31.Kf1 Bd8 32.Ke1 Be7 33.Rb1 h6 34.Ne5 c5 35.dxc5 Bxc5 36.Rb5 Nxe3 37.Rxc5 Ng2+ 38.Ke2 e3 39.Nf3 g6

Morphy's novelty first gave him equality, and then he seized the initiative. However, Anderssen defended well and Morphy did not play the most exact moves throughout. Now Anderssen missed an opportunity.

White to move


40...Kf7 41.Rd6 Kg7 42.h4 exd2 43.Rxd2 Ra4 44.Kf2

Black to move

Morphy's desperado secures the draw.

45.gxf4 Rxf4 46.Rd4 Rxd4 47.Nxd4 Kf6 48.Ke3 g5 49.h5 Ke5 50.Nf3+ Kf6 51.Nd4 Ke5 ½–½

Anderssen,Adolf - Morphy,Paul [A22]
Paris m2 Paris (10), 1858

1.a3 e5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e3 Be6 6.Nf3 Bd6 7.Be2 0–0 8.0–0 Nxc3 9.bxc3 f5 10.d4 e4 11.Nd2 Rf6 12.f4 Rh6 13.g3 Nd7 14.Nc4 Bxc4 15.Bxc4+ Kh8 16.Ra2 Qe7 17.a4 Nf6 18.Qb3 b6 19.Be6 Re8 20.Bc4 Ng4 21.Rg2 Rb8 22.Be2 Nf6

White to move

Did Tarrasch deduce that the pawn is better on c3? He criticized Morphy's (and Mendelsohn's) move that placed it there. The queenside advance pursued with Anderssen's move here might have been more effective with the a-pawn while their was still a rook on the a-file. For instance, 19.a5!?

In the spirit of Tarrasch, this game merits close study of the positional elements not yet understood when Anderssen and Morphy battled.

23...c6 24.Bb2 Qf7 25.Qc2 Be7 26.Bc3 Rg8 27.Ra1

Now, 27.Rb1 was better.

27...g5? 28.fxg5 Rxg5

White to move

Morphy's error on the kingside facilitates the effectiveness of Anderssen's queenside activity.

29...Bd6 30.axb6 axb6 31.Ra8+ Rg8 32.Qa4 Rxa8 33.Qxa8+ Qe8 34.Qxe8+ Nxe8 35.c5 Bc7

Anderssen chose the route of simplification in order to maximize his superior minor pieces and activity on the queenside.

White to move

36.Bc4 Kg7 37.cxb6 Bxb6 38.Rb2 Bc7 39.Rb7 Kf6 40.Bb4 Rg6 41.Bf8 h5 42.Kf2 h4 43.gxh4 Rg4 44.h5 Rh4 45.h6 Rxh2+ 46.Kg1 Rh3 47.Bf1 Rg3+ 48.Kf2 Rg4 49.Bc4

White's inaccurate play has let Black back into the game.

Black to move

49...f4 was the only move. Morphy's choice is second best, but it restores the decisive advantage that Anderssen had squandered.

50.Bg8 Bd6 51.Bxd6 Nxd6 52.Rd7 Ne8 53.h7 Kg5 54.Re7 Nd6 55.Re6 Nc4 56.Rxc6 Nd2 57.Ke2 Rh2+ 58.Kd1

Black to move

58...f4 was the only move yet again. As Anderssen cannot find the way to convert his advantage, Morphy finds ways to help him secure the win.

59.Rc7 Kg6 60.d5 f4 61.exf4 e3 62.Re7 e2+ 63.Rxe2 Rh1+ 64.Kc2 Nd4+ 65.Kd2 Nxe2 66.Kxe2 Kg7

White to move

With a bishop's help, three disconnected passed pawns are too much for Morphy's rook.

67.Ke3 Re1+ 68.Kd4 Rf1 69.Ke5 Re1+ 70.Kf5 Rd1 71.Be6 Rd4 72.Ke5 Rd1 73.f5 Rh1 74.f6+ Kxh7 75.Kd6 Ra1 76.Ke7 Ra7+ 77.Bd7 1–0

Tarrasch's Three Hundred Chess Games is one of those books that merits reading clear through per my New Year's Resolutions. When one game, however, sends me off to research its predecessors in this manner, the reading will require years.

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