17 January 2015

Meek -- Morphy 1855

While a student at Spring Hill College on the outskirts of Mobile, Alabama, Paul Morphy traveled the twelve miles into Mobile a couple of times. During one of these visits, he played three games with Judge Alexander Beaufort Meek, who was serving as judge of the probate court there. Morphy won. Meek and Morphy would again square off at the First American Chess Congress two years later

One of the games played in Mobile was selected by Rashid Ziyatdinov for inclusion in GM-RAM: Essential Grandmaster Knowledge and is the source for three "essential middlegame positions" therein. I am going through the 59 games in Ziyatdinov's book at the rate on one per week. The tag, "Game of the Week 2015," links to my comments on these games.

Meek,Alexander Beaufort -- Morphy,Paul  [C44]
Mobile, 01.03.1855

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5

Two years later, Morphy would play 4...Nf6 5.e5 d5 6.Bb5

(6.exf6 dxc4 7.fxg7 Bxg7 appears good for Black)

6...Ne4 7.Nxd4 Bd7 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.Bd3 Bc5 10.Bxe4 Qh4 11.Qe2 dxe4 12.Be3 Bg4 13.Qc4 Bxe3 14.g3 Qd8 15.fxe3

(15.Qxc6+ Bd7 16.Qc3 Bb6-+)

15...Qd1+ 16.Kf2 Qf3+ 17.Kg1 Bh3 18.Qxc6+ Kf8 19.Qxa8+ Ke7 0–1 Lichtenhein,T -- Morphy,P, New York 1857.


Black to move
GM-RAM Position 147
This position occurs in a dubious and uncommon gambit line. Why does it merit inclusion in Ziyatdinov's 120 "essential middlegame positions"?

Perhaps the answer stems from the forcing tactics. An error by Black here could lead to a rapid collapse.


5...Ne5 scores poorly 6.Nxf7

(6.Bxf7+ Nxf7 7.Nxf7 Bb4+ 8.c3 dxc3 9.bxc3 Bxc3+ 10.Nxc3 Kxf7 11.Qd5+ Kf8 12.Ba3+ d6 13.e5 Qg5, Cochrane,J -- Deschapelles,A, Paris 1821. White clearly has the better game and won in 31 moves.)

6...Nxf7 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxc5 d6 10.Qxd4, NN -- Alekhine,A, Kislovodsk 1907/EXT 2007. Black has dropped a pawn because he has an undeveloped knight instead of one on c6. Nonetheless, Alekhine won in 21 moves.


6.Bxf7+ leads to the same position 6...Nxf7 7.Nxf7 Kxf7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxc5.

6.Qh5!? also merits study. There are pitfalls for Black after any inaccurate moves.

6...Nxf7 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxc5 d6

White to move

Black's king looks exposed, but White is ill-prepared to attack. Rather, Black seizes the initiative. It is my understanding that Ziyatdinov expects the aspiring student to instantly perceive this position as one possible consequence of that in Position 147.


10.Qc4+ Be6 11.Qd3 with a slight edge for Black.

10...Re8 11.Qb3+

11.0–0 seems better than Meek's move.

a) 11...a6 12.Qb3+ Kg7 13.Qd3;

b) 11...Re5 12.Qd3 Qe7 13.Nd2 Kg7 14.f4 Rh5

b1) 15.b4!? a6 (15...Qh4 16.h3) 16.Bb2 Qh4 (16...Nxb4 17.Qxd4+ Kf7 18.Qxb4+-) 17.h3.

b2) 15.Nf3 Qf6 16.Bd2 Bg4 17.c3 Bxf3 18.Rxf3 Re8 and drawn in 57 moves, Forgacs,A (2256) -- Piroska,I (2153), Dunaujvaros 2011

c) 11...Rxe4 12.Qd5+ Re6

11...d5 12.f3

12.0–0 still seems sensible.

12...Na5 13.Qd3


13...dxe4 14.fxe4 Qh4+ 15.g3

15.Kf1 Rxe4 16.Qg3 Qg4 Black has the upper hand.

Black to move


Morphy's most important inaccuracy.

15...Qxe4+! 16.Qxe4 (16.Kd2 Qg2+ 17.Kd1 Bg4+ 18.Qf3+ Bxf3#) 16...Rxe4+ 17.Kf2–+.


16.Kd1 Bg4+ 17.Kd2 Qg5+ 18.Qe3 Qxe3#.

16.Be3!! Qg4 with a slight advantage for Black.

16...Qe7 17.Nd2

17.Bg5 seems better. 17...Qe5 18.Nd2 Bf5 19.Nxe4 Bxe4 Black has the upper hand.

17...Re3–+ 18.Qb5

18.Qxd4 Re2+ 19.Kg1 Bh3 20.Qd5+ Kf8 21.Nf1 Rg2+ 22.Qxg2 Bxg2 23.Kxg2–+.

18...c6 19.Qf1

19.Qxa5 is worse. 19...Re2+ 20.Kg1 (20.Kf3 Qe3#) 20...Qe3+ 21.Kf1 Qf2#.

Black to move
GM-RAM Position 148
19...Bh3 20.Qd1

20.Qxh3 Re2+ 21.Kf3 (21.Kf1 Re1+ 22.Kg2 Qe2#) 21...Qe3+ 22.Kg4 h5+ 23.Qxh5 gxh5+ (23...Qe6+ 24.Kh4 gxh5 25.Rf1+ Kg6 26.Rf6+ Qxf6+ 27.Kh3 Qf5+ 28.Kh4 Qg4#) 24.Kh4 Kg6 25.Ne4 Qxe4+ 26.Bf4 Rxh2+ 27.Rxh2 Qf5 and mate next move.

Black to move
GM-RAM Diagram 149
It may seem odd that Ziyatdinov offers two diagrams separated by a single move. However, the first is justified because the offer of a decoy sacrifice leads to a forced checkmate in nine moves. In the second, Black's victory is certain with correct play even though checkmate is not imminent.

20...Rf8 21.Nf3 Ke8 22.Bd2

22.Bxe3 Qxe3#.

22.Re1 Rfxf3+ 23.Qxf3 Rxf3+ 24.Kxf3 Qxe1–+.

22...Qe4 23.Kg1 Rexf3 24.Qxf3 Rxf3 25.Re1 Rf1+

25...Qxe1+ 26.Bxe1 Rf1#.

26.Rxf1 Qg2# 0–1

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