24 January 2015

Schulten -- Morphy 1857

Game of the Week

My training regimen varies. I use several tactics training resources, both print and electronic. I go through many games most weeks. I study classic games and sometimes follow Grandmaster games as they develop in real time (see "So -- Vachier-Lagrave"). Endgames are a regular element of study, too. During the early weeks of a correspondence game, I often go through many games in the opening that is developing. For one particular game currently in progress, I went through every game published in Chess Informant in that particular variation (over 100 games). I use Chess.com's Chess Mentor.

As chess study bounces about from one topic to another, I usually have an ongoing project that represents a constant: something I return to every few days over many months. For the present, I am working through the 59 games in GM_RAM: Essential Grandmaster Knowledge (2000) by Rashid Ziyatdinov. One game per week.* I started in December 2014. If I persist to the end, this project will conclude in early 2016.

Ziyatdinov's seventh game is a Paul Morphy miniature. His opponent, Johann Schulten, opted for the King's Gambit, which Morphy met with the Falkbeer Counter Gambit. The Falkbeer is one of Black's most promising lines against the King's Gambit. My own performance on the White side of the Falkbeer suggest plenty of room for improvement. As Schulten in this game, I often find myself in a bit of trouble rather quickly.

Although Ziyatdinov's 59 games are presented as the source for 120 middle game positions, errors in the opening quickly demand my attention. Each morning for the past several days, I have spend a little time going through this game. But until today, I did not attend to Morphy's concluding combination. Rather, Schulten's errors large and small in the first twelve moves have captured my attention.

Schulten,J -- Morphy,Paul  [C32]
New York, 1857

1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 e4 4.Nc3

4.d3 seems more precise. It is both more popular than 4.Nc3 and scores better for White. In my own games with White, 4.Nc3 has been my choice more often.

4...Nf6 5.d3

5.Qe2 is an interesting possibility.

5...Bb4 6.Bd2 e3 7.Bxe3

Black to move

Black has a lot of compensation for the two pawns. Black has seized the initiative.


7...Nxd5 does not seem as strong. 8.Bd2 Bxc3 9.Bxc3 (9.bxc3) 9...Nxc3 10.bxc3 Qf6 11.Qd2.

8.Bd2 Bxc3 9.bxc3

9.Bxc3 seems playable 9...Re8+ 10.Be2 Nxd5 11.Qd2.

9...Re8+ 10.Be2 Bg4 11.c4


11.h3 Qxd5 12.Kf2 Qc5+ 13.Kg3 Nh5+ 14.Kh2 Bxe2 15.Nxe2 Nc6 16.Nd4 Nf6 17.Nxc6 Qxc6 18.c4 Rad8 19.Re1 Rxe1 20.Bxe1 Re8 21.Bh4 Re6 22.Qd2 Rd6 23.Re1 Qxc4 24.Bxf6 gxf6 25.Re8+ Kg7 26.Qe3 1–0 Pridorozhni,A (2524) -- Karpov,A (2330) Khanty-Mansiysk 2008


White to move


This move is the most critical error of the game.

12.h3 might be the only move. Black retains an advantage, but White's position is playable.

12...Nxc6 13.Kf1 Rxe2!–+ 14.Nxe2 Nd4 15.Qb1 Bxe2+ 16.Kf2 

16.Kg1 is worse 16...Nxc2 17.h3 (17.Qxc2 Qd4+ 18.Be3 Qxe3#) 17...Qxd3 18.Qc1 Ne4 (18...Nxa1).

16...Ng4+ 17.Kg1 Nf3+ 18.gxf3 Qd4+ 19.Kg2 Qf2+ 20.Kh3 Qxf3+ 21.Kh4 

The game score ends here. Maybe Morphy pointed out the checkmate in three.

21.Kh4 Ne3 22.Rg1 Nf5+ 23.Kg5 Qh5#


*My week begins on Wednesday due to teaching a college history course that meets 6:00-10:00pm on Tuesdays. This course end in mid-February, but has set the training schedule for the year.

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