Thursday, October 2, 2008

Paulsen - Morphy, New York, 1857

Paul Morphy competed in only one tournament in his brief career, the First American Chess Congress in 1857. In the final round of this knock-out event, he defeated German master Louis Paulsen by a score of +5=2-1. In this game he demonstrates both his superior grasp of positional play — Black’s control of the center files makes a marked contrast to White’s flailing on the flanks — and his combinative ability, as he finishes the game with a startling Queen sacrifice.

Paulsen - Morphy
New York, 1857


1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Bc5 5. 0-0 0-0 6. Nxe5 Re8

Rather than permit the “fork trick” 6. ... Nxe5 7. d4, Black sacrifices a pawn for rapid development.

7. Nxc6 dxc6 8. Bc4 b5 9. Be2

The seemingly more logical 9. Bb3 fails to 9. ... Bg4 10. Qe1 (or 10. Ne2 Rxe4, winning the pinned Knight) 10. ... b4, and if 11. Na4 Rxe4 traps the White Queen.

9. ... Nxe4 10. Nxe4 Rxe4 11. Bf3 Re6 12. c3?

If White were able to follow up with d2-d4 this would be a good move, but it can’t be done. He should reconcile himself to the modest 12. d3.

12. ... Qd3! 13. b4 Bb6 14. a4 bxa4 15. Qxa4 Bd7 16. Ra2 Rae8

Threatens mate with 17. ... Qxf1+. White’s reply defends against this sacrifice, but allows another, which, however, Paulsen can hardly be blamed for missing. Relatively best was 17. Qd1.

17. Qa6


17. ... Qxf3! 18. gxf3

Morphy took twelve minutes to decide on 17. .. Qxf3, an unusually long time for him. Paulsen, a notoriously slow player, thought for over an hour before capturing the Queen.

18. ... Rg6+ 19. Kh1 Bh3 20. Rd1

Black threatened 20. ... Bg2+ 21. Kg1 Bxf3 mate, and 20. Rg1 fails to 20. ... Rxg1+ 21. Kxg1 Re1+. The key line, which Paulsen probably missed on move 17, is 20. Qd3 (hoping to return the Queen with Qxg6) 20. ... f5!, and White is helpless.

20. ... Bg2+ 21. Kg1 Bxf3+ 22. Kf1 Bg2+ 23. Kg1 Bh3+ 24. Kh1 Bxf2 25. Qf1 Bxf1 26. Rxf1 Re2 27. Ra1 Rh6 28. d4 Be3, White resigns

1 comment:

Jerry said...

I have been enjoying Morphy's games in Valeri Beim's book, Paul Morphy - A Modern Perspective . I just finished the section on America and have started in on his trip to Europe.