domenica 24 giugno 2018

Power of Art

Henry Edward Bird – Paul Charles Morphy
London, August 1858
Philidor Defence C41

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 f5 4. Nc3 fxe4 5. Nxe4 d5 6. Ng3. 6. Nxe5 dxe4 7. Qh5+ g6 8. Nxg6 Nf6 9. Qe5+ (Zukertort) is now regarded as a refutation of the controversial opening line chosen by Morphy, but just keep in mind that he could afford to give anyone in the world any kind of odd. 6. ... e4 7. Ne5 Nf6 8. Bg5. 8. f3! (Keres) was probably the best way to strive for the initiative. 8. ... Bd6 9. Nh5? This very naïve attack will prove to be seriously unsound. 9. c4 (Stockfish) 9. ... 0-0 seems to be a key improvement. 9. ... 0-0 10. Qd2. This move has been also criticised by most commentators, but even 10. Be2 (Beim) would have been answered by 10. ... Qe8 with a very fine game for Black. 10. ... Qe8! 11. g4? “This is, of course, an error, but as Kasparov shows 11. Nxf6+? gxf6 12. Bxf6 is refuted by 12. ... e3! 13. Qxe3 Rxf6 14. Qg5+ Rg6. Best is 11. Bxf6 Qxh5 12. Bg5 when Black has only a small advantage”, Grandmaster Valeri Beim writes in his book “Paul Morphy Una Prospettiva Moderna”, Roma, Prisma Editori, 2008, p. 104. 11. ... Nxg4 12. Nxg4 Qxh5 13. Ne5 Nc6. 13. ... c5! might have been even stronger. 14. Be2 Qh3 15. Nxc6 bxc6 16. Be3 Rb8 17. 0-0-0.


17. ... Rxf2!! “I raise my hat to the great chess artist, but the crude 17. ... Bg4! was correct, or even, according to Euwe, the slow 17. ... Bf5 and ... Bf5-g6”, 13th World Chess Champion Garry Kimovich Kasparov wrote in his book “My Great Predecessors (Part I)”, p. 38. However, as Eugene Alexandrovich Znosko-Borovsky argues in his “The Art of Chess Combination”, New York, Dover Publications, 1959, p. 57, “Note that if Morphy had not sacrificed his Rook it was Bird who would have had the attack on the KKt file, with Queen, two Rooks, and two Bishops in action. The sacrifice is not only one of beautiful ingenuity, it is also very positional”. 18. Bxf2 Qa3!! Morphy’s monumental pointe. 19. c3. 19. Qg5? (Boden) loses right off to 19. ... Rxb2! 20. Qd8+ Bf8 with mate in a few moves. 19. ... Qxa2 20. b4 Qa1+ 21. Kc2 Qa4+ 22. Kb2? “A surprising and mistaken choice; after the natural 22. Kc1 Kasparov’s excellent analysis shows that Black retains a ‘minimal advantage’ with 22. ... Bf5 23. Be1! (stronger than 23. Qe3 Qa2 24. Rhg1 a5 25. Rd2 Qa1+ 26. Kc2 Qa4+ 27. Kb1 axb4 28. Rb2 b3 when Black still has threats – Valeri Beim) 23. ... Qa1+ 24. Kc2 e3+ 25. Kb3 exd2 26. Rxa1 Re8! 27. Ba6 dxe1=Q! 28. Raxe1 Rxe1 29. Rxe1 Bxh2 30. Bb7 Be4 31. Bxc6 Kf7”, Beim writes (op. cit., pp. 105-16), but, indeed, after 22. Kc1 Bf5! 23. Be1! Morphy would have certainly preferred 23. ... e3! 24. Qb2 a5! and Black’s attack will soon become irresistible. 22. ... Bxb4! 23. cxb4 Rxb4+ 24. Qxb4 Qxb4+ 25. Kc2. Or 25. Ka2 c5! winning by force. 25. ... e3! 26. Bxe3 Bf5+ 27. Rd3 Qc4+ 28. Kd2 Qa2+ 29. Kd1 Qb1+ 0 : 1.

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