domenica 2 dicembre 2018

Before and After

John William Schulten – Paul Charles Morphy
New York, November 1857
King’s Gambit Accepted C33

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Bc4 d5 4. exd5. “4. Bxd5 is more popular”, Géza Maróczy writes in his book “Paul Morphy”, Zürich, Edition Olms AG, 1979, p. 57. 4. ... Nf6 5. Nc3 Bd6 6. d4. “Here 6. Qe2+ deserves consideration”, Maróczy writes (ibidem). Thus, let’s consider 6. Qe2+ Qe7 7. d4 Bf5 8. Nf3 Qxe2+ 9. Kxe2 Bxc2 10. Ne5 0-0 11. Bxf4 Nbd7 with approximate equality, Ivanchuk – Lê Quang Liêm, 2nd IMSA Élite Mind Games, Blitz Event, 淮安 (Huái’ān) 2017. 6. ... 0-0 7. Nge2. “Better was 7. Nf3”, Maróczy says (ibidem).

7. ... f3! “The White King stands in an obstructed file, so Morphy sacrifices his Pawn to prevent the King from castling with safety. It will be remarked that after the sacrifice the defensive power of the White KR and KB Pawn becomes very weak, both of these Pawns being isolated”, Emanuel Lasker wrote in his book “Common Sense in Chess”, New York, Dover Publications, 1965, p. 70. 8. gxf3 Nh5 9. h4. Both Maróczy and Lasker prefer (and suggest) a developing move like 9. Be3, in which case it might follow 9. ... Re8 10. Ne4 Bf5 11. Bd3 Bg6 with a very tense game. 9. ... Re8 10. Ne4 Bg3+ 11. Kd2. Not 11. Kf1?? because of 11. ... Rxe4! 12. fxe4 Qf6+−+ (Maróczy’s analysis). 11. ... Bd6 12. Kc3. “Here he unnecessarily exposes himself to new dangers. 12. c3 would have provided a safe retreat to the King”, Lasker writes (op. cit., p. 71). 12. ... b5!? Morphy doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice a second Pawn in order to target White’s King. 12. ... c6!? was also interesting. 13. Bxb5 c6 (Δ ... Qd8-a5+) 14. Nxd6 Qxd6 15. Ba4? This is White’s decisive mistake. As Maróczy suggested (op. cit., p. 58), “15. Bd3 followed by b2-b3 was preferable, in order to put the King in safety as soon as possible”. Let’s just reconsider the line: 15. Bd3 and here by 15. ... a5! 16. b3 a4! Black should hold the initiative. 15. ... Ba6! 16. Re1 Nd7 17. b3 Nb6! Morphy gives up the third Pawn for launching the decisive assault. 18. Bxc6 Rac8? Oops, this is a very rare inaccuracy by Morphy, who does the right thing with the wrong Rook! Correct was 18. ... Rec8! so as to reply to 19. Kb2 with 19. ... Rxc6! 20. dxc6 Bxe2 winning by force. 19. Kd2? Morphy himself, Maróczy, and Lasker dismissed 19. Kb2! as a dual due to 19. ... Rxc6! 20. dxc6 Bxe2 21. Rxe2?? Na4+! with mate in a few moves, they all overlooking the computer-like move 21. Rb1!! which after 21. ... Na4+! 22. Ka1 Nc3 23. Qd2 Qxc6 leads to an unclear but dynamically balanced game. 19. ... Rxc6! It’s all okay now. 20. dxc6 Bxe2 21. Rxe2 Qxd4+ 22. Ke1 Qg1+ 23. Kd2 Rd8+ 24. Kc3 Qc5+ 25. Kb2 Na4+! 0 : 1.

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