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Myth and Reality

  • GM Gserper
  • | Mar 13, 2011
  • | 11752 views
  • | 49 comments

We all know popular myths that can easily be refuted just by checking the facts. Ones like "A penny dropped from the Empire State Building will kill a person" or "Thomas Edison invented the light bulb." I am sure you know many popular but false statements like these. But what about chess, do we have any common beliefs shared by 99% of chessplayers and yet completely false?  You betcha! Here is an example:

"After the moves 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nd4 White cannot take the e5 pawn or he will lose miserably." The next little trap is usually shown as a proof:

 

Since I already analyzed this trap and its refutation in my very first article for chess.com, let me just give you a link to this article: http://www.chess.com/article/view/an-important-lesson-from-my-youth

Now let me address the most popular myth (at least amongst lower rated players). Whenever I talk with my students about the Two Knights Defense they don't miss an opportunity to mention  "yeah, yeah, that winning Nxf7 sacrifice, I really love it!"  You probably already know what they are talking about.  The position arises after 1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 and now 6.  Nxf7!?! The first exclam is given to this move for it's psychological impact and ?! is given for the true strength of the move.  You can see the following moves in almost every single scholastic tournament. Heck, one of my very first tournament games went this way!

 

Here to my horror I realized that I managed to lose a pawn, the right to castle and my opponent threatens to checkmate me in one move! To make a long story short, I lost quickly and miserably.  But if Black follows the old analysis of GM Paul Keres and protects his extra Knight, then the outcome of the game becomes unclear.  Here is this line which was published more than 60 years ago:


Fortunately, more than 150 years ago, the legendary Paul Morphy showed the correct way to punish 5...Nxd5? The next little attacking gem is typical for Morphy's style.  The game is given as a quiz so you have a chance to test your attacking skills, and compare your moves to the moves actually played by Morphy.  Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list".


Now, let me recap: 6.Nxf7?! sacrifices a Knight and leads to an unclear position, while the simple 6.d4! line, known for over 150 years, doesn't require an unclear sacrifice and leads to a clear advantage for White. So, which line is by far the most popular? Why, 6.Nxf7?! of course!

Comments


  • 2 years ago

    NimzoRoy

    amrita1 Try going thru the rest of the comments here to answer your question.

  • 2 years ago

    nyLsel

    Nice article!

  • 3 years ago

    NimzoRoy

    Thanks GM Gserper for a thought-provoking article...on light bulbs! Just kidding... :)

    Seriously in the July 2010 issue of Chess Life Dan Heisman (with help from Rybka) claims that 5...Nf7 is playable because 6.d4 only leads to a marginal edge (+=) for white at best. 

  • 3 years ago

    NM GreenLaser

    The only comment that can turn a light bulb is one made by a spin doctor.

  • 3 years ago

    madpawn

    Light bulbs aside, this is a great article for its content and for the humorous replies.

  • 3 years ago

    mottsauce

    I thought that d4 had been refuted after not ...exd4?! where black opens up lines towards his own king, but Bb4! c3 Be7.

  • 3 years ago

    Dadg777

    Tiny Elvis helped invent the tall salt shaker.  Oh, man, that thing is huuuge!

    If you don't believe me, you ain't nothin' but a hound dog.

  • 3 years ago

    mf92

    How many comments does it take to turn a light bulb?- Always one too much

  • 3 years ago

    algorithm_guy

    So what you're saying is that my "tricks" won't work on people who know what they are doing?

  • 3 years ago

    NM GreenLaser

    How many comments does it take to turn a light bulb?

  • 3 years ago

    jesterville

    The arguement that Edison invented the lightbulb because he made the first practical one is laughable...

    Most inventions at their inception are not practical, does that mean that the people who invented them did not "invent" them? By this logic the Wright Brothers did not invent the airplane because it was not practical (their plane could not stay up for very long)... I guess "Lockheed" or "Boeing" invented the airplane then Laughing.

    ...and we could go on and on...No, Edison did not invent the lightbulb...he improved on it...

  • 3 years ago

    rccap

    man!

  • 3 years ago

    NimzoRoy

    BTW Alexander Graham Bell didn't invent the telephone either, as long as we're debunking the alleged light bulb inventor Edison.  Edison actually invented very little, but he did take credit for everything invented at his laboratory by others.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/jun/17/humanities.internationaleducationnews

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3253174.stm

  • 3 years ago

    chessproblemo

    Ah, so that's one of the reasons Bobby recommened d4 instead of Nf7. He simply relied on his vast memory of games. 

  • 3 years ago

    Darthstapler8

    Actually 6. d4 has been refuted

  • 3 years ago

    jfiquett

    Hurray for blackmar shilling

  • 3 years ago

    pathfinder416

    "YOUR ALL FOOLS! I CREATED THE LIGHTBULB RIGHT AFTER I WAS DECLARED KING OF IDAHO!"

    Calm down, you're hysterical. Or drunk. You invented the potato battery, not the lightbulb.

     

  • 3 years ago

    chesswiz625

    Early evolution of the light bulb

    Thank wikipedia, and let's hope this ends all discussion on the lightbulb.

  • 3 years ago

    Bojanglesryan

    YOUR ALL FOOLS! I CREATED THE LIGHTBULB RIGHT AFTER I WAS DECLARED KING OF IDAHO!

  • 3 years ago

    Grayone

    Electric light bulb was invented by a Canadian Henry Woodward. He invented an electric light bulb in 1874 and sold the patent to Thomas Edison. However this does support the idea that world in riddled with misconceptions as with this positional openning.

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