Morphy wins the first American Chess Congress Match 1 Game 1

Jul 19, 2011, 1:54 PM |

Review of the 1st game of Paul Morphy at the first American chess congress in 1857. Analyzing crucial positions that appeared on the board.


Match 1 :   Thompson, James - Morphy, Paul
Game 1 :                          0             -                 1

The opening of the game was a Giuoco Pianissimo (C50). On move 6 Thompson played Nc3-e2 which is a move that hasn't really been played in the later history of that opening. Move 8 by Morphy is also an idea which seems quite peculiar nowadays. Both players want to play on the king side.  

Morphy plays 8...Kh8. His idea is to move his king out of the pin of white's bishop and to prepare f5. Morphy wants to trade off white's central pawn on e4 for the pawn on f5. 

Morphy succeeded in playing f5. The following interesting position arises on the board. Thompson captures the pawn on f5. The chess engine Rybka agrees with that choice, but there is one downside to the move. Thompson looses influence in the centre by moving his central pawn to f5, away from the centre.  
Tactics: Black can't retake the pawn with his bishop because then there is a winning tactic for white. What did Thompson have in mind when he put his queen on c2? 

But Morphy is not interested in recapturing the pawn. He starts to move his pawns in the centre. The area where white just weakened his position.

And now we arrive at the critical moment in the game. There is only one move that keeps a clear advantage for white. Can you find it for Thompson, because he didn't....

In this critical position Thompson played a bad move. And Morphy finishes the game in style from there on....