Morphy wins the first American Chess Congress Match 1 Game 2

Jul 20, 2011, 9:08 AM |

Review of the 2nd game of Paul Morphy at the first American chess congress in 1857. Analyzing crucial positions that appeared on the board.


Match 1 :   Morphy, Paul          -      Thompson, James -
Game 2 :                   1                    -                           0


The opening of the game was an old sicilian (B44). Morphy's fifth move is not popular nowadays. With Thompson's reply Be7 we are completely out of book: no later games in the databas seem to have produced the same opening position. 

The game becomes interesting on move 7.  Thompson plays d5 attacking in the centre. Play like Morphy and punish Thompson for this opening mistake!

But being a pawn up doesn't mean that the game is won. And further on in the game we will see positions were Thompson has chances to take the initiative or at least draw the game! But first Morphy is faced with a strategical choice....Thompson plays 10....Nf6. It makes sense for Morphy to trade off pieces. He is one pawn up and the less pieces are left on the board the more significant this small advantage becomes.
After Thompson retakes the knight with his bishop he generates a tactical threat. The best way to spot threats of your opponent is to imagine what the opponent would play if he had the chance to play another move without you making one. We can show the threat that Thompson has by giving Morphy a pass. What would Thompson play if he could play two moves in a row (this move order was not actually possible in te game, but it's illustrative)
Naturally Morphy responded to the threat and he played c3 to defend/attack the d4 square one more time. We move on in the game....
We come to another position where black develops a threat. There are two ways to respond to this immediate threat but one is positionally worse than the other. Morphy chooses the wrong one and creates some weaknesses in his camp.
We arrive at a stage of the game where Thompson had the possibility to grab the initiative and make use of Morphy's previous mistake g3.
The rest of the game we will give untill the end. And once again Morphy made some serious mistakes which Thompson didn't fully cash in on. In the end Thompson threw his advantage away and Morphy gets a winning endgame. Morphy finishes very accurately.