Réti for Morphy - Part II


 I had made an entry called Réti on My Mind.  After reading it, Chess.com member gretagarbo, aware of my interest in Paul Morphy, most generously and thoughtfully sent me the text to Richard Reti's treatment of Morphy's chess from Réti's posthumously published book,  Masters of the Chessboard.

I enjoyed Réti's annotations of some of Morphy's games and figured others may enjoy them also.  Since they were expressed in descriptive notation, I tranferred everything into algebraic and put Réti's notes below (as well as the 21 move game in the game viewer) 

also see Réti's notes on Meek vs Morphy

 Theodor Lichtenhein vs. Paul Morphy

1.e4 e5
2.Nf3 Nc6
3.d4 exd4
4.Bc4 Nf6

    The important think in open positions is to bring all pieces into play as quickly as possible.  In open games it is therefore possible to form a perhaps superficial but rapid and for all practical purposes, often sufficient judgment in regard to a position, by simply counting the pieces that have been developed.  Let us do so in this instance.  White has developed two pieces (King's Knight and King's Bishop) and has played two center pawns, which is absolutely essential for the development of the pieces.  We can therefore count fout tempi (tine-units) in White's position.  Black also has developed two pieces, the two Knights, but has only moved one center pawn, resulting in only three tempi.  Does that mean that White already has an advantage?  The answer in no, because at least for the time being he has one pawn less than Black.  In order to recapture it, he will have to play Nf3xd4 which is not a developing move, since in this case the Knight is already developed on f3.  This means that White in order to regain the pawn will have to give up his advantage in time.  According to this superficial inspection the games are about even.


     Here we again have one of the cases which we have already met in the fifth move of the preceeding game, namely loss of time on account of an attacking move.  While move 5.e5  attacks the Knight on f6 it does not constitute a continuation of the development.  If Black were forced to reply with a defensive move pure and simple, that is to say with a move not contributing to the development of his pieces,  the loss in time would be balanced and the attack of White would be justified.  Morphy however, as in the preceeding game, manages to answer with a developing move and thereby onbtains the advantage in pace.
     The correct move would have been 5. Castles.  Should Black then play 5. ...Nf6xe4, White would recapture the two lost pawns
with 6.Re1  d5  7.Bxd5  Qxd5  8.Nc3!

5. ...d5
6.Bb5 Ne4

     Both sides were forced to move an already developed piece which makes matters even, as far as time is concerned.

7.Nxd4 Bd7

     Let us again count the develped pieces.  White has not progressed any further.  He still has only two pieces developed and has moved the two center pawns which as before give us four tempi.  Black on the other hand has developed three pieces,  the two Knights and the Queen-Bishop and also the two center pawns, i.e. five tempi.  Black therefore is one move ahead in development as a result of the fifth move of White.


     This move constitutes another loss of time, inasmuch as Black, in countering with the pawn, forces White's already developed King Bishop to move again.

8. ...bxc6
9.Bd3 Bc5 


     White so far has lost two tempi.  Let us see whether they appear in our count.  White has one piece developed and has moved the two center pawns which gives him altogether three tempi.  Black has three developed pieces and has also moved the two center pawns, so that White's loss of tempi is plainly recognizable in the position.

10.Bxe4 Qh4
11.Qe2 dxe4

     In the open positions, especially in cases of retarded development, the safety of the King should be the first consideration.
Castling was therefore imperative.

12. ... Bg4


     White resorts to the counter-attack, inasmuch as 13. Qd2 would be hopeless on account of Rd8.   This gives rise to wild combination-play in which the side having the greater number of pieces at his disposal naturally has more favorable prospects.

13. ...Bxe3

     Very nice would be  14. Qxc6+ Bd7  15. Qxa8+ Ke7  16. g3 Bxf2+  17. Kxf2 e3+  18. Ke1 (after 18. Kg1 follows 18. ...e2)  18. ...Qb4+  19. c3 Qxb2  20. Qxh8 Bg4 with an unavoidable mate.

14. ...Qd8
15.fxe3 Qd1+
16.Kf2 Qf3+
17.Kg1 Bh3


                      Now White can no longer cover the mate.

18.Qxc6+ Kf8
19.Qxa8+ Ke7