Storming the Castle
"Morphy's career marks a grand epoch in the history of our pastime, and a careful study of his games will always be essential for the purpose of acquiring a complete knowledge of the direct attack against the King, which forms a most important element in mastering our science." - William Steinitz
"To this day Morphy is an unsurpassed master of the open games. Just how great was his significance is evident from the fact that after Morphy nothing substantially new has been created in this field." - Mikhail Botvinnik
Louis Paulsen, 1857
"...he sits there with his face so lamb-pious as if he wanted to convey the impression that he could not do any harm to a child; but when he executes a move with an expression so really harmless and pretending tiredness, one can always presume that he is just preparing the greatest meanness." - the ever affable Adolf Anderssen describing Paul Morphy
On November 8, 1857 delicate Paul Morphy and rugged Louis Paulsen sat down to play their 6th tournament game together in the final round of the 1st American Chess Congress held in New York City. Morphy had already won 2, drew 2 and lost 1 against Paulsen. The first to win 5 games would win the tournament. Paulsen's painfully slow play in the previous games had exasperated Morphy who, as a result, was determined never to lose to Paulsen again. This game would last a total of 4 hours with Paulsen utilizing the great majority of that time in that pre-clock era. In this game Morphy demonstrated his prowess and technique in storming the enemies castled position - based on a much deeper understanding of the position than his rivals. The Art of Defense possessed by his opponents had not yet reach a level equal to the Art of Attack possessed by Morphy.
On the board below, Paulsen, playing as White, had just moved his Queen to a6, offering to exchange Queens, and Morphy spent only 12 minutes in calculating his next move - QxB, sacking his Queen with no obvious forced mate.
The move 17...QxB is winning in every variation and was undoubtedly considered by Morphy even before bringing his Queen to d3. Steinitz believed the move was intuitive and that calculating to mate was humanly impossible.
In 1886 W. J. A. Fuller (an associate and close acquaintance of Morphy during his chess years) wrote:
Although Morphy didn't find the fastest way to dispatch Paulsen after move 17...QxB, his variation was eminently logical in its own fashion and equally effective.
. . . . . The game in its entirety with Willard Fiske's original notes