Paul Morphy - Chess Writer (NY Ledger)
Found something interesting that I thought I would share...
Morphy's NY Ledger Column
Edited by Hanon W. Russell
Many chessplayers are unaware that Paul Morphy wrote a chess column. From
August 6, 1859 until August 4, 1860, Morphy "conducted the ChessDepartment" in the New York Ledger. There were 52 columns, and we have
decided that it is time to share the writings of the nineteenth-century American
genius with our readers.
Please note that the original column used the antiquated form of English
descriptive notation. Thus, the eighth move of the game below was rendered by
8 K. Kt. to Kt, fifth; 8 K. Kt. to R. third
We have taken the liberty of converting all the moves to algebraic notation. In
addition, Morphy’s annotations were given at the very end of the game,
referenced by letter. We have merged them into the game. We hope you enjoy
the first installment of Morphy’s Ledger Column...
The New York Ledger
New York, Saturday, August 6, 1859 [Column #1]
Conducted by Paul Morphy
The above position occurred in a game
between Mr. Löwenthal and Mr. Morphy.
White having to play, can now force the
Concerning the game of chess little can now be said that would not be a thrice
told tale to the great majority of our readers. We do not therefore, in the
present brief introduction, propose to offer any remarks on the history,
antiquity, or fascination of that truly royal pastime, but simply to map out,
without preface or preamble, the course it has seemed to us most proper to
pursue in this new accession to chess periodical literature.
It will be our endeavor, in the first place, to render this column not only
interesting but instructive to the chess student - to make it, not an object of
passing curiosity, but a feature possessing a deep and permanent value in the
eyes of all who, in the few hurried moments of leisure snatched from the
engrossing, and, to some extent, necessarily selfish pursuits of life, delight to
turn to a pleasanter field of strife, and fight battles from which cupidity can
expect no golden prize. How best to attain such a consummation was theproblem presented for our solution. It has occurred to us that an eminentlypractical chess column was a desideratum in American chess literature; and
that an attempt to fill up the void might be received with some little degree of
favor. Our attention, then in the conduct of this department of the Ledger will
be steadily directed to the plan here indicated. Excluding mere speculation we
shall aim at laying before our readers none but purely practical matter. A good
problem, remarkable for the ingenuity or nice accuracy which unravels its
mazy intricacies - one or two standard games, contested by the acknowledged
masters of the chequered field, and accompanied by elaborate notes, critical
and analytical, will form the staple of our weekly contribution.Our readers will not be surprised by the announcement that we positively
decline any correspondence in connection with this department. The reason isobvious. Wecould not undertake such a task. From the number of letters that
we daily receive, in our privatecharacter, on the subject of chess, we can well imagine what an increasedquantity we would receive in our character of chess editor. To answer every
epistle would be an impossibility. Besides, "correspondents" must allow us to
suggest that any leading treatise on the game contains all the information
generally sought by them.
We present our readers in the present number with the first of the long series of
games contested between Labourdonnais and McDonnell. True, they have been
published before; but no satisfactory analysis has, to our knowledge, ever been
appended to them. We purpose giving one or two a week, in the order in which
they were played, with careful annotations. It is hoped that this attempt to
furnish the American public with a clue to the intelligence of these beautiful
models of chess strategy, will not prove unacceptable.
At the request of numerous friends, we will occasionally publish some of the
games played by us in Europe and in this country.
Between Labourdonnais and McDonnell
White (Labourdonnais) Black (McDonnell)
1 e4 e5 2 d4
This move constitutes the opening, known as the "Centre Gambit." Although
not as powerful as the classical move of 2 Nf3, it may occasionally be adopted
for variety’s sake.
2...exd4 3 Nf3 c5
3...Bb4+ is here recommended by most authors as the best play at Black's
command. Without being disposed to combat this opinion, we think that they
have unjustly condemned the move in the text, which, with the best after play
on both sides, leads to a game where the first player's advantage is by no means
as marked as would be inferred from their criticisms.
White may also move here 4 c3. In that case Black's reply would be 4...d5, a
move strangely enough overlooked by the leading authorities, who make the
second player commit the obvious error of capturing pawn with pawn.
4...Nc6 5 c3 Qf6
McDonnell manifested great partiality for this sortie of the queen in the Scotch
gambit. In the above position, it is probably the best play on the board.
6 0-0 d6 7 cxd4 cxd4 8 Ng5
The objection to this course is that it enables Black to retain his pawn, whereas
by 8 Bb5 White would immediately have regained it, and remained with a
somewhat superior position.
8...Nh6 9 f4 Be7 10 e5 Qg6 11 exd6 Qxd6 12 Na3 0-0 13 Bd3 Bf5 14 Nc4
Qg6 15 Nf3 Bxd3 16 Nce5 Bc2
Black, relying upon his surplus pawn, plays thus in order to compel an
exchange of queens; but, as the progress of the game sufficiently proves, the
result is an amelioration of his adversary’s position, and, ultimately, a drawn
battle. Had he instead first captured knight with knight and then played his
queen to f5, his superiority in force and position would, we think, have enabled
him to score the game.
17 Nxg6 Bxd1 18 Nxe7+ Nxe7 19 Rxd1 Nhf5 20 g4 Ne3 21 Bxe3 dxe3 22
Rd7 Rfe8 23 Re1 Ng6 24 f5 Nf4 25 Rd4 Nh3+ 26 Kg2 Nf2 27 Rc4 Rad8 28
h3 h6 29 Re2 b5 30 Rd4 Rxd4 31 Nxd4 a6 32 Kf3 Nxh3 33 Rxe3 Ng5+ 34
Kf4 Rxe3 35 Kxe3 g6 36 fxg6 fxg6 37 Nc6 Ne6 38 Ke4 Kf7 39 Ke5 h5 40
gxh5 gxh5 41 Kf5 Nc7 42 b3 Ke8 43 a4 bxa4 44 bxa4 Nd5 45 Kg5 Ne7 46
White, as an examination of the position will satisfy the student, might equally
have drawn by exchanging knights.
46...a5 47 Na6 Ng6 48 Kxh5
Here again a different course would have brought about the same result. The
knight have been captured and "a draw" secured.
48...Nf4+ 49 Kg5 Ne6+ 50 Kf5 Kd7 51 Ke5 Nd8 Drawn Game.