My Favorite Game Of. Number 17. Paul Morphy.

My Favorite Game Of. Number 17. Paul Morphy.


A cheery 'Good Morning' to those of you joining me for some more of the innumerable chess games that I have floating around my head.

I have taken time off from annotating games for the second part of the Charousek article to add one of Morphy's games to this series.

My posts are littered with things that I have written about players who's talent went unfulfilled for various reasons. De Vere, Wisker, Charousek, Junge, Engels, Ian Wells etc. It is a recurrent theme.

It is difficult to decide whether I consider Morphy to be the greatest loss of all, or the least!!

On the one hand he left behind a legacy of beautiful chess, and quickly rose to become indisputably the strongest player of his time. His reputation as a great player is secure.

On the other, the bulk of his creative achievements were not serious games - although, I believe that he took all of his games 'seriously', and 'The Chess World' was very quiet at the time, with few strong players, and virtually no competitive chess.

As someone once put it, he was like Joe Louis fighting Pygmies'!!

There is no doubt in my mind that he was an extraordinary talent who never reached his full potential, and was capable of much more than than the chess that we have preserved. His serious games are, for one reason or another, not so great, taken all in all. But they do show that he had that quality possessed by the very greatest - when he had to produce his best, he invariably 'upped his game'. And he beat everyone who was put in front of him.

Who knows what chess he would have produced if he had matured, and played the likes of the mature Anderssen and Paulsen, the developing Steinitz, Kolisch, Neumann etc, in the second half of the 1860's when competition was much tougher.

Sadly we will never know. He did, however, show how strong he could be.

So, my favorite game of his. As those who have followed this series will know, I am not one for the one-sided 'Opera Box' type of games. I like to see how players got on when they were faced by strong opponents, who were in decent shape, and had come to the board  to play!

The first major test of Morphy's short career was his match with Loewenthal.

Overall the standard of the chess was far from great.  However, by game 14 the players had settled down, and played themselves in to form.  Loewenthal wasn't the greatest player ever, but by the standards of the time he was strong, and probably at the peak of his strength.

In the game I will give he can hardly be accused of playing badly - it is difficult to criticise any of his moves, and yet Morphy still won.

My friend Kamalakanta recently drew attention to Gufeld's 'ideal' in a chess game, where one side wins without any obvious errors from his opponent. This game fit's into that catagory, and I personally  find it much more interesting than shows of one-sided pyrotechnics. It's all a matter of taste!

It also gives a great indication of just how strong Morphy could have become. Another example that I have in my head is this later one.

So, enjoy the game!

The notes are mine, with a few comments by Imre Konig from his fascinating book 'Chess From Morphy to Botwinnik'. ( well worth getting a copy of, if, like me, you are interested in the evolution of chess thinking!)

As usual, feel free to post your own Morphy favorite in the comments, or to suggest it, and I will post it. Cheers!