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Henry Edward Bird vs Paul Morphy
"Meta-Morphysis" (game of the day Aug-14-2005)
London (1858), London ENG
Philidor Defense: Philidor Countergambit. Zukertort Variation (C41)  ·  0-1


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Given 141 times; par: 52 [what's this?]

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sac: 17...Rxf2 PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-11-14  gabriel112000: 17... ♖xf2 followed by 18... ♕a3 is awesome!
Jan-13-14  RandomVisitor:

Section I: 22.Kc1 a5

We consider lines arising from 22.Kc1 a5(note a) 23.Qc2 Qa3+ 24.Qb2 axb4

Rybka4.1 TB6

[-0.68] d=27 25.c4 Bf4+(note b) 26.Kc2 e3(note c) 27.Bg3 Bf5+(note d) 28.Bd3 b3+ 29.Kc1(note e) e2+ 30.Bxf4 exd1Q+ 31.Rxd1 Qf8 32.Bxc7 Bxd3 33.Bxb8 Bc2 34.Re1 Qxb8 35.Qc3 h6 36.cxd5 cxd5 37.h3 Qa7 38.Kd2 Qb7 39.Kc1 Qa6 40.Kd2

[-0.76] d=26 25.Kb1 Qa4 26.c4 Ra8 27.Bg3 Be7 28.c5 Bf5 29.h4 g6 30.Be1 e3+ 31.Kc1 Bf6 32.Rh2 Kf7 33.Rg2 Qa1+


note b [-0.50] d=28 25...Qc3+ 26.Qxc3 bxc3 27.Bg3 Ba3+ 28.Kc2 Rb2+ 29.Kxc3 Rxe2 30.Rb1 Ba6 31.Rb8+ Kf7 32.Rf1+ Kg6 33.Be5 Bxc4 34.Rg1+ Kf5 35.Rxg7 Re3+ 36.Kd2 Rf3 37.Rf7+ Ke6 38.Rxf3 exf3 39.Ke3 Be2 40.Re8+ Kd7

note c 26...b3+ [-0.38] d=32 27.Kb1 Qa4 28.Bg3 Bh6 29.cxd5 cxd5 30.Rhf1 (30.Rhf1! +0.00/29 30...Bh3 31.Qa1 Qxa1+ 32.Kxa1 Ra8+ 33.Kb1 g6 34.Rf6 Ra2 35.Bb5 Bg7 36.Rf2 Ra5)

note d 27...b3+ [-0.19] d=23 28.Kb1 Bf5+ 29.Kc1 Qb4 30.Be1 Qf8 31.Rf1 Bc2 32.Bg3 g5 33.Bxf4 gxf4 34.c5

note e [-0.02] d=27 29.Kc1 e2+ 30.Bxf4 exd1Q+ 31.Rxd1 Qf8 32.Bxc7 Bxd3 33.Bxb8 Bc2 34.Bg3 Bxd1 35.Kxd1 Qf3+ 36.Kd2 dxc4 37.Qc3 Qg2+ 38.Kc1 Qe2 39.Be1 h5 40.h4 Kh7 41.Bd2 Qf1+ 42.Kb2 Qf2 43.Kc1 Kh8 44.Kb2

Section II: 22.Kc1 Bf5

note a 22...Bf5 needs work [-0.69] d=32 23.Be3 Bxb4 24.cxb4 Rxb4 25.Qc2 Qa3+ 26.Kd2 Rb2 27.Qxb2 Qxb2+ 28.Ke1 Qb4+ 29.Kf2 Qd6 30.Rc1 a5 31.Rc5 a4 32.Ra5 a3 33.Ra8+ Kf7 34.Rc1 Qxh2+ 35.Ke1 Qg3+ 36.Kd2 Qd6 37.Rc5 Qh2 38.Rc1 this line involves an unclear queen sacrifice (and material imbalance) which needs to be examined in much greater detail. However, at d=32, we can begin to consider that there are no obvious winning lines.

Conclusion: The main lines 25.c4 Qc3+ and 25.c4 Bf4+ do not at this time (November 2013) lead to direct wins for black under deep study. Notes a-e (especially note a) need a fuller, detailed investigation before we can claim this line is drawn.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Who is we?
Jan-13-14  RandomVisitor: <offramp>LMAJ, the chesscafe website (see the November 11 link above) and I have all looked at this game, along with the various other postings made here.

The chesscafe link claims the game is won for black. My claim is that more work needs to be done before we can say either way.

Jan-19-14  LIFE Master AJ:
Jan-19-14  LIFE Master AJ:
Jan-19-14  LIFE Master AJ: I also have some extensive analysis from a former student of mine who is around 15-17.

He used Houdini, some of the lines are really amazing. However, a couple had some obvious mistakes, I have asked him to review all of it (CAREFULLY!!!) before I post any of it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Bird lays an egg, committing the cardinal error 11.g4?? when 11.Nxf6+ gxf6 12.Bh6 Bxe5 13.dxe5 Qxe5 14.Bxf8 Kxf8 15.Qh6+ Kg8 16.O-O-O gives him a reasonable chance to hold despite Black's central nest of pawns. After this Turkey, Bird's fans, who had flocked to his table, knew their man was winging-it

But when eagle-eyed Morphy goosed Bird with 17...Rxf2 the game had migrated to a completely different level that left White wandering around like a duck hit over the head

Dazed, Bird takes one final swan dive with 22.Kb2? when 22.Kc1 would've knocked the stuffing out of Black's attack

And so in the end, Morphy adds another feather to his cap


Mar-29-14  capafischer1: The one and only Paul Morphy. How many modern GMs see rxf2??
Apr-04-14  Cyborg1939: Looks to me that Morphy consistently liked to be down pieces when such gave him open lines and brilliant mating nets. His prodigious memory allowed him to calculate all moves far advanced. Thus he did not consider being down in pieces a true detriment.

He was the Best. He would beat anyone later in time IMHO.

Apr-10-14  yureesystem: This game I played through when I was a beginner, I never get tired of Morphy's games; they are aesthetically beautiful.
Apr-11-14  RookFile: Games like this show that Morphy was head and shoulders above his contemporaries in the open game.
Jul-08-14  ljfyffe: For historical interest only, heretofore unknown, but unfinished, correspondence game l unearthed between Montreal(w) and Quebec City, 1845:<1e4 e5 2Nf3 d6 3g3 Nf6 4Nc3 Be6 5d4 Nbd7 6Ng5 exd4 7Qxd4 Ne5 8f4 Nc6 9Bb5 Bd7 10Qc4 Qe7 11Nd5 Nxd5 ......(Quebec Mercury).>
Jul-17-14  PinnedPiece: Stockfish 5.1 finds nothing conclusive for black in any line after 22. Kc1 at depths of 40+. July 2014.



Jul-26-14  ljfyffe: <Henry Edward Bird, le fameux joueur anglais...a visite Montreal apres avoir participe au 6e "American Congress" tenu a New York en 1889.Mais il etait aussi passe par Montreal apres le 4e "American Congress" en Philadelphie...>Au Nom Du Roi, p.164.
Oct-24-14  Tal1949: The secret of Morphy and Tal was that they presented problems over the chessboard that their opponents could not handle. Yes, Stockfish would refute their tactics, but mere humans at that point in time had no hope. Long live their memory and the speed that they could calculate.
Oct-25-14  ljfyffe: <morfishine> Are you a-mocking Bird?
Apr-26-15  mikealando: When one plays with Morphy the sensation is as queer as the first electric shock, or first love, or chloroform, or any entirely novel experience. Henry Bird

The man born too soon. Alexander Alekhine (on Morphy)

Feb-25-17  The Kings Domain: Classic Morphy. As aesthetic as it is instructive.
Premium Chessgames Member
  SpaceRunner: 17..Rxf2! Best move ever in my opinion...

I have read:
"Many of the great (russian) players have spent time discussing and analyzing this move during tournaments...and have not agreed whether it was winning!

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <SpaceRunner: 17..Rxf2! Best move ever in my opinion... >

Irving Chernev gives some notes to this game in <The Bright Side of Chess>. As with many annotators, the notes do not make sense.

click for larger view

17...Rxf2 <!! A beautiful sacrifice, as a prelude to - another!>
18. Bxf2 Qa3<!>
19. c3.
<Of course not 19. bxa3 Bxa3 mate. If 19. Qg5 Qxb2+ 20. Kd2 Bb4+ 21. Ke3 Qc3+ 22. Bd3 (22. Kf4 Bd6+ wins at once) 22... Ba6 23. Rhg1 Bf8.>
19... Qxa2 20. b4.
<If 20. Qc2 Rxb2 21. Qxb2 Ba3 22. Qxa3 Qxa3+ 23. Kd2 Qb2+>
20... Qa1+
21. Kc2 Qa4+
22. Kb2<? White should have played 22.Kc1, <when Black has nothing better than a draw by perpetual check...>>
So Black has a good position, in the diagram, THEN he plays 17...RxBP!! and 18...Q-R6!, yet White could have drawn at move 22.

Didn't Chernev see that <one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong>?

May-17-17  User not found: I thought I recognized this game.. Rxf2 isn't sound, I know black has to recapture but 18..Qa3 19.c3. ..Qxa2 20.b4 ..Qa1+ 21...kc2 22.Qa4+..and <then> ..kc2 and it's pretty much even, might lose the queen for a rook pawn and bishop and also whites king looks in danger but 2 rooks and 2 bishops against a queen and a Bishop looks acceptable after the initial damage.. I know you'll get checked all over and one inaccuracy will cost you the game but ..22.kb2?? is suicidal.
Jul-31-18  RKnight: <User not found> Do you mean 22 ... Kc1? (the K was already in c2 when Morphy played 22 Qa4+)
Aug-26-18  balboa07: This game is on YouTube:
Aug-29-18  jabinjikanza: Birdmated.excellent
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