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Paul Morphy vs Theodor Knight
"A Knight Can't Mate" (game of the day Jul-05-2004)
New Orleans cg (1856), New Orleans, LA USA
King's Gambit: Accepted. King's Knight Gambit (000)  ·  1-0


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Given 224 times; par: 16 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Apr-14-08  JimmyVermeer: Assuming Morphy actually played without his queen's rook and queen's knight, Knight still had the advantage at the end by playing Qe7 instead of Ne7?? Aside from this, it would appear that Knight's biggest mistake was 14...Nxe5. 14...Kf8 could have won.

I'm kinda surprised would make this the game of the day when it wasn't recorded correctly in the first place.

Congratulations to Mr. Morphy for a well-played odds game. He made some very good moves and no serious errors.

Apr-24-08  Amarande: <JimmyVermeer: Knight still had the advantage at the end by playing Qe7 instead of Ne7??>

Not really. The continuation would be 16 ... Qe7 17 d5+ Kf6 18 Bxe7+ Nxe7 19 Qxh8+ Kf7 20 Qxe5 (but not 20 Qxh7+?? Bg7! and Black remains with four pieces for the Queen, a winning advantage)

At this point, Black has three minor pieces for Queen and pawn, roughly a material equivalent. However, his game is still hopeless, mainly on account of the fact that his pawns are badly weakened (indeed, White threatens to win a pawn at once by 21 Qh5+), as well as the fact that White's center pawns are powerful connected passed pawns which Black's poor development is not in a position to counter.

In fact, against any reasonable move here, White can continue with 21 Qc7 and Black cannot even afford to develop the QB and Rook. For instance 20 ... Ng6 (to save the h4-pawn from the threat 21 Qh5+) 21 Qc7+ Kg8 22 e5 b6 23 c4 Ba6 24 b4! Rc8 (24 ... b5 25 Qc6 catches the unfortunate Bishop) 25 Qxa7 Bxc4 (the only place the unfortunate Bishop can go) 26 Qxb6 and now White has two sets of connected passed pawns (Black cannot continue with 26 ... Bxa2 because 27 Qe6+ catches the Rook).

Aug-21-08  megatacos: Thats beautiful, pawn move mates are always really cool. Also, white had such good development that black couldnt play 5...QxE4, or else 6.KF2 threatening 7.RE1 and making an artificial castle.
Oct-06-08  Whitehat1963: Hilarious finish.
Dec-16-08  number 23 NBer: I was really hoping, when I clicked on this one, to win clue #31. Ah well.
Premium Chessgames Member
  sleepyirv: <number 23 NBer> It should have been this game!
Dec-24-08  WhiteRook48: What about the player named A King?
Jan-06-09  WhiteRook48: if the posts that Morphy took of Queen's Rook and Queen's Knight are true, then Morphy took off his opponent (A Knight) at the start.
Feb-01-09  WhiteRook48: nice exploitation of the pin too
Jun-12-09  WhiteRook48: the Pin is mightier than the sword
Oct-10-09  tentsewang: Morphy takes risks which are immaculate and gets his reward very soon! Amazing!
Dec-28-09  zanshin: Assuming this was an odds game without White's QR and QN, then Morphy's play was pretty sound or justifiable. Black's mistakes seem to have been <41...Nxe5?> allowing the King to be trapped in the center (better was 14...Kf8) and <16...Ne7??> allowing mate (better 16...Qe7 giving up the Queen).
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: A Knight is probably an ancestor of Mr. P.R.O.P. (Those of you from The Age of Descriptive Notation will understand!)
May-23-11  Llawdogg: Wow! This checkmate with a pawn on d5 is very similar to the game Busnardo vs NN, 1590.

Oh, the good old days!

Jul-09-12  vinidivici: is this chess variant....? no rook and knight....

wow...A. Knight must be a very bad player. With this kind of odds, i am myself would beat any GM today.

Aug-02-12  LoveThatJoker: Guess-the-Move Final Score:

Morphy vs A Knight, 1856.
Your score: 29 (par = 15)


Sep-09-13  SBC:

While "A Knight" is rather poetical, Morphy's opponent was the more prosaic Theodor Knight.

Nov-01-13  davide2013: Something strange happened. I was playing this game in the Guess The Move feature, and the Ra1 and Nb1 WERE NOT missing. Now, the problem is that I did play 12.Pb3, but I was reluctant to play some moves later, because I was considering the Ra1 in danger or the use of the Nb1. But they are not in this same game. So maybe there is a software error in Guess the Move??
Jan-12-15  gmelfranco: logico morphy se arriesga como un guerrero o un aquiles luchar todo por el todo vencer o morir!!!!!!!!!! a el no le importaba las tablas jejeje
Nov-06-15  MindCtrol9: Giving Rook and Knight and winning in 17 moves.The only one,Morphy!!!!!
Dec-11-16  Kaspablanca: "A Knight Can't Mate" is one of the best pun ive seen in
Dec-29-16  john.owen: Until 12...Nd7 black is in the game. 12...Be6 12 Ba3+ Kd8 is about even.
Jan-07-18  KSchlecher: Always wonder how could masters like Morphy sacrifice their materials so confidently and then turned out mate.

It's like Morphy had had the mating blueprints, and his opponent just stepped right into his scheme... He exploited the value of each piece so incredibly well.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: In this case because he was playing a much weaker player. It didn't just "turn out" mate in the sense that White sacked his Bishop with 7. Bxf7+ for a forced mate in 10. No, White isn't winning until late in the game.

But you can see that after 7. Bxf7+, White is at least forcing the pace, making moves that Black has to respond to. As long as White is forcing the pace, he won't lose.

So, as long as White is forcing the pace, he can set traps for Black, hoping that Black will fall into them. The weaker Black is, the more likely he'll fall into them (and with a R+N odds player, the odds are pretty good. White doesn't really start to get the upper hand until 14...Nxe5, although Black missed several chances to make things easier for himself before that. With 14...Kf8 and 15...Kg7, Black is still way ahead.

In fact, White isn't really even clearly won until the very last move, when Black overlooks Mate in 1. If 16...Qe7 17. Bxe7 Nxe7 18. Qxh8 N5g6, White is better, but Black probably isn't lost. Granted, "Better" against such a weak player almost certainly means a win for White. But the King Hunt is over.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: In fact, had it gotten this far, this might have been a really interesting position. 16...Qe7 17. Bxe7 Nxe7 18. Qxh8 Nfg6 19. Qxh7 Bf8, and Black has FOUR minors for the Queen. That might have made a really interesting game between two top players. With Morphy vs. Amateur, white would surely have won with a pawn roller through the center. But Black would have lasted until the endgame.

click for larger view

The last time Black is clearly winning is on Move 14. 14...Kf8, and what does White do next? The attack has pretty much stalled. (In a lot of these King's Gambit games where Black weathers the attack, his King ends up parked on g7.

click for larger view

It's also interesting to note Black's choice of opening. Why go in for a sharp line designed to hold the gambit pawn when you're already up a Rook and a Minor? In those days, nobody seemed to know anything except 3...g5 against the King's Gambit.

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