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Paul Morphy vs A Bottin
"Bottin Paid For" (game of the day Nov-14-2014)
Paris (1858), Paris FRA
King Pawn Game: Macleod Attack (C20)  ·  1-0
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: But here is the funny thing...

Every generation tends to think that it is so much better than every preceding generation. But in reality we are all standing on the shoulders of giants. And human beings have hardly evolved one jot in the last few hundred or even thousand years.

Take Paul Morphy. He memorised Louisiana Civil Code at some ridiculously young age. That would be quite a feat for someone today.

If he had modern chess books and computers, I have no doubt that he would be a very strong competitor today. Maybe even world champion. Or maybe not.

Similarly, if you take today's grandmasters and put them into Morphy's shoes there is no guarantee that they would either be great or rubbish.

I read a quote recently that the architects of the pyramids were probably no less intelligent than we are now. They didn't know the same stuff that we know, obviously, but their raw intellectual horsepower was more or less than the same as ours.

Nov-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Black must interpose...and lose the queen.
Nov-14-14  Shams: <Once> <And human beings have hardly evolved one jot in the last few hundred or even thousand years.>

I disagree. We are many times less cruel and violent than we were even a hundred generations ago. Technology has facilitated killing on an ever-larger scale of course but that's another issue.

<Take Paul Morphy. He memorised Louisiana Civil Code at some ridiculously young age. That would be quite a feat for someone today.>

An impressive achievement, but I bet today's code is 100 times as long. In Morphy's New Orleans they were still slaughtering cattle in the city's drinking water.

Nov-14-14  sorokahdeen: <keypusher: Also, this is a funny page to be talking about Morphy's sound play. 2.c3 is totally antipositional, he starts with four pawn moves and then he develops his queen like a beginner! Meanwhile poor Bottin is developing his minor pieces first, which we're all supposed to have learned from studying Morphy...>

There is mechanical positional play with development that ignores what's actually happening on the board (I remember a note by Botvinnik in 100 selected games: "Natural and bad") and there is positional play that displays and exploits a deeper understanding.

Morphy's pawn moves attempt to create a broad center at the cost of piece development. This is considered perfectly sound in Ponziani's opening and there is no reason to call it unsound here.

The only problem with black's play was using his "development" to engage in a two-piece attack on white's position in an attempt to win the exchange.

Given the position after 4.de5, a modern player might have struggled for the initiative by attacking the e-pawn either with 4...d5 or with 4...nc6, and met either bf4 or nf3 with 5...d5! threatening to win time with ...Bc5 or ...Bg4.

Morphy's 5. Qg4 was an exploitation of black's lack of harmonious development by offering the exchange for what turned out to be a devastating attack.

This shows a deeper understanding of positional play because morphy integrated dynamic, time-based, elements into his development with marvelous effect.

The only real question after 5. Qg4 is what would have happened after ...Bf2+, 6. Ke2 Bxg1. 7. Qe4 Bb6 with an unclear position with a centralized Queen, a displaced king and missing a pawn.

Nov-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Once Every generation tends to think that it is so much better than every preceding generation. But in reality we are all standing on the shoulders of giants. And human beings have hardly evolved one jot in the last few hundred or even thousand years.>

Let me cut through that thicket of clichés with a simple analogy.

There are two islands. Island A has 100 people and a copy of Staunton's handbook. Island B has 1,000 people, Chessbase, Stockfish,and the collected works of Dvoretsky. The people on both islands teach themselves how to play chess, using the resources available to them. If the respective champions of Island A and Island B meet in a match, who do you think will win?

Suppose that each island only has Staunton's handbook, but there are 100 times as many people on Island B. Where is the stronger chessplayer likely to come from, Island A or Island B?

That is the difference between chess in 1858 and now.

No one believes that there has been significant human biological evolution since 1858 (though some might argue that there have been some developments since the Pyramids -- I don't know enough to have an opinion). No one thinks we don't learn from our predecessors, or that that Morphy wasn't a talented guy.

<sorokhadeen> Good posts, I enjoyed reading them. I was just joking about Morphy playing anti-positionally in this game, but you wrote a very good response.

Nov-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: The chess games that Morphy's era gives us were hack, slash and combine. Defensive technique consisted of "take all sacrifices, hope they amount to nothing, and wait for a chance to counterattack.

I would disagree with this, though. Staunton here doesn't defend by grabbing material; he just plays very passively.

Anderssen vs Staunton, 1851

And here Andersson plays a fairly positional sort of attack.

Anderssen vs Szen, 1851

Nov-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Re the Anderssen-Staunton game, I should refine what I say a little bit. He plays passively in the opening. He does counterattack later, but gets tripped up in the complications.
Nov-14-14  Shams: <keypusher> Are there chicks on either island?
Nov-14-14  Rookiepawn: <Once I read a quote recently that the architects of the pyramids were probably no less intelligent than we are now. They didn't know the same stuff that we know, obviously, but their raw intellectual horsepower was more or less than the same as ours.>

In fact cavemen were more or less as intelligent as we are. There is a difference between "intelligence" and "cultural heritage".

Only human beings are able to transmit knowledge to the next generation, no other animal can (at least at our rate). This is a separate item from the pure intelligence.

We tend to overrate our intelligence in comparison with past generations, but intelligence itself didn't improve so much as the enormous amount of cultural heritage, which let us profit from what past generations discovered. The present generation adds its intelligence to that of the past ones, it will never be a fair match.

Nov-14-14  dark.horse: <The present generation adds its intelligence to that of the past ones, it will never be a fair match.> Rather, experience. And those that don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Nov-14-14  dhotts: It seems to me that Black should've checked with 7...Nd3 8.Ke2 and now 8...Be7 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Kxd3 now leaving white totally undeveloped with a wandering King 10...Nc6 11.Nf3 d6 12.exd6 Bg5+ 13.Kd2 0-0-0 and what does White do now? Surely I am missing something?
Nov-14-14  Shams: Cavemen as intelligent as modern men? You guys are kidding.
Nov-14-14  Jim Bartle: <Shams: Cavemen as intelligent as modern men? You guys are kidding.>

Remember, they lived 600 years back then.

Nov-15-14  sneaky pete: <dhotts> You're probably missing lots of things, but Bf1 wouldn't have missed Nd3.
Nov-15-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <keypusher: ... No one believes that there has been significant human biological evolution since 1858 >

Except that is precisely what many people do believe and say. You only need to read the comments to this game to see that.

People are making direct comparisons between Morphy and modern players without adjusting for the extra knowledge and resources that the modern day players have.

Pre-Morphy books and understanding about attacking principles were as good as those available now? Come on, you don't really believe that? Do you?

Yes, a better prepared player will usually beat a less well prepared player. That is almost a "d'oh" statement. But that's not what people are saying. Surely when we talk about the all-time greatest players we need to adjust for the resources and knowledge that each player had?

Your better equipped island would almost certainly produce the strongest player, but there is no guarantee that it would produce the greatest player.

<Shams> Caveman as intelligent as modern men? Maybe not that far back, but a heck of a lot further into antiquity than most people realise. Some of the achievements of ancient civilizations show a level of skill that we find hard to reproduce, given the tools that they had to hand.

I have seen celtic jewellery so fine that modern jewellers would not be able to duplicate it.

Nov-15-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Once: <keypusher: ... No one believes that there has been significant human biological evolution since 1858 > Except that is precisely what many people do believe and say. You only need to read the comments to this game to see that.>

Really? Let's ask them. Who here believes that there has been significant human biological evolution since 1858?

As for the rest of your post, you and I don't appear to disagree. I think you are disagreeing only with strawmen, but perhaps I am wrong.

<Pre-Morphy books and understanding about attacking principles were as good as those available now? Come on, you don't really believe that? Do you?>

No.

<Surely when we talk about the all-time greatest players we need to adjust for the resources and knowledge that each player had?>

Yes. Viz. any top all-time list I've ever posted.

Nov-15-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: Then why are you arguing?
Nov-15-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Once: Then why are you arguing?>

Same question for you!

Nov-15-14  Rama: Paleolithic people were certainly as intelligent as we. We are practically identical.

But Morphy would not have prospered today, I think. Remember, he succumbed to psychological problems just like another American we all love.

Nov-15-14  Rookiepawn: Rookiepawn: <Shams: Cavemen as intelligent as modern men? You guys are kidding.> "Intelligence" is really hard to define. It can be defined as a tool, but then the purpose it serves must be also evaluated. It's trickier than it seems imho.

For instance, let's say you are taken back to the cavemen era. Are you more intelligent than them? Good luck then, go and hunt the beasts they hunt, and survive. You cannot deny they know more necessary things than you in that context.

What you have over them is cultural heritage much more than intelligence.

Nov-16-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <keypusher> Um ... you've just agreed with me. And retracted something that you said earlier. And my earlier post wasn't necessarily directed at you. A post that you took issue with even though you are saying some of the same things.

Let's try to put things into perspective:

1. Morphy was a great player - for the standards of his day.

2. In this game he takes liberties against a rabbit in order to pull off a flashy win. Liberties he would not take against a better player.

3. Straight out of the time-travelling box, Morphy would almost certainly lose to a modern grandmaster. But give him the same training and knowledge and the outcome is harder to predict.

4. We can't criticise Morphy for the quality of the opposition. He can only play the people put in front of him - until and unless we come along with our time machine.

5. Chess knowledge is now much further advanced than it was in Morphy's day. Those "pre-Morphy books" are a joke.

6. There is a hell of a lot more to Morphy's play than just being more accurate and consistent than Anderssen.

I am really not sure what you are arguing here.

Nov-16-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Once:> <keypusher> <Um ... you've just agreed with me. And retracted something that you said earlier.>

No, I haven't retracted anything.

<And my earlier post wasn't necessarily directed at you.>

I thought it was.

<A post that you took issue with even though you are saying some of the same things.>

Some, not all. For example, I wasn't accusing anyone of thinking humanity had evolved biologically in the past 150 years.

Nov-17-15  talhal20: It seems that Morphy's grasp of the game during actual play was quicker so that he could think of many more moves,and reason out alternative moves in advance compared to all the world champions from Steineitz to Carlsen. I am not sure whether with advancement of chess knowledge since Morphy's times and chess engines the present or past world champions would beat beat Morphy. Fischer during an interview was asked whether he would beat Morphy. His reply was " I don't know " Now draw your own conclusion.
Mar-13-16  talhal20: Chess still remains the game of 64 squares with innumersble prmutations and combinations. It is presumed that modern players with their great knoeledge of openings will easily beat Morphy. The fact remains that Morphy has the unparalelled capacity to invent moves. Had he been living today he would have defeated any chess world champion.
Jun-12-16  Dhikey: Black made the blunder in 5.nf2?.. Instead 5.Bf2!!.. He analysed wrongly.. Or he got greedy??
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