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Louis Charles Mahe De La Bourdonnais vs Alexander McDonnell
London (1834), rd 27
Queen Pawn Game: Mason Attack (D00)  ·  0-1


Annotations by Paul Morphy.      [30 more games annotated by Morphy]

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Kibitzer's Corner
May-05-03  Rookpawn: In the approximately 85 games between these two players, this is the only one to open without 1. d4 or 1. e4.
May-07-03  Rookpawn: The above statistic excludes transpositions from 1. f4 to some other system.
May-22-03  Kenkaku: Interesting that Morphy endorses Bird's Opening, although it's most likely just a mark of the times, like the popularity of the King's Gambit during this period.
Aug-02-04  Knight13: He didn't play Bird's Opening well enought to attack. Good game.
Mar-20-06  who: <Kenkaku> he endorses it as an offbeat opening.
Aug-12-06  sneaky pete: <40.Nb3 would have drawn the game.> I think not, black may continue 40... d3 41.Kxd3 Bxb2 with a7-a5-a4 to follow.

If however after 40.b3 a5 instead of 41.Kd5?? .. white plays 41.Nf3 .. or 41.Kd3 .. I think he can hold the game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <sneaky pete>
<41.Nf3 .. or 41.Kd3 .. I think he can hold the game.>

41. Nf3 Kc5 42. Ne1! with 43. Nd3+, etc. does look like it holds.

But 41. Kd3?! looks risky. For example, 41. Kd3 Kc5 42. Ke4 Bg3 43. Nf3 Bf2, and it looks like White is falling into zugzwang.

May-20-07  Nasruddin Hodja: Since Morphy preferred the Dutch Defense against 1. d4, it is no surprise that he would endorse Bird's Opening as an offbeat alternative.

What's more interesting, given his comments, is that his understanding of the endgame seems to be a century ahead of Labourdonnais and McDonnell's endgame skill, and not just a mere 20 years.

May-20-07  sneaky pete: <beatgiant> I prefer 41.Nf3 .. with Nf3-e1-d3/c2 but surprisingly (knight against bishop, pawn minus) even the provacative 41.Kd3 .. seems to hold.

41.Kd3 Kc5 42.Ke4 Bg3 43.Nf3 Bf2 44.Kd3 Kd5 45.Ke2 Be3 46.Kd3 .. or 45... Bg3 46.Kd3 .. and what next? The bishop is rather short-winded and tied to the defence of pawn d4. If there is a win for black, the key may be not Zugzwang but a timely sacrifice of the bishop to gain a second pawn, for instance 45... Ke4?! in the line above - looks rather suicidal.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <sneaky pete>
Once Black's king reaches d5, Black has enough scope for temporizing bishop moves, and White has trouble holding both the e4 square and the f-pawn.

For example, 1.Kd3 Kc5 42.Ke4 Bg3 43.Nf3 Bf2 44.Kd3 Kd5 45.Ke2 <Bg3>, so now 46. Kd3 Be5 47. Nd2 Bf4 48. Nf3 Be3. Looks like zugzwang to me.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Anyway, even if 41. Kd3 loses, still we think 41. Nf3 holds, so Black must look earlier for an improvement to win this ending.

How about <37...d3!> 38. Kxd3 Bxb2, opening it up. At first glance, it looks like an easy win for Black.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <What's more interesting, given his comments, is that his understanding of the endgame seems to be a century ahead of Labourdonnais and McDonnell's endgame skill, and not just a mere 20 years.> Why? Morphy's only comment on the endgame is wrong: While the text <40.b3!> is the strongest move, Morphy's <40.Nb3?> should lose. Moreover, also at other places of the endgame Morphy either fails to give a winning continuation for Black or a saving continuation for White.
May-22-07  Nasruddin Hodja: <Gypsy>: Eeps. You're right, I think. I missed 40. Nb3 d3! 41. Kxd3 Bxb2 and white can't hold both his weak f5 pawn and hold back black's q-side pawn majority. Still, I think Morphy's previous comments, though sparse, were generally on the money.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Nasruddin Hodja> My comment was not really intended as a criticism of Mr. Morphy's, but rather as a defense of honor of messrs Labourdannais and MacDonnell. Given how much of their play had to be, by necessity, seat of the pants creations -- rudimentary especially in the endgames. But one can not but marvel at their tactical imagination and combinative powers. Moreover, Labourdannais was also a decent middlegame strategist; not as smooth as Morphy, but fairly close.
Oct-28-07  nimh: Rybka 2.4 mp, AMD X2 2.01GHz, 10 min per move, threshold 0.33.

De La Bourdonnais 11 mistakes:
16.Bxd4 -0.68 (16.fxe5 0.28)
18.Re6 -1.19 (18.a3 -0.62)
28.Nf3 -1.05 (28.h4 -0.11)
29.h4 -0.90 (29.g4 -0.08)
32.Nb3+ -0.79 (32.a3 -0.42)
33.Na5+ -1.41 (33.Nd2+ -0.77)
41.Kd5 -3.10 (41.Nc4 0.00)
47.Ke2 -4.64 (47.Nb2 -3.34)
48.Ne3 -6.59 (48.Kd3 -4.84)
49.Nc4 -10.26 (49.Nd1 -6.61)
52.axb3 -38.69 (52.Nxb3 -10.66)

McDonnell 7 mistakes:
14...e5 0.25 (14...Nc6 -0.42)
17...f6 -0.62 (17...Rhe8 -0.98)
25...Kb5 0.00 (25...Bb4 -1.11)
28...Be5 -0.08 (28...Bf4 -1.05)
34...Kc4 0.00 (34...Kc5 -1.40)
37...b4 -0.25 (37...d3 -1.49)
40...a5 0.00 (40...Kc6 -0.68)

Feb-27-08  wolfmaster: Ah, the TRUE creator of Bird's Opening!
Feb-01-12  Knight13: <wolfmaster: Ah, the TRUE creator of Bird's Opening!> But Henry Edward Bird was the <inventor> of the Bird's Opening. :-)
Nov-19-14  Ke2: funny, Morphy never played the bird though. just 180 1.e4 and nothing else. (unless it's buried in some odds game)
Nov-19-14  Ke2: found one Morphy vs Maurian, 1869
Sep-05-18  64pieman: Morphy needs to make his mind up as Bourdonnais also opened with this in game 25 where he calls it not so good. so it seems to me either Morphy is talking crap or some person with an Edge make up is still talking crap to this day. Give me Bourdonnais any day of week. Morphy and his aide Edge where a pair of fruit cakes.
Sep-06-18  Boomie: <64pieman: Morphy needs to make his mind up as Bourdonnais also opened with this in game 25 where he calls it not so good.>

A careful reading of the notes reveals that here, Morphy is commenting about 1. f4 whereas in game 25 he is referring to 2. d4.

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