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James McConnell vs Paul Morphy
New Orleans (1850)  ·  French Defense: Advance Variation (C02)  ·  0-1
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Given 382 times; par: 19 [what's this?]

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sac: 11...Bxb4+ PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Feb-26-06  ckr: Wow, Morphy played this game when he was 13.

Up to 7.a3 the position is very common. 7... Nh6 is virtually unknown and somewhat of a novelty. After the pawn exchange 11.Qd2 could have held better than getting caught on d3 but I think McConnell was expecting a Knight sac instead.

What a stomping.

Feb-26-06  aw1988: An exact replica of the French, wow. In 1850.
Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: Here is Paul Morphy attacking the pawn center at its base with ....c5 in the french, and displaying fine strategy as black, decades before Nimzovich ever pushed a pawn.
Apr-16-07  spookynite: Not only Morphy breaks down Mcconnell's wall of pawns but also mates his queen!! Brilliant strategy!!
May-13-07  jackpawn: Remember, Morphy was 13 when this was played. At the time no computers, practically no theory. Morphy was a massive talent.

Morphy, Capa, Fischer, and Kasparov are the true super talents of chess.

Jul-19-07  Gerenense: If there is a refutation of 5.f4 it is undoubtedly in this game. The plan with 6...Bd7, 7...Nh6 (aiming to f5 xd4) and 8...Rc8 is surprisingly modern! Morphy shows again to be lightyears far over his contemporaries.
Jul-19-07  Gerenense: 9...Rc8, sorry!
Premium Chessgames Member
  hesyrett: This game deserves to be better known.  I've studied the French and played it off and on all my life, and I'd never seen this amazing game until I ran across it on Guess The Move here on
Premium Chessgames Member
  hesyrett: Here:  Estrin vs Neistadt, 1938 is a miniature showing a Soviet opening theorist getting stomped as White by Morphy's strategic plan against the Advance variation.
Nov-10-08  thebribri8: It amazes me how Paul Morphy can change the French defense into a queen trap in 14 moves.
Mar-07-09  WhiteRook48: crazy queen trap
Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: Since this is the only game on record where Morphy played the French, I'm inclined to think he meant to play 1...e5 but missed the square. :)
Dec-07-10  Garech: Morphy with the passive, patient French Defence =0)

Incredible stuff, muchos respect.


Mar-28-11  Llawdogg: Wow! 11 ... Bxb4+! Morphy sacrificed his bishop for an attack that culminated in the trapping of McConnell's queen. It took the thirteen year old Morphy fourteen moves to win this game.
Apr-17-11  SeanBurdine: McConnell's real problem in this game is that 8 of his first 9 moves were Pawn moves. Morphy got a huge lead in development and his game played itself from there.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: It's seems remarkable at first to see 13-year-old Morphy playing 3...c5, attacking the base of a pawn chain more than a half-century before the hypermoderns showed up. Morphy seems to be demonstrating a strategic understanding far ahead of his time.

However, attacking the base of a pawn chain wasn't exactly a new strategy in 1850. In fact, 3...c5 goes back more than 200 years before this game - take a look at the following effort from Greco, played in 1620:

NN vs Greco, 1620

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: A strikingly modern approach to the Advance by Morphy -- playing ...Nh6, and developing the queenside pieces rapidly with ...Nc6, ...Qb6, ...Bd7, and ...Rc8.

Except at the point where most players settle down to a positional grind, Morphy unleashes a tactical cascade.

Almost enough to convert me to the Morphy cult. Though it's as addictive as its derivative, morphine.

Dec-14-11  JoergWalter: <domdaniel> yes, a modern set up. however, after 5.f4? white is loosing.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <Joerg> Worse, yes, certainly: 5.f4 is a weak move. But 'losing'? I don't think White is actually losing until 11.Qd3?

11.Qd2 leaves Black with a slight advantage, but no direct win in sight.

Dec-15-11  JoergWalter: <domdaniel> 5.f4 was a big mistake. Allows for Nh6 without any chance for f5. Further mistakes shorten the game but I think after f4 white's downfall is a matter of time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Naniwazu: All those pawn moves in the opening (5. f4, 7. a3, 8. b4) wastes a lot of time.
May-17-12  LoveThatJoker: Guess-the-Move Final Score:

J McConnell vs Morphy, 1850.
Your score: 25 (par = 19)


Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: According to Sergeant, this is the only known example of Morphy playing the French defense. Makes sense from the result: Morphy appears confused, checkmating the White Queen instead of the King!
Sep-04-14  yiotta: Good one, <morfishine>. I love the French, but I didn't know this wonderful game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mating Net: Morphy connects with the spirit of Nimzowitsch...36 years prior to Nimzo's birth. This game is a quick crash course in positional and tactical chess in a tidy 14 moves.
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