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Alexander McDonnell vs Louis Charles Mahe De La Bourdonnais
"MacDonnell's Drive Through" (game of the day Oct-06-2005)
La Bourdonnais - McDonnell 1st Casual Match (1834), London ENG, rd 20
King's Gambit: Accepted. Bishop's Gambit Cozio Variation (C33)  ·  0-1



Annotations by Jan van Reek.      [1 more game annotated by J van Reek]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Oct-07-05  Jaymthetactician: "But could Morphy even stand a chance against Kasparov!?"


and regarding Fischerrandom even I would easily defeat Morphy as I defeated the 2000 level of Deep Shredder in shuffle chess (alot of it was tactics training that made me so well in it, I'm not too much of a book player), so imagine what Topolov (perhaps the greatest player of all time) would do to him? And you say "especially the positional players" I highly disagree as Judit Polgar would tear LaBourdonnais, Greco, Morphy, Steinitz, and Botvinnik limb from limb at Fischerrandom.

Though the game played is far from boring as it was so exiting to look over, such is LaBourdonnais style, like a much weaker variation of Kramnik, much like me exept I'm somewhere between LaBourdonnais and Kramnik in skill (though closer to LaBourdonnais)

Oct-07-05  Jaymthetactician: I agree with Jan van Reek, 7.Bxf7+ is too wild, better was what he said.

"black played a wonderful game in the style of Greco" But I don't even think Greco would be any match for MacDonnel.

Oct-07-05  blackjacki2: quicker is 19...qxh1+
Oct-07-05  Jaymthetactician: yeah blackjack but at that point it's irrelavant and LaBourdonnais was just toying with him.
Oct-07-05  Boomie: Fun to speculate about the strengths of the old time players. One important distinction between GMs and patzers is the use of long term memory. GMs work out of long term memory while patzers work out of short term memory. Morphy's memory was described as photographic. He committed the entire Louisiana state law code to memory. He could replay every game he ever played or saw. On this basis alone I believe Morphy would be a load for any GM today.

We kid ourseleves into thinking that today's GMs are somehow mentally more capable than those of the past. Human physical potential has not increased. If anything it has decreased on average with the easing of selection pressures by modern medicine. Of course increased population creates more Super GM minds.

No one in physics would contend that Newton would be unequal to today's science. I believe Morphy would compete successfully today. He probably wouldn't dominate but he would be in the top ten.

Oct-07-05  schnarre: <Boomie> I'm inclined to agree.
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: <Boomie: No one in physics would contend that Newton would be unequal to today's science.> I'm a physicist, and I disagree. If Newton time-travelled to 2005 he would have to spend several years in graduate school or its equivalent before being able to do significant original research. After that he would probably be very successful. He might even go on to win the Nobel prize, but there are a lot of Nobel laureates alive today.

MacDonnell and la Bourdonnais would have to spend years catching up too. Then they might go on to become masters or grandmasters -- but there are many more grandmasters now then in 1834.

Oct-08-05  schnarre: <al wazir> There are many more master players today, in no small part because there are probably many times more chess players today than in those days.
Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: I would have to agree with <schnarre> and <Boomie>.
Oct-11-05  schnarre: A great deal to ponder!
Oct-12-05  Jaymthetactician: I was going to say to Boomie that many modern physicist would disagree, but thank god for Al Wazir who, being a physicist (I just have Feynmans 3 volume series lectures on physics, so I also would have a valid argument here, but clearly not as much so as Al Wazir) saved me the trouble. Why all of you disagree with an actual physicist?

And Boomie say's "Our physical level has decreased if anything" I disagree as nowaday's we have sophisticated work-out programs and GNC suppliments (some of which will help with chess, focus factor should put at least 200 rating points on anyone, there are other suppliments of course, but I havent thoroughly researched them). They didnt even have sit-ups before the turn of the 20th century!

But I digress, Fischer, who defered the title of greatest american of all time to Morphy (very honorable of Fischer to do so, but I think is incorrect as Fischer is better then Morphy), said no one alive today would defeat him, I even know someone who thinks Morphy is better then Deep Blue! I doubt Morphys that good.

Oct-14-05  schnarre: It's always iffy when seeing how older players would compare to players of today: their ways of thinking were often quite different from our own, not just their playing styles & theory. We can speculate, but in the end that's all.
Aug-15-06  Mendrys: I wonder how <Jaymthetactician>, formerly known as<Jaymthegenius>, formerly <Jaymtheomnipotent> and before that<Jaymthegodlike>, is able to walk without falling over due to his very large head.

Sorry all, that was too easy. While I have no doubt that most of us have a broader understand of chess theory than anyone in the past I think that all but a few of us would be crushed by the likes of Morphy. Think about it. We have modern PC's that can search millions of moves a second to help us. We have volumes of opening books and modern theory to peruse. Most of the top professionals have been dedicated to chess since they were very young. Morphy and his kind had none of this and were still able to produce games that we can marvel at. In the end its board sight and tactics, tactics, and more tactics that win. How many of us are able to play 8 skilled players at the same time blindfolded? The amount of time available to them to study chess was limited compared to today. Don't get me wrong, I understand where <Jaymthetactician> is coming from. However, even though there are 12 year old girl swimmers who would cream Johnny Weissmuller (winner of multiple olympic gold medals in the 1920's) if he were somehow time-travelled to the present we know that if he had the same advantages of modern training techniques that he would be far superiour to any 12 year old girl. Same with Morphy. If he had the advantages of being able to study modern chess theory at a young age he would probably be a top GM today, not just a patzer kibbitzer on CG.COM.

Aug-15-06  bvwp: Chessmetrics gives at least plausible ratings for late-nineteenth century players, compared with modern-day. Morphy is quite a long way down the lists, though this, of course, might only suggest that chessmetrics hasn't got everything right.
Jan-02-07  wolfking: what do you think of capablanca playing chess in 2007?
Aug-10-07  Cactus: He'd be a powerhouse!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Jaymthetactician: ... and regarding Fischerrandom even I would easily defeat Morphy as I defeated the 2000 level of Deep Shredder in shuffle chess> I am most impressed.
Sep-21-07  nimh: Rybka 2.4 mp, AMD X2 2.01GHz, 10 min per move, threshold 0.25.

McDonnell 3 mistakes:
7.Bxf7+ -2.72 (7.Nc3 -0.46)
11.Na3 -7.10 (11.Nc3 -2.66)
17.Bd2 #12 (17.Qf4 -3.77)

De La Bourdonnais 1 mistake:
15...Nc6 -4.27 (15...f2+ -6.97)

Dec-14-07  whiteshark: <atrifix: <It always amazes me how terrible Jan van Reek's annotations are.>> Good move!
Feb-02-12  Knight13: <van Reek: Black played a wonderful game in the style of Greco.> More like Anderssen. This game faintly reminds me of the "Immortal Game." Perhaps it was so back in 1834 before 1851 took over.
Feb-18-14  PJs Studio: Caps was so awesome. But I think he might(?) have some trouble with the modern super GMs. Kramnik, Kasparov, Karpov(!) and especially madmen like Shirov or Topalov.

Although he would catch up in opening theory and advance rapidly into the FIDE top 100 after a few years. (I'm not dissing the genius of Capa in anyway! I just think the modern players have much more theory & technology to support their genius.) - they'd probably drive him nuts...but I'm not sure. Anyone?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Messiah: Played extremely badly by White. I'm almost disgusted.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Let us not be too hard on White.

This will be one of the first games where taking the QNP and the Rook on a8 with a Queen was played. The dangers signs about such a series of moves had yet to be erected.

click for larger view

McDonnell obviously and obliviously went for this position thinking Black 'has to' save the Rook over the Knight. And if say 9...Re8 10.Qxc6 then the game is unclear. Nothing like the plus Black got in the actual game.

It's old games like this that enabled later players to know such attacks can be allowed because of the time wasted and the misplaced Queen. It gave them and us ideas. (So common is this knowledge now that Jan van Reek let's this historic moment pass without comment. )

The above position is one of the landmarks in chess, from it stemmed later double-rook sacrifices

So all the more credit to La Bourdonnais for trail blazing (and a wee nod to McDonnell for playing his instructive part.)

March 1993.

Antonio Gude: ‘Who is your favourite player from the past?’

David Bronstein: "Tartakower but, above all, La Bourdonnais."

C.N. 4753


May-12-19  Pyrandus: Miracoulose.
Jan-19-20  Marcelo Bruno: I am looking for a possible portrait of Alexander McDonnell; unfortunately the internet brings in some cases George Alcock's instead.
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