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Paul Morphy vs Hubert Knott
"Slip Knott" (game of the day Jan-09-2011)
Rook Odds game (1859) (unorthodox), New York, NY USA, Jun-16
Chess variants (000)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Sastre: If 18...Qxf6 then 19.Qh7+ Ke6 20.Qe4+ Kf7 21.Rxf6+ Kxf6 22.Qxg4 Rg8 23.Qf3+ =.
Dec-25-10  meppi: thanks for showing that continuation.

But what about Ke8

EG> 19. Qh7+ Ke8

20. Qe4+ now fails to - Qe7


20. Rxf6 - Rxf6

21. Qe4+ - Le6


21. Qh8 + - Rf8

22. Qe5 + and it seems that black loses material wherever he moves to Kf7 ( Qf4+) or Kd7 (Qg7+) or Kd8 (Qg6+)

I now see my last comment was incorrect and 18. Qxf6 is losing.

the only interesting try I can come up with is...

18. Qxf6

19. Qh7+ - Ke8

19. Rxf6 - Rxf6

20. Qh8+ - Kf7

21. Qxa8+ - Lh3

But the white queen should be able to handle this situation

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sastre: <meppi> After 18....Qxf6 19.Qh7+ Ke8 19.Rxf6 Rxf6 20.Qh8+, your suggestion of <20...Kf7 21.Qxa8 Bh3> is winning for Black. White can only delay mate after 22.Qxb7+ Kg6.

After 18....Qxf6 19.Qh7+ Ke8, I initially thought White's best try was <20.Qg8+ Rf8 21.Qxg4 Ke7 22.Qe4+>. But like your above suggestion, Black can play <20...Ke7 Qxa8 21.Bh3 Qxb7+ 22.Kd6> and White only has a perpetual.

Dec-25-10  Elsinore: <tamar>

<"I'm Paul Morphy, and you're Knott.">

That's the one that should be a pun for a GOTD.

Premium Chessgames Member
  piltdown man: Sacrifice everything, then win on material.

Brilliant stuff!

Jan-09-11  swr: Morphy is crazy
Jan-09-11  hedgeh0g: I hear Knott screamed incoherently after this game.
Jan-09-11  CapablancaFan122: So many sacrifices.. Yet Morphy still manages to come out on top in the end.
Jan-09-11  Lennonfan: Im a huge morphy fan but most of his opponents appeared to have been weak....he was genuinely ahead of his time,it'd have been great to see him against tal..that'd be one of my players from different era's top games..
Jan-09-11  CapablancaFan122: <Lennonfan> I think any player, whether it is Morphy or someone else, would be crushed by any player from the "future". The difference in chess theory (especially concerning openings) would be so much that Morphy would lose all his games against contemporary masters.

If he were given time to prepare however, that would be a different story. :D

Jan-09-11  Lennonfan: <CapablancaFan122>I agree with you completely i think morphy would have a hard time against any current day top GM but the thought of tal and morphy,who were both exciting attacking players(as opposed to say kramnik!) playing each other is a lot of chess fans dream game....well the ones i know anyway lol
Jan-09-11  Lil Swine: morphy went somewhat off his rocker so playing tal or fischer or whoever,wouldn't help his health
Jan-09-11  Wyatt Gwyon: Morphy vs. ___ in Fischer Random?
Jan-09-11  hedgeh0g: If someone gives you rook odds, you don't walk into their Muzio Gambit. Instead, you play ...c6 ...d5 ...e6 ...Nf6 and thank them for the rook.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Morphy plays the Muzio at rook odds-it's like choosing to kick off in overtime against a 30 mph wind!
Jan-10-11  njchess: The really crushing part of this is that Hubert Knott was no pushover. He was part of the first American Chess Congress of 1857, as one of the top 16 players in the US. He narrowly missed the second round losing to Frederick Perrin. The event was easily won by Morphy, defeating Paulsen in the final, with a tournament record of +14 -1 =2.

Jan-16-11  Llawdogg: Morphy is simply incredible. And Hubert is Knott. I would love to have been thrashed by Morphy like that. And the most amazing part is that Knott wasn't a bad player at all.
May-17-17  brian5668: Really great analysis on this youtube video.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: 19. d5!!

click for larger view

Wins in all variations!

Analysis by Stockfish 8 64:

1. (3.19): 19...Ke8 20.Qg6+ Rf7 21.Bg5 Qf5 22.Rxf5 Bxf5 23.Qxh6

May-29-21  paulmorphy1969: Spinrad gives 2-0 for Morphy without mentioning the odds, from the Brooklyn Eagle, June 17, 1859, but that number says Morphy gave the knight advantage, as did the July 1859 chess monthly (p.228); Lawson's website and Sarah's Morphy give 2-0 for Morphy with Horse advantage, from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper of June 25, 1859, but this game is with a tower advantage. played giving the horse the advantage while the other the rook.
May-30-21  paulmorphy1969: Another most logical possibility is that the match with Marache was played by giving the horse the advantage, while the matches against Hubert Knott the Tower.
Jun-05-21  paulmorphy1969: Every now and then I read a few comments that if Morphy played now against modern players he would have no chance. Point 1- Morphy had Phenomenal Memory Point 2- Endowed with positional intuition perhaps unique in the history of chess Point 3- Morphy was a genius and like all geniuses have no eras or times he can immediately learn anything these 3 characteristics would make Morphy dangerous for any modern great master. P.S:Who of the modern Grand Masters brought into the 1800s without any theoretical knowledge or books or internet or theorizing of chess would have done what Morphy did, which is to destroy the world elite of chess players in just 3 years? Answer None
Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: Morphy and the other giants of the past discovered the principles on which our modern greats built their practice. And got them right, which modern engines confirm.

A more interesting question might be whether our modern heroes would have what it takes to create those principles for themselves. And about as provable either way.

For me anyway, whether the pupil could beat the master isn't as important as what the master created for the pupils.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <pm: P.S: Who of the modern Grand Masters brought into the 1800s without any theoretical knowledge or books or internet or theorizing of chess would have done what Morphy did, which is to destroy the world elite of chess players in just 3 years? Answer None>

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I think Capa would have destroyed Morphy. While the endless discussions don't interest me, I think it's interesting that there's not much middle ground on opinions of Morphy. Count me among the many who rate him the most overrated player ever, but there's many who'd rate him the most underrated. I suspect he'd top both lists.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: There are at least two questions here, depending on which direction we point our time machine.

Question 1: who wins if we send a modern player back to Morphy's time and somehow equalise the modern player's advantage of book knowledge?

Question 2: who wins if we bring Morphy forward to modern times and again equalise the difference in book knowledge?

The first question needs raw chess talent. The second needs raw chess talent plus the ability to study.

For me, the candidates for both questions are Morphy, Fischer, Kasparov and Carlsen. Capa's relaxed attitude to study drops him off the shortlist for question 2.

Morphy has one advantage and disadvantage that he had no close rival. This flatters his results but means he did not have someone to push him further.

For me, it's too close to call.

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