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Paul Morphy vs Charles Maurian
New Orleans (1866)
King's Gambit: Accepted. Ghulam-Kassim Gambit (C37)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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May-02-03  Marnoff Mirlony: Morphy's sacrifices are beautiful. The Muzio Gambit is a very interesting Opening that will guarantee an enjoyable game.
Aug-27-03  Blumster: This game is in no way original. Morphy's opponents moves are forced early on; many feel his opponents are strictly worse than he, I feel that by todays standards however he could smack around any number of GMs. The manifestation of his control of this game you might ask? No opponent peices are developed until the tenth move, which is the queen which later (move 16) serves as a beautiful distraction while Morphy serves up a quick dish of mate
Aug-27-03  ughaibu: It's impossible to draw any conclusions about how he would fair against a modern GM from games like this which could have been played by plenty of his contemporaries.
Mar-12-04  dag: For me, the great value of this game is how clear it makes the contrast in styles of thought between Morphy and his opponent---Maurian's is the dogged approach of the stolid, inartistic beginner who hasn't played enough to develop deep intuitions about the game. Isn't the struggle between these two tendencies present in all dedicated players who fall short of the great ones? We can see Maurian's mind at work at every step, stabbing at whatever's in front of him and artlessly formulating crude two-step tactics, with no sense of genuine strategy, let alone theory; the most endearing moment, in a way, is his courageously meant sally with his queen (once he's nervously verified four times that his bishop is backing him up), daring Morphy to take it, by gosh. Whereas Morphy is operating in another sphere altogether ; he's obviously realized since Black's second move that he is not going to be threatened in the least, and sets about sketching a kind of languorous capriccio so short and pure it never grows stale. It calls to mind Valery's poem "Le Sylphe": "Ni vu, ni connu/ Hasard ou génie?/ A peine venu/ La tâche est fini." It's this trait of endless delighted inventiveness that makes Morphy, the most poetic of chess players, so fascinating.
Mar-12-04  drukenknight: You know, it is irritating to quote a foreign language if you're not going to translate it for the reader. I see that tendency in 19th cent. writers, when I guess it was expected that you were supposed to know French. I dont see it done much anymore and when I do, it just irritates the hell out of me.
Mar-12-04  dag: My apologies, drukenknight. I got carried away, didn't mean to sound so pompous--also didn't imagine anyone would read my kibitz for weeks or months, if ever! This will teach me to be more circumspect. The poem could be translated <"Unseen, unknown/ Chance or genius?/ No sooner begun/ The task is done."> Something about this charming game made me think of it--many of the great games have a chill, still, remote, frightening quality to me, but with Morphy I don't feel that--it's like he's beyond that, his games have a warmth of intelligence, not a coldness of intellect. Even when he doesn't win, he loses sort of winsomely.
Mar-12-04  drukenknight: Oh no big deal, it is a chat forum after all not a formal writing. Still, it does bother me when I see it so I had to say something. It used to be very common to see that in the 19th cent. which I suspect is something that came from English writers, after all if you lived in England you were expected to know a little French. I guess. Dont see that (w/o the trans.) much now, but when I see now, in books, it really messes me.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <dag> I view these games near the end of Morphy's playing days more sadly. It is evident his powers are still there, if not growing. But he is not stretched in the slightest by his friend Maurian. It is almost like watching a conjuring trick. When I see these games I think of the Morphy-Steinitz match that never occurred.
Mar-17-04  dag: <tamar> Thanks for your post. Good point, that match would have been truly valuable to have--the clash of two philosophies. I guess I feel I as a player benefit more from seeing the really contrasty games like this one--I'm much more of a Maurian in my approach, alas, but even a glance at the board at certain stages of certain of Morphy's matches makes the difference obvious; at the cusp of the middle game Morphy's forces almost always have a certain "look," a psychic signature, the way you can always tell a Picasso even though he had so many styles. When earnest plodding and hyperagile dance are taking place on the same field, I can grasp the brilliance of the brilliant one more completely. The things like discovered &/or double check, and dramatic sacrifices, and the tide of battle turning on a pawn or two--well, those are beautiful no matter who the opponent is. And then the subtler flows of energy around the board--Morphy will seemingly disperse it only to reunite it tellingly precisely when needed. As my knowledge of chess deepens I'll probably be able to see the same signatures in other stellar ones, but for now I'm trying to soak up Morphy. (Aren't we all!)
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <dag> Morphy is one of my favorite players, off the charts, but I'm not sure that Morphy's games have a "psychic signature" that is identifiable. There were masters in his day who were every bit as brilliant against weak opponents. Just to show one example against Schulten in the same opening. Could you really tell who was Morphy in these two games if you just had the moves? J Schulten vs Morphy, 1857
J Schulten vs Kolisch, 1860
Nov-10-04  TheGreatNN: Yes.
They are both quite impressive tactically, but no way would Morphy have played ..g5!? or gotten himself into a position as tenuous as it was for black in the middle of the second game.
Nov-10-04  TheGreatNN: But, lest my criticism be uneven, dag, "artlessly formulating crude two-step tactics, with no sense of genuine strategy, let alone theory" - You are talking about someone who sometimes beat Morphy with knight odds. You imagine too much.
Aug-26-07  frank124c: The final position in this game is a wonderful illustration of the Pin. The obvious pin is Queen and Rook battery--I like to call the Q & R battery "the gun"--keeping the knight from moving. The more subtle pin is the Bishop pinning the Queen. The part that blows my mind is that the black Queen cannot take the white Bishop because then, of course, black will be mated. So what we have is a pin on a piece guarding mate. I've heard of capturing a guarding piece, or forcing it to move, but pinning the guarding piece is unusual, to say the least.
Dec-06-07  KnightOnEverest: <dag> "warmth of intelligence, not a coldness of intellect" .... could you explain that with simpler words ....
Dec-17-08  WhiteRook48: I thought Black could break the pin with ...Qxb5 but then White has Qxe7#.
Apr-24-09  heuristic: mo' better moves :
9...Qf6 10.Nc3 Nd7 11.Nb5 Kd8 12.Qe3

11...Kd8 12.Na3 Ne7 13.exd6 cxd6 14.Rae1

12.Na3 Kd8 13.Nb5 f6 14.exf6 Bxf6

13.Nc3 Qg6 14.Nb5 Kd8 15.Rae1 f5

13...Qd7 14.Bh6 Nxh6 15.Bb5 Nf5 16.Bxd7+

14...Qxc4 15.Bxe7 Be6 15.Ba3 Qxd5 17.Nc3

15...Qxe7 16.Qc3 Qxe1+ 17.Qxe1+ Kf8 18.Qb4+

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <heuristic> Noticed your Morphy interest. Here is my attempt at organising PM's odds contest - Game Collection: Morphy's Knight Odds Match vs Thompson
Jul-29-09  tentsewang: Morphy's predicament always comes out like he travelled time.
Nov-20-09  cornflake: <heuristic: mo' better moves : 9...Qf6 10.Nc3 Nd7 11.Nb5 Kd8 12.Qe3

11...Kd8 12.Na3 Ne7 13.exd6 cxd6 14.Rae1

12.Na3 Kd8 13.Nb5 f6 14.exf6 Bxf6

13.Nc3 Qg6 14.Nb5 Kd8 15.Rae1 f5

13...Qd7 14.Bh6 Nxh6 15.Bb5 Nf5 16.Bxd7+

14...Qxc4 15.Bxe7 Be6 15.Ba3 Qxd5 17.Nc3

15...Qxe7 16.Qc3 Qxe1+ 17.Qxe1+ Kf8 18.Qb4+>

Since we are on the subject of "mo better" moves instead of Maurian's 9...Qd7 how about 9...Bg7 (see Degraeve vs C Marcelin, 2002) with the idea of Ne7 and 0-0. In the game Degraeve vs C Marcelin, 2002 black managed to simplify the game to endgame that he went on to win.

Jun-26-10  Antiochus: This game is repeated Year 1869 is exact according Krabbé.
Nov-12-11  Llawdogg: Wow! There are so many delightful games of Paul Morphy.
Dec-03-11  Lashab: Qd7 was a complete blunder. Bg7 would have repelled all white's attacks.

But the game surely is a masterpiece by chess genius - Morphy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Lashab> This game was played at knight odds. Morphy was playing without his queen knight. So you really can't evaluate Morphy's play the way you would if the game was played even. Among other things, he has to avoid simplification. Hence moves like d4-d5 instead of Bxe6.
Dec-04-11  Lashab: Just Reposting the comment with correcting the mistake:

White is in hopeless position after Qxf3 according to engine. Morphy loses the opening! But...

Let's check blunders after standard King's Gambit situation, when Morphy has -0.40 out of the opening with Nf3.


-1.22 at 4. Bc4 (better was h4 with -0.49)

-1.05 at 7. d5 (better was Bxe6 as only way to keep an advantage)


-1.12 at 6. d6(better was Qh4+ or Nf6 with -1.52)

-0.59 with 7.Be6 (better was Qf6 with -1.37)

+0.58 with 9.Qd7 (better was Qf6 with -1.05)

+1.88 with 11.Be7 (better was Kd8 or Ne8)

+7.46 with 12.Qg7 was worst move by Maurian but anyway Morphy was winning in every continuation from here with +2.43 even in case of best reply --- Kd8! from Maurian.

Moral of the game: Morphy loses the opening, but smashes the opponent with good tactics and once he gets advantage, he executes mercilessly!

Dec-04-11  Lashab: <Keypusher>

Well, I didn't put Knight odd in consideration for the engine. I chose as if it was equal when started.

Bxe6 was in reality the strongest continuation I suppose, I check it now:

Yap, engine still prefers Bxe6 because after pawn recaptures, queen check comes!

With correct play white is busted for sure, but with correct play white loses if he doesn't bishop - much faster.

It's not Morphy's mistake though, engines always find better continuation, which is not the move that human would play.

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