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George Henry Mackenzie vs Louis Paulsen
Match (1862), London ENG
Italian Game: Evans Gambit. Morphy Attack (C51)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-01-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: 15...Bd7 was a mistake. 15...Qc7 would have been better, although 16.Nb5 Qc6 17.Nd6 looks well for white.
Jun-29-09  WhiteRook48: I would love to see 20 Bg8?!
Dec-11-13  Petrosianic: It's not enough to just say that Bd7 is a mistake. Fritz could tell you that, and you wouldn't have learned a darn thing. The important thing is to know WHY it's a mistake.

It's a mistake because the Bishop gets pinned to the Queen. That doesn't look so bad at first glance, but after White vacates e5 with the e6 sacrifice, and doubles up with the Knight on e5, the Bishop is about to fall and no easy way to protect it. The only way to break the pin is 20... Bf5, exposing Black's queen, and attacking White's at the same time, but of course it doesn't work. 21. Rxd8 Bxc2 exchanges the queens safely, all right, but then Rxf8+ gives White the extra tempo to save his Bishop, win Black's Bishop, and trade off the Rooks all in one swell foop. All of this is forced from the moment Black plays Bd7, of course. Your suggestion of Qc7 is better, because it avoids the deadly pin. 15... Qe8 is also better, for the same reason. Black cannot fall into that pin.

Incidentally, White's 21st move is not the best. 21. Bxf5 is even better. 21... Qxd5 22. Ng6+ Kg8 23. Ne7+ Kh8 24. Nxd5 and White is way up. No matter. Mackenzie may have been short of time, and picked a move that led to an absolutely safe piece-up won game. A computer probably wouldn't like it, but that's the way smart humans play. To a human, an eval of +3.00 with no chance of counterplay is better than one of +5.00 with lots of chances to screw up.

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