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Paul Morphy vs Thomas Barnes
Casual game (1858), London ENG
Uncommon King's Pawn Opening (B00)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jun-16-05  aw1988: Is there evidence this is a real game? Some games of Morphy were ficticious.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <aw1988> I see this game in all my Morphy books.

My theory is Barnes was a tough match-up for Morphy, because he played tortoise like structures and had good consolidation skills.

Jul-08-05  EnglishOpeningc4: I dont think that morphy was good in B00 openings. there are 3 openings at least that get their names from morphy games (owen, carr, barnes). How ever 1.e4 f6!!! is significant for 2 reasons, 1: it is an awesome phychological plan (before Lasker!), and 2: it was an introduction to K-indian-like positions before they were popular. Even so the move stinks. I've played it in blitz a few times though, and 1e4 f6? 2d4 e6 3nc3 d5 4ed5! is the only way to keep black from carrying out his plan of ...de4
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: After 13...f5 you wouldn't think black could hold out much longer against Morphy.
Nov-15-05  Jaymthetactician: Morphy should have won this! I'd play 3.e5,fxe5 4.dxe5
Jun-20-06  whatthefat: For shame Morphy, for shame!
Jun-21-06  RookFile: Not really. Barnes was a strong player. I remember thinking after 1.... f6 that I bet that Barnes had a notion, long before Duncan Suttles came along, of something like a modern defense, with ..... Nh6 and .... Nf7, and the bishop goes to g7. It didn't exactly work out this way, but notice Barnes did get his bishop around to g7.

The whole point of all of this is: the way to beat something like this is to play like Botvinnik did and transpose this into a Kings Indian, where White pushes 4 or 5 pawns to the 5th rank and suffocates the life out of black.

Barnes was able to reach a position where the important consideration was not time.

Jun-21-06  whatthefat: I'm not denying that Barnes was a strong player, but 1...f6? is virtually offering white odds. I can't imagine Morphy being too happy about the final result!
Jun-21-06  Bartleby: Correct <whatthefat>. It was (probably) psychology provocation on Barnes's part (it wasn't Barnes usual opening against Morphy in any regard), the same thinking behind Anderssen's 1. a3 or Miles's whimsical 1. ... a6 and 2. ... b5 against Karpov which most certainly unnerved (if not outright insulted) the incumbant champion, to stoop to playing against such "garbage" chess.

Morphy got a little impatient and a little too routine with his opening play. 4. Nh3, followed by c3, O-O, and either f4 or Nf4 might have served better.

6. Nxe4?! was an inaccuracy, when 6. Bxe4! is better, when 6. ... Nd5 is refuted by Qh5+. Two sample lines might run 6. ... g6 7. Qf3 Bg7 8. O-O-O , or 6. ... f5 (Nc6 7. Nh3) 7. Bd3 Nd5 8. Nxd5 exd5 9. Nh3, and in either case Morphy will be right in his element for an attack.

At move eleven Morphy might have opted for 11. Bh6, followed by Bxg7 and O-O-O for a slightly more dynamic approach, though the text move is just fine. White's real blunder is the next move 12. c4??. (12. Rad1 Nxe3 13. fxe3 f5 14. Neg5 h6 15. Bc4 would have kept the pressure, though White's chance for a big edge is past)

After Black's 13. ... f5! He Barnes had refuted White's opening scheme, with counterplay in the wings. 14. Nf3? confounds the issue with a time-wasting retreat and black thenceforth has the edge. White should have at least tried 14. Rad1 and Bb1, preparing a d5 push, though he would still have the worst of it, all the while tempting black to accept the "gift" on g5 (a Morphy sacrificial trademark). Morphy might have found some ingenius wrench-in-the-gears method of obfuscating things when having an inferior middlegame.

Morphy botched this one (a blemish on an otherwise dominating career due to who knows what factors). 1. ... f6 is a weak move theoretically, but may be strong psychologically in the proper context.

Jun-21-06  SBC: Very soon after arriving in England Morphy played Barnes a series of games. Of the 26 games played, Barnes won 7. Five of these were won in the first 10 games. Of the remaining 16, Barnes won 2.

So, what do we make of this?

Lawson claimed that Morphy was a poor traveler and usually played lackadaisically for a few days after an arduous trip. I think there's even more to this. First, Morphy had supreme confidence in his abilities and never seemed too concerned over early losses.. in fact he didn't seem to even try very hard in many of his early games with opponents. Edge substantiates this with his description of Morphy's match with Harrwitz. Second, Morphy went to England, in spite of all professed or suspected reasons, to test his mettle against the best players in the world. But Morphy, no matter how cosmopolitan he may have seemed, was still a young man, almost a boy, who had seldom been away from home and who arrived in England alone not knowing what sort of reception or accommodations he might have to endure. Add to that the expectations of his friends back home, it would seem his position was extremely stressful. While it didn't take long for Morphy to make friends in England and even learn to enjoy the new environment, I doubt that was true in the first days or week - when he played Barnes. I also suspect that Morphy realized his own strength as compared to Barnes' and his mediocre showing in the beginning of their informal match - which Morphy seemed to have expected to win without effort - must have jolted him into action.

Jun-23-06  Bartleby: As always <SBC>, your elucidation into historical context beyond the wall sheets and game scores is illuminating and warmly welcome.
Sep-27-06  blingice: [Event "rated blitz match"]
[Site ""]
[Date "2006.09.27"]
[Round "?"]
[White "blingice"]
[Black "trebimlja"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "1142"]
[BlackElo "1316"]
[ECO "B00"]
[TimeControl "180"]

1. e4 f6 2. d4 c6 3. Qh5+ g6 4. Qc5 e5 5. Qc4 d5 6. exd5 Qxd5 7. Qxd5 cxd5 8. Nf3 e4 9. Nfd2 Bg7 10. f3 e3 11. Nb3 Bh6 12. Nc3 Be6 13. Nc5 e2 14. Bxh6 Nxh6 15. Bxe2 Bd7 16. Nxd7 Nxd7 17. Nxd5 O-O 18. Bb5 Nb6 19. Nxb6 axb6 20. Bc4+ Kh8 21. a3 Rfe8+ 22. Be2 Rac8 23. c3 Nf5 24. Kd2 Nh4 25. g3 Ng2 26. Rhg1 Ne3 27. Rae1 Nc4+ 28. Bxc4 Rxe1 29. Rxe1 Rxc4 30. Re8+ Kg7 31. Re7+ Kh6 32. Rxb7 Rc6 33. b4 Kg5 34. Kd3 Kf5 35. c4 h5 36. d5 Rd6 37. Kd4 g5 38. c5 bxc5+ 39. bxc5 Rd8 40. c6 g4 41. fxg4+ hxg4 42. c7 Rc8 43. d6 Ke6 44. Kc5 Kd7 45. Rb8 Rxc7+ 46. dxc7 Kxc7 47. Rb6 Kd7 48. Rxf6 Ke7 49. Rh6 Kf7 50. Kd5 Kg7 51. Ra6 Kf7 52. Ke5 Ke7 53. Ra7+ Kd8 54. Ke6 Kc8 55. Kd6 Kb8 56. Rh7 Kc8 57. a4 Kb8 58. Kc6 Kc8 59. Rh8# 1-0

Silly Morphy, even I can beat the Barnes Defense.

Jul-05-08  jstevens1: And here is a game of mine against the Barnes Defense:-

[Event "Placida"]
[Site ""]
[Date "2008.06.22"]
[Round "-"]
[White "jstevens1"]
[Black "arch-nemesis"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "1679"]
[BlackElo "1470"]
[TimeControl "604800+259200"]
[Mode "ICS"]
[Termination "normal"]

1. e4 f6 2. d4 g6 3. c4 Nh6 4. Nc3 Nf7 5. f4 Bg7 6. Nf3 O-O 7. Bd3 c6 8. Bd2 d6 9. Qc2 e6 10. O-O Na6 11. a3 Nc7 12. f5 exf5 13. exf5 g5 14. b4 Bd7 15. Ne2 d5 16. c5 Qc8 17. Ng3 Nh6 18. h4 Nf7 19. Rae1 Re8 20. hxg5 fxg5 21. Nh5 Bh6 22. Nf6+ Kg7 23. Nxe8+ Nxe8 24. Ne5 Nxe5 25. dxe5 Nc7 26. e6 Nxe6 27. fxe6 Bxe6 28. Bc3+ Kg8 29. Bxh7# 1-0

Hope you enjoy.



Feb-01-09  WhiteRook48: 1...f6?! and 2...e6 seem to ruin Black's pawn structure
Aug-04-09  birthtimes: Morphy lost the initiative after 12. c4. Better would have been 12. Bh6 Nc6 13. c3 e5 14. Rad1 exd4 15. Bc4 with a strong initiative for White...
Oct-23-09  Qb6: If you can beat Morphy with such a ridiculous opening, I suggest you try playing this against the World Champion: 1. d4 h5 2. e4 e5
Jan-31-12  morphyesque: On pages 526/527 I quote from Irving Chernev's "1000 Best Short Games of Chess", " Barnes had beaten him a few days previously with the Krazy-Kat opening (as experts refer to 1....P-KB3)".I was always curious what this defence was by black and am grateful to this website for providing the full game for reference.

Of course it is probably the worst move Black could have played as it has no positional merits whatsoever, but may have been played for psychological reasons to put Morphy immediately out of his comfort zone.As stated by another contributor above, the late Tony Miles famously played with a similar intention, 1....a6 at the Skara Olympiad in 1980 to surprise and beat Karpov.

My favourite Thomas Wilson Barnes game vs Morphy (incidentally he had the best record in casual games against Morphy) is game 86 recorded on pages 157/158 of P.W.Sergeant's "Morphy's Games of Chess".The occasion was the only simultaneous exhibition Morphy gave (not blindfold) in his career, played in London on 26th April 1859.Barnes offered his black queen on move 32.Sergeant has the following comment:" A beautiful move and one which it must have been an additional satisfaction to have brought off against Morphy.If 33.RXQ Black mates on the spot." (by ...RXH2).

Nevertheless Morphy should have won this game.In "Morphy Gleanings"(1932) by the same author,Sergeant quotes some anaysis by Ernest Clarke & A J Fink from the "San Francisco Chronicle", showing Morphy could have mated Barnes in 52 moves after a virtually forced sequence.This does not however take away the kudos of this win by Barnes in 38 moves.

Apr-10-14  john barleycorn: This is the kind of comment I do not get:
< Leviathan: IMO, 1. e4 f6?! is pointless. It simply creates a weakness in black's pawn structure and gives away a tempo - I can't see any strategic idea behind it.

I think Barnes played it to confuse his opponent (who would have easily overplayed him in a 'regular' game), trying to get some winning chances. >

Apr-12-14  morfishine: FWIW: Barnes had the best record of any English player vs Morphy winning 8 & losing 19
Apr-12-14  thegoodanarchist: Here Morphy couldn't hit the broad side of a Barnes.
Apr-19-15  morphyesque: Further to my comment of 31/1/2012 I wonder what Morphy made of "The Big Stink" noticeable in London in 1858.This was when raw sewage and human waste was being pumped into the Thames (near Simpsons Divan) before city municipal engineers improved the sewer system.
Mar-23-16  schnarre: ...As with any opening, it is how well or poorly one plays it.
Nov-08-18  Marmot PFL: That's how you beat guys like Morphy, get them out of book.
Mar-30-19  ughaibu: Anderssen vs T W Barnes, 1862
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Blimey Morphy lost to this opening :)
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