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Theodore Lichtenhein vs Paul Morphy
1st American Chess Congress (1857), New York, NY USA, rd 3, Oct-27
Dutch Defense: Raphael Variation (A80)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-19-05  RookFile: I don't get it. Are you sure that
black, Paul Morphy, didn't resign
here? White plans Kc3, Nd4, Nxe6.
Feb-19-05  aw1988: You know, I think RookFile has a point.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: This is not the complete score. Sergeant writes "Black eventually won, though there is no further score of the game. The advance of the Q side pawns must decide the issue, enabling Black to turn the hostile centre."

<rookfile> gives a natural plan Kc3 and Nd4 for White, pressuring e6. What is Black's winning sequence?

Feb-19-05  RookFile: It seems tricky.... how would it
go? Something like 34... b5
35. Kc3!? with this Nd4 and Nxe6
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Rookfile> That's it. Morphy had to have played 34...b5 and either gotten two connected pawns or if 35 Kc3 bxc4 36 Nd4 Kd5 and Black is winning.
Feb-19-05  RookFile: I think you're right. 34.... b5
35. Kc3 bxc4 (!!) 36. Nd4 Kd5
37. Nf3 c5! 37. Nd2 and it seems
like black is too fast in eating
white's kingside pawns before white
eats black's queen side pawns.

Thinking back on this, what an
amazing concept this is by Morphy!
By all appearances, Lichtenhein
set a trap for him, winning a piece,
yet Morphy sees that he's winning
anyway! Very deep!

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: I tried to save this for White after 34...b5 35. cxb5 cxb5 36. Ng1, with the idea of liquidating the kingside pawns so Black's remaining passers will be closer together and easier for the knight to deal with.

But it doesn't quite work after 36...a5 37. Nf3 a4+ 38. Ka3 Kd5 39. h4 gxh4 40. Nxh4 Kxe5 41. Ng6+ Ke4 42. Kb4 e5, followed by 43...Kd4 followed by the advance of the e-pawn, etc. and Black is still winning.

Mar-15-05  csmath: I just refuse to believe Morphy was able to calculate the ending completely. He might have seen that he cannot lose, which I guess would be good enough to try. In either case absolutely remarkable ending. I don't get why did Lichtenheim resigned without trying further.
Mar-15-05  RookFile: tamar says he did try further,
but this is all the moves we have.

This ending is a fantastic
conception from Morphy.

May-10-05  Jaymthetactician: Ahhh! So Morphy was a Dutch player? I heard the 2.Nc3 is objectivly best.
May-10-05  Jaymthetactician: I meant Aha!
Dec-19-07  RandomVisitor: After 33...c6

click for larger view

1. (0.00): 34.Na2 b5 35.Kc3 bxc4 36.h3 a5 37.Kd2 Kd4 38.Nc3 Kc5 39.Ne2 Kd5 40.Ke3 Kc5 41.Ke4 Kb4 42.Nd4 a4 43.Nxe6 a3 44.Nd4 Kc3

2. (0.00): 34.Ne2 b5 35.Kc3 bxc4 36.Ng1 a5 37.h3 a4 38.Nf3 Kd5 39.Kb4 c5+ 40.Kxa4 Ke4 41.Nd2+ Kd4 42.Kb5 c3 43.Nb3+ Kxe5 44.Kc4 c2 45.Kc3 Kf4 46.Kxc2 Kg3 47.Nxc5 Kxh3 48.Kd3

Apr-29-08  heuristic: This is game #4 of the semifinal match of the American Chess Congress.
May-08-08  heuristic: since engines declare this a draw, then with Sergeant's comment in mind; the losing strategy might have been to switch the roles of K & N. Since I perceive the drawing strategy is to have the N watch the passed Q pawns and the K defend the middle.

then something like :
34.Ne2 b5 35.cxb5 cxb5 36.Kc3 b4+ 37.Kb3 a5 38.Ng3 Kd4 39.Nh5 Kxe5 40.h3 Ke4 41.Nf6+ Kf3 ...

so the "advance of the Q pawns" is stopped by the K; but this leaves the N as a poor defender of the middle and its pawns.

Jan-22-15  Tal1949: It is a shame we do not have the final position. Engines say this is a plain old draw, so Lichtenhein must have blundered somewhere.
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Black will have connected passed pawns on the kingside, which will tie down the white king from going anywhere. This leaves the white knight trying to protect the white pawns and prevent the black king from penetrating. Even though white has an extra piece, both are passive while the Black king is active.
Oct-10-15  bahamutneo: At move 9 - wouldnt be better for Morphy to play Rf8? then he can let opponent trade queens and have developed the Rook
Jan-27-16  Marmot PFL: <Sergeant writes "Black eventually won, though there is no further score of the game. The advance of the Q side pawns must decide the issue, enabling Black to turn the hostile centre.">

It seems that this was an informal game, as Morphy had already won the 4 game match with 2 wins and a draw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <RandomVisitor>
After 34. Na2 b5 35. Kc3, why not reply simply <35...a5>? I don't see a clear way for White to hold the position together after that.
Premium Chessgames Member
  fearlessone: Looks like Fischer Spassky game one 1972. Except Morphy gets away with it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < Marmot PFL: <Sergeant writes "Black eventually won, though there is no further score of the game. The advance of the Q side pawns must decide the issue, enabling Black to turn the hostile centre."> It seems that this was an informal game, as Morphy had already won the 4 game match with 2 wins and a draw.>

No, this is a tournament game. Before the finals, it was first to three wins, with draws replayed (which is why Morphy had Black/moved second twice in a row, I guess). Finals were first to five wins.

1st American Chess Congress (1857)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: <fearlessone> and since Bobby was very familiar with all of Pauls games, he might have been thinking of this one!
Oct-31-19  Sally Simpson: ***

Macon Shibut in 'Paul Morphy and Evolution of Chess Theory' (pages 109-110) has a plausible suggestion for the missing final moves in this and other 19th centrury games.

At that time it was not uncommon for the losers name to be flooded with asterisks. Mr. J***s (Jones) etc.

So if the loser made a severe blunder they could have withheld showing it to avoid embarrassing the player concerned and opted for a Mr Morphy, or whoever, won.

This reasonable explanation and ploy was even used in 1993 during the Spassky - J.Polgar match.

Judit missed a shot.

click for larger view

White can play 12.Bxf7+ T Braathen vs Nils Carlsson, 2016

and the organisers to save both players blushes originally sent out a different move order to hide this fact.

Judit, to her credit, revealed what had happened.

Judit Polgar vs Spassky, 1993 (kibitz #22)

"I wrote about it in my Washington Post column, but I later found out that the moves were altered. Perhaps not to embarrass the players, the organizers put out another version of the game, the one you can find in the databases. In their account the horrific blunders were eliminated and made my story not credible."


Dec-06-19  Carrots and Pizza: The engine shows it as a draw in the final position.
Dec-07-19  Sally Simpson: See above - it is the final position we have but the last moves of this game are missing.
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