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Paul Morphy vs Johann Jacob Loewenthal
Morphy - Loewenthal (1858), London ENG, rd 6, Jul-27
Sicilian Defense: Morphy Gambit (B21)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: The critical position of this game comes after <7.0-0>. Should Black take the pawn <7...Nxe4> or should he not?

Clearly, Morphy and Lowenthal thought the later. Lowenthal gave the variation <8.Re1 d5 9.Rxe4! dxe4 10.Bxf7+!>, where Black queen is lost.

Steinitz however, claims that the former is a 'nobrainer' on positional grounds: "Any first-class player would now grasp at it without wasting much of his time allowance, and probably a second-rate man, who has followed the notes of modern analysts, would not hesitate much."

Steinitz was good at following tough talk by deeds. Here are his lines: <8.Re1 d5 9.Rxe4? f6!> with the critical continuations of either <10.b3!? Be7!> (but not 10...dxe4? 11.Bf7+! Ke7 12.Ba3+) or <10.Rxe5?! fxe5 11.Qh5+ Kd7>.

Jan-02-06  thathwamasi: Why do they call this opening as morphy gambit of sicilian? I thought this is the smith morra gambit????
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: <Gypsy> In the Steinitz variation, 7. 0-0 Ne4 8. Re1 d5 9. Re4 f6, White can play 10. Qh5!. For instance, 10... g6 11. Re5! Be7! 12. Rd5! gh 13. Rd8 with two pawns for the exchange in the ending and a slightly better position for White.

I do not like 10. b3?!, because of 10... Bf5, and White must go for an unclear sac of the Bishop.

Clearly not 10.Rxe5! fxe5 11.Qh5+ Kd7, and White has nothing for the exchange.

Jan-10-06  Holden: <thathwamasi> 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.Nf3 is the Morphy Gambit; the Smith-Morra Gambit is 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3.

On a side note, is the "Morphy Gambit" really a gambit? Black has no means of holding the extra pawn that I am aware of.

Jan-10-06  morpstau: black can indeed hold the pawn but at the cost of a weak position... e.g. 1 e4 c5 2 d4 cxd4 3 knf3 e5?! 4 bc4 qc7!? (( if 4. Knxe5 Qa5+!!!))
Jan-10-06  morpstau: morphy trounced lowenthal when he made a visit to america when morphy was but just tweleve years of age. he crushed him either 3-0, or 2-1-0; the facts are not totaly known but the former is more than likely correct
Jan-10-06  Kean: Maybe it is not imperative to hold the pawn, c3 will come and the position is OK for white, this of course if one has a taste for gambits, as they did in those days.
Jan-10-06  Holden: You're right, 3...e5 holds the pawn for the moment, and Qa5+ looks like an awfully fun move to play. After 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.Nf3 e5 4.c3, black really seems better off giving the pawn back in the next couple moves, but I concede that the Morphy Gambit is a gambit indeed.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Mateo> Steinitz, or more accurately Hartston where I found Steinitz' analysis, is mum on your idea of 10.Qh5+ g6 11.Rxe5+.

If I got myself into a brawl like this as White, however, I would be concerned about my weak first rank; for instance: <7... Nxe4 8.Re1 d5 9.Rxe4 f6> 10.Qh5+ g6 11.Rxe5..., and now 11...fxe5 12.Qxe5+ Qe7.

click for larger view

Off the bat, recapturing the x-change with 13.Qxh8 Qe8+ 14.Bf1 Qxc1 looks bleak.

click for larger view

How to untie White before it's too late?

Jan-12-06  Boomie: A more forceful way to treat the premature 4...e5 is:

5. Nb5 Nf6 6. N1c3 d6 7. Nd5 Nxd5 8. exd5 Ne7 9. c4

<Gypsy's> 10. Qh5+ line is interesting. White can wriggle out of the bind but it seems to fizzle out to an even game.

7...Nxe4 8. Re1 d5 9. Rxe4 f6 10. Qh5+ g6 11. Rxe5+ fxe5 12. Qxe5+ Qe7 13. Qxh8 Qe1+ 14. Bf1 Qxc1 15. Qe5+ Be7 16. Qc3 Bb7 17. b4 Qf4 18. Nd2

The simple 10. Re1 seems better but both lines look drawish to me.

7...Nxe4 8. Re1 d5 9. Rxe4 f6 10. Re1 dxc4 11. Qh5+ g6 12. Qf3 Bd7 13. Nc3

Jan-12-06  morpstau: 4...e5 is not good and positionally weak. No modern player would play this but the long time champion lasker i believe toyed with it or did he?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Boomie> <7...Nxe4 8. Re1 d5 9. Rxe4 f6 10. Qh5+ g6 11. Rxe5+ fxe5 12. Qxe5+ Qe7 13. Qxh8 Qe1+ 14. Bf1 Qxc1 15. Qe5+ ...> Yup, probably the only plan. But an immediate 15.Qc3(!) must be better because 15.Qe4 Kd7 seems just lost; 16...Ba6 is rather a terminal threat and 16.Qe2 Qxb2 drops the rook.
Jan-13-06  Boomie: <Gypsy> White can escape from that mess, too. But it just leads to a perpetual. I think that proves that 10. Re1 is white's best chance.

7...Nxe4 8. Re1 d5 9. Rxe4 f6 10. Qh5+ g6 11. Rxe5+ fxe5 12. Qxe5+ Qe7 13. Qxh8 Qe1+ 14. Bf1 Qxc1 15. Qe5+ Kd7 16. c4 Ba6 17. b3 Re8 18. Qd4 Re1 19. Nd2 Qxa1 20. Qxa7+ Kd8 21. Qxa6 Bh6 22. Qb6+ Ke7 23. Qc7+ Kf8 24. Qd8+ etc.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Boomie> That does look convincing.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Lasker lost to Morphy's line 5 Nxc6, but it was in a simul Solokovsky vs Lasker, 1899
Jan-13-06  Calli: Morphy studied the La Bourdannais - Mcdonnell matches where this variation was played:

McDonnell, as you can see, always played 7.Bg5. Obviously, Morphy analyzed the position and did not agree. It would be interesting to know what he had prepared for Nxe4.

Jan-27-06  MorphyMatt: 5. Nxc6?! is a little to cooperative as it strengthens blacks control over the center without giving white anyhting in return. It also nullifies the disadvantage of black's ambitious 4th move, i.e. the weakening ot the d5 square. 5. Nb5 is better.
Mar-26-06  aw1988: What are you people talking about?! 4...e5 weak? It is the Kalashnikov variation!
Oct-01-06  zarathustra666: I love this gambit against the Sicilian! In a recent game though, black threw me curveball with 1.e4,c5 2.d4,cxd4 3.Nf3, Nf6?! What's the best reply? 4.e5 to chase away the knight, 4.Bd3 top hold the pawn, or Nxd4?
May-16-07  Rory O Rion: What do You imagine to be a major drawback to Morphy playing 3 . .(P-e5)?
Premium Chessgames Member
  blazerdoodle: any comments on Kasparov's suggestion that 12.Bg5 "is more accurate?"
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: <morpstau: 4...e5 is not good and positionally weak. No modern player would play this>

4..e5 is the Kalashnikov variation (B32) and is occasionally played today. 5 Nb5 is the main line; Morphy's 5 Nxc6 is rarely played. McDonald gives 6..Ba6 as best exchanging off White's Bishop. 7..0-0? is, of course, bad. Maroczy recommends 11..e4 but I think Black is already in deep trouble by that point.

Aug-09-12  LoveThatJoker: Guess-the-Move Final Score:

Morphy vs Loewenthal, 1858.
Your score: 49 (par = 40)


May-17-21  talhal20: Morphy was expert at end game plays which in this game started at the end of 19th move.
May-17-21  sudoplatov: After 1.e4 c5, 2.d4 cxe4, 3.Nf3, Black can try 3...a6 heading to the O'Kelly variation.

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