Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Learning from Morphy

Yesterday I put up a relatively easy position to solve. As this week I am teaching the joys of tactics to primary school kids, and using games and positions from Paul Morphy's career.

Black to play
This was from a blindfold game, and Morphy as black came out with the excellent discovered attack, 1..Ng3!!. Discovered attacks are particularly difficult for kids to see so I try to show them plenty of examples, getting them thinking of the whole board and the ways that piece moves will affect other pieces. It also shows that tactics help us to make moves that would be otherwise unthinkable, like putting a knight on a square where 3 pieces can take it. The point of Morphy's move is that 2.Qxg6 fails to Nde2 mate.

I was talking earlier in the year to a colleague Frank Meerbach about Morphy. Frank has been showing Morphy games for a long time, and is known to like the great American master. I asked Frank his favourite games and he said:

Paulsen-Morphy USA Ch 1857
Bird-Morphy London (m5) 1858
Opera House Game

There will, of course, be others but these 3 are absolute classics reprinted in many books, including all of them making it into Garry Kasparov's "My Great Predecessor's, Volume 1". It is important to gain something from classics, and there are some similar themes in the Paulsen and Bird games. I'll put the positions up, and then talk about them next time.

Paulsen-Morphy, Black to play
Bird-Morphy, Black to move

Whether you are trying to work out Morphy's combinations for the first time, or whether you are reliving them, enjoy!

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