A . L . L . . . . . Pieces In Play . . . . . Part 3 / Final

by National Life Master Loal Davis

Paul Morphy


As I stated in Part 2, Morphy was a fanatic about getting his last piece into play – as quickly as possible.  THE game that shined me onto this was the following which was one of eight games played simultaneously and blindfold.  


Event “New Orleans simultaneous”
Site “New Orleans”
Date “1858”
White “Morphy, Paul”
Black “NN”

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. Ng5 d5 6. exd5 Nxd5 7. O-O Be7 8. Nxf7 Kxf7 9. Qf3+ Ke6

Morphy now has a super-duper Fegatello Attack (Fried Liver) where White is absolutely crushing.  Bobby Fischer got into this position several times during his simultaneous exhibition games in the early 1960’s.  Fischer’s move of ‘Re1+’ is considered the strongest in this position; there are several moves that win from here.  I find Morphy’s selection (blindfold mind you) to be absolutely astounding.  It shows that Morphy’s considerations and priorities are not in the mainstream, but superb nevertheless.  Morphy wants to get his LAST piece into the game as quickly as possible. 

10. Nc3 ! !

What is this?  Well – it puts immediate pressure on the pinned Knight on ‘d5’ and notice that Black does not have the supporting ‘c6’ available here; he would if White had checked last move and Black interposed with ‘Ne5’.  Black must capture the Knight.  What is the point?  The point is that in moving the Knight to ‘c3’  White is one move closer to getting his Rook on ‘a1’ into the game, and he played this with tempo.

dxc3 11. Re1+ Ne5 12. Bf4 Bf6 13. Bxe5 Bxe5

Now looking at the pieces that are really in play, we see that White is hitting Black over the head with a Queen, Rook, and Bishop.  Remember White is now one move away from getting his last piece into the game.  What is Black playing with?  Well – his King – isn’t that nice?  What else?  Both Bishop and Knight are pinned, his Bishop on ‘c8’ is blocked, his Queen is rather passive defending the pinned Knight on ‘d5’ and both Rooks are out of play.  So White is “UP” in material; remember that is a localized superiority (Part 2).  Morphy now proceeds to trade off material leaving Black with a lone King against everything that White has.

14. Rxe5+ !  Kxe5 15. Re1+

All pieces in play.


Should Black play ‘Kd6’ he is mated.

16. Bxd5

The Bishop on ‘d5’ is immune.


(16… Qxd5




17. Qxc3#)

If you give the above analysis diagram position to your friends you will find that a full 90% of them will automatically play ‘Rd1+’ .  It’s amazing how programmed we are for familiar patterns.

17. Qd3+ Kc5 18. b4+ Kxb4

You might think that White would make the knee-jerk ‘Rb1+’ here.  But Morphy was a supreme master of square control.  Fisher once said that Steinitz probably knew more about square control than did Morphy.  That’s a bunch of nonsense.  Steinitz often played in closed and semi-closed positions where it was obvious that he was maneuvering a Knight several moves towards a single outpost.  It soon became “clear” what Steinitz was about.  However Steinitz did not invent square control, much less reach some pinnacle of understanding; Morphy beat him to the punch.  The reason that Morphy is not often recognized in his execution of square control is that he played a different style game from Steinitz.  Morphy’s games tend to be open; if they are not open, then they are really open.  Morphy was THE master of the open game.  Botvinnik stated that there have been NO developments in the Open Game since Morphy.  

Qd4+ ! !

A Rook check on ‘b1’ would enable Black to play his King to ‘c5’ and although White would probably win Black’s Queen, that is not necessarily mate – remember Black has a back row mating threat hovering over the position.  Morphy drives Black’s King towards the left wall (Queen covering the Black squares and the Bishop covering White) into a mating net.

Ka5 20. Qxc3+ Ka4 21. Qb3+ Ka5

22. Qa3+

Notice the Black square control of the Queen while simultaneously driving the King to the ‘b’ file.

Kb6 23. Rb1#

A Masterpiece




A . L . L . . . . . Pieces In Play . . . . . Part 1

A . L . L . . . . . Pieces In Play . . . . . Part 2


Bookmark the permalink.


  1. [Event “New Orleans simultaneous”]
    [Site “New Orleans”]
    [Date “1858.??.??”]
    [Round “?”]
    [White “Morphy, Paul”]
    [Black “NN”]
    [Result “1-0”]
    [PlyCount “45”]
    [EventDate “1858.??.??”]
    [EventRounds “1”]
    [EventCountry “USA”]
    [Source “ChessBase”]
    [SourceDate “1998.11.10”]

    1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. Ng5 d5 6. exd5 Nxd5 7. O-O Be7 8. Nxf7 Kxf7 9. Qf3+ Ke6 {Big Diagram} 10. Nc3 dxc3 11. Re1+ Ne5 12. Bf4 Bf6 13. Bxe5 Bxe5 {Diagram} 14. Rxe5+ Kxe5 15. Re1+ {Diagram} Kd4 16. Bxd5 {Diagram} Re8 (16… Qxd5 {Diagram} 17. Qxc3#) 17. Qd3+ Kc5 18. b4+ Kxb4 {Big Diagram} 19. Qd4+ Ka5 20. Qxc3+ Ka4 21. Qb3+ Ka5 {Diagram} 22. Qa3+ Kb6 23. Rb1# { Diagram} 1-0

  2. Absolutely Fantastic great series of posts …Thanx!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CAPTCHA ImageChange Image