c/o Max Vitek, Staff Writer

c/o Max Vitek, Staff Writer

This week, we will be looking at a much more unusual game, for more than one reason. We set the scene in the year 1850, where a 13-year-old Paul Morphy with the white pieces is playing against his father, Alonzo Morphy. Moreover, Paul Morphy is offering his father rook odds, meaning that at the start of the game he is playing without his a1 rook.

You might be wondering how we ended up in this unorthodox position. The answer is that Paul Morphy unleashed a very vibrant Fried Liver Attack and was able to push his father’s king all the way to d3. Now, he just needs to finish the job, with black’s king still having a journey to complete. (White to move.)

(If you follow the top-computer moves, white has a mate in 11. However, in the real game, at one specific point, Alonzo Morphy chose the move that immediately led to a very stylish checkmate. So, if you wish to reconstruct the game, look for a mate in 3.) 

Last Week’s Solution:

  1. f6!  If 35… Bxh3 36. Bd3+ Kg8 37. Rb8+ leads to mate, or if 35… Bxf6 36. Qxd7

At first, f6 appears to simply lose the white queen. However, it sets up victory for white, with the pawn on f6 covering the g7 square, the bishop on d3 covering the h7 square, and the rook delivering a back-rank mate. Black’s other option isn’t much more enticing, as it will result in white capturing the bishop on d7 free of charge. In the game, Arthur Pijpers fell for the trap, and was summarily checkmated by Rapport’s uncanny but game-winning maneuver.


Max Vitek can be reached at mvitek@wesleyan.edu.

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