An example of open lines, rapid development, and massing of forces. Modern chess is played quite differently today, largely because of players such as Paul Morphy, Adolf Andeseen, and Johannes Zukertort. In this particular game, Black falters on his third move B-Kt5, a seemingly inane move intended to paralyze the knight. On the surface, the strategy and timing look plausible. However, that move eventually leads to the complete undoing of Black’s forces. Blitzkrieg will break Black’s defenses and end the game decisively.
What happened? That’s the reaction that most of us have. I still remember the first time I played through the moves on a chess board and found myself suddenly bewildered and amazed. I knew I had just seen something that I had never seen before. I’m sure that Duke Karl and Count Isouard were taken by surprise as well. But what were the strategies and tactics that Morphy followed? How did he do it?
Let’s take a look. Morphy focuses on a target. He never moves a piece without a reason. His early moves are all strategic; his later moves, all tactical. Morphy understood the basic theoretical underpinnings of chess.
If we look at chess on a deeper level, we discover an interdependence of four distinct elements: material, space, tempo, and force. In modern chess play, compensation functions as a fifth element in which a pawn or other piece is exchanged with the perceived notion that somehow the exchange provides some sense of potential advantage in position. The other elements in chess are much more tangible with material being the number of pieces, space being the number of square under control or accessible, tempo being initiative, and force being the concentration of pieces against a given square.
Morphy will use threats of attack in order to compel Black to cede space. Once Black’s defense is constricted, Morphy will amass force against a given square as well as coordinate a front assault at a different sector of Black’s defense. Black’s King Bishop and Rook never enter the fray of battle, and the Black Queen never even once threatens an enemy piece. The ensuing battle becomes a complete rout.
Rook Manuever, Massing of Force
White castles, bringing his King into safety while simultaneously attacking the Knight with the force of a Rook (5 units)! Black responds by bringing his own Rook into the fray. The difference, though is that the Black Rook is defending the Knight and therefore, is restricted to a passive role.
12. O-O-OO-O-O, R-Q1Rd8
White captures the Knight; Black responds by capturing with the Rook. White now attacks a second time with a second Rook. Black’s reinforcements (Bishop and Rook) are prevented from defending against the attack. Black moves his Queen in a effort to release the pin on the Kt, thereby adding a third defender to the Rook. Black seeks to exchange Queens thereby reducing White preponderance of force on the field and exchanging a passive piece for an active one. White, however, refuses to be distracted.
13. RxKtRxd7, RxRRxd7
14. R-Q1R-d1, Q-K3Qe6
Black Defense Breached
White breaches the defense by unleashing the Bishop against the hapless Rook. Check! Black has no choice. He must respond. The Black Knight finally comes into play, capturing a Bishop! For the moment, the attack seems to be over. Once Black develops, he will have superior force.
15. BxRBxd7+ Check! KtxBNxd7
Second Barrage, Frontal Assault
But the attack is not over. White sends the Queen into the attack. Check! Black cannot move the King, Black cannot interpose a piece against the attack. The Black Knight once again captures a major piece, first a Bishop, now an enemy Queen! But in capturing the Queen, the Knight left the crucial center square unguarded. The right center now becomes vulnerable for attack.
16. Q-Kt1Qb8+ Check! KtxQNxb8
Victory on the Eight Rank
The second White Rook is unleashed with full fury, ending both battle and war. Checkmate! Rapid development, open lines, preponderance of brute force, unrelenting attack— these were the motifs of attack. Black’s initial counter-attack ultimately led to a resounding defeat. White was unrelenting in his attack.
17. R-Q8Rd8#, Checkmate!
Print This Page
The moves of a chess game are recorded in different formats or notation systems. The Descriptive Notation, sometimes called the English Notation, allows analysis based on board symmetry as well as piece identification. Since the 1970’s, though, Algebraic Notation has emerged as the standard system with each square being identified by a alphabetic and numeric sequence of rank and file. By that I mean, each square is identified by a letter and a number. Algebraic notation is much like plotting points on a graph. In our analysis we use both Descriptive and Algebraic notation formats. The emphasis, though, is clearly on the Descriptive Notation since this format makes it easier to discuss what is happening in a series of moves. Algebraic Notation, however, is retained as a supra entry for those readers who may not be familiar with Descriptive Notation format. International chess generally follows the ICCF numeric, yet another notation system. Forysyth-Edwards notation is sometimes used to set up a given position on the board. PGN, a variant of Algebraic Notation, is often used with Java script.