Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Daily Tactic July 2, 2008

Another Morphy game against John Owen at "pawn and move" odds. Owen is known for Owen's Defense and was a strong chessplayer:

In 1858 he won a game against Paul Morphy, which led to a match between the two. Despite being given odds of pawn and the move (meaning he started the game with an extra pawn and always moved first), Owen lost the match 6-1, never winning a game.

His performance in the 1862 London tournament, the first international round-robin event (in which each participant plays every other) was more impressive - he finished third, ahead of future world champion Wilhelm Steinitz, and was the only player to win against the eventual tournament winner, Adolf Anderssen.

How incredible is it that Morphy could win a match at odds against a player of his caliber?

In today's tactic Owen takes Morphy's bishop on h3 (he should have played Qc5 instead). How does Morphy continue? And, bonus question, why does Owen resign when he does? I'll put Fritz's answer in the comments.


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The problem with Owen's position is the exposed King and Morphy's major pieces bearing down on it. Something bad is bound to happen.

Fritz sees this as a likely continuation: (33... Rhg8+ 34. Rg4 h5 35. Rg3 h4 36. Qd4 (36. Qc5 bxc6 37. Rg5 Qe6 38. Kh1 Rxg5 39. Qxg5 Rg8 40. Qxg8+ Qxg8) 36... Qxd4+ 37. Nxd4 hxg3 38. a4 Re4 39. Nf5 gxh2+ 40. Kxh2 Re2+).

So, it appears that Owen is lost but I think he may have resigned a few moves early.
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