Originally posted by Eric LeFavour
Because of my own inability to play chess, Morphy seems to be untouchable. I just think it is so interesting that success is only measured by your peers in the particular topic. Again, we are talking chess. So Morphy is, so we all agree, one of the greatest ever. Bring his name up in a group of established attorneys and they may have never heard of e would have rather us be talking about how great an attorney he was.
its not your inability yet my friend as you perceive it, for to be sure Morphy was a great player, the best of his time, and when we look at his games, are they not beautiful? why was it that Morphy was able to deafeat Andersson? it could not have been that his imagination was greater, for Andersson in this regard is unsurpassed, nor could it be his ability to create combination, for Andersson was also amazing in this regard, equal to Morphy.
what was it that Morphy had? Reti states that Morphy was the first truly positional player. Whereas Andersson would play moves merely to attack, Morphy did not, but he quietly got about developing his pieces, and when a positional opportunity arose, as in opening up a file against an uncastled king with a pawn or a piece sacrifice, Morphy was adept. This in no way diminishes his tactical play, but it was something way ahead of its time.
for example look at this game,
McConnell, J. v Morphy, Paul, New Orleans 1850
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5
3...c5 Morphy attacks White's d4-e5 Pawn chain at its base. This is standard chess strategy. Morphy's plan is to open the c-file and gain an advantage on the Queen side. The game's dramatic ending, at move 14, is the result of play on this file.
5...Qb6, black piles pressure on the d4 square The entire game revolves around the play for the d-4 square
7.a3 White is planning to to play b4.
8.b4 Morphy can't allow White to capture with 9.bxc. This would ruin Morphy's plan of taking the c-file with his Rook. d-4 is a key square. Both sides have two pieces paying hommage to d-4. Morphy is playing with the idea of taking take the c-file as early as possible and as a consequence he wins the game as a result of play on this file.
10. Bb2 supporting the key square Nf5 attacking the key square
11. Qd3 White didn't see that his b4-Pawn was weak and needed support. Morphy sees it and captures the weak Pawn with initiative giving him an attack.
11....Bxb4+ check!! Morphy sacrifices the Bishop for an attack, taking advantage of his Queen side strength which includes the Rook on the open file.
12. axb4 This move loses quickly because of the mobility of Black's queenside pieces. The finale is a three move combination that starts with the c6-Knight. Black's centrally posted f5-Knight also plays an important supporting role.
12...Nxb4 Morphy has two Pawns for his Bishop.
13. Qd2 The Rook comes to life. ...Rc2
14.Qd1 What's the winning move for Black? ...Ne3 White resigns, his Queen is attacked and immobile: she's mated.
thus we can see, exemplified in this game, a deep positional understanding, which was something very special at the time. What do you think Eric, are such concepts too hard for you and I to grasp? i do not think so, given a little time and patience, even mortals like us may be able to grasp their significance. so take heart my friend, this is not any easy game, but little by little our understanding and thus our appreciation grows