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Paul Morphy vs John Owen
Casual game (1858), London ENG, Jul-??
Owen Defense: General (B00)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
May-10-05  Jaymthetactician: Why would Morphy play 4.Nh3? Why not 4.c4?
May-10-05  vinohradska: Or why not anything else? If he wanted to move the knight, then why not Nf3?
May-10-05  Milo: Retain mobility for f-pawn
May-11-05  Jaymthetactician: Milo: Retain mobility for f-pawn

Why not 4.f4 and then 5.Nf3?

I really like Owen's style of play, but can't black play 3...f5! 4.Nc3(not exf5? then Bxg2, winning a rook),fxe5,Nxe5? (or Bxe5,Bxe5 Nxe5 winning the fianchettoed bishop)

May-11-05  Jaymthetactician: Correction:

MCO gives 3...f5? As too ambitious and better for white, and 4.exf5 is strongest.

May-11-05  Runemaster: <Jaym> yes, if 3...f5, 4.exf5. Greco has all the answers:

Greco vs NN, 1619

May-11-05  Jaymthetactician: Why yes, I have posted there, now I remember.
May-11-05  ranchogrande: 8.- Bb4? .Much better is cxd4.With ideas like Nb4(!)and the threat of Ba6,if the white bishop goes.(Otherwise NxB).
Premium Chessgames Member
  Everett: <Jaym> <Milo> Nh3 allowing a possible f3, blunting the fianchetto bishop,not f4. Further, Nh3 covers the f2 square, blocking Q-attacks on the king if the f-pawn moves.

Maybe we can learn together by watching Morhpy's play here, as, lo and behold, there is 11.f3

May-11-05  Jaymthetactician: I guess a knight on the rim isnt alway's dim after all (my favorite case being 1.Nf3,d5 2.c4,cxd4 3.Na3,e5 4.Nxe5,Bxa3 5.Qa5+,Bd7 6.Qxa3)
May-11-05  RookFile: Or 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Na6
4. Bxa6 Qa5+
May-14-05  Jaymthetactician: Also I have studied a line of the closed sicilian I never encounter (except against computers)involving Nh3.
Dec-02-05  Knight13: All I see is 18. Bxc6 dxc6 19. Rxc6 Rd4 follwed by ... Rd8. Or just simple 19... Rxd4, which I think Rd4 is stronger. Did I miss something?
May-04-07  Pragmatist: Nh3 is inaccurate. As mentioned already, Nh3 is a clever finesse with several purposes. First, since black has fianchettoed his Queen's Bishop, the Nh3 is immune to Bxh3 fracturing his King's future residence. Second, by not blocking the f-pawn, Morphy anticipates a french-type structure after black plays ...d5 and white responds with e5. In this situation, the knight is well placed on f4. If black neglects staking a claim in the center, then the Nh3 can move to e4 via f2 or g5. The problem with Nh3 in this opening is that it leaves the d4-square insufficiently defended. When black plays Nc6, he gains a tempo as white must defend d4 which, after the c-pawns are exchanged, allows black the equalizing maneuvre of Nc6-b4 exchanging white's Bd3. This is exactly what Owen did in his other game with Morphy and in that game Owen won. In this game too, Owen could have played 6...cxd4 7.cxd4 Nb4 transposing to the same position as their other game. Note that if white's knight were on f3, then exchanging on d4 first wouldn't work for black as after he plays Nc6, the d4 pawn is already defended and white just develops with Nc3 and if black plays Nb4, white can play Bb1 followed by a3 ejecting the knight on b4. Or, white can play prevent Nb4 by playing a3 first instead of Nc3. For an example of this latter plan, see Brodsky-Musalov, 1998. Ne2 has most of the same merits as Nh3, but defends the d4-square. This would be better than the main line of Nf3 except there is one serious disadvantage to Ne2. It blocks the e2-square making it hard for white to defend his e4 pawn! This is why the main line is to play Nf3 combined with Qe2 to naturally defend both center pawns.
Mar-05-10  The Rocket: "Nh3 is inaccurate."

absolute nonsense its one of the most efffective ways to play against this opening.

Black cant play normal moves like be7, because of qg4 and if then 0-0 then then bh6 winning the the exchange.. so nh3 is an exellent way to make black start thinking and concidering g6 suddenly..

its a modern approach as well ,my chessmaster gm edition engine plays it at 1 hour time controll and its opening book is from I guess 2007 so I cant be all that bad?.

Mar-05-10  The Rocket: The guys critizing are clearly low rated amatuers, which is often indicated by the fact that they are sooo dogmatic and says well it has to be bad with nh3 because a knight on the edge of the board is bad because thats what the chessbooks told me...

There are very often cases of exceptions in chess which a good player can easily spot out and therefore "think outside of the box" and win positions other would just take a draw in.

Mar-06-10  acirce: <The guys critizing are clearly low rated amatuers, which is often indicated by the fact that they are sooo dogmatic and says well it has to be bad with nh3 because a knight on the edge of the board is bad because thats what the chessbooks told me...>

Oh shut it. There have been several interesting posts on this page about the pros and cons of 4.Nh3, particularly the one you are quoting from and that I assume you didn't even read. The people questioning it don't have to be dogmatic. Perhaps most are low rated amateurs, but so are you. And I don't remember having seen you writing anything remotely as interesting. (I don't generally, either.) Now, it could even be that you are wrong (!!!!) and it's not "absolute nonsense" that 4.Nh3 is inaccurate since it is extremely unusual in that position in games played after 1899.

Mar-07-10  sneaky pete: The early middle game complications deserve more attention. It seems that Owen understood this type of position better than his opponent. Sergeant criticises white's moves 16 and 17, without giving an alternative. Fact is, that from then on Morphy's main concern is guarding his confined rook, first against Ng6-e7-d5, next against .. Qd8.

After 22.g4 ..

click for larger view

black could have played 22... Nxd4 23.Rxd4 Qxe5 24.R(any)xd7 Bxd7 25.Rxd7 g5, indicated by Max Lange. He would win material and should win the game. After 26.Nh5 Qxe2 27.Qc3 ..

click for larger view

27... e5 28.Qc6 R(any)c8 ends white attack.

On move 16 white might have played Qf2 and if ... Qxf2+ not 17.Nxf2 Nf4 but 17.Rxf2 .. with Rf2-c2 and maybe later f3-f4-f5. The control of the c-file should give him a small edge, that a modern GM might grind out to a win in some 50 or 60 more moves. Of course, then it wouldn't be a Morphy-game anymore.

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