08 March, 2010

Cecil de Vere : The English Morphy Game 2

Another game from De Vere, another Philidor, but a different variation (4.Qxd4 ).

This is known as Morphy's variation as it was his preferred way of playing against the Philidor. Alekhine also used this method.

The stronger move is probably 4. Nxe4, but the Queen-capture avoids the reply 4...g6 ( Larsen's Variation), so has its benefits.

De Vere's opponent here is the GA MacDonnell, who, as well as being a Reverend and chess player, seems to have become well-acquainted with de Vere travelling with him to many tournaments, and even writing about him is his “Chess Life-pictures” book.

This game was part of the inaugural British Chess Association Challenge Cup  The winner was to be declared British Champion and De Vere accomplished this in style, not losing a single game.

The Chessmetrics site assess De Vere at a strength of 2697 and as number 2 in the World after this Tournament (the number one was Ignatz Kolisch, who I have never heard of before! ). At this time, de Vere was only 21 years old, so quite an achievement. MacDonnell is rated at 2493.

The game is a good one. A see-saw ride with both players taking and losing the advantage.

MacDonnell counter-attacks in response to de Vere's gains after 17.e5...


and succeeds until move 22, when the return of material seems to hand de Vere the advantage again.

[Afer 22.Rxd6]

MacDonnell misses...
which would threaten a pin on the Queen, and also re-captures incorrectly with the rook, on move 19, rather than with the bishop or knight. A period of manoeuvring finally results in de Vere gaining the upper hand after an error by MacDonnell on move 32.

[After 23...Qd4]

The end of the game....

 [After 34.Nd7+]

...sees White with better pawns and probably looking to exchange Queens.

Overall an enjoyable game, and maybe not what you would expect for a game played in the 1860s !