Paul Morphy vs Thomas Wilson Barnes
London m1 1858  ·  Uncommon King's Pawn Opening (B00)  ·  0-1

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing >
Oct-03-04   morphy234: what kind of opening is THAT? we should call it "Barnes' Defense" or something!
Oct-03-04   percyblakeney: That is indeed what it's called.
Nov-04-04   Leviathan: IMO, 1. e4 f6?! is pointless.
It simply creates a weakness in black's pawn structure and gives away a tempo - I can't see any strategic idea behind it.

I think Barnes played it to confuse his opponent (who would have easily overplayed him in a 'regular' game), trying to get some winning chances.

Nov-04-04   Saruman: After 2.e5 d6!? 3.Bd3 white is slightly better.
Nov-04-04   Saruman: Perhaps Morphy should have developed his knight to f3 at an early stage, followed by d4, Nc3, Bd3/c4 etc, with a sure initiative.
Nov-05-04   Saruman: 1.e4 f6?! 2.e5 d6 3.Bd3 g6 4. e6!? Bxe6(black must take the pawn, otherwise ideas like 5.Bf5 Nh6 6.g4!, after which white wins. The only try is Bg7 etc.)5.Ne2! a strong positional move which sets doubts on the black pawnstructure. White can play; Nd4/f4, Qf3, 0-0 with a sure initiative despite being a pawn down. 5.Qf3 Nc6(otherwise 6.Nh3 Bxh3 7.Qxh3 when he wins a tempo because of Bxg6+)after which black can continue with 6.-Ne5 with equality.

5.Ne2! Bh6 6.Nd4 Qd7 7.Qf3 . Play can continue with Nc3 etc.

Nov-05-04   themindset: i always play 2.Nf3 when i see this, it's a logical opening move, that also leaves the door open for black to play 2...e5?

It just looked like black was aiming to exchange pieces the whole game, and morphy didn't do much of anything to stop him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: I read somewhere that Barnes' record against Morphy was something like 8 wins and 19 losses. I think he beat Morphy more in regular games than any other player. The database only has 9 games between them.

I'll bet <SBC> would know!

Premium Chessgames Member
  InspiredByMorphy: Morphy tries to take advantage of f6 by playing 7.Nh3 (hoping for 7. ...Nxe3 8.fxe3 opening the f-file immediately.) and 8.Qh5+ hoping to discoordinate blacks forces and overextend the kingside pawns. Instead of this premature attack however, I dont think Morphy would have had many troubles (if any) had he simply developed the rest of his pieces before conducting an attack. For example 7.Nf3 Bd6 (or 7. ...Bd7) 8.O-O looks like it would have given Morphy a clear advantage in development having 4 pieces developed compared to blacks 2 pieces. However with 7.Nh3 black could have created doubled pawns for white. 7. ...f5 8.Nc3 Nxc3 or 8.Nc5 Bxc5 . 8.Nd2 f4 loses the bishop. 8.Ng5 doesent do much good either after 8. ...h6 9.Nf3 g5 creating a kinside attack threatening 10. ... g6 forking the knights. Black could then look at queenside castling and continuing the assault on the kingside. Odd Morphy didnt develop more naturally. I think that he was impatient in this game. Probably urgently wanting to refute Barnes opening as quickly as possible.
Jun-16-05   aw1988: Is there evidence this is a real game? Some games of Morphy were ficticious.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <aw1988> I see this game in all my Morphy books.

My theory is Barnes was a tough match-up for Morphy, because he played tortoise like structures and had good consolidation skills.

Jul-08-05   EnglishOpeningc4: I dont think that morphy was good in B00 openings. there are 3 openings at least that get their names from morphy games (owen, carr, barnes). How ever 1.e4 f6!!! is significant for 2 reasons, 1: it is an awesome phychological plan (before Lasker!), and 2: it was an introduction to K-indian-like positions before they were popular. Even so the move stinks. I've played it in blitz a few times though, and 1e4 f6? 2d4 e6 3nc3 d5 4ed5! is the only way to keep black from carrying out his plan of ...de4
Jul-09-05   offramp: After 13...f5 you wouldn't think black could hold out much longer against Morphy.
Nov-15-05   Jaymthetactician: Morphy should have won this! I'd play 3.e5,fxe5 4.dxe5
Premium Chessgames Member
  whatthefat: For shame Morphy, for shame!
Jun-21-06   RookFile: Not really. Barnes was a strong player. I remember thinking after 1.... f6 that I bet that Barnes had a notion, long before Duncan Suttles came along, of something like a modern defense, with ..... Nh6 and .... Nf7, and the bishop goes to g7. It didn't exactly work out this way, but notice Barnes did get his bishop around to g7.

The whole point of all of this is: the way to beat something like this is to play like Botvinnik did and transpose this into a Kings Indian, where White pushes 4 or 5 pawns to the 5th rank and suffocates the life out of black.

Barnes was able to reach a position where the important consideration was not time.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whatthefat: I'm not denying that Barnes was a strong player, but 1...f6? is virtually offering white odds. I can't imagine Morphy being too happy about the final result!
Jun-21-06   Bartleby: Correct <whatthefat>. It was (probably) psychology provocation on Barnes's part (it wasn't Barnes usual opening against Morphy in any regard), the same thinking behind Anderssen's 1. a3 or Miles's whimsical 1. ... a6 and 2. ... b5 against Karpov which most certainly unnerved (if not outright insulted) the incumbant champion, to stoop to playing against such "garbage" chess.

Morphy got a little impatient and a little too routine with his opening play. 4. Nh3, followed by c3, O-O, and either f4 or Nf4 might have served better.

6. Nxe4?! was an inaccuracy, when 6. Bxe4! is better, when 6. ... Nd5 is refuted by Qh5+. Two sample lines might run 6. ... g6 7. Qf3 Bg7 8. O-O-O , or 6. ... f5 (Nc6 7. Nh3) 7. Bd3 Nd5 8. Nxd5 exd5 9. Nh3, and in either case Morphy will be right in his element for an attack.

At move eleven Morphy might have opted for 11. Bh6, followed by Bxg7 and O-O-O for a slightly more dynamic approach, though the text move is just fine. White's real blunder is the next move 12. c4??. (12. Rad1 Nxe3 13. fxe3 f5 14. Neg5 h6 15. Bc4 would have kept the pressure, though White's chance for a big edge is past)

After Black's 13. ... f5! He Barnes had refuted White's opening scheme, with counterplay in the wings. 14. Nf3? confounds the issue with a time-wasting retreat and black thenceforth has the edge. White should have at least tried 14. Rad1 and Bb1, preparing a d5 push, though he would still have the worst of it, all the while tempting black to accept the "gift" on g5 (a Morphy sacrificial trademark). Morphy might have found some ingenius wrench-in-the-gears method of obfuscating things when having an inferior middlegame.

Morphy botched this one (a blemish on an otherwise dominating career due to who knows what factors). 1. ... f6 is a weak move theoretically, but may be strong psychologically in the proper context.

Jun-21-06   SBC: Very soon after arriving in England Morphy played Barnes a series of games. Of the 26 games played, Barnes won 7. Five of these were won in the first 10 games. Of the remaining 16, Barnes won 2.

So, what do we make of this?

Lawson claimed that Morphy was a poor traveler and usually played lackadaisically for a few days after an arduous trip. I think there's even more to this. First, Morphy had supreme confidence in his abilities and never seemed too concerned over early losses.. in fact he didn't seem to even try very hard in many of his early games with opponents. Edge substantiates this with his description of Morphy's match with Harrwitz. Second, Morphy went to England, in spite of all professed or suspected reasons, to test his mettle against the best players in the world. But Morphy, no matter how cosmopolitan he may have seemed, was still a young man, almost a boy, who had seldom been away from home and who arrived in England alone not knowing what sort of reception or accommodations he might have to endure. Add to that the expectations of his friends back home, it would seem his position was extremely stressful. While it didn't take long for Morphy to make friends in England and even learn to enjoy the new environment, I doubt that was true in the first days or week - when he played Barnes. I also suspect that Morphy realized his own strength as compared to Barnes' and his mediocre showing in the beginning of their informal match - which Morphy seemed to have expected to win without effort - must have jolted him into action.

Jun-23-06   Bartleby: As always <SBC>, your elucidation into historical context beyond the wall sheets and game scores is illuminating and warmly welcome.
Sep-27-06   blingice: [Event "rated blitz match"]
[Site ""]
[Date "2006.09.27"]
[Round "?"]
[White "blingice"]
[Black "trebimlja"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "1142"]
[BlackElo "1316"]
[ECO "B00"]
[TimeControl "180"]

1. e4 f6 2. d4 c6 3. Qh5+ g6 4. Qc5 e5 5. Qc4 d5 6. exd5 Qxd5 7. Qxd5 cxd5 8. Nf3 e4 9. Nfd2 Bg7 10. f3 e3 11. Nb3 Bh6 12. Nc3 Be6 13. Nc5 e2 14. Bxh6 Nxh6 15. Bxe2 Bd7 16. Nxd7 Nxd7 17. Nxd5 O-O 18. Bb5 Nb6 19. Nxb6 axb6 20. Bc4+ Kh8 21. a3 Rfe8+ 22. Be2 Rac8 23. c3 Nf5 24. Kd2 Nh4 25. g3 Ng2 26. Rhg1 Ne3 27. Rae1 Nc4+ 28. Bxc4 Rxe1 29. Rxe1 Rxc4 30. Re8+ Kg7 31. Re7+ Kh6 32. Rxb7 Rc6 33. b4 Kg5 34. Kd3 Kf5 35. c4 h5 36. d5 Rd6 37. Kd4 g5 38. c5 bxc5+ 39. bxc5 Rd8 40. c6 g4 41. fxg4+ hxg4 42. c7 Rc8 43. d6 Ke6 44. Kc5 Kd7 45. Rb8 Rxc7+ 46. dxc7 Kxc7 47. Rb6 Kd7 48. Rxf6 Ke7 49. Rh6 Kf7 50. Kd5 Kg7 51. Ra6 Kf7 52. Ke5 Ke7 53. Ra7+ Kd8 54. Ke6 Kc8 55. Kd6 Kb8 56. Rh7 Kc8 57. a4 Kb8 58. Kc6 Kc8 59. Rh8# 1-0

Silly Morphy, even I can beat the Barnes Defense.

Jul-05-08   jstevens1: And here is a game of mine against the Barnes Defense:-

[Event "Placida"]
[Site ""]
[Date "2008.06.22"]
[Round "-"]
[White "jstevens1"]
[Black "arch-nemesis"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "1679"]
[BlackElo "1470"]
[TimeControl "604800+259200"]
[Mode "ICS"]
[Termination "normal"]

1. e4 f6 2. d4 g6 3. c4 Nh6 4. Nc3 Nf7 5. f4 Bg7 6. Nf3 O-O 7. Bd3 c6 8. Bd2 d6 9. Qc2 e6 10. O-O Na6 11. a3 Nc7 12. f5 exf5 13. exf5 g5 14. b4 Bd7 15. Ne2 d5 16. c5 Qc8 17. Ng3 Nh6 18. h4 Nf7 19. Rae1 Re8 20. hxg5 fxg5 21. Nh5 Bh6 22. Nf6+ Kg7 23. Nxe8+ Nxe8 24. Ne5 Nxe5 25. dxe5 Nc7 26. e6 Nxe6 27. fxe6 Bxe6 28. Bc3+ Kg8 29. Bxh7# 1-0

Hope you enjoy.



Feb-01-09   WhiteRook48: 1...f6?! and 2...e6 seem to ruin Black's pawn structure
Aug-04-09   birthtimes: Morphy lost the initiative after 12. c4. Better would have been 12. Bh6 Nc6 13. c3 e5 14. Rad1 exd4 15. Bc4 with a strong initiative for White...
Oct-23-09   Qb6: If you can beat Morphy with such a ridiculous opening, I suggest you try playing this against the World Champion: 1. d4 h5 2. e4 e5
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