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5.7.09

The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's Murphy

The game and annotations from the novel, complete with illustrative diagrams
Samuel Beckett sitting on his desk
The following is the chess game featured in Samuel Beckett's first published novel, Murphy. All notes and annotations may be found in the novel, but I have added diagrams of the annotated positions:
The game, an Endon's Affence, or Zweispringerspott, was as follows:

White (Murphy) Black (Mr. Endon)(a)
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(a) Mr. Endon always played Black. If presented with White he would fade, without the least trace of annoyance, away into a light stupor.
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(b) The primary cause of all White's subsequent difficulties.

1. P-K4 (b) 1. Kt-KR3
2. Kt-KR3 2. R-KKt1
3. RKKt1 3. Kt-QB3
4. Kt-QB3 4. Kt-K4
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(c) Apparently nothing better, bad as this is.

5. Kt-Q5 (c) 5. R-KR1
6. R-KR1 6. Kt-QB3
7. Kt-QB3 7. Kt-KKt1
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(d) An ingenious and beautiful début, sometimes called the Pipe-opener.

8. Kt-QKt1 8. Kt-QKt1 (d)
9. Kt-KKt1 9. P-K3
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(e) Ill-judged.

10. P-KKt3 (e) 10. Kt-K2
11. Kt-K2 11. Kt-KKt3
12. P-KKt4 12. B-K2
13. Kt-KKt3 13. P-Q3
14. B-K2 14. Q-Q2
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(f) Never seen in the Café de la Régence, seldom in Simpson's Divan.

15. P-Q3 15. K-Q1 (f)
16. Q-Q2 16. Q-K1
17. K-Q1 17. Kt-Q2
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(g) The flag of distress.

18. 18. Kt-QB3 (g) 18. R-QKt1
19. R-QKt1 19. Kt-QKt3
20. Kt-QR4 20. B-Q2
21. P-QKt3 21. R-KKt1
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(h) Exquisitely played.

22. R-KKt1 22. K-QB1 (h)
23. B-QKt2 23. Q-KB1
24. K-QB1 24 B-K1
(i) It is difficult to imagine a more deplorable situation than poor White's at this point.

25. B-QB3 (i) 25. Kt-KR1
26. P-QKt4 26. B-Q1
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(j) The ingenuity of despair.

27. Q-KR6 (j) 27. ...
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(k) Black now has an irresistible game.

27. ... 27. Kt-QR1 (k)
28. Q-KB6 28. Kt-KKt3
29. B-K5 29. B-K2
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(l) High praise is due for White for the pertinacity with which he struggles to lose a piece.

30. Kt-QB5 (l) 30. ...
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(m) At this point, Mr. Endon, wthout as much as "j'adoube," turned his King and Queen's Rook upside-down, in which position they remained for the rest of the game.

30. ... 30. K-Q1 (m)
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(n) A coup de repos long overdue.

31. Kt-KR1 (n) 31. B-Q2
32. K-QKt2!! 32. R-KR1
33. K-QKt3 33. B-QB1
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(o) Mr. Endon not crying "Check!," not otherwise giving the slightest indication that he was alive to having attacked the King of his opponent, or rather vis-à-vis, Murphy was absolved, in accordance with Law 18, from attending to it. But this would have been to admit that the salute was adventitious.

34. K-QR4 34. Q-K1 (o)
35. K-R5 35. Kt-QKt3
36. B-KB4 36. Kt-Q2
37. Q-QB3 37. R-QR1
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(p) No words can express the torment of mind that goaded White to this abject offensive.

38. Kt-QR6 (p) 38. B-KB1
39. K-QKt5 39. Kt-K2
40. K-KR5 40. Kt-QKt1
41. Q-QB6 41. Kt-KKt1
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(q) The termination of this solitaire is beautifully played by Mr. Endon.

42. K-QKt5 42. K-K2 (q)
The Chess Game in Samuel Beckett's 'Murphy'
(r) Further solicitation would be frivolous and vexatious, and Murphy, with fool's mate in his soul, retires.

43. K-R5 43. Q-Q1 (r)

And White Surrenders