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Paul Morphy vs Alonzo Morphy
"Bring Your Kid to Work Day" (game of the day Sep-03-2010)
New Orleans (1849), New Orleans, LA USA
Italian Game: Evans Gambit. Accepted (C51)  ·  1-0

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Travis Bickle: I heard a radio interview where Fischer was talking about how Steinitz or Morphy today would get bad openings with all the advanced theory but that it would not take them long to catch up at all. Bobby did seem to have second thoughts as with computers the masters of today have diagrams on how to play all the lines and it could be difficult.
Premium Chessgames Member
  nimh: <You can't have it both ways, ace. You said Fischer's statement was wrong and scandalous. It may be wrong in your opinion, but it was in no way scandalous>

Well, in my opinion it <was> scandalous and the MW definition you linked doesn't make me think otherwise. I could have used any other adjective as well, so what? Why such nitpicking?

It's easy to see how stupid it was, like many other Fischer's statements on chess or even politics. Why cannot it be scandalous, if this particular word really must be used?

<and it was inappropriate for you to say so considering how you want this debate framed. >

Framed? How so? Pointing out for you what's relevant to the discussion may be anything, but hardly an attempt to 'frame'.

<Instead, you accuse me of arguing semantics. Then you turn around and want to debate talent versus playing strength when that was not really the crux of my point anyway. >

I accused because you actually were bringing semantics into the matter while nitpicking about if 'scandalous' was the right term to use. Personally I don't care, as it is anyone's subjective choice which word to use.

You mentioned the word 'talent' first, whereas beforehand I had talked about playing strength only. It seemed to me that you didn't get at all that they are completely different notions and should not be mixed up.

<Fischer was Fischer. Like him or not, he was an authority on all things chess and his opinion should not be so quickly dismissed. >

Fischer was the best player in his era, but it doesn't make him an authority all chess matters. How quickly one's opinion should be dismissed is a matter of the credibility and reasonableness of a statement. Which in Fischer's case is so obnoxiously idiotic that I earnestly refuse to believe that any sensible human would take this for truth under the pretext of Fischer's presumed 'authority'.

<Also, why do you call his comment a hasty blurt? Do you know the circumstances under which he made it?>

I'm just assuming based on how mindless it appears. He said it in 1992 at a press conference of the return match, which makes it quite strange. Couldn't he have kept his tongue behind his teeth at that moment? I think later he himself felt embarrassed about that remark.

What's more puzzling, he even claimed that he had played over his all games, but he nevertheless didn't notice how waek the quality of play was compared to Fischer's contemporaries?!

This implies two possible solutions:

1) Fischer deliberately produced the scandalous statement for the very same reasons as the other ones.

2) Fischer played over Morphy's games when he was in his early teens or even before and carried the faulty impression in his memory all the way till 1992 without ever questioning its validity.

<He doesn't say that at all. He says that he would win a match with any modern master. That is not at all the same thing as showing up and winning right away.>

Fischer made no reference to a time period needed to adapt, so I assumed that 'immediately' was in question. Also, when one wins somebody, he also displays his superiority to him and can rightfully claim having surpassed him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  nimh: <Back in Fischer's time, when matches were matches, it was customary to play very long matches compared to today. If Morphy showed up today and played Anand a match to ten wins, it would be the first chance he ever really had to learn from someone with higher playing strength. And it would not go to waste.

Losing is a much better teacher than winning. Morphy had no one to learn from. He was his own teacher, and he still revolutionized the game.

Someone with Morphy's talent and insight playing a master of today would go through a very quick learning curve.

Morphy would get a few OTB chess lessons in the early games, then he would begin to narrow the gap with some draws as his knowledge increased, and then pull away at the end as he incorporated his new knowledge into his game, and then he'd finish victorious.>

I don't approve fairy tales amidst serious discussion.

There are 2 further problems with what you presented here.

1) Chess is primarily a tactical game, as empirical evidence shows. Firstly, computers that are essentialy nothing but calculators and surpass humans whose strength lies in positional play; and secondly, mistakes in positions where finding correct moves is done by calculation are usually more disastrous. Simply acquiring modern opening theory and principles positional play would not make up the deficiency of hundreds of ELOs in terms of playing strength. And improving one's tactical skills to play to such a high level isn't easy either.

2) Even if Morphy by a miracle obtained such a high playing skill, he simply would cease to exist the same Morphy as he was. He would be indistinguishable from any other man with similar level of talent and character.

<So what? Long odds come off all the time. People win the lottery don't they?>

Yes, they win, but do you realize how many peaople actually play the lottery and how many of them are lucky? If you want to convince me or anyone that Morphy has won the lottery of talentedness, you have to prove it. Simply assuming so on no basis is rather mindless.

<And am I to assume that you worked that astronomical figure out? Sure, right.>

Nope, I mean the figure is so small that it's rather practically impossible for Morphy to be the most talented player ever.

Premium Chessgames Member
  nimh: <Nimh, however, seems to be saying improbable things rarely occur, therefore this improbable thing did not occur.>

Makes more sense that saying that improbable tings surely occur.

<In the grand scheme of things, it's pretty unlikely that a Morphy would exist at all. And yet there he was.>

A demamgogical mix up the existence of Moprhy himself and the amount of his chess talent with respect to best modern players.

<What does any of this have to do with whether or not someone would surpass Morphy in terms of talent? >

The point of this remark to remind you that it's more logical and probable to assume that modern masters own more talent than Morphy and it's in a stark contrast with what you hold true.

<Desire and dedication have nothing to do with raw talent.>

Correct, but where did I assert so? desire and dedication are commendable notions, but you can't serious if you really believe that this is what discerns Moprhy from modern players and helps him to ascend to the same level as them.

<This part I can agree with but how does this make it astronomically small that Morphy's talent would hold up over the years? What kind of numbers is he basing this assertion on?>

It's not a concrete number, but logical thinking. It has been 173 years since Morphy was born, every year the population of Earth has grown and likewise the popularity of chess.

How could Morphy be equitalented with players of our time against such small astronomical odds?

Sep-23-10  MARCOZY79: yes I nave a comment,the masters of old are just that,masters of a time. Their time was yesterday and without
electronic gizzmo,they played the game
we love,but they used only their brains, not like so many of us that without a computer we are helpless.
I myself started with books only,but
I lacked the natural talent that some
people have or the memory that masters
have to have. All said and done a person with talent or a computer should enjoy the game of chess and not try to reinvent the claim,what if!!
Sep-24-10  morphy2010: Morphy's huge advantage in both talent as well as playing strength compared to his contemporaries make him the greatest chess mind ever
Feb-03-11  raydot: You guys are hilarious. I'm sorry I missed this the first time around. As much is it's total "Who would win: Superman or Batman?" bs it's a great debate!

I have to give the edge to what I think Nimh's point is. Morphy by virtue of existing in the modern world would cease to be Morphy.

My small addition, if anyone still cares, is that all of the guys playing Morphy would have to be the 2nd best players ever for it to be true that he's the best ever. I bet pretty much anyone that's a member of this site could effortlessly beat his or her 18th Century equivalent.

Jun-23-12  e4 resigns: sirfraix: "Morphy himself and many commentators overlooked: 18. Nh4 , and the attack is devastating. for example: 18... Nd6
19.Qh5 Nxf5
20.Nxf5 Qc7
21.Rae1 Qf4
22.Re3... and win

And the combination of 28th move, has a flaw, it was commented by Sergeant.

Anyway Morphy was in his youth, we can see how was growing and developing his attacking style, which later will be used to pulverize the greatest players of his time."

I am missing 21. Qg4+?

Jun-23-12  e4 resigns: Phorqt VS Nimh

Okay, Fischer wasn't Chuck Norris, just saying.
He did say the King's Gambit was refuted, but that was most likely based on emotions, rather than actual lines (he lost a game to it right before he published the paper).

Personally, I think Morphy could stand his own against 2650+ players, and Euwe, maybe Petrosian, probably not Kasparov, but he's in the top 5.

Premium Chessgames Member
  nimh: Do you claim that Morphy's quality of play, save the opening phase, would be sufficient for 2650 TPR today? Or does it mean that if Morphy made a decision to play as safe as possible, he'd be unbeatable for players rated 2650 and below?

I must disagree, based on computer analysis. But for the relief of Morphy-hypers the extent of practical play and time controls are still undetermined factors. If anyone can prove that he only took 10-15 minutes on average to complete games, I think then I'd accept the claim that Morphy played better than an average GM today.

Also, I'd like to know why 2650 and not 2600 or 2700 for example? What's the basis for your opinion?

Jun-23-12  AVRO38: Playing over Morphy's games you get the impression that he could put any piece on any square and never suffer any consequences.

He was absolutely amazing!

Jun-24-12  e4 resigns: Nimh: I think 2700 might be too high, and 2600 too low. Maybe I should have said 2600-2700.

I think I read somewhere that Morphy played quickly, and could pull off tactical beauties in a blink. I'm probably wrong, though.

The thing about Morphy is that he was brilliant, and he didn't need to work hard at it, unlike a lot of today's GMs. There was also a difference in play, back then most games were played for sacs and brilliancy prizes. Morphy probably wasn't looking for the best move, but most beautiful.

Nov-20-12  marljivi: Has anybody pointed out yet,that white was totally lost in this game,or am I missing something? After the pretty much simple 29...Kg8 black is simply 2 rooks up.Also,instead of 27...Qc3 there was another way of "defending"-27...Qc7,covering f7 square thus preparing Rh8 as an answer to breakthrough g4-g5 and "taking a look" at f4 and g3 squares,for example 28.g5Rh8 ,or 28.h4Qg3 ,or 28.Kg2Qf4 . But of course,Paul Charles Morphy was a genious,no doubt about it.
Nov-20-12  Shams: <marljivi> See <Honza Cervenka>'s line on Page 1 of kibitzing.
Jun-17-14  BobbyDigital80: 21...Qg6!! gives black a clear advantage! 22.Bxg6 fxg6 23.Qg4 Bxd4 24.Red1 Bxa1 25.Rxa1 Rf5. Black has a rook, knight, and two pawns for the queen, and all his pieces and center pawns are active.
Jun-22-15  lalla: Any ordinary students can solve the problems of simple pendulum.Kids know the law gravitation. Does that mean they are smarter than Galileo or Newton? That does not even mean that Galileo and Newton were ordinary people. If Newton were to be born again, he would still be the great Newton. I agree that if Morphy were to be born again, he would dominate chess. Imagine computer analysis and chess books supplementing his natural talent. He would make Carlsen appear ordinary.
Jan-28-16  juanhernandez: some of them are true friends
May-21-16  talhal20: Ialla, you are right.
May-21-16  1971: I totally agree Lalla. If there was no Carlsen we wouldn't know there's a much higher level than the worlds top players.
May-21-16  1971: This kind of play shouldn't be possible. It's like watching Steph Curry play basketball.
Sep-16-16  mburch1974: To the people who don't have it, talent has an ethereal-mystical quality.

A birth-right one can never learn or aspire too.

To those bestowed its apparent grandeur there's a simpler explanation...

it's just called hard work and motivation.

Try it sometime guys and stop shorting your own potential.

Sep-16-16  Isilimela: Wonder how this 12 year old would get on in today's W u/12 events ?!
Oct-10-16  darth wager: I admire Morphy; not just for his chess. But because he was a gentleman in every sense of the word. I think hes very underrated. Sure his competition was inferior, but I still think he would be ~2800 easy in today's climate.
Oct-10-16  spingo: <raydot: You guys are hilarious. I'm sorry I missed this the first time around. As much is it's total "Who would win: Superman or Batman?" bs it's a great debate!>

This kibitz was turned into a major motion picture.

Feb-17-17  greenpawn43: Hi, folks!

I annotated the game and commented on it:

If you should have any input, please don't hesitate to let me know.

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