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Paul Morphy vs Louis Paulsen
"Morphy's Law" (game of the day Apr-20-2012)
1st American Chess Congress (1857), New York, NY USA, rd 4, Oct-29
Sicilian Defense: Paulsen-Basman Defense (B40)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I was expecting 17.Bxh5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: <Conrad93>, with all due respect, Reti, Euwe, Smyslov studied thousands of games, while Kasparov and Fischer studied tens of thousands of games. In chess, that makes you a historian. Kasparov has written a book or two with the title On My Great Predecessors.

You've written, "Like I said, they are biased." What proof can you offer in support of this claim? Indeed, I've written before that I want to know what you know, and I still want to know. GMs and World Champions look at the same games as you and say Morphy was one of the greats. It just seems like common sense to conclude that they must know something. If you know something they don't, I'm still willing to look at it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Paulsen's play is pretty baffling at times in this game. He has the good idea of putting a pawn on f4. This stops white playing f4 in support of the pawn on e5.

Morphy plays 13.Ne4. Now Paulsen could have played 13...Ng6 and annihilated the pe5, then followed up with ...Bc7 to get rid of the white bishop on d6.

Instead he plays another reasonable move to get rid of that bishop: 13...Nf5.

Morphy responds with 14.Bh5. The obvious answer to that is to continue with 14...Nxd6. White would play 15.Nxd6, but then black would play a later ...Bc7 (after ...Rf8), ...Qg5, ...b6 or ...b5, ...Bb7 and things are looking okay.

Sep-30-13  Conrad93: Steinitz is greater than Morphy. And he lived in the same time period.

Morphy was a great player, but he doesn't deserve to be in the top ten list.

Sep-30-13  SimonWebbsTiger: And Conrad goes on...!

I would rather be treated by a doctor today than Hippocrates. Hippocrates' book on medicine is still a Classic because his observations are still true even though he had no clue about bacteria, viruses, etc.

A helpful analogy, I hope.

Sep-30-13  Conrad93: Not really.

It's a poor analogy, because chess and medicine are not even closely related.

Premium Chessgames Member
  drleper: The following is a public service announcement to members regarding Conrad93:

Yup, take care!

Sep-30-13  Conrad93: "It is, of course an improper argumentum ad hominem (personal attack), when you accuse a user of being a troll just because you don't like what they are saying or the way they are saying it. Don't accuse someone of being a troll just to dismiss their argument. Just because you disagree doesn't necessarily mean the user is trying to be disruptive, so it is necessary to measure the suspected troll against the description given above."

I don't fit any of those descriptions.

Oct-01-13  SimonWebbsTiger: Conrad is still here to learn, folks!

Morphy was playing good chess before the "Scientific" analysis of chess elements by Steinitz.

Capa remarked the combinations blind people to Morphy's positional flair.

Hippocrates belongs to a long line of thinkers that saw further and deeper. We see more because we stand on their shoulders, as it was put (about Newton) by Einstein.

Oct-01-13  Jason Frost: <Conrad93> Benign question, are you actually Conrad Holt? I don't think I've ever seen you claim to be in a post and it's not listed on his player page, though you obviously want people to assume it given your name?
Premium Chessgames Member
  drleper: <Conrad93> I won't reply any more, but your latest stream of posts (on various pages) look like trolls to me :) Adios!
Nov-30-13  MarkFinan: I'm making a game collection and the game's must meet two 'categories'? ..

1) Be played by a player regarded by the majority of chess historians and fans as being in the top 50 of all time.

2) Be as 'unknown' as possible! A little gem that most regular fans (like me! ) won't have heard of or come across before.

I think this game fits into that, so someone tell me if I'm wrong? I've not heard of this game before and stumbled across it. I think it fits my categories well, and this is the only collection I'll make you'll be pleased to know, so I intend on making it good. Anyone reads this, be it today or in a year, and they know of any others of these type of games, please say....

Btw.. After 8 moves this reminds me of some kinda reversed Caro Kahn!!

Nov-30-13  MarkFinan: This is sheer genius from 'Morphine', but even I could see 25...Nxf6 was a crazy move! Stupid! I could well be wrong as I haven't looked at this game with an engine yet, and I've only flipped through the game twice although I can obviously see black was in Big trouble by that point. Makes me think what GM Gormally (sure that's his name? ) said about him being better than GM'S from a 100 years ago is *slightly* true.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Wyatt Gwyon: <MakFinan> What you have to keep in mind is that Morphy was playing possibly at a 1900 level by modern standards, according to one of's top experts.
Nov-30-13  MarkFinan: Then I have to say I strongly disagree with that expert then! You must be on about Mr Gormless? Lol 😃
Jul-18-15  pericles of athens: "Morphy was a great player, but he doesn't deserve to be in the top ten list." Hilarious! I got a hearty laugh out of that! Thanks Conrad!
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: In 1857 Morphy won the First American Chess Congress with a dominating performance.

This success was followed by a European trip where he met and triumphed over most of the prominent masters of the period, namely Adolf Anderssen whom he defeated +7 -2 =2 (see Anderssen-Morphy (1858)), Loewenthal in Morphy-Loewenthal (1858) and Daniel Harrwitz in Morphy-Harrwitz (1858).

Mikhail Botvinnik wrote of his influence: "His mastery of open positions was so vast that little new has been learned about such positions after him."

Does this sound like a 1900 player to anyone, other than Conrad?

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Wyatt Gwyon: <MakFinan> What you have to keep in mind is that Morphy was playing possibly at a 1900 level by modern standards, according to one of's top experts.>

Yeah, on the best day of his life.

Some of what <donkrad> posts has a tinge of humour about it, so earnest does he appear in his belief that a good many top players of past and present are found wanting.

Premium Chessgames Member
Sep-29-16  pawngobbler: Morphy a 1900 player? HA! A little perspective. I'm 2150 and: - I cannot play even one blindfold game (no more than 3 moves really). Morphy played 8. - I cannot find Morphy's winning moves--the moves which Morphy played and the computer today evaluates to be the best

Steinitz' positional understanding was severely overrated. Maybe compare Morphy's games with those of Steinitz against the Evans gambit where he got crushed by Chigorin repeatedly. Steinitz lost so many games positionally to the Evans gambit because he made stupid choices. Those games are what leads me to believe Morphy was far superior to Steinitz.

Nov-04-16  talhal20: To my knowledge no world champion from Steinitz to Carlsen has ever said that he would have defeated Paul Morphy. An interviewer had once asked a straight and pointed question to Bobby Fischer if he could beat Paul Morphy to which Fischer replied " I don't know " This speaks volumes about Morphy. If Morphy is a 1900 player as one patzer thinks then there may be at least a few patzers writing on this site could fancy their chances to beat Morphy. Good luck to them. Ben Finegold a GM and professional chess teacher was asked to rate Paul Morphy and he said " 10 plus Carlsen's " Although Finegold is not an authority to rate chess players his opinion carries some weight.
Feb-03-17  jumboshrimpscampi: <offramp> That's an interesting idea where you suggest <Now Paulsen could have played 13...Ng6 and annihilated the pe5, then followed up with ...Bc7 to get rid of the white bishop on d6.>, however I think White would have still had a good response to that:

13...Ng6 14.Bh5 Bc7 15.Qg4

In that position, the black knight would be pinned and attacked. White doesn't have to take the c7 bishop, and instead can just continue to pile up pieces onto the kingside attack.


Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <jumboshrimpscampi:> "Jumbo shrimp" is already an oxymoron but then you add "skimpy" to it! Just kidding, I love that stuff. I think 13. Ng6 14. Bh5 7 N(c)xe5 15. Bxe5 Nxe5 16. Bxf7+ Nxf7 would have been better for black than the horribly constipated position in the game, which reminds me of some of Burroughs's less appetizing reminiscences about the life of a junkie.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Jumboshrimpscampi>, firstly, welcome to I am sure that you will enjoy yourself here tremendously, just as I have.

If 13...Ng6,

click for larger view

I think the line given by <ChessHigherCat> looks the best. In games against Morphy I think material was immaterial, and it was important to have the initiative, which made him uncomfortable.

BTW, I think Paulsen should have got rid of that knight on f6 much sooner, perhaps even immediately:

click for larger view

18...Rxf6!?, although I think this loses the f-pawn as well. At least it helps in getting that rubbishy bishop on c8 out.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: 18. Nf6+.

click for larger view

Black now played 18...Kh8. I think it is best NOT to let the knight stay on f6. I think 18...Rxf6 immediately is quite good, I mean at least as good as the game. 19.exf6 Qxf6 20.Qxf4 Qxf4 21.Bxf4.

click for larger view

And now I suppose ...e5 or ...d5. Black is now the whole exchange down but he no longer has those pieces at d6 and f6 crowding his position.

One lesson I learned from Lasker vs Capablanca, 1914 is that it is very often best to swap rook for knight if the knight is clearly going to be a pest and to do that as quickly as possible, because then you have cleared the position up a bit. Capablanca hesitated and lost.

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