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Paul Morphy vs Johann Jacob Loewenthal
"The Battle of New Orleans" (game of the day Feb-11-2006)
New Orleans (1850), New Orleans, LA USA
Sicilian Defense: McDonnell Attack (B21)  ·  1-0

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Feb-12-06  SBC: Lawson:

"Ernest Morphy was the first to disclose the story of Lowenthal’s defeat by Paul in the 1850 encounter and then only six years had passed. In 1856 he sent the following letter to the New York weekly, the Clipper, which had started a chess column, and the letter was published in it’s June 23, 1856 issue.

Moscow, Clermont County, Ohio
June 10, 1856

N. Marnache, Esq.
Chess Editor of the New York Clipper
Dear Sir:
For years past Mr. Rousseau, on account of important and arduous duties, and myself as a votary of rural life, have both given up playing chess. My nephew, Paul Moprhy, who is incontestably our superior, now holds the scepter of chess in New Orleans. In May, 1850, when only thirteen years of age, he played three games with the celebrated Hungarian player, Mr. Lowenthal. The first game was drawn, and the two others gloriously won by Paul. You have herewith one of those games—unfortunately the only one recorded—and also a two move enigma composed as far back as 1849. Yours Most sincerely
Ernest Morphy"

gives game

"This Petroff game with Ernest Morphy’s notes is given here complete because of the gross error in Lowenthal’s edition of Morphy’s Games of Chess, published in 1860. In Lowenthal’s book the Petroff game shown above to have been won by Morphy is altered beginning with move fifty-five so that it becomes a drawn game. Following Lowenthal, --whose London book (the Bohn edition) became the accepted source for the many games it contained—this game has ever since been copied as a draw in all collections of Morphy’s games in which it appeared. It would appear that circumstances seemed to conspire to perpetuate this falsification."

Feb-12-06  SBC: Disputed Petroff game, as presented in <ckr>'s wonderful "mymorphy.pgn" (available at ) along with Ernest Morphy's annotations:

[Event "Lowenthal vs 12 Year Old"]
[Site "New Orleans, USA"]
[Date "1850.05.22"]
[Round ""]
[White "Morphy, Paul C"]
[Black "Lowenthal, Johann J"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C42"]
[Opening "Petroff Defense"]
[Variation "Cozio-Lasker Attack"]
[Source1 "Shibut - Game 084"]
[Source2 "Maroczy - Game 006"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Qe2 Qe7 6.d3 Nf6 7.Nc3 Be6 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bxf6 Qxf6 10.d4 c6 11.O-O-O d5 12.Ne5 Bb4 13.Nxd5 ( A feasible sacrifice of two minor pieces for a rook, two pawns and a gain of several moves) Bxd5 ( The best move)
14.Ng6+ Qe6 15.Nxh8 Qxe2 16.Bxe2 Kf8 17.a3 Bd6 18.Bd3 Kg8 19.Nxf7 Kxf7 20.f3 b5 21.Be4 Nd7 22.Rde1 Nf6 23.Re2 Re8 24.Bxd5+ cxd5 (Was it preferable to take with the knight?)
25.Rxe8 Nxe8 26.g3
( A clever disposition of pawns to annul the power of adverse knight. Between superior players such minutiae generally decides the fate of day) g5 27.Kd2 Ng7 28.Ra1
( Master Paul, now and here after wields his rook with considerable tact.) a5 29.Kd3
( Honor to this industrious King!)
Ke6 30.a4 b4 31.c4
( Philidorian-like)
Bc7 32.Re1+ Kd6 33.Re5 dxc4+ 34.Kxc4
Ne6 35.Rb5 Nf8 36.Rd5+ Ke6 37.Rc5 Kd6 38.d5 Kd7 39.Rc6 Bd6 40.Ra6 Ng6 41. Rxa5 Ne5+ 42.Kb5 b3 43.Ra7+ Kd8 44.f4 gxf4 45.gxf4 Nd3 46.Kc4 Nxf4 47.Rh7 Be5 48.Rxh6 Bxb2 49.Kxb3 Bg7 50.Rh7 Be5 51.a5 Nxd5
( There is not a good move for black; his game is irretrievable *) 52.Rh5 Bxh2 53.Rxd5+ Kc8 54.Rb5 Kc7 55.a6
( * This is a fine specimen of chess skill and ingenuity, especially in one so young, as it has been our lot to see for some time.) 1-0

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: So what actually happened? How did Löwenthal make a "gross error"? The kind version is that he remembered the drawn first game and wrote down, perhaps from memory, a bad version of a game he actually lost. The unkind version is that his ego got in the way. A rather risky decision, considering that Paul and Ernest were very much alive and this was an authorized book. Another Morphy mystery?
Feb-12-06  SBC: <Calli>

<Another Morphy mystery?>

I don't think it's as mysterious as it is very complicated and convoluted. I'll try to condense it and post it here later, but the conclusion, not provable but highly circumstantial, seems to be that Lowenthal was trying to fudge the results to save face.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <SBC> Very sad that the consensus is that Löwenthal faked a draw. He was a guy who Morphy trusted to do the collection and look what happened. You don't have to do a big explanation, its enough to know that the evidence for fraud lies with Löwenthal.
Feb-12-06  SBC: <Calli>

I wouldn't be overly hard on Löwenthal.

Löwenthal had been friends with Staunton at one time. I don't know what all transpired, but about the time that Löwenthal lost his 1853 match with Harrwitz in what might very well be the greatest comeback in chess history, (With the first player to win 11 games being the victor and the score standing at 9-2 in Löwenthal’s favor, Harrwitz won the match 11-10=10).their relationship soured. Lowenthal found himself on the wrong side of Staunton's acerbic pen. Going back a few years, Löwenthal had played his games with Morphy, and, it seems, he was more than a little embarrassed about the outcome. His way of saving face was to be disingenuous: "I do not remember whether we played in all two or three games; one was drawn, the others I lost." and to offer excuses for his known losses in the little match: I had been sick at that time; I was unaccustomed to the New Orleans weather; I didn't consider the games serious enough to devote my full attention to them, etc.

Well, when Staunton turned on Löwenthal, these games with Morphy were a sore spot that Staunton liked to probe. Löwenthal, who maybe he even believed his own storied by now and probably regretted having even played that 12 year old boy, had little choice and still save his dignity but to maintain his denial.

As an added treat, here's something from Maurian:

"...Löwenthal had made an oversight at an early stage of the game, by which he suffered such a heavy loss that he at once resigned. And eye witnesses to the game, here supplemented Morphy’s statement by adding that, as soon as the oversight was committed, the youthful player chivalrously insisted upon the master’s retracting his move, whereupon Löwenthal smiled at the child’s naïveté of his adversary but declined the offer."

Lawson: "There is thus seeming an explanation for one of the three games having been called a draw. Since Löwenthal had refused to retract his move and Paul was unwilling to accept the game as a win, it is probably that it was agreed to call the game a draw for the record. This would coincide with Ernest Morphy’s mention of a draw and two wins, and also Fiske’s statement in the book of the Congress."

Feb-12-06  SBC: <Calli>

An August 12, 1869 letter from Fiske to George Allen:

"I don’t altogether understand the affair but it appears that [Löwenthal] has sold it [the book of Morphy’s games] both to Bohn [of London] and the Appletons [of New York] and the arrangement has reached Bohn’s ear and he is furious. Morphy suspected something of this kind before he left London, and upon his arrival here made Appleton withdraw from their announcement the line which styled him the editor."


"After completing the “Memoir” for the book and notes for 168 games (Préti had just over 100), Löwenthal sent the manuscript to Appleton & Company of New York, and Morphy was looking over the galley proofs in early October. Appleton published Morphy’s Games of Chess in December 1859. Löwenthal had not waited to add the five games Morphy played simultaneously on April 26 of that year against five masters, Bird, Boden, Barnes, Löwenthal and Riviére. But no sooner had Löwenthal forwarded the manuscript to Appleton than he started to add additional games for Bohn, including among them the Petroff game between himself and Morphy, which had not been chosen for Appleton. However, he altered a few moves as mentioned above and ended the game as a draw, instead of ending it as it had in reality ended — "gloriously won by Master Paul." Since the Bohn edition had more games than the Appleton edition (thirty-eight more), it was more widely sought after.

It appeared about 2 months after the Appleton edition and went through many printings until the last in 1913, while the Appleton edition never got beyond it’s first printing. As quoted above in the Fiske letter, Morphy did no editing for the book; he merely helped for a few days an selection of games for the Appleton edition."


"However, the Bohn edition was the primary source of many Morphy games and it had many more games than any other collection of that time (1859-1860)—Lange’s, Pétri’s, and Staunton’s notwithstanding. Moreover, it appeared to be authorized in toto by Morphy, who had agreed to Löwenthal’s issuing a collection of his games, although in fact he (Morphy) knew nothing about the Bohn edition (and its additions), although Fiske says he had his suspicions, until he saw it in print."

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: "However, he altered a few moves as mentioned above and ended the game as a draw, instead of ending it as it had in reality ended" -Fiske

This is damning evidence. Löwenthal knowingly altered a game. He must have been crazy to think it would go undetected. If he really was confused about any scores, he merely had to ask Morphy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: < If he really was confused about any scores, he merely had to ask Morphy.>

Morphy was a hard man to pin down, especially after the European tour ended.

Edge says he didn't answer letters even then, and it may be that he removed himself from the title of editor on Lowenthal's book simply because he felt he hadn't done that job.

With all his genius, I can't help but feel exasperation with the guy, who could have solved many of these mysteries by jotting down the scores and a couple of notes for us.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <Tamar> Fiske says Morphy is in NYC going over the galleys. Fiske also had the correct score if J-Löw (his hip-hop name, BTW ;->) wanted it from him. Its a clear case of deliberate fakery, IMHO.

Morphy did correct the Deacon forgeries. When did Morphy find out about this one? Remember its not in the American version. It is possible that, in the midst of war, he didn't even see it until his European trip in 1863. Given Maurian's account, Morphy may have felt kindly toward the old master and the heat he took losing to a youngster. If a draw made J-Löw feel better, so be it. Its not the same as the Deacon games claiming equality with Morphy as an adult. Or maybe PM was so retired from chess by then that he didn't care anymore.

Feb-13-06  ath: <SBC> & others: thanks for the info ... looks like it would be worth for me to retrace the steps here with a copy of Lawson in hand ... .

<Calli> The Deacon games were mentioned in Chess Monthly, March 1860, and Deacon's response to the claim of forgery (or loss of memory), probably addressed to Staunton, appeared in the July issue, reprinted from Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, following a rather acid explosion directed mainly towards Staunton in Chess Monthly of May. Morphy's reply to Deacon was promised for the August issue, but does not seem to have appeared in this periodical at all.

Also in the March issue is a note that the English edition of Löwenthal's collection 'is a little more complete than the American edition': yet not a word about the 'drawn' Petroff game is said. If Fiske suspected anything, he does not seem to have expressed it as well or timely as he did contra Deacon & Staunton.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Fiske says Morphy is in NYC going over the galleys. Fiske also had the correct score if J-Löw (his hip-hop name, BTW ;->) wanted it from him. Its a clear case of deliberate fakery, IMHO.>

"D Fi" could have been covering for our man "P Mo";->, and "going over the galleys" may mean not looking at it at all given his ambivalence about chess.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <Tamar> The NY galleys (Appleton), didn't have the bad score in any case, only the London Bohn edition. No "cover" was necessary.
Premium Chessgames Member
  micahtuhy: <SBC>

I have been doing research on the Lowenthal Harrwitz match, and I was hoping to find the last game where Harrwitz clinched the match and completed perhaps the greatest comeback in chess history, and I'm going over the game on and I can't find out the order of most of the games, would you happen to know which of the games is the last and deciding game of their match?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: 31st and last game is

Lowenthal vs Harrwitz, 1853

See the Chess Player's Chronicle for the order of the games:

Jul-10-09  just a kid: Is 28.Nd7+ also good?
Premium Chessgames Member
  20MovesAhead: yes just a kid 28 Nd7 is good

maybe morphy was hoping for ... Qc3 Rg8 ke7 Nd5 winning b's queen OR 28...Qh3 Qxh3 followed by Nd7 winning piece with no counterplay for B. in the game morphy wins exchange only, but with virtually no counterplay for B.

Premium Chessgames Member
  geneven: I recommend the book Paul Morphy: A Modern Perspective by Valeri Beim (I'm reading it on my Kindle). It discusses the main game here at some length.
Oct-21-11  Mozart72: Morphy and Loewenthal have the same material advantage value: 1.4, and Morphy won.
Jan-12-13  chesssalamander: What a great victory for Morphy! So young, and to win against a master in the end game bc of king position!

And the history! Lowenthal might have lied about being shut out by an untrained kid? Makes for great reading!

Jul-08-13  Xeroxx: epic game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Lowenthal: Hey, Paul! How did this game end?

Morphy: I won it.

Lowenthal: You sure dude?

Morphy: Yup.

Jan-29-16  juanhernandez: Be slow in choosing a friend & slower while loosing
May-26-16  The Kings Domain: Good game. Impressive win by the 13-year old Morphy, always one step ahead of his older foe. This game is a mainstay in Morphy bios and with good reason.
Oct-19-16  talhal20: This 13 year old genius was too much for J Low
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