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Paul Morphy
Number of games in database: 465
Years covered: 1848 to 1869
Overall record: +195 -25 =24 (84.8%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      221 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Evans Gambit (44) 
    C51 C52
 King's Gambit Accepted (25) 
    C37 C39 C38 C35 C36
 Philidor's Defense (14) 
 Sicilian (14) 
    B44 B40 B21 B20
 King's Pawn Game (13) 
    C44 C40 C20
 King's Gambit Declined (12) 
    C30 C31
With the Black pieces:
 King's Gambit Accepted (21) 
    C33 C39 C38
 Ruy Lopez (15) 
    C65 C77 C78 C64 C84
 Evans Gambit (15) 
    C51 C52
 Giuoco Piano (10) 
    C53 C50 C54
 Philidor's Defense (7) 
 Petrov (4) 
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Morphy vs Duke Karl / Count Isouard, 1858 1-0
   Paulsen vs Morphy, 1857 0-1
   Morphy vs Le Carpentier, 1849 1-0
   Bird vs Morphy, 1858 0-1
   Morphy vs Schrufer, 1859 1-0
   Morphy vs A Morphy, 1850 1-0
   Morphy vs Anderssen, 1858 1-0
   J Schulten vs Morphy, 1857 0-1
   N Marache vs Morphy, 1857 0-1
   Morphy vs Anderssen, 1858 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Anderssen - Morphy (1858)
   Morphy - Loewenthal (1858)
   Morphy - Harrwitz (1858)
   Morphy - Mongredien (1859)
   1st American Chess Congress (1857)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Paul Morphy -The Great Chess Genius by Timothy Glenn Forney
   Morphy Favorites by chocobonbon
   paul morphy best games by brager
   If chess was a religion, Morphy would be God. by Chopin
   Pure Morphy by saveyougod
   Odds games #2 by WhiteRook48
   A First Book of Morphy by Frisco Del Rosario by adrien79
   A First Book of Morphy by melodie
   Match Morphy! by amadeus
   Paul Morphy: A Modern Perspective by Avalon Landing
   Paul Morphy's Best Games by KingG
   Morphy: A Modern Perspective by monkeysbum
   morpstau's favorite games by morpstau
   Odds games by WhiteRook48

   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834
   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834
   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834
   McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834
   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Paul Morphy
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(born Jun-22-1837, died Jul-10-1884, 47 years old) United States of America

[what is this?]
Paul Charles Morphy was born in New Orleans. He was the son of a successful lawyer and judge Alonzo Morphy. His uncle, Ernest Morphy, claims that no one formally taught Morphy how to play chess, but rather that he learned the rules by observing games between himself and Alonzo. When Morphy was only 12 years old, Johann Jacob Loewenthal visited New Orleans and at the behest of his father, agreed to play a casual match with the prodigy. Young Paul won 2½ to ½.

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). Upon returning to America, he announced his retirement from chess.

Although the official title of World Champion did not exist in his time, Morphy was and is widely regarded as the strongest player of his day. Even today his games are studied for their principles of open lines and quick development, and his influence on the modern game is undeniable. 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."

User: jessicafischerqueen 's YouTube documentary of Paul Morphy:

Notes: Paul also played team chess with Morphy / Barnes and Morphy / Mongredien, and edited a chess column in the New York Ledger.

Wikipedia article: Paul Morphy

 page 1 of 19; games 1-25 of 465  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-031 1848 New OrleansC23 Bishop's Opening
2. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-018 1848 New OrleansC33 King's Gambit Accepted
3. Morphy vs NN 1-019 1848 New OrleansC20 King's Pawn Game
4. Morphy vs NN 1-020 1849 New Orleans cgC39 King's Gambit Accepted
5. Morphy vs Le Carpentier 1-013 1849 New Orleans000 Chess variants
6. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-021 1849 New Orleans -C51 Evans Gambit
7. Morphy vs E Morphy 1-020 1849 New OrleansC53 Giuoco Piano
8. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-123 1849 New OrleansC38 King's Gambit Accepted
9. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-046 1849 New OrleansC51 Evans Gambit
10. Morphy vs E Rousseau 1-023 1849 New OrleansC50 Giuoco Piano
11. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-023 1849 New OrleansC40 King's Knight Opening
12. Morphy vs E Rousseau 1-017 1849 New OrleansC39 King's Gambit Accepted
13. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-029 1849 New OrleansC39 King's Gambit Accepted
14. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-015 1849 New Orleans mC51 Evans Gambit
15. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-011 1849 New Orleans cgC35 King's Gambit Accepted, Cunningham
16. NN vs Morphy 0-124 1850 New Orleans USAC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
17. Morphy vs NN 1-018 1850 ?000 Chess variants
18. Morphy vs Loewenthal 1-049 1850 New OrleansB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
19. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-114 1850 New OrleansC02 French, Advance
20. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-018 1850 New Orleans ?000 Chess variants
21. Morphy vs Loewenthal 1-055 1850 New OrleansC42 Petrov Defense
22. Morphy vs E Morphy 1-025 1850 New OrleansC52 Evans Gambit
23. Morphy vs NN 1-014 1850 casualC44 King's Pawn Game
24. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-125 1850 New OrleanC52 Evans Gambit
25. Morphy vs Maurian 0-127 1854 New Orleans000 Chess variants
 page 1 of 19; games 1-25 of 465  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Morphy wins | Morphy loses  

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Lots of American immigrants changed their names; some groups more than others.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: The Morphy family claimed that the name was changed when part of the family (Captain Michael Murphy / Morphy) moved to Spain. His son and Paul's grandfather, Don Diego Morphy was the family member who immigrated to New Orleans from Spain circa 1800.
Aug-24-15  saturn2: I would be interested in further details on Morphy's later years from which I only know some hints: He liked to go for a walk, he chased some ladies, he read a lot, he had paranoia, he considered himself betrayed by a relative in land matters. So did he get in touch with the ladies, which books did he read, and so on?
Aug-24-15  diceman: <offramp:
Why is his surname Morphy and not Murphy?>

...sounds like he Morphed.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <saturn2>, this may sound stupid, but I cannot answer your question, but don't believe anything that is said about PC Morphy being non-PC. There's a huge amount of rubbish said about him.
Aug-24-15  wrap99: <saturn2> In one of Edward Lasker's books (maybe The Adventure of Chess) he says that his mother-in-law would see him on the streets of New Orleans when she was a young girl -- I assume Lasker's mother-in-law was born in the 1860s or before. (His wife passed away early in their marriage, I think -- Lasker had a relationship with the much younger female player Mona Karff whom I believe I saw at LA events in the 1970s or 1980s.)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Caissanist: It looks like none of the players with a Morphy number of 3 have played this year (the only one I know of who played in 2014 was Bisguier). Unless one of them steps back into the arena, it seems likely the youngest player with a Morphy number of 4 will be John M Burke .
Aug-31-15  wrap99: I think of Jean Calment who lived to be 122. Too bad she was not a chess player (think of how the Morphy numbers would have gone down). Alternatively, if Paul Morphy had lived to 122 (which sounds almost science fictiony but it *did* happen) he would have passed away in 1959 and he reasonably could have been playing casual games against still-living players including Anand. Of course, Euwe would still be alive and Alekhine would have just passed if they were to live 122 years.
Sep-01-15  saturn2: The question 'What happened if Morphy played against the present SuperGM?'is similar to this question: 'What if the John Mc Enroe of 35 years ago played today?' I suppose he would not be be in the Top 100. So the question should be posed in this way: What happend if he had one year to get familiar with present day tennis.

But apart from that I am really interested in Morphyy's personality after 1861. What happened that he broke up with chess so abruptly. Making some psychoanalysis he was obviously influenced by his strong mother to whom he promised not to play officialy any more. Also comes to mind that a desired woman refuted him with the argument he was only a chessplayer. But there are many questions open: The games he played in 1869 against Maurian display the same strength and brilliancy as ever, so it is very unlikely he abandoned the game in this 8 years. What did he do all the time besides strolling on the streets, going to opera and advancing some women?

Sep-01-15  thomastonk: "I have pursued no career and I desire no biography." - Paul Charles Morphy (1882) (see
Premium Chessgames Member
  Caissanist: <saturn2>: I don't think it was necessarily anything psychological. He simply didn't have enough money to play chess full time in Europe, the only place in the world with other players strong enough to make the games interesting. He did inherit enough to lead a life of leisure back home in New Orleans, though, so that's what he did. He was a total failure as a lawyer, but building a law profession from scratch is not so easy, especially for somebody as introverted as Morphy seems to have been. Basically, he seems to have taken the path of least resistance.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Didn't have enough money? I thought Morphy's family were wealthy and would have looked down upon him being a professional player.

Didn't he refuse the stakes that were offered to him if he won?

Maybe <batgirl> can weigh in on this?

Sep-01-15  savagerules: I looked at that 1882 newspaper article and Morphy says that in 1856 his father had over $146,000 in total inheritance to be divided up. Looking at an inflation calculator this would be worth over $3,500,000 dollars in todays money. No wonder Paul wasn't all that motivated in being a lawyer for the rest of his life! You figure he had to have gotten about a million dollars or at worst a half million of it for himself to last until his death in 1884.
Sep-02-15  wrap99: <Caissanist> As far as Morphy being a complete failure as a lawyer, I have a vague recollection that he did not appreciate potential clients mentioning chess or something to that effect. I think he would have been potentially an amazing corporate lawyer. Perhaps in modern times he would have become an analyst at an investment bank like some other chess players have.
Sep-02-15  RookFile: What a terrific link by thomastonk above. Learn something new every day!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Caissanist: <wrap99> The anecdote you site is included in the Wikipedia article on Morphy, though there is no source given for it there.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Caissanist: The $3,500,000 inheritance would have been split between Paul, his brother, his two sisters, and his mother; if it was split equally then he would have been left with about $700,000 in today's money. Probably enough to live on if you don't work, but not luxuriously. I would imagine that his family suffered financially in the Civil War and reconstruction as well, although I'm not aware of any information about that.
Sep-02-15  wrap99: <Caissanst> I remember that he personally inherited 150k and money was indeed not a problem. But it is interesting that this fortune survived the war. New Orleans was invaded by Beast Butler whose nickname was "Spoons" cause he and his men basically appropriated silver and other valuables. It is not impossible that the games played against Winfield Scott helped the Morphy family years later or simply his position as the greatest living player provided some protection against the Union army.
Sep-02-15  saturn2: Thanks to all and especially to thomastonk who are sheding some light on Morphy's later years.

So the tendency is to describe him as an idle person with no need to strive for money, interested in fine arts and maybe good looking ladies. If this is true than his earlier statements that chess is only a game and suggesting what really counts in live is real honest work were hypocrisy or he changed his mind completely.

The fact that he publically mentions his heritage sounds like an excuse that he had no need to work. In addition he mentions his legal education - maybe the only thing according to his opinion that would him gain some public respect.

So he could in fact have felt somehow guilty because of his leading a life without regular job and no need to earn money; a thing which at his time was more uncommon than today. His friend Maurian tried to put things in Morphy's favor when he stated in a letter to a newspaper that Morphy was not idle and studied a lot suggesting he was working rather mentally than physically.

Sep-02-15  wrap99: <saturn2> Looking back with modern eyes, I could imagine him sending a letter to Vanderbilt or Rockefeller (his near contemporary) to make some "real" money but he does not seem motivated by that. To be someone of such native ability and to, what again to modern eyes seems to be just giving up and at such a young age, even by 19th century standards, is a tragedy. A normal life span would have allowed him to see many technological improvements, including the airplane. In fact, he might have contributed to such advancements. He really missed out. (He could have also met men who bridged that time with the modern, like Lasker. Sad indeed.) On the other hand, maybe he was doomed by health to a short life.
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