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Paul Morphy

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Number of games in database: 464
Years covered: 1848 to 1869

Overall record: +186 -25 =17 (85.3%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 236 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, 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
 Evans Gambit (15) 
    C51 C52
 Ruy Lopez (15) 
    C77 C65 C64 C67 C78
 Giuoco Piano (10) 
    C53 C50 C54
 Philidor's Defense (7) 
 King's Pawn Game (4) 
Repertoire Explorer

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

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

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Paul Morphy -The Great Chess Genius by Timothy Glenn Forney
   Paul Morphy Conquered the World Says Fredthebear by fredthebear
   Morphy Favorites by chocobonbon
   Paul Morphy Conquered the World by Atsa
   If chess was a religion, Morphy would be God. by Chopin
   paul morphy best games by brager
   Pure Morphy by saveyougod
   Odds games #2 by WhiteRook48
   A First Book of Morphy Compiled by Melodie by fredthebear
   A First Book of Morphy by StoppedClock
   A First Book of Morphy by Frisco Del Rosario by adrien79
   A First Book of Morphy by melodie
   Match Morphy! by amadeus
   Paul Morphy's Best Games by KingG

   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834
   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834
   McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834
   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 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 464  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0311848New OrleansC23 Bishop's Opening
2. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0181848New OrleansC33 King's Gambit Accepted
3. Morphy vs NN 1-0191848New OrleansC20 King's Pawn Game
4. Morphy vs Le Carpentier 1-0131849New Orleans000 Chess variants
5. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-0291849New OrleansC39 King's Gambit Accepted
6. Morphy vs NN 1-0201849New Orleans cgC39 King's Gambit Accepted
7. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0461849New OrleansC51 Evans Gambit
8. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-1231849New OrleansC38 King's Gambit Accepted
9. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0151849New Orleans mC51 Evans Gambit
10. Morphy vs E Rousseau 1-0171849New OrleansC39 King's Gambit Accepted
11. Morphy vs E Morphy 1-0201849New OrleansC53 Giuoco Piano
12. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-0231849New OrleansC40 King's Knight Opening
13. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-0111849New Orleans cgC35 King's Gambit Accepted, Cunningham
14. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0211849New Orleans -C51 Evans Gambit
15. Morphy vs E Rousseau 1-0231849New OrleansC50 Giuoco Piano
16. NN vs Morphy 0-1241850New Orleans USAC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
17. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0181850New Orleans ?000 Chess variants
18. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-1141850New OrleansC02 French, Advance
19. Morphy vs E Morphy 1-0251850New OrleansC52 Evans Gambit
20. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-1251850New OrleanC52 Evans Gambit
21. Morphy vs NN 1-0181850?000 Chess variants
22. Morphy vs NN 1-0141850casualC44 King's Pawn Game
23. Morphy vs Loewenthal 1-0491850Casual GameB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
24. Morphy vs Loewenthal 1-0551850Casual GameC42 Petrov Defense
25. Morphy vs Maurian 1-0251854New Orleans000 Chess variants
 page 1 of 19; games 1-25 of 464  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
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 106 OF 273 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Oct-13-05  SBC: <Gypsy>

Yeah, once he decided not to play, he didn't play.

I'm not sure about the intentions of Morphy's family. They were a strange lot in some respects. They were Creole - which was a very tight culture. Among themselves, they spoke French and their own dialect of Creole patois. As a cultural group, Creoles were distinctly Francophile and intent on preserving the customs brought from France by their predecessors. Yet there was some Spanish influence to the Creole culture too. The Creoles were aristocratic insofar and they considered themselves the royaltly of New Orleans, if not of America. Slave-owning was a given in that culture. And practices such as duelling and gambling were not only acceptable, but encouraged among the males. Another strange custom that grew from the existence of the Peculiar Institution was that of Octoroon Balls and the easy acceptance of the practice of married men keeping black mistresses. But it was a dying culture, hastened by the americanization of New Orleans - in which the iron-fisted political control of that city was broken by sheer force of numbers and by the Civil War which ended slavery once and for all and further weakened the Creoles by destroying some of their wealth. By the 20th century, the word Creole had changed to represent something other than this group of people whose culture had faded away.

Now the Morphys were Creole but seemingly atypical ones in many respects. Since they forbade Paul for playing for stakes, it makes me wonder if perhaps there were some other reasons besides an aversion to gambling. Ernest Morphy had no problem in offering stakes and advertising for opponents against the child, Paul. So the issue of stakes seems to tie more into the idea of professionalism rather than gambling.

Paul reached his majority while in England. Yet, for some reason, John Sybrandt (and not Edward Morphy and not Paul Morphy) held the purse-strings to the Morphy inheritance. Edward went out on his own, but Paul remained dependant on his family's financial support (and I imagine, Sybrandt's good graces). I would think this alone gave them undue control over him.

What this all means, I can only guess at. But understanding it, I feel, is crucial to understanding Morphy.

Oct-13-05  DrKurtPhart: ___________________________________


(Edge posted it...)

Thereby creating the atmosphere of confusion, suspicion and frustration he ultimately wished to achieve, obviously in regard for the "hot copy" content to be gleaned from the vulgar controversy thrown up around the entire garish affair.

Edge was taking the quick 'grab what you can' approach, while you can, because since the Staunton match was clear as mud, a de facto "dead duck", then Edge simply had to seek any way he could of salvaging something out of England and Staunton, in the absence of a top-dog match not "coming off".

He, Edge, could be suspected and accused of inadvertently, setting Morphy on his path to derision for the playing of "a mere game", in effect 'killing the golden chess goose', when keeping him alive as a Chess Comet would have brought richer dividends had Morphy, to the eternal joy of all players throughout history eternal, decided to make a career of what he excelled at as no other, and "to hell with what mother, and all those purse-string holders might say!"

But alas no. That stuff's only in fairytale books, and Morphy had been brought up to have no time for that, rather, pointed in the direction of the father's (Alonzo) footsteps,who unfortunately died in an freak accident concerning a Panama hat-brim and his eye, that came into sufficiently brisk contact, causing an infection that became fatal.

He was a big state judge. (who Morphy could give rook odds to as a 10 year old, during his highly successful child-star career as a performing chess-seal/dwarf/baby mozart midget)


Oct-13-05  Paul Morphy: <He set out for Birmingham upon his arrival in England, only to discover that the event had been rescheduled. By the time that the rescheduled event took place, Morphy had already played most of the notable players there.>

June 26 - The communication addressed to this gentleman announcing the postponement of the Chess Association from June 21 to August 26 having miscarried, he unexpectedly made his appearance in Birmingham on Monday [June 21] ... Fortunately, his intention was to make some considerable stay in Europe; he has therefore consented to take part in the gathering in August ...

<With an indication from Staunton that a Staunton-Morphy match was going to be possible after some further delay>

I was anything but comfortable that the match with Staunton would come off. Upon my arrival Staunton accepted my challenge, but did not publish it immediately in his chess column. It was not until my first games with Barnes (when I was hardly showing any strength of play) that Staunton, content that I was no threat, published his acceptance of my challenge in the Illustrated London News (ILN).

I then commenced to beat Barnes in the final games, then Boden, Lowenthal and 'Alter' (convincingly on terms where he was equal to Staunton). After my true strength of play was recognized the scuttlebutt commenced, at the Divan, the London Chess Club and even St. Georges it was stated by several familiar with Staunton that "beware Staunton knowing too well his antagonist will find the means to back out of the match and place the fault upon you". This left me anything but comfortable that the match would come off. It was Edge who felt the match would come off, not I.

August 7th the ILN printed "that Morphy is unattended by seconds or bottleholder" further evidence supporting what was being stated by those who knew him. I then set out to press him to settle the preliminaries in my letter dated August 14 to which I received a reply restating that he still required some time for preparation.

Again writing on the 21st of August, I conveyed the acceptance of his request but received no reply.

In fact, by Staunton's own acts, I felt so strongly that if, by chance, I was to play Staunton at the Tournament that it would provide him the opportunity to twist the event into reasons to evade the match.

It was then that I determined my playing in the Birmingham Tournament would be of little value, and most likely, detrimental to the match coming off. So I sought to use it as an opportunity to press Staunton in view of witnesses to come to terms and set a date which occurred August 26 at Birmingham in the presence of Lord Littleton and Thomas Avery. After restating all his reasons for hardship and being out of play he stated that If I would again accept another postponement he would take the necessary steps to satisfy his publishers in such a manner that it would enable him to play the early part of November. So I left Birmingham, feeling that I had at least obtained a public commitment from him, while still suspicious of his actions.

Two days later, he again smeared my name, publishing his [Anti-Book] rubbish and claiming I had requested a reduction in stakes. I left for Paris the last day of August having nothing left to accomplish in England.

The ensuing turmoil and the confiscation of my underlinens in Calias is well known.

Oct-13-05  AlexanderMorphy: His record is even more impressive when you take into consideration that out of his 262 games in this database, 120 were odds games! Now beat that!
Oct-13-05  DrKurtPhart: _____________________________________


Anyway, the road of Law was what had always been planned for him. A profession steeped in respectability most suitable for an educated young gent, and none of this "chess-playing, party-tricks nonsense".

"at last," said Edge, on feeling he had bested Morphy in the 'boiling with rage' correspondence contest, having sent the letter, in spite of, you know. What a bastard. "almost to tears.", was the regrettable extent he claims that he had to go to, in arguing, jousting and pleading with Morphy, in the later, 'business end', decisive rounds.

Qualifying him for the self-imposed title Staunton had bestowed upon himself, in a moment of grudging regretfulness no doubt, in regard to his treatment of M, as: "an Unmitigated Bastard.", a title for which Edge now challenged him for, in addition to the tiresome public commentary on the debacle.

The 'UB' cup was always a keenly congested trophy, especially in the envious, coveteous world of chesspaladins and pawnslingers, and their tetchy seconds.(see 'trigger-happy sidekicks') Staunton retained the UB cup, until found lifeless, and no longer moving any pieces on his body, in his study chair in 1874, still cuddling his UB cup. Edge went to retain his own UB cup '2', in spite of robust challenges from the plentiful UB candidates prevalent in the cut and thrust world of pre-Civil War and postal-civil war correspondence UB title competitions.

"And when Staunton published Morphy’s letter," Oh oh. "suppressing that one important paragraph", Ooh. Knew it. "Morphy laughed in my face" For Edge, the ultimate slap of scorn about the cheeks. Take that. Biff. Whack. (Batman theme music) yuk yuk. (thanks Goofy)

Although it was becoming increasingly unclear, was Morphy the Batman or the Robin (Edge) in this piece. (Staunton was obviously the "Joker" or "Terminal LiarMan" or "The Fabricator" in the overall scheme of things,) But Morphy was feeling more and more like a short Robin. With an increasing animosity for Edge's super sub-human attempts to save the world of chess from a fate worse than a minor role in a soap opera of the times.

“the matter need go no further” was Morphy's dismissive summation of the matter. "boiling with rage" was Edge, after being laughed at, by even Morphy now, and informed in no uncertain terms that "the matter need go no further", really getting his goat, and he wrote another " boiling with rage 2 ", letter to Lyttleton, that was in turn eventually to wind up in the eager, chess-news hungry, hands of the London papers (again waiting until M was "out of the way").

(Edge, thereby, punnily enough, getting "the edge", or drop, on Morphy. [see: edge - advantage. Also see: 'The Edge.' (no relation) Guitarplayer with the U2 rock combo, from the Morphy ancestral home of Ireland]

Edge reasoned to himself that he, Morphy, was the only man that he'd give up his family for, his work, yea his life, his wife even, in his quest to brush the dandruff off the 'shoulders of greatness', and bask in it's most desirable golden glow. Vindicating himself in all's eyes, including ailing and deceased family members, and his under-nourished children, with his book, 'Boiling with Rage 3., and 'Son of Boiling With Rage.' (Later a high-budget Hollywood movie, directed by Stephen Spielberg, called 'Pawn With the Wind' (Son of Boiling With Rage.) SOBR for short. Nigel to you.) [A love/shoe fetish extravaganza set in a civil war background, starring indeed Johnny Depp as the wronged hero, with plenty of shoe-fetish stuff upfront, and a carnage-packed background of unmitigated rebelry and scheming intrigue, by the heroine Madame X, played by indeed Julia Roberts, and a cast of thousands, garnering a record all 79 Oscars and awards as the highest money-spinning block buster in the history of Civil War Postal Chess Extravaganzas.]


Oct-13-05  DrKurtPhart:


pure genius is like that. (see: Morphy. chessplayer.) _______________________________________________

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Paul reached his majority while in England. Yet, for some reason, John Sybrandt (and not Edward Morphy and not Paul Morphy) held the purse-strings to the Morphy inheritance. Edward went out on his own, but Paul remained dependant on his family's financial support (and I imagine, Sybrandt's good graces). I would think this alone gave them undue control over him.

What this all means, I can only guess at. But understanding it, I feel, is crucial to understanding Morphy.>

I could not agree more.

The usual suspects underlying strange family behaviors are : history of crime, fear of a strand of insanity in the family, other socially embarasing diseases, questions of paternity or 'legitimity', race, aberand behavior like incest; usually in a some sort of a mixture.

I am sure I am not teling you anything you already did not consider. Natural questions to ask are: Was Paul Morphy part black? And if, how far back? Was he realy a son of both of his official parents? But also: How did John Sybrant realy got to run the Morphy family?

Easily asked, but hard to track down, I know.

Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: SBD: "...Maybe playing with Morphy raised his [Lowenthal's] play a notch?"

Absolutely. That's how it goes.

that's a poor ruse.

Oct-13-05  lblai: I think it is wrong to say that Morphy told people that the purpose of his trip was Birmingham unless one actually knows of some report to that effect. In the absence of such evidence, I would say that it is unlikely that Morphy told people that Birmingham was the purpose of his trip. Morphy's original plan was to spend four or five months in Europe. It is doubtful that very many would have believed that Morphy would be spending all of that time at Birmingham. We know of one report of what Morphy was telling people about his plans. See pages 109-110 of Lange. It was announced in the Chess Monthly that Morphy's plans included Birmingham, Staunton (possibly), Harrwitz, de Riviere, Lange (possibly), Mayet (possibly), and Anderssen (possibly). In view of that public announcement, it strikes me as unlikely that any contradictory public announcement was made. As far as Morphy's mother is concerned, my guess would be that she was persuaded to believe that the chess playing would be without stakes. As for the Birmingham timing, I do not think one should say that it did not make a difference, unless we know that. Not only do we not know that, but it appears quite likely that it did make a difference. Morphy went straight to Birmingham upon his arrival in England, but the rescheduling prevented his participation at that time. Also, because of the rescheduling, by the time Birmingham took place, Morphy had already played Owen, Bird, and
Loewenthal. Morphy was probably expecting to have only a limited time before his match with Staunton, and he wanted to get in a visit to Paris. The rescheduled Birmingham tournament conflicted with a trip to Paris at that time, so the Birmingham tournament was sacrificed.
Oct-13-05  SBC: <lblai>

I would think there's a difference between an assertion and a hypothesis. As I said before, I see certain incongruities (at least as I interpret them) and I'm looking for reasonable explanations. I find the best way to determine the value of an argument is to expose it to the light of day and see if it lives. So, while I disagree with very little that you write, I also haven't seen anything to really satisfy these incongruities.

The crux of my argument, if that's the right word, is the same thing I first wrote about regarding the exchange of letters between Morphy and Lord Lyttleton. ( and ) In his letter, Morphy clearly states that his purpose to go to England was to challenge Staunton:

"On the 4th of last February the Chess Club of New Orleans gave a challenge to your countryman, Mr. Howard Staunton, to visit that city, and engage in a match at Chess with me. On the 3rd of April Mr. Staunton replied to this defi in the Illustrated London News, characterizing the terms of the cartel as 'being distinguished by extreme courtesy,' but objecting to so long a journey for such a purpose, and engaging me 'to anticipate by a few months an intended voyage to Europe.' Believing that 'a journey of many thousand miles' was the only obstacle in the way of our meeting, I made immediate preparation, and, within two months, I had the pleasure of repeating the challenge personally in the rooms of the St. George's Chess Club."


"From Mr. Staunton I now appeal to the great body of English Chess players, I appeal to the British Chess Association, I appeal to yourself, my lord, as the Maecenas of English Chess; and, as I visited your country for the purpose of challenging Mr. Staunton, which challenge he has repeatedly accepted, 1 now demand of you that you shall declare to the world it is through no fault of mine that this match has not taken place"

but Lyttleton repied:

"But I cannot but think, that in all fairness and considerate-ness, Mr. Staunton might have told you of this long before he did. I know no reason why he might not have ascertained it, and informed you of it in answer to your first letter from America. Instead of this, it seems to me plain, both as to the interview at which I myself was present, and as to all the other communications which have passed, that Mr. Staunton gave you every reason to suppose that he would be ready to play the match within no long time. I am not aware, indeed (nor do I perceive that you have said it), that you left America solely with the view of playing Mr. Staunton. It would, no doubt, make the case stronger, but it seems to me as unlikely as that you should have come, as has been already stated (anonymously, and certainly not with Mr. Staunton's concurrence), in order to attend the Birmingham Tournament."

We also know, as you pointed out, what the American press was reporting at the time of Morphy's departure.

I find the discepancies striking.

I can't fathom why Morphy's mother, or any member of his family, would even bring up the subject of stakes if they weren't aware of the necessity of stakes in high level chess. Yet Charles Le Carpentier said that Paul "'expressly agreed' not to challenge or accept a money challenge."

curiouser and curiouser....

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <SBC> I think that when you dig it all out, you will discover that Paul Morphy story is in a large part the story of avarice of <John D. Sybrandt>.

Here is a story of one more recent family I know: A reasonably well to do middleclass household with one daughter and two sons. The daughter was the oldest. All quite talented but raised up in impractical ways of accademicians. The daughter maried first. And practically immediately her husband started taking over the family affairs. Do not take me wrong, he did get a pushback from the parents here and there, but over a few years time he put enough duress on everybody that he indeed begun to control the whole inherritance to some degree; certainly after one of the parents died and the other aged. Eventually, the older of the brothers disposed of all of his posetions in a fire-sale just to get rid of his brother in law; the other brother's residues of wealth were confiscated by the communist government after he bolted the country.

Now, let's postulate that <John D. Sybrandt> was a similar kind of guy: Before he came to the scene, Paul Morphy was ecouraged to nourish his extraordinary chess gift. His family thought little or nothing improper of Paul hustling chess games for stakes. In fact, was not it his uncle who set up many of the matches with unsuspecting victims? But after John D. Sybrandt begun to manage the Morphy family fortunes (as we now assume), we suddenly see Paul being pushed way from match play and eventually from chess altogether. Why?

This is what I think: John D. Sybrandt begun to view the Morphys' welth as his own -- encumbered by a need to take care of the needs of Paul and Edward, but more or less his own! Now, if Paul plays a match, he goes to family coffers for the stake money. But John views it as his, John's money. And that money is now at risk at best, perhaps as good as already gone. If Paul wins, Paul certainly keeps his winnigs and perhaps also the stakes. (He may or may not return the stake principle to the family tresury.) And if Paul loses, the tresury certainly gets poorer. As we see, there is no up-potential in all of this for John D. Sybrandt; just risks!! Thus, I conjecture, John torpedoed the chess carreer of Paul Morphy, perhaps even Paul's social prospects and the rest of his life.

<Other than these, Morphy never played another game without giving odds. His brother-in-law, John D. Sybrandt, on the direction of Morphy's family, came to Paris to hasten his return to America. On April 6, they left Paris for England. On April 30, he boarded the Persia bound for New York, never to return to England.> Right. Except I think that John D. Sybrandt was running the Morphy family by then.

Oct-13-05  SBC: <Gypsy>

<Was Paul Morphy part black?>

I've heard that assertion before, based, I believe, on the idea that he had some Haitian ancestors. I don't know of anything that suggests such an idea.

<Was he realy a son of both of his official parents?>

I don't know of anything that suggests he wasn't.

<How did John Sybrant realy got to run the Morphy family?>

Dang if I know. Sybrandt was Paul's sister Malvina's husband. (As far as I've been able to determine, they had one child, Alonzo Sybrandt.) He was probably from Scandinavia, so he was an "outsider." It seems that a family fortune would be kept closer within the family. Later Paul sued him in what's been regarded as a frivolous lawsuit. The suit was unsuccessful.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Gypsy> Family secrets possibly, but they might be intertwined with cultural reasons influencing why Morphy and his family withdrew. The Creole culture in New Orleans was short-lived, but amazingly vital, and declined abruptly about the time of Morphy's greatest successes and his father's death.

A concise history of how Morphy's father came to New Orleans is found on SBC's site

It is quite a tale how Morphy's grandfather had to flee Saint-Dominique, (also called Santo Domingo I believe) in the 1790's during the slave rebellion there, and receive an appointment to New Orleans in 1809, the exact year New Orleans received an influx of former Santo Domingo refugees like himself, who had just been expelled from Cuba by the Spanish.

New Orleans tripled its population between 1803 and 1810, and a good chunk were Creoles in 1809. Morphy's future father, who would have been about 11 at the time, suddenly found himself in a ready made culture of like people who were creating a culture of things they valued, "shows, the theatre, balls, and assemblies." (New Orleans A Pictorial History)

Morphy's father rose rapidly. When Paul was two, Alonzo Morphy was appointed to be a Supreme Court Justice for the State of Louisiana.

This great rise, which mirrored the Creole ascension in the city, came to an end the year on November 22, 1856, when Alonzo abruptly died of an eye infection, a huge shock to the family and the community.

I think Alonzo's death affected Paul inordinately, as well as his sisters and mother, and could explain his somewhat distracted manner toward chess-players and his ambivalence to the game.

Oct-13-05  SBC: <Gypsy>

Oddly enough, and without any real proof, I think along some similar line, though maybe a bit less Machievallian. It's hard to make strong assertions without any substantiation but I don't think it hurts to examine scenarios to see how different parts of a puzzle might look together. For instance, the failed lawsuit.. as they say, the victor writes the history. Perhaps it wasn't so frivolous, just unprovable (if I'm not mistaken, the lawsuit seemd to be about the mishandling to family money). It seems almost natural that when a person has executive control over expeditures, that person tends to think of the money as his own and possibly begrudges any unnecessary output. So, I don't find your scenario off the wall at all. It's also true that Ernest, a true Creole, didn't mind gambling nor playing for stakes. And since he advertised for Paul to play for stakes while Alonzo was alive, it seems that Alonzo wasn't totally against it either.

Creole women probably had little say so when it came to money. I don't know for sure, but I suspect they ran the households on a particular budget or allowance, but the actual management of money was left to the men.

But why not Paul or Edward?

Now, where I see your scenario failing is that if Sybrandt was so greedy, it seems he would have seen Morphy as a golden goose and encouraged him rather than discouraged him from playing for money.

Of course this is all speculation without the merest iota of proof.

Oct-13-05  SBC: <tamar>

<I think Alonzo's death affected Paul inordinately>

I think that is a very important thing to bear in mind.

One more thing to consider about Creoles. They were basically traditionalists, holding tenaciously to the French culture they espoused, a culture that, as you said, promoted things like opera (and music in general), literature (of their own genres) and philosophy (usually seeped in their Catholicism). The more their culture was absorbed, the tighter they held on and less resilient they became. Even Morphy's chess was a more throwback to Greco rather than the more forward-looking Philidorian style that Steinitz embraced. Creoles were not adapters.

Thanks for your always-welcomed, insightful input!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Oddly enough, and without any real proof, I think along some similar line, though maybe a bit less Machievallian.> Such Machiavelian designs are hard to believe, I know. But, as a child, I witnessed first hand the later stages of the scenario I described earlier. Thus I modeled my hypothetic John D. Sybrandt after that. Comes to think of it, Mr. Jan X (for his name was also "John") did not seem to act of some grand, consciously Machievallian design. His drive was in his bones; this constant strive for wealth was aligned with his sense of propriety. (In a more historical times, I would say his sense of godlines.)

<But why not Paul or Edward?> Too young at first, and too far on the outside track afterwards. Also too gentle probably. Characters like Mr. Jan X are tough like nails. Mere intellectual briliance is no match for their kind. From all that you describe of Paul, he was a kind, gentle fellow. I can not picture him ever realy challenging Mr. Jan X, with all the family presures and baggage around. Any fight between Paul and Jan X would quickly end up in some gutter where Paul's upbringing would not allow him to go.

<Now, where I see your scenario failing is that if Sybrandt was so greedy, it seems he would have seen Morphy as a golden goose and encouraged him rather than discouraged him from playing for money.> If John D. Sybrandt was anything like Mr. Jan X, then he would have seen three things wrong with playing for stakes: (1) One does not take that sort of chances with one's wealth in the first place. (2) He would view Paul as no potential golden goose at all: He would feel that gambler's winnings are temporary, easily spent and fritted away, but that gambler's loses are permanent. (3) He would sense that Paul's winnings were outside of his own control. But that he would be asked to furnish money for loses.

Also, Pauls winnigs would give Paul a considerable measure of self pride and emancipation in the personal sense. It must have been debilitating for Paul's spirit to be so financially dependent upon the family.

< Of course this is all speculation without the merest iota of proof.> Of course.

Oct-14-05  DrKurtPhart: _________________________________


the "lost autumnal tour in Russia", according to Edge, as being lost "through Morphy", and for all his efforts was treated "as Alexander served Parmenio." seeing the entire debacle taking on tragic Shakespearean dimensions, with all the unfortunate consequences laid therein. He had counted on Staunton being the star villain in the piece, not himself. This would not do. He was being cast as Parmenio, the Macedonian general in the service of Alexander the Great. Who won great victories everywhere: [Illyrians (356); peace with Athens (346), Euboea (342). reduction of Asia (336). etc etc.] After all this, Alexander was informed that Philotas, son of Parmenio, was involved in a conspiracy against his life. Philotas was condemned by the army and put to death. Alexander, thinking it dangerous to allow the father to live, sent orders to Media for the assassination of Parmenio. There was no proof that Parmenio was in any way implicated in the conspiracy, but he was not even afforded the opportunity of defending himself.

So Edge is pretty "boiling" all over at this, mortified at being "served as Parmenio." which also sounds like something you eat, as it was he that was supposed to be the Hero of the, now most "regretable affair". His Alexander, Morphy the Great, assassinating him, and in spite of all his efforts, he's behind the eight ball again.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <SBC> Morphy's fondness for opera, I always found odd. But as you say, it was a Creole tendency to hold on to French values. And Paul wasn't so out of step with his memorizing abilities.

Here is a quote from 1900 from Rene J Le Gardeur, Jr, a Creole, about a performance of French Tenor Louis Escalais, who performed at the French Opera House in New Orleans, and his impressions of the Creole response:

<The significant thing about this old opera house, that it was primarily a French institution, bound up very closely with the French (Creole) culture in the city. Except on rare occasions, and in the case of some visiting troupes, the operas were sung in French, and operagoers knew the words by heart, and understood everything that was going on. It was quite common at my house ( and in many other Creole families too) to hear young and old sing their arias-quartets and choruses did not deter them either-from memory, and "just for fun" with appropriate gestures and stage business...>

<The Creoles took thier opera seriously. They had favorites among the artists, and there would be arguments, sometimes fights and duels, between partisans of rival artists...>

Oct-14-05  lblai: I do not know what discrepancy SBC is referring to. I thought SBC had agreed that Morphy was not trying to
indicate that Staunton was his sole purpose. If so, then the Lyttelton correspondence does not contradict the Chess Monthly announcement on this point. I see nothing in the Lyttelton correspondence (or anywhere else) to indicate that Morphy ever said that Birmingham was the purpose of his trip. This, too, is consistant with the Chess Monthly announcement, where Birmingham is only presented as PART of his plans. So what is the discrepancy? As for Morphy's mother, it strikes me as entirely possible that she was aware that stakes were sometimes involved in chess play, and yet unaware of the difficulty in arranging a serious match without stakes. Such a person might have reluctantly agreed to months of chess activity while insisting that stakes not be involved. By the way, can anyone document Gypsy's claim that there was a time when the Morphy family "thought little or nothing improper of Paul hustling chess games for stakes"?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <lblai: ... By the way, can anyone document Gypsy's claim that there was a time when the Morphy family "thought little or nothing improper of Paul hustling chess games for stakes"?>

<SBC: ... It's also true that Ernest, a true Creole, didn't mind gambling nor playing for stakes. And since he advertised for Paul to play for stakes while Alonzo was alive, it seems that Alonzo wasn't totally against it either.>

Oct-14-05  lblai: What is the source of SBC with regard to this
advertising for Paul to play for stakes?
Oct-14-05  ckr: <lblai> Lawson pg.45 (condensed Version) Mr. Ernest Morphy is desirous to set up a match between his nephew and Mr. Stanley or Marache for $300 a side, $100 to the loser (cover expenses to NO). The proposition emanates from Ernest Morphy, who subscribes $50 to the purse.
Oct-14-05  ckr: <lblai> Lawson pg 88 Chess Monthly January - 1858
PM extends the challenge sent to the NY Chess Club to all in the USA. He proffers odds of ♙ and move.

Lawson pg. 89
associates $100 a side to the challenge (same as waged against Stanley)

<Ernest is not mentioned as being connected to this challenge>

Oct-14-05  ckr: It would appear that Paul's playing for <rib-eyes> was not considered taboo until after Alonzo's passing.
Oct-14-05  ckr: Opps, trip and fall, Alonzo passed away just before the 1stACC in 1857.
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