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Paul Morphy

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

Overall record: +185 -25 =17 (85.2%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 237 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 C33
 Sicilian (14) 
    B44 B40 B21 B20
 Philidor's Defense (14) 
 King's Gambit Declined (12) 
    C30 C31
 King's Pawn Game (9) 
    C40 C20 C44
With the Black pieces:
 King's Gambit Accepted (21) 
    C33 C39 C38
 Ruy Lopez (15) 
    C65 C77 C78 C60 C67
 Evans Gambit (15) 
    C51 C52
 Giuoco Piano (10) 
    C53 C50 C54
 Philidor's Defense (7) 
 Uncommon Opening (5) 
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?]
   1st American Chess Congress (1857)
   Morphy - Loewenthal (1858)
   Anderssen - Morphy (1858)
   Morphy - Mongredien (1859)
   Morphy - Harrwitz (1858)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Paul Morphy -The Great Chess Genius by Timothy Glenn Forney
   Paul Morphy Conquered the World Says Fredthebear by fredthebear
   Paul Morphy Conquered the World Says Fredthebear by demirchess
   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 by StoppedClock
   A First Book of Morphy Compiled by Melodie by fredthebear
   A First Book of Morphy by Frisco Del Rosario by adrien79
   A First Book of Morphy by melodie
   Match Morphy! by amadeus

   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
Search Google for Paul Morphy

(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 NN 1-0191848New OrleansC20 King's Pawn Game
2. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0311848New OrleansC23 Bishop's Opening
3. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0181848New OrleansC33 King's Gambit Accepted
4. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-0291849New OrleansC39 King's Gambit Accepted
5. Morphy vs NN 1-0201849New Orleans cgC39 King's Gambit Accepted
6. Morphy vs Le Carpentier 1-0131849New Orleans000 Chess variants
7. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-1231849New OrleansC38 King's Gambit Accepted
8. Morphy vs E Morphy 1-0201849New OrleansC53 Giuoco Piano
9. Morphy vs E Rousseau 1-0171849New OrleansC39 King's Gambit Accepted
10. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-0231849New OrleansC40 King's Knight Opening
11. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0211849New Orleans -C51 Evans Gambit
12. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0151849New Orleans mC51 Evans Gambit
13. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0461849New OrleansC51 Evans Gambit
14. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-0111849New Orleans cgC35 King's Gambit Accepted, Cunningham
15. Morphy vs E Rousseau 1-0231849New OrleansC50 Giuoco Piano
16. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0181850New Orleans ?000 Chess variants
17. Morphy vs NN 1-0181850?000 Chess variants
18. Morphy vs E Morphy 1-0251850New OrleansC52 Evans Gambit
19. Morphy vs NN 1-0141850casualC44 King's Pawn Game
20. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-1251850New OrleanC52 Evans Gambit
21. NN vs Morphy 0-1241850New Orleans USAC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
22. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-1141850New OrleansC02 French, Advance
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 0-1271854New 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 25 OF 273 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-05-04  SBC: <BishopBerkeley>.

<I can't help but think of Morphy when I see this chair!>

Not a bad looking chair though - if you like that funky sort of style.

<But alas, celebrity often seems to bring such stories in its wake, and once they get started, they're awfully hard to stop!>

Very few people are actually interested in history itself (and almost no one is intersted in chess history). Many people, though, like to be able to throw around little trivia "facts". So people grasp at short anecdotes and repeat them, sometimes embellishing them, because it shows how much history they know, without them actually having to break a sweat...or break open a book. And beyond people's readiness to speak such garbage is possibly the even worse tendency to accept what one reads as the accurate truth without ever questioning it or cross-referencing it. I know people can't double check every fact of everything they read, but certain "facts" stand out as things you simply don't accept without corroboration.

Being misinformed is far worse than being ignorant.

Premium Chessgames Member
  cu8sfan: <SBC> Great post! I noticed that many people know so many trivia questions that serve nothing than to impress others. They know the dates of all kinds of wars for example but usually have no idea why that war started or in which context that war was set.

<BB> Even if the story isn't true I'd be lmao if a chess player would play a championship in one of these chairs!

Premium Chessgames Member
  BishopBerkeley: <cu8sfan> I've never sat in one of these chairs, but they do look rather comfortable! Perhaps well-designed for leaning back when one feels stress in the back (common in Chess matches).

And, of course, the spectators shoe-chairs could be arranged in a semi-circle!

(Actually, arranging things in a semi-circle is perfectly natural if you're sitting crosslegged on the ground. I've done this before with papers, etc.)

(: BB :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  BishopBerkeley: <SBC> I must say, SBC, I'm glad to have you around! Not too many bulletin boards have their own resident historian! (Though you may not regard yourself as a historian in the academic sense, you are a darned good de facto historian. And you'd probably be a good academic one, too.)

This site really does showcase the Web in one of its very fine manifestations. And folks like SBC make this even more true.

(: BB :)

Aug-05-04  SBC: <cu8sfan>

Facts are necessary but they aren't the raison d'etre of studying history, at least not for me. It's the relationship of things, that only a wide-view perspective can give, that makes history, whether it's chess history or period history, facinating. For instance, one can learn some facts about Morphy, but unless one also understands the 19th century itself and the development of chess up to Morphy, then the understanding one has might be too superficial to be worthwhile because you can't make connections and draw reasonable conclusions.

Anyway, that's how I look at and which is why I try to present as much peripheral information as I can dig up when treating any subject.

Aug-05-04  SBC: <BishopBerkeley>

<you are a darned good de facto historian>

thank you for the compliment, but I'm not a historian by any definition of the word. I'm just a collector of information which I sometimes display.

Aug-05-04  HailM0rphy: <you are a darned good de facto historian> Heh I've been looking forward to my daily dose of Morphy misc. on this page for awhile ;)

As for that academic site, besides that little fact about shoes, its an awsome site. I dunno if either of you saw this but and scroll to the bottom. Your site is becoming quite famous! :)

Aug-05-04  SBC: <HailM0rphy>

<As for that academic site, besides that little fact about shoes, its an awsome site.>

Yes it is. It presents both chess and chess history very attractively. Liina and Eric Hicks worked very hard.

<Your site is becoming quite famous> that's a broad statement for a site that averages only 120 hits/week. Anyway, the new Morphy site will be far better and far more complete.


Premium Chessgames Member
  BishopBerkeley: Ernest Jones on Paul Morphy

Those of you who are familiar with the literature of psychoanalysis will know the name Ernest Jones: he was Freud's biographer.

I was interested to see that Ernest Jones had written about Paul Morphy (according to Bill Wall's site, and others)

From Bill Wall's site:

In 1974 Gerald Abrahams wrote an interesting book called Not Only Chess.

On page 29, Abrahams discusses Dr. Ernest Jones (1879-1958) and his psychoanalysis of chess. Jones wrote an article, called, "The Problem of Paul Morphy" and published in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis in January, 1931. Dr. Jones describes Morphy's chess as a product of a mind whose energies were harmoniously sublimated. Morphy's breakdown (paranoia) came after a feeling of guilt aroused frm the subconscious when men made him aware of hostility. Jones said that Morphy gave up chess because of the hostility Staunton showed when Staunton refused to play Morphy. However, before Morphy went to Europe he had already decided to give up serious play when he returned home. Jones said that chess play was a substitute for the art of war.

In a 1937 article titled, "The Unconscious Motives of Interest in Chess"(listed at the British Psychoanalytic Society website), we find:

In all the cases, the symbolic significance of playing the game and the unconscious meaning of the pieces are evident. In fact, chess is utilized as a sublimated outlet for the deeply repressed Oedipus conflict, but its disguise in the form of a game avoids any conscious feelings of guilt.

In Jones’ discussion of Morphy, he states that in Morphy's mental disorder (paranoia) the sublimating process remained intact: what he lost was the ability to use his genius as a means of guarding himself against the overwhelming id impulses. It appears from this statement that Morphy could no longer successfully and completely divert his parricidal aggression into more acceptable channels by means of the symbolism of chess. In the patients under discussion, their psychoneuroses developed in part because of incomplete sublimation of the aggressive aspect of the Oedipus complex. When their neurotic-aggressive traits were concentrated on the inanimate chess pieces, the manipulation of these pieces became dynamic equivalents and substitutes for their family conflicts.

The Jones piece is cited:
Ernest Jones. “ The Problem of Paul Morphy.” The International Journal of psychoanalysis, 12, 1, January, 1931.

Well, I am an unapologetic Freud-skeptic, so much of this sounds like malarky to me. But it's interesting malarky, if only because classical psychoanalysis has had such a profound affect on the way we see the world.

If you're looking for a refreshing alternative to Freud, you might check out Abraham Maslow's views. Maslow chose to study mental *wellness* rather than mental *illness*, and he generalized from there. His 16 Characteristics of the mentally well are always fun to look over:

(: BB :)

Aug-06-04  SBC: <BishopBerkeley>

<Jones said that Morphy gave up chess because of the hostility Staunton showed when Staunton refused to play Morphy. However, before Morphy went to Europe he had already decided to give up serious play when he returned home. >

It seems that Jones was smart enough to figure out it could have been one... or the other... or neither... but it couldn't be both. (and neither, with some qualifications, seems most likely.)

Aug-06-04  HailM0rphy: I have a feeling Morphy never came close to playing chess much longer then he did.. The only reason he even went to the New York tournament was because he had to wait 2 years to get into the 'bar' or somthing for law school. He chose the biggest tournament he could find to see how good he really was..and with 2 of the best players in the world showing up there (Lowenthal and Paulsen)(Staunton and Anderssen were the other 2) that once he beat them he knew he was one of the best in the world. And maybe he got it stuck in his head that to be that best in the world or even the best ever he would have to beat both.

And probably if he had not won that he would not have gone to Europe in the first place. I think the Staunton sit. just pushed his ambition and paranoia more twards all he wanted to do was become a lawyer and that he should not be in Europe in the first place.

Aug-06-04  SBC: <HailM0rphy>

ok. Get out your notebook. It's chess history review time!

Paul Morphy was born June 22, 1837. The 1st American Chess Congress took place October-November 1857 (Paul was 20 yrs. 4 months old, not old enough to practice law in Louisiana). There had never been a chess tournament in the U.S. up to this point, so it was quite an event. Participants were by invitation only. Morphy was invited on the basis, believe it or not, of his less than a half-dozen published games. (also he had beaten the famous Johann Loewenthal, visiting New Orleans at the time, in 1850 when Paul was not quite 13) and he had the recommendation of Judge Meek, a prominent political figure from Alabama who was a family friend, a noted chess player and a frequent "victim" of Paul. Although Loewenthal helped write a tournament book of that Congress, he wasn't there. He had moved to England back in 1851 when he went there to play in the world's first international tournament. Paulsen, at the time, was one of the best players in America, though he was German. But he wasn't one of the world's finest, though one day he would be. He was a noted blindfold player however which made for an interesting story when he and Morphy (also a blindfold player - better than Paulsen - only no one knew it at the time) played each other without a board.

When Paul went to Europe the next year, he would turn 21 right after getting there, so his family frowned upon him going because they were afraid it would interfere with him establishing a professional career as an attorney. But finally they agreed to let him go.

He did meet Staunton whom he went specifically to play, among other things, and it turned sour. But I don't feel it affected Morphy so much, at least not as much as people would like us to believe. In England and France Morphy met and beat some great players such as Loewenthal, now a much stronger player than in 1850, Harrwitz, the blindfold player and club professional at Paris' Cafe de la Regence and Anderssen, who was probably the strongest player in the world next to Morphy.

Before Morphy returned home, he offered to play Staunton and Harrwitz only if they'd accept the odds of Pawn&move. He extended that challenge to all of Europe with no takers. Morphy returned to Amaerica, played some off-hand games and matches at odds and gave some blindfold exhibtions. He ran a chess column for a while and tried to start a law office. The Civil War started and New Orleans fell to the yankees. The Morphys moved to Paris, partly because they were against secession. Moprhy played less and less chess and finally only private games. The moved back to New Orleans after the war and Morphy became all the more reclusive. Toward the end of his life, the last couple of years, he became quite paraniod but never really crazy. Steinitz met him twice and found him charming, sharp minded and a facinating converstionalist. He died on July 10, 1884.

Aug-06-04  HailM0rphy: <sbc> I know that you that I already know all this, but a good refresher course for our erm.. less informed doesn't hurt ;)
<-- also for the less informed

Aug-06-04  jesterco12: Did Paul Morphy ever play any Queen's Pawn Openings as white? I have yet to see one.
Aug-06-04  SBC: <jesterco12>

<Did Paul Morphy ever play any Queen's Pawn Openings as white? I have yet to see one.>

Not that I'm aware of.

Aug-07-04  SBC: True or False:

Paul Morphy met the grandson of Philidor in Paris, 1858, and beat him in a game of chess.

answer will be forthcoming....

Aug-07-04  HailM0rphy: <sbc> well I'd be curious as to why you would be asking if it were not true..but I never heard anything close to this anywhere else so its probably just a tale.

<jest> Not 1. although he did play a few Nimzo openings later on probably just to demonstrate to Charles that he could play closed and defensive games well also.

Premium Chessgames Member
  BishopBerkeley: Paul Morphy vs. SATAN!

Did our intrepid hero lock horns with The Horned One over the Chessboard?! Well, maybe. . .

You may read the full story at the link that follows this excerpt:

"It is known that Morphy visited the Richmond Chess Club on October 24, [1861,] winning eight of ten games at knight odds. Some years later, State Chess Association of Virginia president Gilbert R Frith related that Morphy also attended a dinner with other local players at the Richmond home of a Reverend R R Howison, and that during the meal Morphy's attention was drawn to a picture on the wall of a young man playing chess versus Mephistopheles. The youth had the White pieces (styled as Virtues) in a desperate-looking position. The Devil was depicted as gloating behind a perceptibly greater Black (Vices) army. Nevertheless Morphy, after studying the position, declared that he could take the young man's side and win. The consensus of those present was that not even Morphy could retrieve White's game, but when a board and pieces were produced he made good on his boast.

"The tale is well-circulated. David Lawson's authoritative Paul Morphy, The Pride & Sorrow of Chess gives an account of Morphy's visit to Richmond (pp 267-269), including this anecdote. Bradley Ewart presented a detailed study in Chess Life ('The Devil and Paul Morphy', June 1984). However, the whole affair has been long dismissed as apocryphal in the absence of corroborative evidence. Thus historian Frank Skoff stated flatly in the November 1992 Chess Life: 'The anecdote re the famous Retzsch etching is mythical (Man is a myth-making animal).'

"However, with a small amount of historical detective work several years ago, I unearthed the actual picture and its connection with the Howison family. Recently I retraced my investigation for the purposes of this article. The picture, which is reproduced here [it actually is not reproduced at this site], resides in a private home in Virginia. It is in fact a lithograph, a variant of an original painting by Moritz Retzsch. The owners have verified that they are descendants of Rev Howison, that the Morphy story is familiar to them as part of their family lore, and that theirs is indeed the actual graphic upon which Morphy gazed. They request that their privacy be honored, that their name or address not be made public at this time; however, they provided several photographs of the lithograph including closeups of the board and pieces. . ."


Well, I tracked down a picture that matches this description. It is by Moritz August Retzsch and it is called, "The Chess Players". You may view it here (click either image to enlarge):

(: BB :)

Aug-07-04  kurathedog: <bishopberkeley> (and others) great find about this picture. Thanks.

I see mate in 7 with a rook sac. I wonder if that is what Morphy saw. (joking)

Premium Chessgames Member
  BishopBerkeley: <kurathedog> It's a pretty hard position to figure out! As bad as the Morphy postage stamp that was mentioned on the board a week or so ago! (I see the rook sacrifice, too! ;) (: BB :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  BishopBerkeley: <SBC> Thanks for the puzzler! I wasn't able to find anything directly about Morphy vs. Philidor's grandson, but we do know that Morphy was in Paris in 1858. There is an excerpt from this book at that mentions Philidor's grandson in a Chess-context. If the excerpt were more extensive, maybe it would have the answer.

Somehow, I suspect the event did happen :)

(: BB :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: I see a mate in 144 after Patience takes Gluttony, but maybe Morphy found something quicker.
Aug-07-04  SBC: <BishopBerkeley>
<Paul Morphy vs. SATAN!>

That's a pretty famous story. The fact that Morphy was in Richmond at this time also gave rise to the rumor that he was working for PGT Beauregarde as a confederate spy.

Aug-07-04  SBC: .

<True or False:

Paul Morphy met the grandson of Philidor in Paris, 1858, and beat him in a game of chess.>

Actually, this was a bit of a curve ball. I had never seen this mentioned anywhere, so I thought I'd slip it in here.

According to Edge:

"We had not been long in our new abode <Morphy and Edge had recently change hotels, moving from the Hotel Meurice to the Hotel Breteuil on the corner of Rues de Rivoli et du Dauphine - SBC> before Morphy received a visit from the grandson of Philidor. They had a lengthy colloquy together, and of course Morphy asked his visitor if he played at chess. He replied, that he once gave some attention to the game, but found he had little aptitude for it, and therefore relinquished all further study; not thinking that any one bearing the name of Philidor should be looked upon as a 'mazette.' <a patzer?>"

So, Morphy met Philidor's grandson, but they didn't play.

Aug-07-04  SBC: <;

I want to hear the piece played an a single violin string. I think that musician was often referred to as "one-note" Louis.

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