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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 C34
 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) 
    C77 C65 C67 C64 C78
 Evans Gambit (15) 
    C51 C52
 Giuoco Piano (10) 
    C53 C50 C54
 Philidor's Defense (7) 
 Uncommon Opening (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
   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 - Loewenthal (1858)
   1st American Chess Congress (1857)
   Morphy - Harrwitz (1858)
   Morphy - Mongredien (1859)
   Anderssen - Morphy (1858)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Paul Morphy -The Great Chess Genius by Timothy Glenn Forney
   Morphy Favorites by chocobonbon
   Paul Morphy Conquered the World Says Fredthebear by fredthebear
   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 by Frisco Del Rosario by adrien79
   A First Book of Morphy by melodie
   Match Morphy! by amadeus
   Paul Morphy's Best Games by KingG
   Morphy: A Modern Perspective by monkeysbum

   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834
   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834
   McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834
   McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 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 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. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-1231849New OrleansC38 King's Gambit Accepted
5. Morphy vs E Morphy 1-0201849New OrleansC53 Giuoco Piano
6. Morphy vs E Rousseau 1-0171849New OrleansC39 King's Gambit Accepted
7. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-0231849New OrleansC40 King's Knight Opening
8. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0211849New Orleans -C51 Evans Gambit
9. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0151849New Orleans mC51 Evans Gambit
10. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0461849New OrleansC51 Evans Gambit
11. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-0111849New Orleans cgC35 King's Gambit Accepted, Cunningham
12. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-0291849New OrleansC39 King's Gambit Accepted
13. Morphy vs NN 1-0201849New Orleans cgC39 King's Gambit Accepted
14. Morphy vs Le Carpentier 1-0131849New Orleans000 Chess variants
15. Morphy vs E Rousseau 1-0231849New OrleansC50 Giuoco Piano
16. Morphy vs NN 1-0181850?000 Chess variants
17. Morphy vs E Morphy 1-0251850New OrleansC52 Evans Gambit
18. Morphy vs NN 1-0141850casualC44 King's Pawn Game
19. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-1251850New OrleanC52 Evans Gambit
20. Morphy vs Loewenthal 1-0491850New OrleansB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
21. Morphy vs Loewenthal 1-0551850New OrleansC42 Petrov Defense
22. NN vs Morphy 0-1241850New Orleans USAC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
23. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-1141850New OrleansC02 French, Advance
24. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0181850New Orleans ?000 Chess variants
25. Morphy vs Maurian 0-1261854New 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 273 OF 273 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-12-17  KnightVBishop: How did Morphy do against Zukertort?
Aug-13-17  Magpye: <KnightVBishop> <How did Morphy do against Zukertort?>

Even score. Neither one lost a game.

Aug-13-17  KnightVBishop: <sbc>

ok so Morphy never played THeophilus Thompson?

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < KnightVBishop: <sbc> ok so Morphy never played THeophilus Thompson?>

Nope. So we don't know how good Morphy really was, right?

< RookFile: If I was Steinitz, and I had traveled to see Morphy ( no small thing ), I simply would have accepted Morphy's offer of pawn and move. I'd be confident of my abilities and would then win the match. That would set up the way for an even odds match. Remember that as great as a player as Pillsbury received odds of pawn and move in a match against Steinitz. But then again, I'm not Steinitz.>

Surely you know better than this. Morphy's pawn and move offer was published in, I believe, 1859. He last played someone other than Maurian in 1864 or so. Maurian reports that eventually he stopped playing Morphy because it was obvious to him that Morphy was no longer enjoying the game and was only playing as an accommodation to Maurian. This would have been some time in the early 1870s (apparently there are a number of pawn-and-move and pawn-and-two-move games that they played after the last knight-odd games in 1869, but we don't have scores for those later games).

Steinitz and Morphy met in 1883. Morphy was no longer a chess player, in any sense (supposedly he refused even to discuss chess with Steinitz), and he was concededly suffering some level of derangement. No one alive then would have thought for a second that the pawn-and-move offer of a quarter-century before was still open for acceptance.

Wiki reports that Steinitz tried to arrange a match with Morphy in the 1860s, but the article does not inspire confidence. I'd be curious to see if SBC has anything about that.

Aug-14-17  Poulsen: <ughaibu><After all, if he was willing to play without getting odds, why on earth would he be scared to play with odds?>

He was not scared. It was a question of honour and prestige. In those days chess was a gentlemens game - don't forget.

Accepting odds would have meant acknowledging his opponents superiority from start. And this initial status of inferiority, could then not be changed through any game or match - no matter the result. If they have played - and Morphy lost - he (Morphy) would most likely have bailed out in order not to lose prestige. Having given odds would mean, that his reputation would largely stay untarnished.

So Stenitz could only achieve the recognition he wanted - at the expense of Morphy - by beating him on equal terms.

They both knew that, so no wonder the match never was.

In this line of thought there is a direct link to Alexandre Louis Honore Lebreton Deschapelles.

Aug-14-17  Poulsen: ... oh, I might add, that an echo of this line of thought is seen in chess to this day: the challenger has to beat the champion convincingly in order to be accepted as the new champion.
Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: <Poulsen>

Huh? So Karpov is still the champ?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Boomie: Here is a section of SBC's Morphy site concerned with Morphy's odds offer.

Morphy seems to me similar to Capablanca in that neither cared that much for chess. They played because they were good at it. Morphy's study of others' games had convinced him that he was a better player than anyone alive (He worshipped La Bourdonnais). To prove that, he played until he had beaten every strong player in the world that would play him. Mission accomplished, he moved on. Unfortunately, chess prowess does not ensure success in other fields. It is a singular skill that does not translate well to other mediums.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Thanks for posting that, Boomie. Is my memory wrong? Did Morphy not formally offer a match to anyone in the world at those odds?

I think he may have said he wouldn't play Kolisch on even terms after the latter lost a short match to Anderssen.

Anderssen - Kolisch (1861)

Aug-14-17  Poulsen: <WorstPlayerEver><Huh? So Karpov is still the champ?>

LOL - good one.

Acutally I was referring to the fact, that the reigning champion in chess holds the title until he/she is beaten - unlike other sports, where the reigning champion only holds the title until the next championship - and can only hope to regain it.

Morphy held a position, that he did not wanted or needed to surrender.

Aug-14-17  Poulsen: <Boomie><They played because they were good at it>

That is obvious, but in Morphy's case it was more than that.

Morphy was born and raised in the era of romanticism with all it's emphasis on feelings and emotions - and the revival of the medieval virtues, that we to this day associate with the age of knights - such as heroisme, honour, pride and the strive for divine beauty.

Morphy was indeed a 'cavalier' by hearth - and chess at the time was a fitting leisure for upperclass gentlemen like him - much like fencing, horseback riding and other more or less fruitless ventures, that could raise superior individuals above the common riff raff. A fine art that in the hands of a sporting gentleman was honorable and even beautifull.

It is not a coincidence that Morphy vs Duke Karl / Count Isouard, 1858 was played at the opera.

To Morphy chess was a way to show off his seemingly intellectual superiority - thereby achieveing recognition in the spirit of the time and age. And that was what drove him above all.

Aug-14-17  KnightVBishop: well how good was Theophilus before he kind of just faded into oblivion
Premium Chessgames Member
  Boomie: <Poulsen>

Your views of Morphy are plausible given the tenor of the times. However we have a lot of first hand evidence about him so you don't need to rely on vague notions like romanticism.

As luck would have it, your views of Morphy and his motivations are well off the mark. I suggest you read SBC's site.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Boomie: <keypusher: Thanks for posting that, Boomie. Is my memory wrong? Did Morphy not formally offer a match to anyone in the world at those odds?>

I think the article at SBC's answers your question. Or is there something missing there? Notice that Morphy tried to arrange a pawn and move match with Harrwitz but was turned down. St. Amant said that he believed Morphy could win such a match against anyone. However no leading player accepted the challenge.

Aug-15-17  KnightVBishop: so what is the consensus among chess historians, fans etc. on the Staunton-Morphy controversy?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Boomie: <KnightVBishop: so what is the consensus among chess historians, fans etc. on the Staunton-Morphy controversy?>

Unfortunately, Staunton avoided Morphy, who spent quite a bit of time in England trying to arrange a match. Too bad as Staunton was a great player although at the time, he was getting a little old. We'll never know why he ducked Morphy, aside from the fact that he would probably have lost any kind of match. But Staunton would have given Morphy a good workout and sprung some opening novelties on him.

As always, Batgirl comes to our rescue.

Start with the link titled "The Staunton Challenge".

Aug-15-17  Poulsen: <Boomie><As luck would have it, your views of Morphy and his motivations are well off the mark>

Really? - I don't think so. Why do you?

For example I find this citation from the batgirl account particular noteworthy: "Morphy was never so passionately fond, so inordinately devoted to chess as is generally believed". I think, that this is in perfect alignement with my impression of Morphy.

Also this: after winning against Stanley "he sent the stakes, accompanied by a kind note, to Mrs. Stanley, who, poor lady, sadly needs them". This is also perfectly aligned with my general description of Morphy as a 'cavalier'.

I could go on, but never mind.

The description on the batgirl site is an important account no doubt, but I think it fails to put his life and relation to chess into a larger picture other than the immediate circumstances - such as the civil war. Off course this is not purpose of the description - it only describes and does not seek to understand or interpret.

Eyewitness accounts and contemporay newspaper descriptions are off course important sources to historic events - but normally history is better understod at much later point in time. This applies to the history of our time as well that of Morphy's.

I do not pretend to be a Morphy expert, but I do have my opinions about him, and that is not always in accordance with those, that consider him a demi-God of chess - mostly because they blindly take over the judgment of his contemporaries.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < Boomie: <keypusher: Thanks for posting that, Boomie. Is my memory wrong? Did Morphy not formally offer a match to anyone in the world at those odds?> I think the article at SBC's answers your question. Or is there something missing there? Notice that Morphy tried to arrange a pawn and move match with Harrwitz but was turned down. St. Amant said that he believed Morphy could win such a match against anyone. However no leading player accepted the challenge.>

As I read those excerpts I tried to distinguish between statements made by Morphy (or clearly made on his behalf) and those made by others. He definitely challenged Harrwitz to such a match (and tried to arrange it), and offered Staunton a pawn-and-move match. Other people say that Morphy could play such a match against anyone, but don't indicate that he made such a challenge to the world at large.

My recollection had been that Morphy formally offered such a match to anyone. I went back to SBC's site and found the following:

<according to Charles Buck's Paul Morphy: His Later Life (1902, Newport, Kentucky)

shortly after reaching New Orleans Morphy issued a final challenge offering to give odds of Pawn and move to any player in the world, and receiving no response thereto, he declared his career as a chess-player finally and definitely closed, a declaration to which he held with unbroken resolution during the whole remainder of his life.>

No doubt that's what I was remembering. But as SBC notes, Buck isn't very reliable.

Thinking about this some more, it would have been difficult to make such a challenge to "the world at large," because there were very few people (namely, the leading European masters) to whom Morphy would give <only> pawn and move! SBC reports that Morphy decided in 1859 that he would play only at knight odds (or greater) against American opponents, for example.

So, while Morphy may have decided that he would not play a formal match at less than pawn-and-move, I don't see evidence that he made an actual challenge to that effect.

Following up my earlier statement about Kolisch, it appears that Kolisch tried to challenge him while he was in Paris in 1863, but Morphy replied as follows:

<I could have believed at the time when hearing of your successes that you are superior to other players I had encountered in Europe, but since, as you are well aware, the result of your matches with Messrs. Anderssen and Paulsen had not been favorable to you, there is now no reason why I should make an exception in your case, having decided not again to engage in such matches, an infringement of my rules which I should be obliged to extend to others...>

Nothing about pawn-and-move; instead Morphy says he doesn't play matches any more. He played a number of casual games against de Riviere on even terms in Paris.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Boomie: <Poulsen: <Boomie><As luck would have it, your views of Morphy and his motivations are well off the mark> Really? - I don't think so. Why do you?>

If you would back up your opinions with references to the history, then people would take notice. Anyone can have opinions. History is of interest. Opinions are for Rogoff. Everything that is known about Morphy is at Batgirl's house.

For example, one of you statements:

"Morphy was indeed a 'cavalier' by hearth - and chess at the time was a fitting leisure for upperclass gentlemen like him - much like fencing, horseback riding and other more or less fruitless ventures, that could raise superior individuals above the common riff raff. A fine art that in the hands of a sporting gentleman was honorable and even beautifull."

Chess was not considered particularly honorable as a career by the Morphy family. They were already "way above the riff raff". They had nothing to prove to anybody. Paul had simply noticed that his skill at the game was advanced and he set out to see if he was the best. When he was satisfied that he had accomplished his mission, he moved on to other things.

According to you, historians "blindly take over the judgment of his contemporaries." What was said and written about him is all we have to work with. Nobody had ever described Morphy as a cavalier, for example. On the contrary, people were almost as impressed with his nice personality as with his chess skill. He was approachable, well humored, and a good sport. This is the testimony of Anderssen, Falkbeer, and others. There is no evidence that Morphy was trying to prove anything more than mastery of the game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Boomie: <keypusher> You are right that there doesn't appear to be any solid evidence of the odds offers. I find it unlikely that he could offer knight and move to Poulson, for example. There are a lot of mysteries about Morphy that we will never solve. Too bad he wasn't a writer.
Aug-16-17  KnightVBishop: “And as we gazed at Morphy, with his fine, open countenance, brunette hue, marvelous delicacy of fibre, bright, clear eyes, and elongated submaxillary bone, a keen suspicion entered our ethnological department that we were not the only Carthaginian in the room. It might only be one drop, perhaps two ,God only knows how they got there but surely, beside the Tria mulattin who at present writes, there was also a Hekata-mulattin in that room!”

Paul Morphy was of black ancestry, his mom is said to be Afro-Carribean

is this true?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Boomie: <KnightVBishop>

Interesting quote. Please give a reference to it.

What is known about Morphy's ancestry is here:

His mother was a Creole. That means that her family can be traced back to early Spanish or French inhabitants.

His grandfather was in Haiti during the slave revolt. He managed to escape and was part of the Haitian exodus that doubled the population of New Orleans. There doesn't appear to be any reference to racial mixing in Morphy's family though it wouldn't come as a great surprise.

Aug-16-17  KnightVBishop: >boomie>

James Mccune Smith

although i guess their is no evidence at the moment

Premium Chessgames Member
  Boomie: <KnightVBishop>

Thanks for the link. Any statement coming from someone as brilliant as Smith has to be taken seriously. Although it does not rise to the level of evidence, it is at least intriguing.

Aug-16-17  KnightVBishop: Beethoven was also described as having a "darkish, moorish color" as well, which many people have speculated he had african ancestry
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