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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
   J Schulten vs Morphy, 1857 0-1
   Morphy vs Anderssen, 1858 1-0
   Morphy vs Anderssen, 1858 1-0
   N Marache vs Morphy, 1857 0-1

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

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
   Paul Morphy Conquered the World by fredthebear
   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

   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
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 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. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-123 1849 New OrleansC38 King's Gambit Accepted
5. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-046 1849 New OrleansC51 Evans Gambit
6. Morphy vs E Rousseau 1-023 1849 New OrleansC50 Giuoco Piano
7. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-023 1849 New OrleansC40 King's Knight Opening
8. Morphy vs E Rousseau 1-017 1849 New OrleansC39 King's Gambit Accepted
9. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-029 1849 New OrleansC39 King's Gambit Accepted
10. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-015 1849 New Orleans mC51 Evans Gambit
11. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-011 1849 New Orleans cgC35 King's Gambit Accepted, Cunningham
12. Morphy vs NN 1-020 1849 New Orleans cgC39 King's Gambit Accepted
13. Morphy vs Le Carpentier 1-013 1849 New Orleans000 Chess variants
14. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-021 1849 New Orleans -C51 Evans Gambit
15. Morphy vs E Morphy 1-020 1849 New OrleansC53 Giuoco Piano
16. Morphy vs NN 1-018 1850 ?000 Chess variants
17. Morphy vs Loewenthal 1-049 1850 New OrleansB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
18. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-114 1850 New OrleansC02 French, Advance
19. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-018 1850 New Orleans ?000 Chess variants
20. Morphy vs Loewenthal 1-055 1850 New OrleansC42 Petrov Defense
21. Morphy vs E Morphy 1-025 1850 New OrleansC52 Evans Gambit
22. Morphy vs NN 1-014 1850 casualC44 King's Pawn Game
23. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-125 1850 New OrleanC52 Evans Gambit
24. NN vs Morphy 0-124 1850 New Orleans USAC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
25. Maurian vs Morphy 0-119 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
  Amulet: But to be serious, Morphy was the greatest chess player who ever lived. In fact I strongly believe that the game chess should be named "Morphy", in honor of him.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: <SBC> Let me first say I enjoy your links and posts very much, thank you for sharing them! In everything I have read about Morphy and his family it's amazing to me, that nothing is ever mentioned about slavery. Murphy came from a very well to do prominent family, did they own slaves? He was at the right age for fighting in the Civil War, did young men just have the right to opt out? Did he ever reveal his thoughts on slavery? Was he an abolitionist? Photography was beginning to take hold during the Civil War and we have thousands of pictures to document this fact. Morphy coming from a rich prominent family, they would have no doubt, access to all the latest of society's "new toys" if you will. Why do we only see just a handful of photos of Morphy? Where is the hoard being buried and by whom? Lot of questions, sorry, but I'm sure you might have some answers to these questions!! thanks in advance!!!:-)
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Why do we only see just a handful of photos of Morphy? Where is the hoard being buried and by whom?>

Apparently, they're in a bank vault in New Orleans.

Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: <MissScarlett: ...

Apparently, they're in a bank vault in New Orleans.>

<MissScarlett> never mind what the others say about you. For me your posts are ok.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Sir, you insult me. My posts are universally brilliant.
Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: <MissScarlett: Sir, you insult me. My posts are universally brilliant.>

well, well

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gregor Samsa Mendel: <MissScarlett: Sir, you insult me. My posts are universally brilliant.>

Kenneth Rogoff

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: There are so few pictures of Morphy because he was behind the camera, not in front of it.

Before the Morphy era, the 1850's, photography was still a hit or miss affair.

Morphy the photographer appeared and perfected the art of developing.

That is why Morphy's name is linked with developing. It was nothing to chess which was just a hobby. He never even had a complete chess set. If you look at the games he played later in life you will find there are pieces missing before the start of the game.

Morphy vs Maurian, 1869

Feb-04-16  morfishine: I don't think it's that difficult to arrive at the conclusion that Morphy was a true chess prodigy. Morphy spent his very early years only being allowed to view the other family members playing, which was only on Sunday. When he was finally allowed to play, he would play "one or two" strenuous games on Sunday with no playing allowed for the balance of the week. This was due to other responsibilities, like, uh, School

The point is that he picked up on the game from purely watching other family members play while other family members coached him on how the pieces move. There's no evidence that Morphy secretly studied chess late at night (while nobody was looking) or was aware he was awake when he should've been sleeping.

It would be delightful if we had a story of how his mother caught him, even once, working out a chess position, over a battered old set with a grimy chess-book, squinting beside a flickering candle, late at night while others were supposed to be asleep.

Unfortunately, didn't happen...

One can only conclude that when his liberties regarding chess were extended and he was allowed to play more often, he remembered everything that he had learned and seen over the years, and was soon crushing everybody in sight

This is not normal. Morphy did not study openings or chess manuals. He just observed and his natural gift took over from there.

A better definition of a "prodigy" is hard to find


Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Morph,

Re: Books and Morphy.

This discussion must have been brought up before and I found a solid reference here starting 20th November 2005 by LIFE Master AJ. The post further down the page by ckr, the same date is good.

Paul Morphy

Yes a prodigy gifted with what sounds like a photographic memory. But by all accounts he could recall other masters games so before 1857 he must have read some chess books. He did not make these games up.

The pity is the just the two games on record v Rousseau 1849. According to Sergeant these two played 50+ games between 1849 and 1851 with Morphy winning 'nine tenths'.

Ernest Morphy sent one game to Kieseritzky for publication in 'La Regance.' in October 1849.

Morphy vs E Rousseau, 1849

See Sneaky's post there for a copy of the accompanying letter.

It would have been interesting to see a lot more of these games for the opening moves. For although the letter says Paul had not opened a work on chess we could see if he was following the accepted theory of the day or played what later became an improvement (A TN) years ahead of it's time.

I'm thinking Morphy was pretty much booked up. His gift was he was years ahead of his time in positional play (backed up with opening theory) and from there the sparkling combinations came.

More of these Rousseau games may have helped to see what Morphy knew about the openings and whether or not we can detect the stench of midnight oil.

Anderssen tried to undermine Morphy's 'book' when playing 1.a3 v Morphy in their 1858 match.

And look more closely at this match. Morphy wins games in 17, 20 and 24 moves. Opening crushes. The two Anderssen wins (one with 1.a3) both go over 70 moves. Who was the better booked up player.

And then there is Morphy himself lambasting the Sicilian Defence rejoicing it is no longer popular and calling the years when it was employed 1843-1851 'the period of closed games.', That from his column in the New York Ledger. (1859-1860)

So when did he see these games?

See JoergWalter's post 2011 for the full article.

Morphy vs Harrwitz, 1858

Did Morphy really decide in 1859 to suddenly look at all the games including the McDonnell - Labourdonnais match from 1843-1851 just for one newspaper article?

Many unanswered questions. But I think he looked at a lot more books and chess columns when he was in his early teens than has been suggested.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: If I correctly recall, Maurian mentioned that Morphy had given all of his chess books to him back when they were students together. I think Maurian mentioned the titles... I will try to find a reference for where I had read this (or dig up the column directly).

With an eidetic memory Morphy may not have "studied" but he was certainly "booked up" by reading through the material, at least once, at some point in his life.

Feb-05-16  morfishine: Thank you <Sally Simpson> You are one of the most respected members here at <CG>. Your comments are well received, I'm sure of that.

I think its enlightening to try to try to identify or best create what home life was like for Morphy and how he matured, advanced, improved in chess. Trying to recreate a previous time, with thoughts and ideas and general way of life can be challenging.

I'm not convinced that Morphy was "booked up" though I know what you mean. Sure, he could have had access to whatever "books" or periodicals that were available. My comment was focused on his early years when he was less than 10 years old. I doubt he had unfettered access to books or even cared about books at that age. Thats my point. Of course, his library grew later


Feb-05-16  The Kings Domain: From what I know and the impression that I have Morphy may have studied the basics but didn't go beyond that. His interest in Chess literature was fleeting and from Edge's book I don't recall him mentioning Morphy poring over a Chess book during his European tour. Morphy was like Capablanca in that after learning the rudiments of the game his natural talent took over and he didn't have to work too hard to maintain the quality and consistency of his play.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Lawson passes on Maurian's account of Morphy teaching him chess beginning with them both being in the College Infirmary, and his question to Morphy "How is it possible that two intelligent beings should sit for an hour or more moving little figures of white and black wood, and find recreation therein?"

"If you knew the game you would change your opinion," Morphy answered.

The experience of learning the game and having it explained by Morphy completely "changed my mind and opinion". Maurian said he thereafter "ransacked" the bookstores of Mobile and New Orleans for chess books.

That Morphy gave him his chess books probably had more to do with Maurian's zeal for the game than Morphy not wanting them anymore. They were always available to him in his memory, and he had the means at the time of acquiring more.

Feb-06-16  saturn2: If I remember correctly in Fischers essay on the ten best chessplayers of all the time he states that Morphy knew a chess opening book called "Bilguier" and Morhpy had better knowlegde of openings than all his opponents.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Fischer says: <He was the best-read player of his time, and is known to have been familiar with such books as Bilguier's Handbook (first published in 1838 and consisting of 400 pages of tabular analysis) and Staunton's "The Chess Handbook," among others.>
Feb-06-16  morfishine: When Morphy was 12, his uncle Ernest stated "This child has never opened a work on chess". If Ernest is correct, then Morphy began to build his library after that age
Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: <TheFocus> yes, also the 1851 tournament book edited by Staunton where Morphy added "and some devilish bad games".
And of course he was very familiar with the Labourdonnais-McDonnel match
Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn:
Feb-08-16  saturn2: It is my assumption on Morphy that he analyzed the known openings of his time a lot and that his achievement was to have recognized the fundamental importance of this for chess. I have no proof for the assumption. But for someone with a brain that could memorize whole textbooks on law and who was a chessplayer at the same time it is plausible that Morphy had a long and well assorted opening list preserved in his memory.
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