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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
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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. 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. NN vs Morphy 0-1241850New Orleans USAC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
21. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-1141850New OrleansC02 French, Advance
22. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0181850New Orleans ?000 Chess variants
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 0-1261854New 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 270 OF 273 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jun-22-16  DrKurtPhart: hb pcm \\ 179 //
Jun-22-16  SBC: getting up in years.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Paul Morphy.
Aug-17-16  Atking: Does someone know what kind of chess set Morphy uses on the picture. It doesn't look like a Staunton chess set...
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can offer a real answer, but till then, I can offer this:

It looks like this set comes close:

Aug-18-16  Atking: Thanks a lot <zanzibar>! Indeed it looks very close.
Feb-11-17  The Rocket: Paul Morphy is the most gifted chess player of all time in my opinion. Robert Fischer doesn't even come even close, as great as he was his during the final candidate run. Fischer trained like a dog and did not totally dominate until the 70s.

Morphy's opposition was around 15-1800 level, but given the limited chess theory that era, Morphy's play is by far the highest. He practically invented parts of the game, in particular the crucial aspect of piece development. Some of his attacks were a bit Gung Ho and frankly unsound, but that could be in part due to the suboptimal opposition.

Mar-06-17  Poulsen: <The Rocket><Paul Morphy is the most gifted chess player of all time in my opinion.>

Well, he surely had a natural talent for the game, but calling him the most gifted of all time - that seems a bit too much. After all there have been quite a few gifted players in chess history, f.x. Pillsbury.

<He practically invented parts of the game, in particular the crucial aspect of piece development>.

I don't think Morphy invented anything. People developed pieces in reasonable ways before Morphy.

But he did by his example show the world, that there was more to this, than his careless and superficial contemporaries had realized until then. That a game of chess is not won by merely pursuing flimsy ideas and impulses at the board, but through preparation and accurate calculation utilizing any inaccurate moves from your opponent.

Morphy was pretty good at punishing weak or passive moves. His understanding of the game is - for better and worse - shown not only in his own games, but also in his annotations to various games - such as games in the match McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais.

This is his Morphy's feat - and why we should remember him: he instilled new energy into the game at a time of virtual standstill - and thereby enabled the coffée house game to evolve into a true sport, where the best had to study the game seriously in order to prevail.

This was however not his conscious mission. He could not care less about sport. He was a 'cavalier' - and to him chess was merely a passtime occupation to show off his intellectual superiority.

Morphy's opponents were indeed 'suboptimal', but it should be mentioned, that several of them improved their game and became decent players eventually. Even the aging Anderssen became a better and more precisely playing chessplayer after Morphy, than he was before Morphy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Morphy left little writings, and those who tried to emulate him-Kolisch and the early Steinitz, for example, were missing some aspect of his game they could not match.

His intuition about how to marshal his forces gave him a great advantage over Harrwitz and Anderssen, who grappled with fixing the poor placements of their pieces from the openings.

I think it was Euwe who categorized the period Morphy was born into as "Long Live Combination". The masters of that time were very good at skirmishing, and then one side would mass his pieces for a spectacular assault.

Harrwitz for example, was very adept at
confusing his opponents with altercations right from the start, risking disadvantage to lure pieces out where they were vulnerable.

Morphy did not gamble in that way, except when he was bored against inferior opponents. Harrwitz beat him in their first encounters, but Morphy adapted, and allowed him no chances thereafter.

Mar-10-17  Poulsen: <tamar><Morphy left little writings>

Nonetheless some of his annotations are quite revealing - also to his own limitations concerning chess.

Two examples are his annotations to McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834 (The game before us is the first in which that most beautiful of openings, the "Evans Gambit" etc.) and McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834 (M'Donnell, as usual, in these close games plays the opening moves weakly. With characteristic obstinacy he persists throughout in advancing this pawn rather than the Queen's - Morphy evaluation of 2.f4 against 2.d4 in the Sicilian).

Morphy had a narrowminded understanding of chess - to him beauty and 'correctness' were interlinked concepts. This puts his demi-God status with some people into perspective.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <Sally Simpson> On your comment from the Opera game <...And I do not go along with the theory he could today be in the top 10-20 today> I believe he would. He was truly gifted and would've easily adapted to modern technique(s) or ideas.

And one thing that people tend to overlook is that he was an extremely tenacious and effective defender. The Anderssen match showed his ability to counter-punch and seize the initiative (vs his well known reputation for the direct attack)

IMHO, Morphy would excel in any time frame


Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Morf,

Every good player has a bit of Morphy in him so in one sense he is here.

He was gifted and his brilliant instructive play set chess on the right path and thanks to him highlighting the mistakes his peers made practically ever Grand Master is a tenacious defender.

His notes to games are not deep. Like most gifted people they cannot fully explain how they are good.

He never had to work at it like say an Alekhine whose notes and understanding of the game clearly over shadows Morphy.

(But again I stress no Morphy then perhaps no Alekhine. Morphy influence on the game can never be disregarded.)

I think it's too easy to say if Morphy was brought forward to this day and age, give him a few months to book up and absorb new ideas and he would be unbeatable. A lot depends on how much work Morphy would be willing to do to catch up.

In that sense I am saying if you are bringing Morphy from the past then you must bring along all his baggage as well. Not just his skill at chess which he only really displayed for 3 glorious years 1857-1860

Morphy's win. draw loss stats are very impressive but when we look closer at his results from 1857-1860.

Cut out all the chaff like simuls, odd games, skittles and blindfold games and compare them to modern games.

The average game at master level is 45 moves and most of them are drawn.

If you look a Morphy's from 1857-1860 with no chaff and more than 45 moves his win ratio falls and loss ratio rises with very few draws.

In short if Morphy played today he would have a lot more games than 45 moves. (I'm trying to recall the figures the last time I did this. it was only about 35 games he played +45 moves and he lost and drew at least half of them.)

He would need opening blunders to score well and the irony is thanks to him he won't see many at all when he starts playing v the top 50 because he showed them (and us) how to avoid making them.

I'm for leaving Morphy in the past. Let him shine there. His place in chess history is secure.

Mar-17-17  RookFile: Kind of humorous. Back in the day, Morphy was actually criticized because he was a strong student of the openings as they were played. It stands to reason that in today's day and age, Morphy would use his amazing memory to also be very strong in the openings.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Rookfile,

Morphy's contribution to opening was very sparse to say the least.

Memorising is not the same as studying, understanding and looking for improvements.

Opening theory then was in it's infancy today it has grown somewhat larger.

You will look in vain for Morphy playing a Black fianchetto - only twice he had to face one as White and during those 3 years.

He met 1.d4 no more than 10 times. His main defence was The Dutch which you very rarely see at the top level these days) 1.c4 he never met.

These are two opening moves he will see a lot more today than 1.e4 and when Morphy did open 1.e4 he had to book up on the Sicilian, Caro Kann, French etc..all of which have made great strides theory wise since 1860.

That is quite a lot of work of memorising and understanding he has to do to catch up. And again I say, if you could get him to do it.

Mar-17-17  RookFile: Just offhand, take a look at the match with Harrwitz. Morphy used the fianchetto there as black.

I'm thinking that since Morphy memorized the legal code to pass the law exam, memorizing and adding his own wrinkles to something as petty as chess openings would be a piece of cake for him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Staunton was the most profound opening analyst of all time ...

Playing over his games, I discovered that they are completely modern; where Morphy and Steinitz rejected the fianchetto, Stanton embraced it.>

But, Fischer is wrong, <RookFile> is right.

Harrwitz vs Morphy, 1858

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <Sally Simpson> Whats remarkable about Morphy is how little his parents/family let him play as a child growing up, yet he absorbed so much and became so strong, so fast, that there's no argument he was a prodigy

And as he progressed, his advancement is noted by facing increasingly stronger opposition, where his striking ability to adapt and expand his own game became self evident (ie: his defensive skills were sharp and definite)

You touch on an important point, his disposition. In my view, Morphy never really took chess seriously, as far as classifying chess as a profession. We know this as fact. I guess one could ask "While we stand in awe at his lovely and powerful combinations, what did Morphy think of these? Or was he just focusing on specific squares without any thought to beauty or aesthetics? Who knows what he was thinking.

I think in general, he was disappointed if not outright frustrated with his path in life, whether we are looking at his being denied his services during the Civil War, or his inability to elevate his legal career to an appropriate status (in his eyes). Again, who knows

I just think that raw ability of this caliber could be honed and polished without too much effort. Of course, you mentioned him becoming a top 10-20 player; that demands a serious and total commitment that could very well be lacking in somebody like Morphy

Thanks, morf


Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Morphy would only need a few days to memorize the current legal code and he would be Louisiana's top lawyer again.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <offramp> Is your comment praiseworthy to Morphy's outstanding cognitive ability, or a slight on Louisiana, or both?

Your comment strikingly mirrors Will Rogers famous quote that when the 'Okies' left Oklahoma and moved to California, it raised the IQ of both states



Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Rookfile and K.P.

Should have made it clear. I was talking about Kingside finachetto. Pircs, Moderns, KID, Grünfeld. Dragon Should of made it clear.

He would need to boost up his opening rep. He could not rely on the Giuoco Piano/Evans/Scotch for his White wins. His 8 only Ruy Lopez's against some lack lustre play shows he was quite happy staying within the narrow band of the openings of the day without branching out.

It took others coming after him to discover the lasting strength of the Lopez. Morphy failed to recognise the potential of that opening v other 1.e4 e5 openings. Morphy was not into exploration or experimentation.

Morphy improved greatly the food that was already on the table without actually bringing in any new recipes. The Master Chefs came later.

Yet chess without Morphy's games would be unthinkable. And I'd go as far to say that every great player has got something from Morphy's games, even it if it was just the chess bug and the love for the game.

I don't think he would have got hammered today, but his games would contain a lot of draws and he would have to work for them. He would be playing much better versions of himself.

Every now and then he would produce a gem and pick up the brilliancy prize.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <morfishine: <offramp> Is your comment praiseworthy to Morphy's outstanding cognitive ability, or a slight on Louisiana, or both?>

It is only a slight on Louisiana lawyers in the same way that <"Morphy would need a few days to learn modern theory and then he'd become world champion again"> is a slight on modern Grandmasters.

Neither are true.

Mar-19-17  RookFile: Fischer's view of the way chess is played today is different. He played a game one time after his retirement with a booked up 2300 player and only got a draw. The guy wasn't even in Fischer's league, but when you can bang out the first 30 moves or so, it only leaves a small margin of error to lose the game. All these guys, from Anand to Carlsen to Nakamura have crammed large amounts of computer generated opening analysis into their heads.

It is what it is. The old days where Lasker or Capa could show up and refute the Marshall Gambit over the board are over.

Be that as it may, such a game as what Fischer describes would actually favor Morphy and his great memory, combined with strong calculating abilities.

Apr-20-17  SBC: For the record, Morphy played 16 recorded games vs. 1.d4, scoring +10-3=3

Three of the games and one of the losses was against de Maurian at heavy odds ("Rook, Pawn and Move ", ""QR, KB Pawn and Move" and ""QR, KB, Pawn and Move"). Four of the games and one of the losses was against Harwritz. Edge: "After the game, Harrwitz made an insolent and impertinent gesture by approaching Morphy, taking his hand and feeling his pulse! Turning to the crowd, he shouted, "Well, this is astonishing! His pulse does not beat any faster than if he had won the game!""
On of the draws, famous because Morphy started the game with a severe cold and made an oversight, according to Edge: "Morphy's feverish state told upon him, and he committed an oversight which lost him a rook, when within a move or two of winning. It was so stupid a mistake, that he immediately burst out laughing at himself. Harrwitz picked off the unfortunate rook with the utmost nonchalance, as though it were the result of his own combination, and actually told me afterwards, 'Oh, the game was a drawn one throughout'" One of the draws was a "Pawn and 2" game vs. August Ehrmann. One draw as aganst Lichtenhein in the 1957 Congress.

Morphy wins vs 1.d4 include
1 vs de Maurian at heavy odds;
2 vs Perrin;
2 vs Horace Richardson at "Pawn and move";
1 vs Lichtenhein;
1 vs Rev. John Owen;
2 vs Harrwitz;
1 vs Mongredien

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: There's no doubt that Morphy's cognitive chess aptitude would hold up well in modern times. No doubt whatsoever.

People seem to forget that he had already shown a remarkable ability to adapt or "raise his game" when facing increasing stronger opponents. Whats often overlooked is Morphy's defensive skills

It gets tiring going over all this when its beyond doubt


May-30-17  Joshka: <SBC> Hi Sarah, as a Morphy historian, did Maurian ever write about Paul during his later days in Paris? He lived until around 1912 I believe. The most interesting years for Morphy which we seem to not have any info are those years from say 1870-1876....cause the year after 1877 till his death must have just been tragic with his mental health in decline. My thinking is from the early 70's he must have been very lucid and sound of mind? thanks in advance!
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