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Paul Morphy

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Number of games in database: 463
Years covered: 1848 to 1869

Overall record: +184 -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 C34
 Sicilian (14) 
    B44 B21 B40 B20
 Philidor's Defense (13) 
 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
 Evans Gambit (15) 
    C51 C52
 Ruy Lopez (15) 
    C77 C65 C60 C67 C64
 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
   N Marache vs Morphy, 1857 0-1
   Morphy vs A Morphy, 1850 1-0
   Morphy vs Anderssen, 1858 1-0
   Morphy vs Anderssen, 1858 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Morphy - Mongredien (1859)
   Morphy - Harrwitz (1858)
   1st American Chess Congress (1857)
   Morphy - Loewenthal (1858)
   Anderssen - Morphy (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 Frisco Del Rosario by adrien79
   A First Book of Morphy by melodie
   A First Book of Morphy by StoppedClock
   A First Book of Morphy Compiled by Melodie by fredthebear

   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 463  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 1-0111849New Orleans cgC35 King's Gambit Accepted, Cunningham
5. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0461849New OrleansC51 Evans Gambit
6. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-0291849New OrleansC39 King's Gambit Accepted
7. Morphy vs NN 1-0201849New Orleans cgC39 King's Gambit Accepted
8. Morphy vs Le Carpentier 1-0131849New Orleans000 Chess variants
9. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-1231849New OrleansC38 King's Gambit Accepted
10. Morphy vs E Morphy 1-0201849New OrleansC53 Giuoco Piano
11. Morphy vs E Rousseau 1-0171849New OrleansC39 King's Gambit Accepted
12. Morphy vs J McConnell 1-0231849New OrleansC40 King's Knight Opening
13. Morphy vs A Morphy 1-0151849New Orleans mC51 Evans Gambit
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 NN 1-0181850?000 Chess variants
20. Morphy vs E Morphy 1-0251850New OrleansC52 Evans Gambit
21. J McConnell vs Morphy 0-1251850New OrleanC52 Evans Gambit
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 463  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 271 OF 273 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <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?>

Let's slow this down. On what basis do you suggest that 1877 was pivotal in his mental decline?

May-30-17  SBC: <Joshka>


I'm not a historian in any sense of the word but I do have some writings by Charles A. de Maurian between the years 1875-77. It seems that the tales of Morphy's "madness" was a minor news story and de Maurian felt the need to set the record straight, or possibly just to reduce potential sensationalism: A letter from Charles A. Maurian written by de Maurian on Dec. 5, 1875 and published in the Watertown, N.Y. "Re-Union." Wrtten to Morphy's successor, Capt. Mckenzie on Dec. 8, 1875 de Maurian's Letter to Jean Prèti on Jan. 13 1876 and published in "La Stratégie" on February 15, 1876. de Maurian's letter to the New York "Sun" and published on May 2, 1877 de Maurian's letter to the New York "Sun" on May 2, 1877 in response to a mention of Morphy in the April 24, 1877 issue/ an undated letter from de Maurian to an unknown recipient sometime in Morphy's waning years or after his death

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <<SBC> I'm not a historian in any sense of the word ... >

Some might disagree with this assessment!


May-30-17  Joshka: <SBC> Oh thank you so much for postings those writings. I find the letter from May 2nd to be of particular interest, as it emphasizes Paul's promises to his mother which I had never read about.

Usually we read about top level chess players who develop mental problems/social disorders/ect. when they devote too much time to this self absorbed game. In a way, I'm wondering if Paul's problems came about due to LACK of playing and the guilt trip his family placed upon him with regards to this game!! In some ways an argument can be made that he was forcing himself to NOT play or think about chess, and this had a negative result in his persona? His family shamed him into thinking chess can and should not be considered honorable!!! Paul fell for it. I don't know...Bobby seemed to get mentally ill after he stopped playing. For some folks playing chess KEEPS them on the up and up. oh well, thanks again for the articles!:-)

May-30-17  john barleycorn: <SBC> thank you for your post. Great read
Jun-07-17  SBC: I think Paul's issues and his chess-playing were unrelated. But I also think it's possible that playing chess did give him a refuge of sorts. I feel it's often overlooked that chess was only one of Paul's interests, possibly not even his greatest one, and that even without chess, he had a full life.
Jul-04-17  ColeTrane: <Joshka> has an interesting perspective about how retiring may actually cause some to decline in health. And Id tend to agree my grandfather is 97 and he still runs a business....albeit it's just signing checks, lots of deals going on. He was the prison CHECKER champion back in the day
Premium Chessgames Member
  gars: Morphy was so good that even a grass-rooted communist like Botvinnik praised him!
Premium Chessgames Member
  gars: Who was your Player of the Day on last May 13th? For next year I suggest Ratmir Kholmov, a very good player who deserves more attention than it has gotten in these days.
Jul-04-17  Dirkster: The question I always ask myself is: Given that Morphy was an absolute chess genius - HOW could he have lost 25 games?!?!?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Boomie: <zanzibar: <<SBC> I'm not a historian in any sense of the word ... > Some might disagree with this assessment!>

Considering that Sarah tirelessly researches her material, I wouldn't disagree with any of her statements. However she is one of the best writers on chess history out there and her love for the material is palpable.

Her Morphiana collection is the best I've seen. Everything known about Morphy is here:

Premium Chessgames Member
  juan31: I strongly recommend the story of Paul Morphy by <jessicafischerqueen>
Jul-04-17  savagerules: I wonder if some of the reason his law practice wasn't too busy after the Civil War ended was because maybe he was shunned by New Orleanians a bit because he didn't serve actively in the Confederate Army but went to France with his mother to sit out the war. Plus he had gone to New York and received honors from 'Yankees' just a few years earlier, right before the war started and that probably didn't sit well with the common folk either.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Boomie: <savagerules: I wonder if some of the reason his law practice wasn't too busy after the Civil War ended was because maybe he was shunned by New Orleanians>

New Orleans was and is a complicated multi-cultural city. In Morphy's day, French and Spanish Creole cultures mingled with immigrants from French and Spanish speaking areas. Acadians from Canada became the Cajun culture. An influx of Haitians in the early 19th century doubled the population of New Orleans.

With such diversity, New Orleans people would never unanimously agree on anything. Morphy opposed secession but I'm not sure why or how strongly he felt about it. I suspect that his personal charm would mitigate any animosity towards him. All accounts of him remark on his generous and pleasant personality. Anyway New Orleans was occupied by Union forces very early in the war. Whether people supported the South or not became moot.

My understanding is that his problems after the war concerned his family's property. This seemed to become an obsession for him. He wasn't as interested in starting a legal practice. He certainly didn't need the income as the Morphys were quite wealthy. In a sense, Morphy was yet another casualty of that dreadful war. Or at least his chess was.

Jul-06-17  KnightVBishop: Does anyone know if Paul Morphy ever played Theophilus Thompson, the first ever african american chess master?

Jul-07-17  SBC: Morphy had retired from chess long before Theophilus Thompson even learned the moves.
Premium Chessgames Member
  The Boomerang: "There's no doubt that Morphy's cognitive chess aptitude would hold up well in modern times. No doubt whatsoever."

Pretty broad statement, would he be top 10?

Fischer supportes his fellow american by making statements such as, Morpht could beat anyone in a set match today. He had complete vision of the board.

Does that mean Fischer thought Morphy could best him too?

I love Morphy's tactics, I just think that todays top 10 would see through that, and not get into dubious positions right out of the opening.

It would be difficult for Morphy to be Morphy today in my opinion.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: The only doubt I have about Morphy succeeding in modern times is his competitive spirit.

Once his ire was raised by a poor start, or a belittling comment by an opponent, he showed the ability to raise his game much like Carlsen does when a new rival appears.

But the poor starts in matches, and his decision to not compete in tournaments after his trip to Europe also show that it would be hard for him to match the level of dedication that modern players must have to survive.

He might not want to play, in other words.

Jul-22-17  RookFile: The only thing he did was take on all comers and beat them, then offer the entire world the odds of pawn and move. He wasn't kidding, and his opponents were too scared to take him up on his offer. You're talking about a guy who gave a <simul> to 4 of the world's best players and won it.
Jul-22-17  ughaibu: If I remember correctly, Steinitz visited Morphy and Morphy refused to play him. So the contention that Morphy took on all comers appears to be false.
Jul-24-17  RookFile: So, Morphy offered pawn and move to the world, and Steinitz simply could have accepted the offer. Why didn't he?
Jul-24-17  ughaibu: I'll play anyone if they accept queen odds. In fact, I'm even willing to give a simul against Kasparov, Kramnik, Carlsen and So, if they all take queen odds.

Tell me, as I have now made my willingness to play public, why won't Kasparov, et al, accept the offer (or do you think they will?)?

After all, I'm offering the entire world queen odds, does their refusal to accept my offer indicate that they're scared?

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <ughaibu:...After all, I'm offering the entire world queen odds, does their refusal to accept my offer indicate that they're scared?> No, only that established, credentialed chess players have no time for you.

Queen odds "against the world" are just rambling musings of someone with too much time on their hands

Find another hobby


Jul-24-17  ughaibu: Morfishine: More to the point, has my offer made it clear that Steinitz wouldn't be expected to take odds from Morphy and any refusal to do so cannot be assumed to indicate fear. After all, if he was willing to play without getting odds, why on earth would he be scared to play with odds?

Is there any recorded incident that suggests that Steinitz was ever scared of any chess opponent?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Rookfile,

"So, Morphy offered pawn and move to the world, and Steinitz simply could have accepted the offer. Why didn't he?"

I always thought he would not play again unless he gave Knight odds.

When Steinitz met Morphy...

...chess was not discussed.

Interesting to note that Steinitz thought Morphy would perhaps struggle if he took up the pieces again:

"For one first-class player then, there are twenty now, and the science has developed. Morphy would have to alter his style to suit the new conditions."

The odds Morphy offered were a bit to generous. From 1866 we have 33 games he played as White giving Charles Maurian Knight odds.

He won 9, drew 4 and lost 20.

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