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Paul Morphy vs James McConnell
Casual game (1849), New Orleans, LA USA
King Pawn Game: McConnell Defense (C40)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
May-18-09  blacksburg: black played like a patzer, but that doesn't mean the game isn't pretty and instructive.
Jul-31-09  tentsewang: In Morphy's world of chess, everything is about connectivity and placing part of his soul as his adversary for prediction which usher him to be called "the king of the chess" in our known universe.
Jul-31-09  tentsewang: If the black had accepted the free pawn on e5 and played 13...Qxe5, Morphy had played 14.Nd6+ Kd8 15.Rxe5. This displays an excellent strategy and if not this then he also had plan through it. Genious!
Mar-29-11  Llawdogg: 13 Nf5?? is a rare Morphy blunder, but McConnell doesn't make him pay. 13 Nd6+ would have been better, but it didn't matter after all. The rest of the game was vintage Morphy at a very young age.
Feb-11-13  Aditya Bhan: Black was too terrorized to notice Morphy's blunder on move 13 - another example of Morphy's adeptness at winning psychological battles even against more experienced opposition.
Feb-14-14  tranquilsimplicity: I truly believe there is genius in Morphy's play; even though his opponents are not strong players. It's the way he sets out his game, manoeuvres his pieces, and rips his opponents to shreds. That is what is really telling. I doubt many of us would smash weak opposition with such elegance.

Mind you, Morphy could do the exact same with Chess Masters.#

Feb-14-14  Poulsen: This game is rubbish.

Clearly Morphys opponent was a very very weak player - and it takes no genius to win this.

Much of Morphys demigod status is based on rubbish like this. If it was not of some historic value, I would move to have this game deleted from the database, since it does not live up to the quality standard otherwise set - but perhaps not enforced (+2200 ELO).

In around 40 serious games against the best opposition avaible at the time Morphy scored 70 %. Some of even these 'good' opponents played very badly - and this tells a lot about the general standard of chess at Morphys time.

Now a 70 % score is fine and enough to consider Morphy the best at his time - but its not staggering or a sign of a genius. For comparison one had to score at least 76 % at board one at the olympics in 1956 to become Grand Master - and that against the best opposition available THEN (Botvinnik, Gligoric etc.)

There is a huge leap in quality - as you might understand.

No, Morphy was certainly not a genius - he had in fact a very narrowminded and limited understanding of chess - compared to f.x. Steinitz.

Morphy will not make it to my top 50 list of all time greatest - this is a claim that is supported by Jeff Sonas' calculations.

Feb-18-14  tranquilsimplicity: Like the world renowned genius Leonardo da Vinci designed a helicopter 300 years before we 'mere mortals' re-designed and created one, Paul Morphy was so far ahead of his contemporaries in Chess, that the label - genius - easily fits on him.

This is especially so if we consider the definition of the term 'genius', that is given on wikipedia.

"A genius is a person who displays exceptional intellectual ability, creativity, or originality, typically to a degree that is associated with the achievement of an unprecedented leap of insight".

The fact that we have now created cars and smart phones which Leonardo da Vinci would not know how to use, let alone how they work, does not mean that Leonardo was not a genius. Similarly, it is rather obvious that Morphy would be baffled by the Chess knowledge that Super Grandmasters currently possess. But that does not diminish Morphy's genius.

The following statements from Chess World Champions (not mine or any other amateur's opinions), are given to support this position.

"Paul Morphy was a great Chess player, a genius....Morphy, I think everyone agrees, was probably the greatest genius of them all" - Bobby Fischer 'Yugoslav Press Conference' 1992.

"Morphy was a great stylist.... In his time the question of position was not properly understood, except by himself. This brought him enormous advantages, and he deserves nothing but praise. His games show that he had an outstanding playing style. ...This was his style, which as far as could be judged, was perfect!" - Capablanca, 'Mundial Chess Magazine' May 1927.

"To this day, Morphy is an unsurpassed Master of the open games. Just how great was his significance is evident from the fact that after Morphy, nothing substantially new has been created in this field" - Mikhail Botvinnik.

And finally;

"Paul Morphy's life illustrated the idea that genius is the capacity to take infinite pains added to the knowledge of how to achieve ends with small effort" - Emmanuel Lasker's lecture in 1907. #

Nov-07-14  dehanne: 10.Bf5 is much better and simply wins the queen.
Feb-10-15  Cactusjuice: Black drastically punished for his opening.....
Jun-23-15  MindCtrol9: Morphy seas s chess genius no questions ask.He beat all the players of his time easily up to the point that he retired from playing chess because there was nobody capable to beat him.G Masters today can not be compared to him in any way.
Jul-06-15  psionl0: <dehanne: 10.Bf5 is much better and simply wins the queen.> 10.Bf5 Qh6 Rg1 dxc3 Bxh6 Nxh6 Bh3 cxb2 Rb1 and Black has 2 pieces and 2 pawns for his Queen.

Still a better game for White but Black hasn't been destroyed yet.

Jul-06-15  RookFile: Black choses the slap-around variation in this game.
Nov-11-15  mikealando: Morphy was 12 years old here
Nov-18-15  talhal20: After the game is over analysing it in hindsight and pointing out mistakes by the two players is easiest thing in the world. The two players involved during actual play are under different kind of mental pressure and mistakes happen in spite of their great elo rating. Black didn't play 13.. Qb4 and subsequently lost. This may be due to the mental pressure.
Jan-28-16  juanhernandez: Days r too busy,
hours r too fast,
sec r too few,
Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: This may sound heretical, but I don't think this is actually a Paul Morphy game. I know it is one of the games Lawson "found" and published in the BCM after he published his seminal work on Morphy (according to my Shibut addendum).

First some background that brought me to this conclusion:

1) "Morphy's first published game. Played with E. Rousseau, October 28, 1849 (Chapter 2, page 23)." <source: "Paul Morphy, the Pride and Sorrow of Chess", Lawson, New York, 1976, p374>

2) "The following game with Rousseau is the first Paul Morphy game to be published and it has become a part of chess history. Ernest Morphy sent it to Kieseritzky, together with a letter, and both were published in the January 1851 issue of La Régence [...]" <source: "Paul Morphy, the Pride and Sorrow of Chess", Lawson, New York, 1976, p23>

3) Lawson's translation of Ernest Morphy's letter states: "[...] he plays three or four severe enough games every Sunday (the only day which his father allows him to play) [...]" <source: "Paul Morphy, the Pride and Sorrow of Chess", Lawson, New York, 1976, pp23-24>

Now here is the case against this being a Paul Morphy game:

1) This game is actually published in <La Régence, v1 n10, p302>, a full 14 months before the Lawson's "first published game" of Paul Morphy in the same publication no less! So was Lawson wrong? I don't think so... I think the Rousseau game is indeed the first published game of Paul Morphy. (strike one)

2) If it was a Paul Morphy game, who would have sent it to Kieseritzky? An anonymous Ernest Morphy who would send an introduction about his nephew 14 months later? Unlikey. (foul tip)

3) The heading above the game is "Parties entre les plus forts joueurs de l'époque.", which translates to "Games between the strongest players of the age." There is no way McConnell, let alone a 12 year old Morphy would have been considered the strongest players of the age. (strike two!)

4) The players are listed as "M. M....." for white and "M. N....." as black. I have found that Kieseritzky was very accurate at identifying players throughout La Régence, so there would be little reason to doubt his attribution of the game being played a monsieur "M" and monsieur "N". (foul tip!!)

5) The games is dated as being played on "7 Mars 1849". March 7, 1849, would have been a Wednesday, which would contradict the Sunday only restriction mentioned explicitly by Ernest Morphy. (stike three!!!)

Can anyone provide a 19th century source that claims this being a Paul Morphy game?

I suspect whatever source Lawson had found this game in had erroneously attributed it to Paul Morphy. If Lawson had found it in "La Régence", v1 n10, p302, he would never had made the claim about the Rousseau game being the first published Morphy game.

Aug-19-17  WorstPlayerEver: <5.e5 Is 5.Bg5 better? Only if your not Morphy.>


5. Bg5 mucho más fuerte.

Oct-12-17  talhal20: jnpope says this may not be a Morphy game. But style of playing is unmistakably Morphy"s.
Oct-13-17  talhal20: This is with reference to Poulsen's comments. 150 years down the line Chess would be advanced to such an extent that the very comments you made about Morphy would be be applicable to the current champion Magnus Carlsen. That does not mean that Carlsen's opponents are ordinary. The fact remains that you play against those players available during your playing days. Morphy played against all the chess players except Staunton (who avoided playing Morphy) worth their salt and defeated all of them with ease. Carlsen the current world champion is yet to show that he could defeat all his contemporaries with ease,quality that shown by Morphy during his short playing career. "Genius" is subjective and hence you can have your own opinion about Morphy being genius or not. Steinitz never played against Morphy but authored an excellent book on Chess. He was a great player player and the 1st " Chess Champion of the World" That does not mean that Morphy was narrow minded and had limited understanding of Chess.
Oct-13-17  andrewjsacks: This little-known game shows the genius of Morphy as well or better than his later games.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Whatever one makes of <Poulsen>'s views above, no less than Botvinnik bestowed the highest praise on Morphy in stating that no-one had improved on the principles of open play since his time.
Oct-13-17  sudoplatov: Edo ratings: 1849

Morphy: 2688 (#1)
McConnell: 2117 (#85)

I like Edo's methods; I do not know how reliably the results are (GIGO).

Jan-21-19  mikealando: I'm an artist by profession and some Morphy games like this one are some of the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen
Jul-07-20  pandje: High trees, how exceptional beautiful they are growing above other trees in the mountains- getting always in real life, the hardest storms, and rains, and thunder and sometimes... the sun ☀️, and an eagle 🦅. I admire, such a lonely beautiful original tree- standing there all alone, in all confusing winds and times.

What a marvellous game is this.

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