Chess:Paul Morphy The Magician

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  1. Peter

    Peter Senior Member Senior Member

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    Chess is one of the greatest sports of this planet.Every chess game has a unique story to tell.One can say that chess is a perfect sport.Throughout its recorded history chess had seen great geniuses from Ruy Lopez to La Bourdonnais. However very few players would leave a forever lasting mark on the way the game is played and the tactics that one has to follow to win.These few men changed chess in such a way that it started looking as if it was a different game.One of these few men was Paul Morphy,the unofficial world champion of the 19th century.His moves were, at his time hard to explain, and his game play was forty to fifty years ahead of his time.His playing style included rapid development of pieces,great positional understanding,spectacular sacrifices and amazing resourcefulness.He mowed down all the opponents of his era losing only a few matches and winning the majority of his games.He was often dubbed the Newton of Chess or the Magician.So I decided to share a few facts of his life.
     
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  3. Peter

    Peter Senior Member Senior Member

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    Paul Morphy had everything necessary for success that one could think of. He had a wealthy family, was a hard worker, had an astounding mind, and was well liked by nearly all the people he knew. Yet throughout his life he was met with failure and sadness. His near perfect circumstances and tumultuous final year of life earned him the nickname by which he will forever be remembered, “The Pride and Sorrow of Chess.”
    If the success of the previous generation has any noticeable effect on posterity then the young Morphy was bound for great things. Born on June 22, 1837 Paul Charles Morphy was the son of Alonzo Morphy, and a young Creole named Louise Carpentier, both of which were from prominent New Orleans families. Throughout his life Morphy's father had many high paying and prestigious jobs. He was a lawyer, Louisiana state legislator, attorney general, and even a Supreme Court justice. These circumstances came together to give Paul the many things a person needed to thrive at that time, and insure him the finest education available to maximize his potential.
    Morphy was born with an amazing mind. The majority of people born under these circumstances would be content with what they had, but not young Paul. He worked hard and excelled at his early schooling, and learned how to play chess near the age of ten. In 1850, he was accepted to Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. He graduated in 1854, but stayed an extra year to learn as much as he could there. He graduated again the following year, this time with an A.M. degree with the highest honors. Continuing his college studies, he next went to the University of Louisiana to study law. Paul graduated and received a L.L.M. degree on April 4, 1857. In preparation for receiving the degree, it is said that he memorized the entire Louisiana Book of Codes and Laws.
    Aside from his academic excellence, Paul Morphy achieved a large amount of success in the chess world before he ever left for college at Spring Hill. He was the first recognized chess prodigy to become an exceptionally strong chess player as a boy. According to his uncle, Ernest Morphy, no one formally taught Morphy how to play chess; rather, Morphy learned on his own as a young child simply from watching others play. He demonstrated this feat when his father and Ernest were playing one night. When the game was over and Ernest had lost, Morphy astounded them by declaring that Ernest should’ve won. Then he proceeded to set the position back up and played through the game while they looked on dumbfounded.
    When Morphy was ten, General Winfield Scott visited New Orleans. Scott, who was a formidable player himself, wished to be challenged by a strong player, so he sent his aids to search out a worthy opponent. That night when the young Morphy was brought to Scott, the general was at first offended; believing it to be an insult. However, after Paul won both games, one in a laughable six moves, Scott and his severely bruised ego retired for the night.
    When he was twelve, Morphy played three games against a Professional Chess Master, Johann Lowenthal. By the twelfth move in the first game Lowenthal realized he was not playing with a boy who was merely skilled, but gifted. Each time Morphy made a good move, Lowenthal’s eyebrows shot up in a manner described by Ernest Morphy as “comique.” Lowenthal lost all three games he and Morphy played. The following year Morphy was considered the finest chess player in all of New Orleans.
    After the young man had completed all of his academic studies he still was not of legal age to practice law, and so at the urging of his uncle, he decided to take on the best players in America at the 1857 U.S. Chess Congress. He defeated all the strong competition, including the German Master Louis Paulsen in the final round, and was hailed as the best player in the whole United States at the age of twenty. The people loved him. In the December 1857 issue of Chess Monthly it was stated that “his genial disposition, his unaffected modesty and gentlemanly courtesy have endeared him to all his acquaintances.”
    Still unable to start a law career Paul decided to travel to Europe and challenge all of the best Masters throughout the world. In 1858, Morphy met and defeated every great European player except Howard Staunton. He even played a match with a German Master Adolf Anderssen while severely ill with influenza, and won handily. Paul also gave multiple blindfold and simultaneous chess exhibitions while in both Britain and France. Morphy was never able however, to play a series of games against the Englishman Howard Staunton, who was at the time considered the best player in the world; though it was not for lack of effort. Staunton knew that he would be beat because he was well past his prime, so he simply avoided Morphy at all costs for the better part of a year. After these victories, Morphy was for a time believed to be the finest player in the world, and is still considered one of two unofficial World Chess Champions (Staunton and Morphy.) After his return from Europe, he infrequently played matches where the opponent received knight and rook odds; winning with very few exceptions. Morphy officially retired from chess in 1863.
    He returned to the United States at the age of twenty-one to parades and banquets in his honor. One banquet in Boston was attended by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the president of Harvard, and another was attended by the President's son, John Van Buren, who even toasted Morphy. After this triumphant return Morphy played a move no one saw coming, he abruptly abandoned chess to focus on his law career. Unfortunately, this aspect of his life never quite got off the ground. At one time he even had a girl refuse to marry him because he was “a mere chess player.” Many contribute his lack of success in law to the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. Morphy did not agree with succession, and spent most of the war traveling to Paris, and Havana, Cuba. When the war ended, his law career still did not succeed and he retired. Depression soon followed, and his family's immense wealth allowed him to spend most of the rest of his life in idleness.
    As Morphy aged, he started to manifest symptoms of severe paranoia. Paul told his mother that people were out to get him. He insisted that people were trying to poison him and that others wanted to set fire to his clothes. At times he could be found walking the streets of the French Quarter talking to invisible people. During these years he would only eat food prepared by his mother or sister. Morphy also became reclusive and had very little to do with anyone other than his family and a small group of friends. While Paul Morphy sounds quite crazy in these accounts, when he was visited by the first official World Chess Champion Wilhelm Steinitz in 1883, Steinitz said, “Morphy is a most interesting man to talk to. He is shrewd and practical and apparently in excellent health.” This leads some to believe possibly he wasn’t as crazy as first thought.
    A year later, on July 10, 1884, Paul Charles Morphy was found dead in his bathtub at the age of forty-seven. The autopsy showed that he died of a stroke brought on by entering cold water after a long walk in the middle of a hot New Orleans summer day. He would later be dubbed “The Pride and Sorrow of Chess” by David Lawson, the author of the book which is the only full length biography of Paul Morphy
     
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  4. Peter

    Peter Senior Member Senior Member

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    From the beloved Wikipedia

    Paul Morphy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Paul Charles Morphy (June 22, 1837 – July 10, 1884) was an American chess player. He is considered to have been the greatest chess master of his era and an unofficial World Chess Champion.[1] He was a chess prodigy. He was called "The Pride and Sorrow of Chess" because he had a brief and brilliant chess career, but retired from the game while still young.[2]
    Morphy was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to a wealthy and distinguished family. He learned to play chess by simply watching games between his father and uncle. His family soon realized the boy's talent and encouraged him to play at family gatherings and by age nine he was considered one of the best players in New Orleans. At just twelve years old, Morphy defeated visiting Hungarian master Johann Löwenthal in a match of three games.
    After receiving his degree in 1857, Morphy was not yet of legal age to practice law and found himself with free time. He received an invitation to play at the First American Chess Congress in New York City and, at his uncle's urging, accepted. Morphy won the tournament which included strong players of the day, such as Alexander Meek and Louis Paulsen. Morphy was hailed as the chess champion of the United States and stayed in New York playing chess through 1857, winning the vast majority of his games. In 1858, Morphy travelled to Europe to play European Champion Howard Staunton. While negotiations for a match proved problematic, Morphy played every strong player in Europe, usually winning easily. While the match with Staunton never came about, Morphy was hailed by most in Europe as the world's best player.
    Returning to the United States in triumph, the accolades continued as he toured the major cities playing chess on his way back to New Orleans. By 1859, on returning to New Orleans, Morphy declared he was retiring from chess to begin his law career. However, Morphy was never able to establish a successful law practice and ultimately lived a life of idleness, living off his family's fortune. Despite appeals from his chess admirers, Morphy never returned to the game, and died in 1884 from a stroke at the age of forty-seven.
     
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  5. Peter

    Peter Senior Member Senior Member

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    Quotes of some of the greatest chess players on Morphy

    I can think of no more suitable epithet for Morphy than to call him "the Newton of Chess. – Frederick Edge

    When one plays with Morphy the sensation is as queer as the first electric shock, or first love, or chloroform, or any entirely novel experience. – Henry Bird

    The man born too soon. – Alexander Alekhine (on Morphy)

    The Bobby Fischer of the 19th century. – Larry Parr (on Morphy)

    Morphy was an American Classic F-16 in an era of European hot air chess balloons. – Larry Parr

    The magnificent American master had the most extraordinary brain that anybody has ever had for chess. Technique, strategy, tactics, knowledge which is inconceivable for us; all that was possessed by Morphy fifty-four years ago. – Jose R. Capablanca

    Morphy’s technique in winning won positions and drawing lost positions has also been praised, but his defining edge over the competition was an understanding of the importance of time in chess. – Larry Parr

    When it is so freely asserted that Morphy's style was all genius and inspiration. Morphy possessed the most profound book knowledge of any master of his time, and never introduced a single novelty, whereas since his day the books have had to study the players. – Wilhelm Steinitz

    He who plays Morphy must abandon all hope of catching him in a trap, no matter how cunningly laid, but must assume that it is so clear to Morphy that there can be no question of a false step. – Adolf Anderssen

    In the handling of open positions, nothing new has been found after Morphy! – Mikhail Botvinnik

    Morphy's games served as guiding lights for Steinitz and others who were keen enough to see that Morphy's wins came from more than just flashy tactics and poor defense by his opponents. – Mig Greengard

    The progress of age can no more be disputed than Morphy's extraordinary genius. – Wilhelm Steinitz

    Played 'a la Morphy'. What greater praise can be given? - Savielly Tartakower

    If the distinguishing feature of a genius is that he is far ahead compared with his epoch, then Morphy was a chess genius in the complete sense of the word. - Max Euwe

    Morphy gained most of his wins by playing directly and simply, and it is simple and logical method that constitutes the true brilliance of his play, if it is considered from the viewpoint of the great masters. - Jose Capablanca

    The radiant combinations of this chess genius can be compared with the transparent music of Mozart, and his impeccable behavior at the board and his precise observance of the chess rules, which he himself introduced, resemble the Mendeleev Table of the elements. - Anatoly Karpov

    Paul Morphy just appeared from nowhere and it was only thirty or forty years later that people understood why he was so dominant. His understanding of chess at that point was at least forty years ahead of the rest of the world. For the era in which he lived the kind of chess he played was unbelievable.- Viswanathan Anand

    Morphy was so far ahead of his time that it took another quarter century for these principles of development and attack to be rediscovered and formulated. - Garry Kasparov

    A popularly held theory about Paul Morphy is that if he returned to the chess world today and played our best contemporary players, he would come out the loser. Nothing is further from the truth. In a set match, Morphy would beat anybody alive today ... - Bobby Fischer

    Morphy was probably the greatest genius of them all. - Bobby Fischer

    (By the way Fischer and Kasparov are widely considered the greatest chess players ever)
     
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  6. Peter

    Peter Senior Member Senior Member

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  7. Peter

    Peter Senior Member Senior Member

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    Morphy had a lasting impact on chess(google Morphys mate) !!!Just check out morphy number,an interesting thing.

    Morphy number - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The Morphy number is a measure of how closely a chess player is connected to Paul Morphy (1837–1884) by way of playing chess games.People who played a chess game with Morphy have a Morphy number of 1. Players who did not play Morphy but played someone with a Morphy number of 1 have a Morphy number of 2. People who played someone with a Morphy number of 2 have a Morphy number of 3, et cetera.
    The idea is similar to the Erdős number for mathematicians and the Bacon number for actors. For example, Viswanathan Anand, along with many current top players, has a Morphy number of 5: Anand played Efim Geller (Morphy number 4), who played Salo Flohr (Morphy number 3), who played Géza Maróczy (Morphy number 2), who played John Owen (Morphy number 1), who played Morphy. Taylor Kingston states that the idea of the Morphy number may have originated in a June 2000 note by Tim Krabbé, who has Morphy number 4.


    As of September 28, 2010, Leonard Barden, Pal Benko, Arthur Bisguier, Melvin Chernev, Andrija Fuderer, Dennis Horne, Borislav Ivkov, Erik Karklins, Franciscus Kuijpers, Louis Levy, Aleksandar Matanović, Fridrik Olafsson, Jonathan Penrose, Oliver Penrose, Arturo Pomar, Lothar Schmid, and Peter Swinnerton-Dyer are the only known living players with Morphy number 3.Andor Lilienthal and Bent Larsen, who also had Morphy numbers of 3, died in May and September 2010, respectively.
    There will probably be few new players with Morphy number 4, although there are probably many thousands of them alive. There may be millions of people with Morphy number 5. Many ordinary players have a Morphy number of 6 (or less).
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014
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