Paul Morphy

By Bill Wall

In 1753, Paul Morphy's great-grandfather, Michael Murphy (died in 1800), moved from Ireland to Madrid, Spain. Later, he moved to Malaga, Spain. He changed his name to Morphy while living in Spain to accommodate to the Castilian pronunciation.

In 1793, Michael Morphy became the American consul to Malaga, appointed by Thomas Jefferson, who was Secretary of State under George Washington.

Michael Morphy married Maria Porro (died in 1813). They had two sons and five daughters. One of the sons, Diego, born in Malaga in 1765, was Paul Morphy's grandfather.

In 1789, Diego Morphy married Mollie Creagh. They were living on the island of San Domingo. They had a son, Diego Morphy, Jr. In 1793, there was a slave revolt in San Domingo. Diego hid his son in a basket, dressed his wife as a market vendor, and had them sent to Philadelphia on an English ship. Later, Diego escaped to Charleston, South Carolina. He got his family back and Diego became Spanish consul to North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

In 1796, Mollie died. In 1797, Diego married Louisa Peire. They had 2 sons and 3 daughters. The oldest son, Alonzo Michael Morphy (1798-1856), born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1798, was Paul Morphy's father. The younger son, Ernest, was born on Nov 22, 1807 in Charleston, SC. Ernest died on March 7, 1874.

In 1809, Diego was appointed Spanish consul to New Orleans and moved there. He died there in 1813. Upon his death, Diego, Jr. took over as Spanish consul to New Orleans.

In 1819, Alonzo Morphy became an attorney. He was a congressman from 1825 to 1829. In 1829, he was attorney general for Louisiana. From 1839 to 1846, he was a Supreme Court justice for Louisiana.

In 1828, Alonzo married Louise Therese Felicite Thelcide Le Carpentier (familiarly known as Telcide).

Paul Charles Morphy was born on June 22, 1837 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He had two sisters, Malvina Morphy Sybrandt (born February 5, 1830), Helena Morphy (born October 21, 1839) and a brother, Edward (Edouard) Stephen Morphy (born December 26, 1834). Paul Morphy was born at 1113 Chartes St, New Orleans. The house later became the home of Pierre Gustave Toutant  Beauregard (1818-1893), the famous Confederate General. It was later owned by author Francis Parkinson Keyes.

In 1840, when Paul Morphy was 4 years old, be began to read and write.

In 1841, the Morphy family moved to 89 Royal Street (later re-numbered to 417 Royal St) in New Orleans. The house remained in the Morphy family until the death of Malvina and John Sybrandt in 1894. Malvina died on June 13, 1894 at the age of 64. John Sybrandt died on September 21, 1894 at the age of 72. The Morphy mansion is today the site of Brennan's, a famous New Orleans restaurant.

Paul Morphy seemed to learn chess on his own while watching others play.  During one summer afternoon, after watching a long game between his father, Alonzo, and his uncle, Ernest,  Paul surprised them by stating that Ernest should have won.  The two had just agreed to a draw.  Paul proved his claim by setting up the pieces and demonstrating the won his uncle had missed. 

Paul later played chess against his grandfather, Joseph Le Carpentier and his uncle, Charles Le Carpentier.  Paul’s older brother, Edward, played some chess, but later lost interest.

From the age of 8, Paul Morphy played hundreds of games against the best players in New Orleans.

In November-December, 1845, he witnessed the first US championship contest ever held, a match won by Charles Stanley (1819-1901) over New Orleans master Eugene Rousseau (1810-1870).   His uncle, Ernest, acted as Rousseau’s second.  Stanley won the match with 15 wins, 8 draws, and 8 losses.

In early 1846, General Winfield Scott (1786-1866) visited New Orleans and wanted to play some chess with a strong local player. After dinner, his opponent was brought in. It was 8 year old Paul Morphy. Paul beat the general twice that evening.

By the age of 9, Paul was considered one of the best chess players in New Orleans. 

Paul Morphy attended Jefferson Academy, near his home, in his early years.

On October 28, 1849, Paul Morphy defeated Eugene Rousseau in a chess game.

On October 31, 1849, Ernest Morphy sent a letter to Lionel Kieseritsky (1806-1853) enclosing a game the Paul Morphy played against Eugene Rousseau.

On June 22, 1849, Paul Morphy’s 12th birthday, Paul defeated his uncle, Ernest Morphy, in a chess game.  It was Paul Morphy’s first blindfold game.

In May 1850, the Hungarian master Johann Jacob Löwenthal (1810-1876) visited New Orleans. He played 12-year-old Paul Morphy three games, and Paul won all three games from Löwenthal (some sources say that one game was drawn – Löwenthal altered an ending to make it look like a draw).  One game was played on May 22 and another game was played on May 25.  When Löwenthal lost, he threw his arms around Paul and said he would become the greatest player ever known.

By the time Paul was 13 he was the best chess player in New Orleans and one of the best players in America.   He played over 50 games with Rousseau, winning most of them.

On December 3, 1850, at the age of 13, Paul enrolled at Spring Hill College (then called St. Joseph’s College) in Spring Hill (near Mobile), Alabama.  His brother, Edward, also enrolled at this time.  Paul excelled in Latin, Greek, French, English, and Mathematics.  In his first year, he was elected president of the Thespian Society and played the part of Charles in the play Gregoire.  Spring Hill College was the first Catholic college in the South.  His closest friend, Charles Maurian (1838-1912), also attended Spring Hill College.

In 1851, Kieseritsky published the Paul Morphy vs. Eugene Rousseau game in the January, 1851, issue of La Régence.  It was Paul Morphy’s first published game.

In 1851, Paul played the part of Portia in the Merchant of Venice.  His older brother, Edward, played the part of Shylock.

In 1852, Paul Morphy played a few chess games at Spring Hill College.

In the spring of 1853, Paul Morphy taught chess to his friend, Charles Maurian, while they were in the infirmary together.

Paul Morphy took some lessons in fencing, but did not continue.

In October, 1854, Paul Morphy graduated from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama and received a Bachelor of Arts degree.  At the commencement ceremony, he gave an address on the condition of a just war, which did not include succession as a just cause for war.

In 1884-1855, Paul stayed at Spring Hill College, studying mathematics and philosophy.  In October, 1855, he was awarded a Master of Arts degree with the highest honors ever bestowed by the school   His commencement address was entitled, “The Political Creed of the Age.”  Morphy spent very little time on chess while in college.

In November, 1855, after graduating from Spring Hill College, Paul Morphy enrolled at the Law School at the University of Louisiana.

Paul’s older brother, Edward, became a cotton broker and, later, the director of the New Orleans Cotton Exchange.

In 1855, at the age of 17, he won 6 games against Judge Alexander Beaufort Meek (1814-1865), who later became the President of the American Chess Congress in 1857. Apart from this, he only faced relatively weak players.

On June 10, 1856, Ernest Morphy sent a game and the only known chess problem that Paul Morphy created, to the New York Clipper.  The problem was published in its June 28, 1856 issue.

On August 30, 1856, Ernest Morphy took out an advertisement in Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, entitled, “Chess Challenge Extraordinary.”  He challenged anybody in the United States to come to New Orleans and play Paul Morphy, age 19, in a stakes match at $300 a side.  There were no takers.

On November 22, 1856, Paul’s father, Alonzo, age 57, died. In September, 1856, Alonzo received a cut above the eye from a Panama hat worn by a friend. He had turned to speak to his friend, and the brim of the hat cut his eye.  The cut led to congestion of the brain.  Alonzo left an estate of $146,162.54 (over $3 million in today’s currency) and owned two slaves (worth $1,700 according to the inventory of Alonzo’s estate).

On November 23, 1856, Alonzo Morphy’s funeral was held.  The funeral was said to be one of the largest ever held in New Orleans.

On April 7, 1857, at the age of 20, he received a Bachelor of Laws (L.L.B.) degree from the University of Louisiana. It was said that he had memorized the entire Louisiana Civil Code in preparation for his degree. He was not yet of legal age (age 21) to practice law. He was able to speak four languages.

In April, 1857, Paul Morphy received an invitation from the New York Chess Club to participate in the First American Chess Congress in New York, to be held in October, 1857.  The Congress consisted of three separate tournaments: the Grand Tournament, the Minor Tournament, and the Problem Tournament.  At first, he declined because of his father’s death, but at the urging of his uncle Ernest, he decided to play in the event.

At the time, Morphy owned only three chess books: Chess Studies by Horwitz and Kling, La Regénce collection by Kieseritzky, and The Chess Tournament by Staunton.

On September 23, 1857, age 20, Morphy left New Orleans aboard the steamer Benjamin Franklin and arrived in Cincinnati a few days later.  He then took a train from Cincinnati to New York City, arriving on October 4, 1857.

While in New York for the First American Chess Congress, Morphy stayed at the St. Nicholas Hotel. The top 16 players in America were invited.   Besides Morphy, the players included William S. Allison, Samuel R. Calthrop, Daniel Willard Fiske, William Fuller, Hiram Kennicott, Huburt Knott, Theodor Lichtenhein, Napoleon Marache, Judge Alexander Meek, Hardman P. Montgomery, Louis Paulsen, Frederick Perrin, Dr. Benjamin I. Raphael, Charles Henry Stanley, and James Thompson.

On October 5, 1857, before the Grand Tournament started, the club was open for a casual meeting of the players and the pairings.  Morphy played and defeated Frederick Perrin, the secretary of the New York Club.  As the second game began between the two, Charles Stanley entered the club.  Perrin gave up his seat so that Stanley could play Morphy a game.  Morphy won four games in a row against Stanley.

On October 6, 1857, at 11 am, the Congress started at the Descombes Rooms at 764 Broadway in New York.  The New York Chess Club was too small for the event.  A lottery was held for the pairing and the colors.

On October 10, Paulsen played four people blindfolded.  Morphy was one of his opponents who also played blindfolded against Paulsen.  Morphy won.  Paulsen drew one other and won two games.

On October 17, the entire Congress was treated to dinner at Denis Julien’s St Denis Hotel.

Morphy easily defeated them all and won the event on November 10, 1857.   Morphy defeated Thompson 3-0, Meek 3-0, Lichtenhein 3 wins and 1 draw, and Paulsen 5 wins, 1 loss, and 2 draws.  Morphy won 14 games, lost 1 game, and drew three games. 

On November 11, 1857, an awards ceremony was held.  Morphy refused the $300 first place money (over $6,000 in today’s currency). Instead, he accepted a silver pitcher, four goblets, and a silver tray. The tray was manufactured by Ball, Black & Co. of New York.  It had an etching of Morphy playing Paulsen with the inscription: “This Service of Plate is presented to Paul Morphy The Victor in the Grand Tournament at the First Congress of the American National Chess Association New York, 1857.”

He defeated Charles Henry Stanley (1819-1901), the next best player in America, giving him odds of pawn and move. Morphy gave the $100 prize money to Stanley's wife and children. As a mark of gratitude, she named her next daughter Pauline, who was born in December, 1857. Stanley was considered the first chess champion of the United States, when, in 1845, he defeated Eugene Rousseau of New Orleans in a match.

After the Congress, Morphy played several causal games with several players.  He played Charles Stanley in a match whom Morphy played with the odds of a pawn and move.  The stakes were set at $100 a side.  Morphy won with 4 wins and a draw.  Stanley resigned the match.  Morphy then sent the $100 to Stanley’s wife, who needed the money for her and her children.  It was feared that if the money was given to Stanley himself, he would have used the money on his drinking habit.  Mrs. Stanley was pregnant at the time.  When the baby girl was born in December, 1857, she named her Pauline, after Paul Morphy.

While in New York, Paul was offered to co-edit the Chess Monthly, edited by Daniel Fiske (1831-1904).  Morphy was to provide annotated games.

On December 6, 1858, Morphy visited Eugene Cook (1830-1915) in Hoboken, New Jersey.  Cook was confined to his house most of the time because he was an invalid.  Morphy was accompanied by Frederick Perrin, W.J.A. Fuller, and Daniel Fiske.  While there, Perrin, Fuller, and Fiske played a consultation game with Morphy, which they won.

On December 17, 1857, Morphy left New York and reached New Orleans at the end of the month.

While in New York, Morphy played 94 even games, winning 85, losing 4, and drawing 8.  He played 159 games at odds, winning 104, losing 36, and drawing 19.  He played 3 blindfold games, winning 2 and drawing 1.  He lost one consultation game, Morphy vs. Fiske and Fuller and Perrin.

After Morphy's amazing victory at New York, some suggested that a European master should come to America to play him. When the great British master Howard Staunton heard this (Staunton was considered the best player in the world), he wrote in his weekly paper column, "The best players of Europe are not chess professionals, but have other and more serious things to occupy their minds with." Morphy's friends in New Orleans did send a challenge to Staunton to come to America. But Staunton rejected it. He did say that if Morphy came to Europe, he would find him (Staunton) ready.

After Paul returned to New Orleans, he spent a lot of time at the New Orleans Chess Club and played several blindfold games simultaneously against other players. 

In January, 1858, he gave a 2 board blindfold exhibition at the New Orleans Chess Club.

On March 9, 1858, Paul Morphy wrote a letter to his friend Daniel Fiske in which he referred to a possible match with Howard Staunton (1810-1874). There was a challenge for the stake of $5,000.

On March 31, 1858, he gave a 7 board simul at the New Orleans Chess Club, winning 6 and losing 1.

In April, 1858, he gave a 7 board simul at the New Orleans Chess Club.

In May, 1858, he gave an 8 board simul at the New Orleans Chess Club.

Paul was invited to attend the international chess tournament to be held in Birmingham, England in the summer of 1858.  He accepted the challenge and traveled to England.

On May 31, 1858, Morphy left New Orleans for New York.

On June 9, 1858, Paul Morphy left New York bound for Europe to challenge their best chess players. The New Orleans chess club suggested paying Morphy the amount needed for him to participate in the Birmingham tournament, to be held in England, but Morphy declined the offer, as he did not want to be considered a professional chess player. He sailed from New York on board the S.S. Africa (Chess Monthly says it was the S.S. Arabia).

Paul Morphy landed in Liverpool on June 20, 1858.

Morphy arrived in Liverpool and immediately took a train to Birmingham, England.  The tournament was scheduled to start on Morphy’s 21st birthday, June 22, but it has been postponed until August 24.  Morphy, however, was unaware of the schedule change.  When Paul got to Birmingham on June 20, he met Thomas Avery, the president of the Birmingham Chess Club.  They went to the Birmingham Chess Club, and a portrait was taken of Morphy.  Morphy spent a night in Birmingham, then went to London the next day.  

On June 21, 1858, Morphy arrived in London with Frederick Edge, his secretary in Europe, and registered at Lowe’s Hotel.  Morphy played the owner of the hotel, Edward Lowe, six games, and won all six.

On June 23, 1858, Morphy visited the other London chess clubs such as Simpson’s and St. George’s.  While at the St. George’s chess club, he encountered Howard Staunton and inquired about the challenge match between the two.  Staunton agreed to play, but asked to be allowed a month to brush up on his chess openings.  Morphy agreed.

Staunton invited Morphy to his country home in Streatham. 

On June 27, 1858, Morphy went to Staunton’s country home, along with Thomas Wilson Barnes (1825-1874) and John Owen (1827-1901).  At Staunton’s home, they played a few consultation games.  Morphy and Barnes defeated Staunton and Owen in the first game.  Morphy and Barnes won a second game, but it was played over nine days and finished at St. George’s Chess Club.

Morphy played Barnes a series of 27 games.  Morphy won 19 games and Barnes won 8 games.  Barnes won more games from Morphy than any other player.

On July 3, 1858, Morphy played a series of three games against Reverend John Owen, who called himself “Alter” in chess circles.  Owen won the first and Morphy won the final two games.  Morphy later won two more games from Owen.

On July 10, 1858, Staunton published the agreement between him and Morphy in the Illustrated London News.  The match was to be 21 games for a stake of 500 pounds a side.  The match was to take place after the Birmingham tournament.

In July, 1858, Morphy accepted a challenge match from Johann Löwenthal. 

On July 19, 1858, Morphy played his first game with Löwenthal at the London Chess Club.  The game was drawn in 7.5 hours.

After 10 games, Morphy won 7, lost 2, and drew 1.  At this point Löwenthal claimed he was sick and wanted to postpone the rest of the match (the first to win 9 games was the winner).  A week later, the match resumed and Morphy won on August 21, 1858.  Morphy was 100 pounds from Löwenthal, and then used that money to buy 120 pounds of furniture, which he then gave to Löwenthal’s family for their new apartment.

On August 10, 1858, Morphy started a match with Owen.  Morphy won his first game.

In August, after defeating Löwenthal, Morphy played a series of game with Henry Bird (1830-1908), winning 10, losing 1, and drawing 1.

He stayed in England for 3 months trying to arrange a match with Staunton. On August 14, 1858, Morphy wrote to Staunton asking when Staunton's seconds could meet with Morphy's seconds to work out the details of the match. Staunton replied that he needed an extension to finish preparing. He was working on his edition of the complete works of Shakespeare.

On August 21, 1858, Morphy wrote back to Staunton asking when was the earliest opportunity Staunton had for the match.

Without replying back to Morphy, Staunton went to Birmingham, which began on August 24, 1858. Originally, Staunton had declared that he wouldn't enter the tournament. However, once he arrived and found out that Morphy was not going to play in the event, Staunton signed up to play. Morphy had promised his family that he would not play in a chess tournament for stakes.

Morphy showed up in Birmingham on August 26, and too late to enter the tournament.  He won two games from James S. Kipping that evening.

While in Birmingham, Morphy ran into Staunton, He asked him again when he was ready to play a match between the two.  Staunton responded that he would be ready at the beginning of November.

On August 27, Morphy gave an 8-board blindfold exhibition at Queen’s College.  The players were Lord Lyttelton (president of the British Chess Association), Thomas Avery, Rev. G. Salmon, Mr. Carr, Dr. Jabez Freeman, Mr. Rhodes, J.S. Kipping, and W.R. Wills.  The exhibition took over 6 hours.  Morphy won 6, lost to Kipping, and drew with Avery.

Staunton also continued to smear Morphy in his newspaper chess column, claiming Morphy was chasing money, among other things. In the last letter that Morphy send to Staunton, he writes "Allow me to repeat, what I have constantly declared in all the chess circles I have had the honor to participate. That I have never wanted to make any skill I may possess, a tool for making a profit.”

On August 31, 1858, Paul Morphy and Frederick Edge were late at the railway station that would take them from London to Folkstone, then across the Channel and on to Paris.  So they went to Dover and  took a ship to Calais, France.  Morphy became sea sick while crossing the Channel.  At first, the French officials would now allow Morphy in the country with a United States passport, but Morphy could speak perfect French and he was allowed in.  The customs officials confiscated his underlinen, however.  They stayed in Calais for the evening and then took a 10 hour train ride to Paris the next day.  Once in Paris, Morphy had dinner, then visited the Café de la Régence on Rue Street Honoré (opened from 8 am to midnight).  He did not announce his visit the first evening and was not recognized.

On September 4, 1858, Harrwitz defeated Morphy in a casual game, then challenged him in a match.

On September 5, 1858, Morphy started his official match with Daniel Harrwitz (1823-1884) for a stakes of 295 francs.  Harrwitz did not want seconds.  The winner would be the first to win seven games.  Harrwitz also wanted the match to be played in the public café at the Café de la Régence.

Harrwitz won the first game.  When Morphy resigned, Harrwitz rose from his chair, stretched across the table, and took Morphy’s pulse.  He then declared to the crowd, “Well, it is astonishing!  His pulse does not beat any faster than if he had won the game.”

Harrwitz won the second game on September 7, 1858.  After the game, he told the crowd, “Oh, it takes very little trouble to beat this fellow.”  Morphy responded by saying that Harrwitz would not win another game from him.

Morphy won the third, fourth, and fifth games.  Harrwitz then wanted a 10-day delay because of “ill health.”  After 12 days delay, Harrwitz lost the sixth game on September 23, 1858.  Harrwitz then asked for another delay of 6 days. 

On September 15, 1858, Paul Morphy sat for Lesquesne to have a bust made of him.

On September 19, 1858, Morphy dined with the deposed Duke of Brunswick, Charles Frederick August William (1804-1873).  The Duke played at least 11 games in consultation against Morphy during Morphy’s stay in Paris.

On September 27, 1858, Morphy gave an 8-board blindfold exhibition, winning 6 games and drawing 2 games.  It was held at the Café de la Régence.  The owner of the café wanted to charge a spectator fee of 5 francs for the exhibition, but Morphy said he would not give the exhibition unless the café was open to anyone who walked in.  So the event was free for anyone who could get inside the establishment.  His opponents were Baucher, Bierwith, Borneman, Guibert, Lequesne, Potier, Preti, and Seguin (and 50 other players in the room to give advice to Morphy’s 8 opponents).   Morphy was seated in the billiard room of the café, with his back to the chess table in the other room .  The blindfold exhibition lasted for 10 hours, without anything to eat or drink for Morphy.  When the event was over, it took 30 minutes for Morphy to get outside of the café after being congratulated by everyone inside.  However, the crowd outside was greater than the one inside the café, and the shouting was more deafening.  French Imperial guards, not knowing what was going on, thought a new revolution in Paris had broken out.

The next morning, Paul Morphy dictated to Edge all the moves of his 8 blindfold games, including possible variations.  For two hours, Morphy dictated the moves and hundreds of variations of all eight games.  Later that evening, Morphy fell asleep in front of an open window that was blowing in cold air.  He became sick with a cold and had a fever the next day.  However, he still wanted to continue the match with Harrwitz and not claim ill health like Harrwitz did.

The 7th game between Morphy and Harrwitz was played on September 29, 1858.  Harrwitz now objected to playing in public at the Café de la Régence and wanted a private room.  Morphy lost a rook in an oversight after having a winning position, but was able to draw with perpetual check. 

Harrwitz asked for another week delay after this game, still claiming ill health (yet it was Morphy who was sick with a fever).  Morphy showed up every day at the Café, playing all comers in chess until midnight.

On October 3, 1858, Harrwitz lost his 8th game with Morphy.  The score was now 5 wins for Morphy, 2 wins for Harrwitz, and one drawn game.

Harrwitz resigned the match by on October 4th.  Paul Morphy had received a verbal message that “Mr. Harrwitz resigns the match on account of ill health.”  Mr. Lequesne handed over the 295 francs ($1,400 in today’s currency) to Morphy.  Morphy offered a second match to Harrwitz, but Harrwitz declined.

Morphy won 5 games, lost 2, and drew one game in the match.  In percentage terms, Harrwitz had the best overall result against Morphy (winning 3, losing 5, drawing 2).

Morphy had his winnings (which he at first declined) deposited with the proprieter of the Café de la Régence to defray the expenses of Adolf Anderssen (1818-1879), his next opponent, to Paris from Breslau, Germany. 

In October, 1858, the Duke of Brunswick and Morphy visited the Italian Opera House in Paris where the duke had a box.  They played a game of chess during the performance of “Norma.”

On November 2, 1858, Morphy played a casual game against the Duke of Brunswick and Count Isouard de Vauvenargue at the Italian Opera House in Paris.  The performance that evening was Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.”

In November, 1858, Staunton promised to play Morphy.

In November, 1858, Mr. James M. Mason, the American Ambassador to France, introduced Morphy to Emperor Napoleon III (1808-1873).

While in Paris, Morphy met the grandson of Philidor.

Morphy originally planned to visit the chess clubs in Germany, but he got sick and felt he could not travel.  He invited Adolf Anderson to come to Paris instead.  Anderssen responded that he could not leave his post as a math teacher in Breslau, but he would be able to visit Paris during Christmas vacation.  Morphy wanted to leave early and be home in New Orleans by Christmas.  It took a medial doctor to convince Morphy that he was too ill to cross the Atlantic Ocean during the winter time.

On December 15, 1858, Adolf Anderssen arrived in Paris from Breslau.  The next morning, Anderssen visited Morphy, who could not get out of bed.  They agreed that the victor would be the first to win seven games with no stakes.  They both were playing for honor.

When Adolf Anderssen arrived in Paris in December, Paul Morphy was suffering from the flu. His medical treatment consisted of being leeched. He lost four pints of blood and was too weak to stand up or leave his hotel bed. Anderssen's friends had told him not to damage the German prestige by travelling abroad and play a match against this young man (Morphy) without official recognition. But Anderssen felt otherwise, and when his friends asked him why he did not play as brilliant as he did in his famous match against Dufresne, Anderssen replied "No, Morphy would not let me." And Morphy himself, was playing the second strongest chess player (Anderssen) in the world from his hotel bed at the Hotel de Breauteuil, suffering from the flu, and still won the match.

The match between Morphy and Anderssen began on December 20.  It ended on December 28.  There were no stakes for the match because Morphy would not accept it. 

Morphy won the match with a 7 wins, 2 losses, and 2 draws.   He lost the first game, drew the second game, then won five games in a row.  Game 8 was a draw.  Game 9 was a win for Morphy.  Game 10 was a win for Anderssen.  Game 11 was a win for Morphy and he won the match.

The day after the match, on December 29, 1858, Morphy played Anderssen 6 casual games and won 5, lost 1.

In February-March, 1859, Morphy played Augustus Mongredien, President of the London Chess Club, in a match and won with one draw (the first game) and six wins.  The match was held at the Hotel du Louvre in Paris.

On April 4, 1859, a banquet was held in Morphy's honor in Paris. A laurel wreath was placed over the head of a bust of Morphy, carved by Eugene Lequesne.

On April 6, 1859, Morphy returned to England with his brother-in-law, John Sybrandt, and Jules Arnous de Rivière (1830-1905).

On April 13, 1859, Morphy gave an 8-board blindfold exhibition at the London Chess Club.

On April 20, 1859, Morphy played 8 blindfold simultaneous games against the top players of each chess club he visited. The event was held at the St. George Chess Club in London. He won 5 and drew 3 games.

On April 26, 1859, he played 5 masters simultaneously at the St. James Chess Club in London.   He played Jules Arnous de Rivière, Samuel Boden, Thomas Barnes, Henry Bird, and Johann Löwenthal.  This order was the same table order that Morphy faced.  Morphy won two games (Bird and Rivière), drew two games (Boden and Löwenthal), and lost one (Barnes).  This was Morphy’s only sighted simultaneous exhibition in his career.  The simul lasted for over 6 hours.

Morphy was invited to a private audience with Queen Victoria (1819-1901). The queen presented Morphy with a chess cabinet.

On April 30, 1859, Morphy returned to New York from Liverpool on the S.S. Persia.

On April 30, 1858, Sam Loyd re-published Morphy’s only known chess problem in the New York Musical World.

On May 11, 1859, Paul Morphy arrived in New York.  He was met by Willard Fiske, who accompanied him to St. Nicholas Hotel.

On May 25, 1859, a testimonial banquet was held at the chapel of New York University in honor of Paul Morphy.  It was organized by the New York Chess Club and Colonel Charles Mead presided over the ceremony.  Speeches were made, including reading a letter from Samuel Morse.  Morphy was then presented with a chessboard and pieces, and then a custom designed watch.  A solid gold and silver chess set was also presented to Morphy.  He also received a silver plate made by Tiffany.  It was presented to him by John Van Buren (1810-1866), President Martin Van Buren’s son.  It was John Van Buren who proclaimed Paul Morphy the chess champion of the world

The watch was presented to Paul Morphy by William Fuller. The watch was made by the American Watch Company. Roman numerals were replaced by chess pieces on the watch.  Years later, Morphy has to pawn his watch

The May 26, 1859 issue of the New York Times devoted four of its front-page columns to reporting Morphy’s chess achievements.  The New York Daily News used five of its six columns on page one to reporting Morphy’s achievements.

On May 26, 1859, Morphy was given another testimonial dinner at Buhler’s Restaurant and sponsored by the Union Chess Club.  There were 70 people present for this dinner.  He was given a silver wreath.

On May 28, 1859, he was given a reception at the Boston Chess Club.

On May 29, he went to Cambridge where he met Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882).  He then went to Waltham, Massachusetts  here he toured the American Watch Company.  Later that evening, he played chess at the Boston Chess Club.  Among those that attended was Longfellow.

On May 31, 1859, another banquet was held in Morphy's honor at the Paul Revere House in Boston. It was attended by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Professor Louis Agassiz, the mayor of Boston (Lincoln), the President of Harvard (President Walker), Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes (who presided), Chief Justice Shaw, and Senator Wilson. There were 140 invited guests.  Holmes toasted "Paul Morphy, the World Chess Champion." Manufacturers sought his endorsements and a baseball club was named after him.

While in Boston, Morphy played only three games.

On June 3, 1859, Morphy left Boston for New York.

On June 22, 1859, Morphy’s 22nd birthday, the Athenaeum Club of New York had a birthday party for Paul Morphy.  He was made an honorary member.

Morphy was offered the position as Chess Editor of the New York Ledger. Morphy was paid $3,000 (over $76,000 in today’s currency) in advance to write America's first chess column for the New York Ledger newspaper. Morphy barely did this for a year, but was fired. The editor, Robert Bonner, was not seeing a return on the investment.  He wrote his first article on August 6, 1859 and ended it on August 4, 1860.  Morphy annotated 15 games from the La Bourdonnais-MacDonnel matches, intending to publish all the games between the two players.

In August, 1859, Paul Morphy was ill and recuperated in Newport, Rhode Island before returning home to New Orleans.

On October 5, 1859, Morphy wrote a letter to the American Watch Company which was published on October 15, 1959 in the New York Saturday Press. The letter stated that the watch was a most reliable and accurate time-keeper. He kept track of the accuracy of the watch, and fount it to be 32 seconds fast from the time he received the watch to Oct 1, 1859.

Morphy’s name was used in advertising cigars and hats.  A Brooklyn baseball team was named the Morphy Baseball Club.

On October 30, 1859, Morphy left New York for Philadelphia.  In Philadelphia he visited the Athenaeum Club. 

On November 11, 1859, Morphy gave a 4-board blindfold exhibition at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia for the benefit of the Mt. Vernon Fund.  The fund was used to restore and preserve Mount Vernon.  He won all his games.

On November 17, 1859, Morphy left Philadelphia and went to Baltimore, Maryland.  He visited the Monumental Chess Club and played several opponents.

On November 24, 1859, Paul Morphy left Baltimore for New Orleans.

On December 12, 1859, Morphy arrived in New Orleans. 

In late 1859, English chess amateur Frederick Deacon claimed to have scored one win and one loss against Morphy.  He supplied the scores to Howard Staunton, who published them on December 17, 1859.  Paul Morphy later denied ever playing Deacon.  The games are considered fabrications.  Deacon said that the games were played and the occasion was on April 8, 1859 at the British Hotel in London.  His witness was Deacon’s cousin.

In 1860, Morphy may have tried to open a law office.  He had business cards printed that said, “Paul Morphy, Attorney-at-Law, 12, Exchange Place, Up Stairs, New Orleans.”

In June, 1860, he went to New York and stayed through October. 

In January, 1861, Louisiana seceded from the Union.

In April 1861, the Civil War broke out, which interrupted Morphy’s law career.  He was opposed to secession.  Morphy’s brother, Edward, joined the Confederate Army right away, but Paul did not.

In October, 1861, Morphy visited Richmond, Virginia, the capitol of the Confederacy.  He met with General Pierre Beauregard (1818-1893).  Morphy visited the Richmond Chess Club on October 24.  Morphy was seeking to obtain an appointment in the diplomatic service of the southern confederacy.

In April, 1862, Morphy was in New Orleans when the city was captured and occupied.  From April 25, 1862 to May 1, 1862, Captain (later Rear Admiral) David Farragut (1801-1870) and Major General Benjamin Butler captured New Orleans without fighting.

Morphy did not fight for the South during the Civil War and stayed out of the War.

On October 10, 1862, Morphy and Charles Maurian left for Cuba on the Spanish steamboat, Blasco de Garay (some sources say the ship was the Vasco de Gama).  He spent two months in Havana, staying at the Hotel America.

On October 31, 1862, Morphy and Maurian sailed for Cadiz, Spain.  After arriving in Cadez, he took a train to Paris and arrived in Paris in early December. His mother, Thelcide, and his sister, Helena, had arrived in Paris earlier.

In January, 1863, George Palmer Putman (1814-1872) met Morphy in New Orleans and said that he had given up chess and was not making success as a lawyer.

In February, 1863, Ignatz Kolisch (1837-1889) challenged Morphy to a match.  Morphy replied that he had given up on competitive chess.

In late January, 1864, Morphy sailed to Santiago de Cuba. 

On February 16, 1864, he arrived in Havana on the steamship Aguila.

On late February, 1864, he sailed for New Orleans, arriving the last week in February.  He opened a law office on 12 Exchange Street, but closed it after a few months.

On July 25, 1865, he met with Daniel Fiske and Napoleon Maraache about publishing his chess games with annotations.

At the beginning of November, 1865, Morphy returned to New Orleans.

On November 14, 1865, Morphy was elected president of the New Orleans Chess Club.

In 1866, Paul Morphy thought that his brother-in-law, John Sybrandt, was robbing him of his inheritance.  Sybrandt was the administrator of Alonzo Morphy’s estate.  Paul took out several lawsuits against his brother-in-law, which he lost.

In July, 1867, his mother persuaded him to go to Paris with her and his sister, Helena. Morphy played chess in Paris, but would not play any chess in public. He stayed in Paris for 18 months before returning to his home.

In September, 1868, Morphy arrived in New York.  He then returned to New Orleans.

In December 1869, Paul Morphy played his last games of chess with his friend, Charles Maurian.

In 1871, the second American Chess Congress was held in Cleveland,  Morphy was invited, but he declined all invitations.

In 1872, Morphy partnered with attorney E.T. Fellows.  The partnership lasted until 1874.

On March 7, 1874, Paul’s uncle, Ernest Morphy, died.  He was 67.

In 1875, Paul Morphy attacked one if his friends, Mr. Binder with a walking stick, trying to provoke a duel.  Morphy thought that Mr. Binder wanted to destroy all his clothes and wanted to kill him. 

In December 1875, Charles Maurian first began to notice some strange talk by Morphy, who was suffering from delusions.  He stated the Paul thought he was being persecuted by unknown persons.

Morphy withdrew from society and suffered delusions of persecution in his later years. According to his niece, he had in a period the strange habit of walking up and down the porch saying "Il plantera la banniere de Castille sur le murs de Madrid, au cri de Ville gangnee, et le petit roi s'en ira tout penaud." (He will plant the banner of the Castille on the walls of Madrid, screaming: The city is conquered and the little king will go away looking very sheepish.)

At one period, Paul was under the impression that someone was trying to poison him.  He refused to eat anything unless the cooking had previously been supervised by either his mother or sister.

In June, 1882, Morphy’s family considered putting Paul in a mental institution called the “Louisiana Retreat” in New Orleans.  It was run by the Catholic Church.  The family took a ride there, but Paul convinced the nuns we was sane and needed no constraint or treatment.

In July 1882, Paul Morphy was asked if it was okay to include him in a book, Louisiana Biographies, about famous Louisiana citizens because of his achievements in chess. Morphy was outraged by being connected with chess, and answered, that his father, judge at the supreme court of Louisiana, Mr. Alonzo Morphy, at his death, had left a sum of 146.162 dollars and 54 cents. But that he (Morphy) did not have a profession at all and thus had nothing to do in such a book.

In January 1883, William Steinitz (1836-1900) was able to interview Paul Morphy in New Orleans for about 20 minutes.  Steinitz’s experience with Morphy was published in the New York Tribune on March 22, 1883.

Paul Morphy was fond of grand opera and seldom missed a performance at the French Opera House on Bourbon Street (burnt down in 1920).

In 1884, Dr. Johannes Zukertort interviewed Paul Morphy.  His experience with Morphy was published in the Salt Lake City Tribune on June 28, 1884.

On July 10, 1884 Paul died of a stroke while taking a cold bath after an afternoon walk on Canal Street. He died at 89 Royal Street, New Orleans. He was just 47 years old.  Paul’s mother was concerned that Paul was taking a bath for over an hour.  He did not respond to here and the door was locked.  She called a neighbor, Mollo, who forced the door open.  They found Paul unconscious and called a doctor.  The doctor pronounced Paul Morphy dead from “congestion of the brain” at 2:30 pm.

Paul Morphy’s funeral was on July 11, 1884 and held at Saint Louis Cathedral, the oldest church in Louisiana.  The pall bearers were his brother Edward, his cousins Edgar Hincks, E.A. Morphy, Leonce Percy, Henry Percy, and Charles de Maurian.  Charles de Maurian wrote his obituary for the New Orleans Times Democrat.

The Morphys' are buried in an above-ground tomb at Saint Louis Cemetery Number One, in New Orleans, Louisiana. The cemetery is located near the St. Louis Cathedral, a few blocks north of the French Quarter.  It is the oldest cemetery in New Orleans.

The Morphy tomb reads:

A.D. 1817


Paul Morphy 1837-1884

Emma Merlin Morphy 1862-1947

Paul H. Morphy 1886-1951

Juanita Morphy 1889-1972

Elmina Morphy 1890-1978

Paul H. Morphy, Jr. 1925-1991

Yevkine Morphy Prados 1901-1993

Edward Rene Morphy 1928-1994


The New York Sun in its obituary notice on Morphy said that blindfold chess had made him insane and killed him.  “The strain in his brain produced a brain fever, from which he never recovered.”

Paul Morphy played 227 competitive games during his lifetime, winning 83 percent of his games.   He played 59 serious games in matches and the 1857 New York tournament.  He won 42, drew 9, and lost 8.

Morphy stood 5 feet, 4 inches in height and was slim.  He never married.  He wore a cloak, kid gloves, a monocle (he was nearsighted at an early age), and always had a walking stick.  He was always particular about how he dressed.  He was a dandy.

Paul Morphy's mother, Thelcide, died on January 11, 1885.

Paul Morphy’s sister, Helena, died in 1886.

On July 24, 1886, the estate of Paul Morphy was sold by auction.  Among the items sold were his chess trophies, items he was given during the First Chess Congress in 1857, and chess sets.  Morphy’s house was sold at public auction for $6,000.  Alonzo Morphy paid $90,000 for it.

In 1890, a fire at the New Orleans Chess, Checkers and Whist Club lost most of their records and Morphy memorabilia.

On October 18, 1893, Edward Morphy, Paul’s brother, died in New Orleans.

In 1926, Regina Morphy-Voiter wrote The Life of Paul Morphy in the Vieux Carré of New Orleans and Abroad.  She was the daughter of Paul Morphy’s brother, Edward.  She was born in 1870 and was 14 when here uncle Paul died.

In an interview in former Yugoslavia, International Grandmaster Bobby Fischer (1943-2008) commented on Paul Morphy saying "Morphy ... I think everyone agrees.... was probably the greatest of them all."

In 1964, Fischer wrote an article in Chessworld, naming Morphy as one of the 10 greatest chess players of all time and “the most accurate chess player who ever lived.”

In 1976, David Lawson (1886-1980), born Charles Whipple, wrote Paul Morphy, the Pride and Sorrow of Chess.  Lawson was 90 years old at the time the book was published.  The book was published by David McKay and is 424 pages.



Batgirl (Sarah Beth) - htttp://

Buck, C.A., Paul Morphy: His Later Life

Edge, Frederick, Exploits and Triumphs, in Europe, of Paul Morphy (1859)

Hooper and Whyld, The Oxford Companion to Chess

Lange, Max, Paul Morphy

Lawson, David, Paul Morphy, The Pride and Sorrow of Chess (424 pages)

Lawson, David, Unknown Paul Morphy Games, British Chess Magazine August 1978 and September 1979

Löwenthal, Johann, Morphy’s Games of Chess

Reinfeld and Sergeant, Morphy’s Games of Chess

Schonberg, Harold, Grandmasters of Chess

Sergeant, Philip, Morphy Gleamings

Sergeant, Philip, The Unknown Morphy

Shibut, Macon, Paul Morphy and the Evolution of Chess (467 Morphy games)

Ward, Chris, The Genius of Paul Morphy

Wikipedia – Paul Morphy

Winter, Edward, Chess Notes Paul Morphy