In 1753, Paul
Morphy's great-grandfather, Michael Murphy (died in 1800), moved from
In 1793, Michael
Morphy became the American consul to
married Maria Porro (died in 1813). They had two sons and five daughters. One
of the sons, Diego, born in
In 1789, Diego
Morphy married Mollie Creagh. They were living on the
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
In 1809, Diego was
appointed Spanish consul to
In 1819, Alonzo
Morphy became an attorney. He was a congressman from 1825 to 1829. In 1829, he
was attorney general for
In 1828, Alonzo married Louise Therese Felicite Thelcide Le Carpentier (familiarly known as Telcide).
Paul Charles Morphy
was born on June 22, 1837 in
In 1840, when Paul Morphy was 4 years old, be began to read and write.
In 1841, the Morphy
family moved to
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
1845, he witnessed the first
In early 1846,
General Winfield Scott (1786-1866) visited
By the age of 9,
Paul was considered one of the best chess players in
Paul Morphy attended
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
By the time Paul was
13 he was the best chess player in
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
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
In 1852, Paul Morphy
played a few chess games at
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
In 1884-1855, Paul
In November, 1855, after
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
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
On April 7, 1857, at
the age of 20, he received a Bachelor of Laws (L.L.B.) degree from the
In April, 1857, Paul
Morphy received an invitation from the New York Chess Club to participate in
the First American Chess Congress in
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
On September 23,
1857, age 20, Morphy left
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
On October 6, 1857,
at 11 am, the Congress started at the Descombes Rooms at 764 Broadway in
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
He defeated Charles
Henry Stanley (1819-1901), the next best player in
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.
On December 6, 1858,
Morphy visited Eugene Cook (1830-1915) in
On December 17,
1857, Morphy left
amazing victory at
After Paul returned
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
On May 31, 1858,
On June 9, 1858,
Paul Morphy left
Paul Morphy landed
Morphy arrived in
Liverpool and immediately took a train to
On June 21, 1858,
Morphy arrived in
On June 23, 1858, Morphy
visited the other
On June 27, 1858,
Morphy went to
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,
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
On August 21, 1858,
Morphy wrote back to
back to Morphy,
Morphy showed up in
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.
On August 31, 1858, Paul
Morphy and Frederick Edge were late at the railway station that would take them
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
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
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
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
In November, 1858,
In November, 1858,
Mr. James M. Mason, the American Ambassador to
planned to visit the chess clubs in
On December 15,
1858, Adolf Anderssen arrived in
When Adolf Anderssen
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
On April 6, 1859,
Morphy returned to
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
On April 26, 1859,
he played 5 masters simultaneously at the St. James Chess Club in
Morphy was invited
to a private audience with Queen
On April 30, 1859, Morphy
On April 30, 1858,
Sam Loyd re-published Morphy’s only known chess problem in the
On May 11, 1859,
Paul Morphy arrived in
On May 25, 1859, a
testimonial banquet was held at the chapel of
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
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
On May 31, 1859, another
banquet was held in Morphy's honor at the Paul Revere House in
On June 3, 1859,
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
In August, 1859,
Paul Morphy was ill and recuperated in
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
On October 30, 1859,
On November 11,
1859, Morphy gave a 4-board blindfold exhibition at the
On November 17,
1859, Morphy left
On November 24,
1859, Paul Morphy left
On December 12,
1859, Morphy arrived in
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
In 1860, Morphy may
have tried to open a law office. He had
business cards printed that said, “Paul Morphy, Attorney-at-Law, 12,
In June, 1860, he
In January, 1861,
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,
In April, 1862,
Morphy was in
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
On October 31, 1862,
Morphy and Maurian sailed for
In January, 1863,
George Palmer Putman (1814-1872) met Morphy in
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
On February 16,
1864, he arrived in
On late February,
1864, he sailed for
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
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
In September, 1868,
Morphy arrived in
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
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
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
In July 1882, Paul
Morphy was asked if it was okay to include him in a book, Louisiana Biographies, about famous
In January 1883,
William Steinitz (1836-1900) was able to interview Paul Morphy in
Paul Morphy was fond
of grand opera and seldom missed a performance at the French Opera House on
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
funeral was on July 11, 1884 and held at Saint Louis Cathedral, the oldest
The Morphys' are
buried in an above-ground tomb at Saint Louis Cemetery Number One, in
The Morphy tomb reads:
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
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
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
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://batgirl.atspace.com/
Hooper and Whyld, The
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
www.chessgames.com Paul Morphy