Thursday, August 20, 2020

Some Facts About Paul Morphy - Maybe the Best USA Player of All Time

Paul Morphy was born June 22, 1837 and died July 10, 1884 at the age of 47. Here are some facts.

  • Paul became the best player in the world at the age of 21, when the current world champion Howard Staunton, avoided playing a match with Paul at all costs.
  • Paul learned to play chess simply by watching games between his father and uncle. He never had a lesson from any person to anyone's knowledge. At at nine, he was already considered New Orleans best player.
  • At age 12, Paul played a match against visiting Hungarian GM Johann Lowenthal and won 3 games and drawing one.
  • Paul relied on his remarkable memory and natural intuition to play chess. He never studied, practiced or trained for chess.
  • Began playing chess competitively only because he was too young to start his law practice after graduating from law school at the age of 19.
  • Gave a blindfold chess against 8 master players in an 1858 exhibition in Paris that rocked the chess world by winning every game.
  • Paul's chess career in total lasted only 18 months. Lack of the ability to get a championship match soured Paul's desire to continue playing. 
  • Paul never truly got his law business going. He was nicknamed "The pride and sorrow of chess" because even though he may have been the greatest natural chess player ever born, he left chess without being champion and struggled to be a lawyer as mental illness crept in.
  • An interviewer asked Bobby Fischer who was the 2nd best US player of all time. Even Bobby said, he didn't really think he was the best. Bobby credited Paul Morphy as being possibly greater than him, since there were no chess books, teachers, clubs or tournaments to play in during Paul's lifetime. Bobby said, "I played over all of Paul's games and he may have been the most accurate player that ever lived."
Here is the chess engine's analysis of the best players. Paul finished 16th - without ever studying, getting a lesson or reading a chess book. Amazing!

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