Person of day - 22 JUNE 2020
Paul Morphy was born and raised in New Orleans. There were many chess players in his family- his father, his uncle and his grandfather all played. Paul learned to play when he was 10 and three years later, he defeated master J. Lowenthal, who was touring the USA. In 1857, Morphy won the first American Chess Congress in New York and a year later, he went on a tour of Europe- the homeland of all the world’s strongest chess players, including the unofficial world champion Howard Staunton.
In 1858, Morphy challenged Staunton to a match and departed for England. Staunton formally accepted the challenge, but went on to avoid the showdown with various excuses. Morphy only managed to play two consultative matches with Staunton and J. Owen alongside T. Barnes, and he won both of them. Murphy also convincingly defeated other English masters: Barnes (+19, -7, =1), S. Boden (+5, -1, =3), G. Bird (+10, -1, =1), E. Levi (+6, -0, =0), J. Medley (+3, -0, =0), Owen (+4, -1, =0) and Lowenthal (=9, -3, =2)
After this, Paul Morphy travelled to Paris, where he beat D. Harrwitz (+5, -2, =0) and played several matches against leading masters. One of these, P. Saint-Amant, claimed that Morphy could give any opponent the odds- the f7-pawn. In December 1858 in Paris, Morphy defeated Adolf Anderssen from Germany (+7, -2, =2) and was recognised as the undisputed world champion.
After a triumphant return to the USA, Morphy announced that he was ready to offer a pawn and a move to any opponent and he quit from performing. In the future, he would decline invitations, limiting himself to occasional matches where he would give his opponent the odds. From the mid-1860s to the end of his life, Morphy suffered with deep spiritual anguish.
Paul Morphy was ahead of many of his contemporaries in his understanding of chess. As Alexander Alekhine wrote, Morphy’s strength laid in his well-considered positional and aggressive style.
“Morphy remains an undefeated master of open games. We can see his enormous significance from the fact that there have been no major developments in this field after Morphy. Every chess player, whether an amateur or a master, must return to the art of the American genius.”(M. Botvinnik)
Paul Charles Morphy died on 10thJuly 1884 in New Orleans.