Paul Morphy

US chess player

Paul Charles Morphy (June 22, 1837July 10, 1884) was an American chess player. Considered to have been the greatest chess grandmaster of his time, he is today widely recognized as one of the finest chess players to have ever lived. Morphy was also chess publisher and an attorney.

Paul Morphy


  • I am more strongly confirmed than ever in the belief that the time devoted to chess is literally frittered away. It is, to be sure, a most exhilarating sport, but it is only a sport; and it is not to be wondered at that such as have been passionately addicted to the charming pastime should one day ask themselves whether sober reason does not advise its utter dereliction.

Testimonials to Paul Morphy: Presented at University Hall (1859)

Testimonials to Paul Morphy: Presented at University Hall, New York (May 25, 1859)
  • Chess never has been and never can be aught but a recreation. It should not be indulged in to the detriment of other and more serious avocations.
  • It [chess] is not only the most delightful and scientific, but the most moral of amusements.
  • It [chess] is eminently and emphatically the philosopher's game.
  • Let the chessboard supercede the card table, and a great improvement will be visible in the morals of the community.

About Paul Morphy

  • Anderssen voiced it well when asked why he did not play as brilliantly as usual in his game with Morphy, when he replied: "Morphy will not let me."
  • Paul Morphy was the greatest chess player that ever lived. Every student of the game, who has delved into the stories of the past, realizes that no one ever was so far superior to the players of his time, or ever defeated his opponents with such ease, and no one ever offered knight odds to the men who considered themselves his equal.
    • As quoted in Lasker's Chess Magazine
  • "Morphy's principal strength does not rest upon his power of combination but in his position play and his general style....Beginning with la Bourdonnais to the present, and including Lasker, we find that the greatest stylist has been Morphy. Whence the reason, although it might not be the only one, why he is generally considered the greatest of all."
  • "...Morphy, the master of all phases of the game, stronger than any of his opponents, even the strongest of them..." ~ Alexander Alekhine, in Shakmatny Vestnik, January 15, 1914
  • "We also remember the brilliant flight of the American super-genius Paul Morphy, who in a couple of years (1857-59) conquered both the New and the Old Worlds. He revealed a thunderous blend of pragmatism, aggression and accurate calculation to the world -- qualities that enabled America to accomplish a powerful spurt in the second half of the 19th century."
  • "What was the secret of Morphy's invincibility? I think it was a combination of a unique natural talent and brilliant erudition. His play was the next, more mature stage in the development of chess. Morphy had a well-developed 'feeling for position', and therefore he can be confidently regarded as the 'first swallow' - the prototype of the strong 20th century grandmaster."
  • "After the passage of a century, Morphy still remains the most glamorous figure that has ever appeared in the chess world."
    • Edward Lasker (in The Adventure of Chess, 2nd Edition, New York, 1959)
  • "Genius is a starry word; but if there ever was a chess player to whom that attribute applied, it was Paul Morphy."
    • Andrew Soltis (in Golombek's Encyclopedia of Chess, New York, 1977)
  • "It has been truly said that Morphy was at once the Caesar and the Napoleon of chess. He revolutionized chess. He brought life and dash and beauty into the game at a time when an age of dullness was about to set in and he did this at a stroke. Then he quit forever. Only two years from the beginning to the end. The negotiations for some modern matches have taken that long!"
    • J. A. Galbreath (American Chess Bulletin, October, 1909)
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