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This is the story of the birth of modern chess – when the possibilities of chess as an art, a science and a sport all converged.
The point of convergence was a young boy from Louisiana named Paul Morphy. At a time when America was seen as a backwoods nation with little cultural history and even less intellectual impetus, at a time when chess was considered the exclusive property of a few European countries, at a time when the game was played successfully by a handful of men wizened by years, Paul Morphy, in the brief span of 19 months and with seemingly little effort, defeated conclusively every player he met.
While today few non chess players even know his name, he was one of the most famous celebrities of his time and within the hallowed halls of the chess playing community he is considered by some as the greatest chess player of all time.
But this diminutive, unassuming boy rose to fame almost out of nowhere and once he secured his place in history, he retired back into that hazy unknown, shunning the public eye, never again to play serious chess. Not only was he one of great practitioners of the game, but also one of it’s greatest enigmas. He’s been given the sobriquet, The Pride and Sorrow of Chess.
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Paul Morphy vs Jabez Carr
Blindfold simul, 8b (1858) (blindfold), Birmingham ENG, Aug-27
Carr Defense: General (B00)
1. e4 Notes by J. Lowenthal 1… h6 2. d4 a5 3. Bd3 b6 4. Ne2 e6 5. O-O Ba6 This series of unusual moves was no doubt adopted with the view of embarrasing the blindfold player, in place of which it served to allow him to bring out his pieces and secure victory in a shorter space of time. 6. c4 Nf6 7. e5 Nh7 8. f4 Be7 9. Ng3 d5 10. Qg4 O-O 11. Nh5 g5 12. fg5 hg5 Black has indeed placed himself in a deplorable condition in vainly attempting to puzzle his antagonist. 13. Bh7 Nf6+ would also have led to a speedy termination. 13… Kh8 14. Nf6 dc4 15. Bc2 Qd4 16. Qd4 Bc5 17. Qc5 bc5 18. Bg5 Nc6 19. Rf3 Threatening mate in two moves. 19… Kg7 20. Bh6 Kh6 21. Rh3 Kg5 22. Rh5 Kf4 23. Kf2 Terminating the game in masterly style, and giving it an interest, from the nature of the opening, which we had not looked.
Materials used in research:
Paul Morphy: Pride and Sorrow of Chess by David Lawson
The Genius Of Paul Morphy by Chris Ward
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