Paul Charles Morphy (June 22, 1837 – July 10, 1884) was an American chess player. He is considered to have been the greatest chess master of his era and the unofficial World Chess Champion 1858-1862. He was called “The Pride and Sorrow of Chess”.
A brilliant young man born into wealth, and at a very young age, he began to observe his father play chess against his uncle. They were not aware of young Morphy’s talent to watch and learn. Paul Morphy was a brilliant young man that by watching game after game he understood over a period of time and learned chess strategies and tactics.
Paul Morphy began to show signs of greatness early around twelve or thirteen years of age. He played and defeated Hungarian master Johann Lowenthal, in a match of three games, who at that time was considered to be a chess professional. At the urging of Paul’s uncle, he took on the First American Chess Congress in New York City. This was a moment truth where Paul Morphy’s fame would increase and begin a new era in his life. All of New York chess players would be watching and many would travel to compete in this event from around the world. Paul Morphy managed to defeat Alexander Beaufort Meek, and Louis Paulsen who was a German chess player and he was ranked among the top five players in the world. Paul Morphy won the tournament and was crowned champion of the United States 1857.
In the chess community, many began to hear about Paul Morphy. From New Orleans, Louisiana reaching New York inside the chess community in the United States and in Europe. He achieved great fame accepting challenges across the continent. In Europe Howard Staunton who was the world’s strongest player at the time (1843 to 1851) did not play against Paul Morphy. In Birmingham England the British Chess Associations, the president, Lord Middleton invited Paul Morphy to play. Results were six wins, one lost and one tied. In France, he played eight board exhibitions blindfolded winning six, no losses, and two draws. Many were proclaimed Paul Morphy throughout Europe to be the world’s best player. He was considered the unofficial World Champion of the day from 1858-1862. Paul Morphy’s games continue to be an influence today. At the young age of 47, in the year 1884, Paul Morphy died of a stroke.