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Paul Morphy And The greatest Chess Game.


Paul Morphy And The greatest Chess Game –  Considering the popularity of “The Queen’s Gambit” Craig has helpfully provided us with a chess themed article with an Irish connection

Paul Morphy is widely considered to be one of the greatest chess players of all time. Born in America in 1837, Morphy had Irish ancestry; his family may have had some connection with the “wild geese”; the Irish who left their occupied country to join armies in France and Spain. The name Morphy obviously stems from Murphy, and like his seafaring ancestors he himself traveled to Europe, dominating the sport of chess.

In 1858, one of the most famous games in history took place between a then 21 year old Paul Morphy and Karl II, duke of Bronswick, who was aided in the game by French aristocrat Count Isouard.

Brunswick, knowing Morphy loved music, had invited him to the opera with the aim of challenging the young prodigy to a game of chess. The resulting match is famous not just for its beauty, but also the setting in which it was played. Morphy had to play in a private booth against his two opponents, who were strong amateur players, all the while trying to peer over his shoulder to see the opera.

His two opponents caused quite a stir as they feverishly debated what moves to play against Morphy, arousing the attention of the actors. The young master played with the white pieces, and early on created an opportunity to do a lot of damage with his Queen. Instead of crudely going towards the back line however, Morphy continued to set up his material in his typical fashion of being an artist rather than a butcher when it came to the game.

To further confuse him, the count and duke were speaking in three different languages as Morphy tried desperately to catch what was happening in Norma, the italian opera he had come to see. After sacrificing his Queen, even amid the confusion, Murphy confidently achieved check-mate on move 17 with only a rook and a bishop, in what is one of the most famous ending positions recorded. Chess players to this day use the game as an example of the value of sacrifices and good development.

Although he had much success, in later life Morphy suffered from mental problems and deteriorated into a state of paranoia, believing his brother in law was trying to ruin him. He was however able to avoid being committed to a Catholic sanitarium by effectively arguing for his rights. By then he had abandoned the game, which was seen at that time as comparative to gambling, and it wasn’t until later the idea of the professional chess player emerged.

Even still, Bobby Fisher ranked Morphy as one of the greatest players ever. He is known as “the pride and sorrow of chess” because even though he defeated all of the strong players of his time, he retired from the game while still very young.

His famous opera game was featured recently in the TV series “The Queen’s Gambit”, which has brought renewed popularity to the game.

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