Blind Simul

Blind Simul

| 20 | Chess Players

Paul Morphy 1870



     Morphy in his time was known for, among other things, his blindfold play, a skill he developed purposefully and gradually.  Almost all chess players know of his famous blindfold simuls, particularly the 8-boards in Paris in 1858 and some know about his 8-board simul at Queen's College in Birmingham also in 1858 or his 8-board simuls at the London Chess Club and the St. George's Chess Club the following year, or even his 4-board simul at Philidelphia's Academy of Music for the benefit of the Mt. Vernon Fund or his 3-board blindfold exhibition in Cuba in 1864 during his return trip from Paris.

     Here we are more concerned with Morphy's early interest in playing sans voir.

     The first mention of Morphy playing blindfold when he beat his Uncle Ernest on his (Paul) 12th birthday, June 22, 1849, but not again until he played against Fr. Beaudequin at Spring Hill College in 1853. 
    On Oct. 10, 1857 during the American Chess Congress he played blindfolded against Louis Paulsen, as one of four players (the other three were sighted), who was giving a 4 board blindfold exhibition.  Morphy handed Paulsen his only defeat.   Paulsen later played against 5 boards in NYC, while on Oct. 20th, Morphy and Paulsen played two games against each other blindfolded in the High Bridge section of NYC with Morphy winning one and the other game abandonned.  On November 19th Morphy beat Lichtenhein sans voir.
     After the 1857 Congress, Morphy returned to New Orleans where, inspired by Paulsen, he developed his multiple blindfold game ability by playing two boards, then 3 boards in January.

          New Orleans, January 25, 1858
          Daniel W. Fiske, Esq.

          My Dear Daniel,
          From the moment of my arrival up to the present hour I have had,
          as you may well imagine, but little leisure at my disposal.  Even today
          so much of my time is taken up that I can only hastily drop a line or two. 
          The New Orleans Chess Club is more flourishing than ever.  It numbers
          while I write more than thirty members, and ere another month will
          have passed away, the number will have swollen to fifty or sixty. 
          The club now meets at the rooms of the Mercantile Library Association,
          corner of Exchange Alley and Canal Street – the very heart of New
          Orleans.  I one night played two and on another occasion three
          blindfold games simultaneously, all of which I won.  The two rooms
          were literally crowded, and the spectators much pleased and interested.
          . . .

                                                                Your best friend,
                                                                Paul Morphy

      In February and in March he played 4, 5, 6 and finally 7 boards on March 31st winning almost all of the games. It was announced that he would play 8 boards on May 2 but that seemed not to to have come to fruition.

     While it's true that, according to Edge,  Morphy once claimed, concerning blindfold chess, "It proves nothing,"  that doesn't seem to be his real conviction.  In a letter to Willard Fiske dated May 30, 1858, Morphy wrote:


              "I have seen no blindfold game of Paulsen's that justifies the
             somewhat ridiculous praises that are bestowed upon him, and
             while I admit that he may be able to play more games at one time
             that I can, I claim that an impartial comparison between the
             specimens of blindfold play we have both given to the public will
             lend every true chess man to the conclusion that Paulsen is not
             the American blindfold player."
...with his emphasis, as indicated by the underscores in his actual letter, revealing a certain jealousy of the attention Paulsen had been getting in that area.

     The following game came from his 4 board exhibition in New Orleans on March 10, 1858.

             "Of four games played on the 10th of March in three hours, he won
             three and drew the fourth; in other cases he conquered all his four
             opponents, which were chosen from among the strongest players of
             the club" -Max Lange


             "From New Orleans we learn that Mr. Morphy, upon his return home,
             met with an enthusiastic reception from the players of the Crescent
             City. He lately played, without seeing the boards, at one time two,
             and at another three games at once, against strong players of the
             New Orleans club. The rooms were literally crowded on both
             occasions with interested spectators. Mr. Morphy won all the games,
             and arrangements were in progress for another exhibition of the
             same kind in which he was to play four blindfold games at once.
             The New Orleans club had removed to larger and more convenient
             quarters and was rapidly increasing in numbers."
             - "Chess Monthly,"  March, 1858

             "On the evening of Wednesday, March 10th, Mr. Morphy delighted
             a large audience of New Orleans amateurs by playing four games
             simultaneously without seing the boards. Since this occasion he
             played at one time five and another six blindfold games simultaneously.
             In the first case he won four and drew one game, and, in the second
             instance, he came off conqueror over all his antagonists, who were
             selected from among the best players of the city. These festivals of
             Chess have drawn, on each occasion, throngs of spectators."
             - "Chess Monthly," April 1858


From here Morphy announce Mate in five moves:

This game was from the 3 board exhibition in January:



From here Morphy announced mate in 4 moves:

From a 6 board blindfold simul in March, 1858:

After which, Morphy had mate in 5:

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