Top Chess Players in History: #1 Paul Morphy
This is the start of a series of blog posts that I will be writing profiling the top chess players in history. This list of the top players will include all the World Champions, their 3 main rivals of that era who were not World Champions, the current top 25 players in the world, the current top 15 women players in the world and the current top 10 junior players in the world. This list is not in order of who is best. The order is going to attempt to be chronological, with the first players profiled being some of the oldest players from history. In each profile I will give basic information about the player such as their date of birth, date of death, peak rating (if before the days of FIDE rating, then according to ChessMetrics.com), peak rating date, highest world ranking and any social media information for the player that is available. Hopefully everyone will enjoy this series and learn a bit about many different players. So without further ado, the first player is Paul Morphy!
(June 22, 1837 - July 10, 1884)
Highest World Ranking: #1
Paul Morphy was the first “unofficial” World Chess Champion. He produced some of the most beautiful, instructive games in chess history! Few have dominated their peers like Morphy. Though he was a terrific player who outclassed all opponents of his era, the rise and disappearance of Morphy can be compared to that of Bobby Fischer in that they both “quit” playing chess at the peak of their careers. At the young age of 22, Morphy made the startling decision to retire from chess to pursue a career in law. What may have come of Morphy’s unmatched talent, the world will never know...
Paul Morphy was undoubtedly the best chess master in his time. In 1857, at the age of 20, he won a large tournament in the United States and followed that up with traveling to Europe. He attempted to play the European Champion, Howard Staunton in a match, but this never ended up working out. Instead, Morphy played every other strong player on the continent and usually ended up winning easily. He quit chess in 1859 because he had defeated all serious competition up to that point and had no one left to test him. He has less than 60 recorded “serious” games which shows the brevity of his playing career. The games that he did play were often extravagant and beautiful, outplaying and outclassing his opponents in every stage of the game. Morphy passed away on July 10, 1884.