The Wizardry of Paul Morphy
Do you think that Paul Morphy would've still been considered a good chess player if he was alive today?

The Wizardry of Paul Morphy

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Paul Morphy is effortlessly one of the most aggressive and attacking chess players in history. If you look through his games, masses end within the first 20 moves in his favor! He ruthlessly destroys his opponents and finds new combinations every single move. Some could even argue that Paul Morphy was the reason that chess rose to its heights back in the 18th century. In this blog, we'll be taking a look at Morphy's success, some of his best games, and what would happen in the chess world if he was still alive today!

The Dawn of Greatness

Born in 1837, Paul Charles Morphy (better known as Paul Morphy) didn't have lots of resources to learn how to play chess. Thankfully for him, he was a prodigy, and learned how to play the game simply by watching. Growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana, he became the first great American chess player, and was widely regarded as the unofficial world champion. 

Unfortunately, Morphy stopped playing serious chess in 1860, and died in 1884, but even after his momentary time spent in the chess world, he was clearly remembered for the great chess that he played and the lasting impression that he made. 

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His first large advance was in the 1857 American Chess Congress, where he won 9 out of the 10 games with a draw in the first 3 matches. With this outstanding result, Morphy easily cruised into the finals, where he played GM Louis Paulsen. Morphy didn't disappoint, and although Paulsen won a game, Morphy ended up winning 5 games and drawing 2. Probably his most exciting game came out of the four knights opening, where he played as black and sacrificed his queen to win the game.

At the time, even though Morphy was only 20 years old, he was already considered one of the world's best chess players. The only player who was comparable to his strength was Adolf Anderssen, and people soon began to compare the two, as they were without a doubt the best chess players in the world. Out of the 11 matches that they played against each other, Morphy won 7 times, drew twice, and only lost 2 times. Incredibly, 3 of the games that were played lasted 25 moves or less, all in Morphy's favor. Here is one of those games, which lasted 24 moves.

Shortly after this match, Morphy stopped playing chess competitively, and simply enjoyed the game as it was. Even still, overcoming his incredible level of strength was really difficult and wasn't accomplished long-term. If you want more info on his youth and chess career, you can read's very detailed biography, and I'm sure that you'll learn something new.

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Paul Morphy's Best Games

Since Morphy played good, attacking chess pretty much all the time, he obviously had tons of great games. But what were his best? Well, for starters, off course we can't forget The Opera Game. A game played between Paul Morphy and Duke Karl, where Morphy ended up crushing in just 17 moves and proved how important piece development and castling is. 

I'm sure that most of you have probably heard or seen this magnificent game, simply because it is widely regarded as his best. In fact, The Opera Game is also considered an immortal game, which is basically one of the best games ever played in chess history.

Now, obviously The Opera Game is on this list, but what about other games? Another incredible game that he played occurred in 1859, where he played J. Budzinski, who at the time was a very strong player. As most of his games ended, Morphy easily won within 24 moves, and once again proved to be a great attacking player.

With this game, Morphy also proved that you can never be safe from his attacks. As mentioned in the annotations, black seemed totally fine at the beginning of the game, but Morphy found a long-term combination which helped him win the game. Another insane game that he played I included earlier in this blog, against Louis Paulsen, but really, all of the games that he played were each great in their own way.

Off course, I can't include all of Morphy's good games, because I would just be sitting here for days, which is why I only included the best of the best. With Morphy's skill, good games, attacking spirit, and tactical combinations, surely, he was a very good player. But what if he was still alive today? Would chess change as we know it? Would Morphy still be just as good compared to modern day GM's?

What if Paul Morphy was still alive today?

During Morphy's regular play as a professional, his international rating ranged from high 2500s to low 2700s. This is significantly low modern day, considering that lots of GMs have a peak-rating of high 2700, or even low 2800. Obviously, if Morphy played chess today, he would have lots of trouble playing against the Top 20 or so, but below that, he could have a fighting chance. Now, I'm not saying that Morphy couldn't have beaten someone like, Aronian, I'm just saying that it is unlikely. 

Personally, I feel like Morphy wouldn't be able to do very well in our generation of chess, simply because it has changed a LOT, and so did the skill-level. However, with his short and crushing games, he would probably still be an inspiration to everyone despite his necessarily low ranking.

Thanks for reading, I hope that you learned something new. If you enjoyed reading this, please consider checking out some of my other blogs. I'm really trying to become Top Blogger, so any support would be appreciated! Thanks again, have fun and stay safe. Adios.