Ernest Morphy's Problem


This little story came from the May 4, 1913 edition (p.44) of the San Francisco Call.

During the hey-day of the automatic chess table at the local Graney billiard parlor - and that is to be understood a being soon after their installation, before the clever inventor had perfected them,  when they would often remain open for a couple hours after depositing the initial 5 cent piece - there drifted into the chess section one afternoon an ancient devotee of Caissa who evidently had been for many years an intimate of John Barleycorn.  He was a stranger to the regulars - one of those ships, or rather hulks, that pass in the night. 
The old boy soon had the habitues gathered around, while he reeled off personal reminiscences of the great ones of the chess world of a previous generation.  One of his tales was as follows  We reproduce it as nearly as possible in his words:
"I was born in New Orleans, and when but a kid, I was taken by my father (who was very fond of chess and who had taught me the moves to watch the famous Colonel Beaupree and Ernest Morphy, grandfather of the great Paul Morphy, play a match for the championship of New Orleans.  Morphy, Sr. was playing white and his afterward celebrated grandson watched the play intently. 
Beaupree secured a passed king's rook pawn and eventually won.  After the game the usual postmortem took place.  All praised the Colonel's skill and agreed that he had the upper hand throughout. But young Paul, quickly arranging the pieces, spoke up:
'Grandpa, in this position you could have mated in 10 moves!'
The old boy, while talking, had set up the following position:


All were reatly impressed by the stranger's narrative, and, of course, he was duly rewarded by a trip to the wet goods counter, where he took his straight without a chaser.  Then he passed on.

Well to conclude the suspicions of some were confirmed. At first glance the problem above looks plausible, but on closer examination it was found to be most artfully designed.  Inquiry as to the reality of a "Colonel Beapree" showed him to be a myth, and,  of course, no match with Ernest Morphy ever took place.  Now the question remains where did the ancient unknown get the above position.

Perhaps some of the readers can indentify it.  Here is the solution:
1.  B-K6ch     K-Kt2(a)
2.  Q-R6ch    KxQ
3.   B-B8ch   K-Kt4
4.  P-B4ch    KxP
5.  B-R6ch    KxKt
6.  Kt-Q2ch   K-R7
7.  B-B4ch    K-R8
8.  Kt-Kt3ch  K-R7
9.  Kt-Q4ch   K-R8
10. Kt-B2mate
(a) The visitor explained that K-Q instead would equally result in mate. He didn't say whether "Paul" saw it or not!  Our friends can work out that variation themselves.




note: Ernest Morphy was Paul's paternal uncle, not his grandfather, but Ernest was known as the Chess King of New Orleans, before Paul, that is.

The problem is interesting. . . and cooked.  1. . .Kb8 loses in 10 different moves, but 1. . .Kd8 loses in 18.

"The Graney" billiard parlor was a very famous establishment on Market street in San Franciso during the first quarter of the 20th century.