Morphy Quotes

Quotes About Morphy


Adolf Anderssen
I consider Mr. Morphy the finest chess player who ever existed. He is far superior to any now living, and would doubtless have beaten Labourdonnais himself. In all his games with me, he has not only played, in every instance, the exact move, but the most exact. He never makes a mistake; but, if his adversary commits the slightest error, he is lost.

Richard Réti
Morphy was the first positional player who, unlike his Romantic rivals, understood the strategic basis for attack. He wrote nothing more than a few game notes and played fewer than seventy-five serious games. But his exploitation of open lines prepared the way for Steinitz's scientific treatment of closed positions and the era of modern chess.


Andrew Soltis (from Golombek's "Encyclopedia of Chess," New York, 1977)
Genius is a starry word; but if there ever was a chess player to whom that attribute applied, it was Paul Morphy.


J. A. Galbreath ("American Chess Bulletin," October, 1909)
"It has been truly said that Morphy was at once the Caesar and the Napoleon of chess. He revolutionized chess. He brought life and dash and beauty into the game at a time when an age of dullness was about to set in and he did this at a stroke. Then he quit forever. Only two years from the beginning to the end. The negotiations for some modern matches have taken that long!"


Edward Lasker (in "The Adventure of Chess," 2nd Edition, New York, 1959)
After the passage of a century, Morphy still remains the most glamorous figure that has ever appeared in the chess world.


Fred Reinfeld (in "Great Moments in Chess History," Brancliff Manor, New York 1963)
Paul Morphy was a great chessplayer, a genius... Morphy, I think everyone agrees, was probably the greatest genius of them all...


Emanuel Lasker
In Paul Morphy the spirit of La Bourdonnais had arisen anew, only more vigorous, firmer, prouder... Morphy discovered that the brilliant move of the master is essentially conditional not on a sudden and inexplicable realisation, but on the placing of the pieces on the board. He introduced the rule: brilliant moves and deep winning manoeuvres are possible only in those positions where the opponent can be opposed with an abundance of active energy... From the very first moves Morphy aimed to disclose the internal energy located in his pieces. It was suddenly revealed that they possess far greater dynamism than the opponent's forces.


Jose Raul Capablanca
Reviewing the history of chess from La Bourdonnais to the masters of our day right up to Lasker, we discover that the greatest stylist was Morphy. He did not look for complicated combinations, but he also did not avoid them, which really is the correct way of playing... His main strength lay not in his combinative gift, but in his positional play and general style. Morphy gained most of his wins by playing directly and simply, and it is this simple and logical method that constitutes the true brilliance of his play, if it is considered from the viewpoint of the great masters.
The style of Morphy, they say, and if it is true that the goddess of fortune has endowed me with his talent, the result [of the match with Emanuel Lasker] will not be in doubt. The magnificent American master had the most extraordinary brain that anybody has ever had for chess. Technique, strategy, tactics, knowledge which is inconceivable for us; all that was possessed by Morphy fifty-four years ago.


Alexander Alekhine
How much more vivid, more rich does the figure of Morphy appear before us, how much clearer does the secret of his success and charm become, if we transfer ourselves in our thoughts to that era when he lived and created, if we take the trouble to study, only a little, his contemporaries! London and in particular in Paris, where the traditions of Philidor were still alive, where the immortal creations of La Bourdonnais and McDonnell were still in the memory, at that time, finally, when Anderssen was alive, and with brilliance alone it was hardly possibly to suprise anyone. The strength, the invincible strength of Morphy- this was the reason for his success and the guarantee of his immortality!


Mikhail Botvinnik
To this day Morphy is an unsurpassed master of the open games. Just how great was his significance is evidant from the fact that after Morphy nothing substantially new has been created in this field. Every player- from beginner to master- should in this praxis return again and again to the games of the American genius.


Bobby Fischer
A popularly held theory about Paul Morphy is that if he returned to the chess world today and played our best contemporary players, he would come out the loser. Nothing is further from the truth. In a set match, Morphy would beat anybody alive today... Morphy was perhaps the most accurate chess player who ever lived. He had complete sight of the board and never blundered, in spite of the fact that he played quite rapidly, rarely taking more than five minutes to decide a move. Perhaps his only weakness was in closed games like the Dutch Defense. But even then, he was usually victorious because of his resourcefulness.


Vassily Smyslov
There is no doubt that for Morphy chess was an art, and for chess Morphy was a great artist. His play was captivated by freshness of thought and inexhaustible energy. He played with inspiration, without striving to penetrate into the psychology of the opponent; he played, if one can express it so, "pure chess". His harmonious positional understanding the pure intuition would have made Morphy a highly dangerous opponent even for any player of our times.


Max Euwe
If the distinguishing feature of a genius is that he is far ahead compared with his epoch, then Morphy was a chess genius in the complete sense of the word.


Garry Kasparov
Morphy can be regarded as the forefather of modern chess.
What was the secret of Morphy's invincibility?  I think it was a combination of a unique natural talent and brilliant erudition.  His play was the next, more mature stage in the development of chess.  Morphy had a well-developed feel for position, and therefore he can be confidently regarded as the first swallow - the prototype of the strong 20th century grandmaster.



  • 4 years ago


    Thanks for the interesting quotes, batgirl.

    On the topic of Morphy, I recently read Lawson's Paul Morphy: Pride and Sorrow of Chess, and one thing that I wasn't aware of about him and that I think puts him in a class of his own in terms of raw chess talent is the following.

    Morphy became the best player in the world without undergoing any sort of apprenticeship involving playing the world's elite and essentially getting lessons from them. Every world champion from Steinitz on participated in international tournaments with the world's best players, and played many games with the world's best before they were able to rise to the level of number one.

    Morphy, on the other hand, had never played the world's elite by the time he was number one. After he graduated college, and had not been playing much chess for about five years, he had time to kill until he was old enough to start practicing law. To kill time, he took part in the first Amercian Chess Congress, and he crushed the competition there, although the players there weren't at the world-class level of the European players. After that, he still had time to kill, so decided to go to Europe and try to play Staunton, who was regarded as the unofficial world champion. Staunton avoided the match, and Morphy played all other top players he could get, and he crushed all competitors and established himself as the best player in the world. You can see how much in awe the Europeans were of his play in some of batgirl's quotes above.

    Morphy did all this without the apprenticeship in world-class tournaments that Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov and every other top-level player since Morphy took advantage of. It's an open question whether Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov and others could have become number one without playing the best, but I tend to think not, as it is generally thought that one has to play stronger players to keep improving.

    I realize that chess was not as sophisticated in Morphy's time, and he had a much lower bar to overcome to become better than the rest of the world, but I still think it's a remarkable achievement to become better than the world's elite without ever having played the world's elite and improving one's game against them.

  • 4 years ago


    great! more on quotes.. !! 

  • 4 years ago


    Magic spirit of our Game-Paul Morphy-i agree with Capa-he was MASTER of STYLE !

  • 4 years ago


    Morphy said "Help yourself to your pawns" ~ or something like that

  • 4 years ago


    Thanks Batgirl. Always delivering gems

  • 4 years ago


    i loved it!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 4 years ago


    Interesting comments on Paul Morphy, great blog!

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