A Tribute to Paul Morphy (or how one player's style can rub off on another!)

A Tribute to Paul Morphy (or how one player's style can rub off on another!)

Apr 23, 2012, 12:25 PM |

I was recently directed to, what I believe to be, a little known corner of chess.com; the “downloads” section [on the main ribbon, go to More > Downloads].  I had been in search of a free chess engine to do post-mortems on my games and found this: 


It contains:

·   Rybka 2.2n2 - a free chess engine rated around 3100 ELO

·   Delfi 4.5 - an engine which can be set to a variable ELO rating between 1250 and 1750 (or ~2300 for analysis)

·   Phalanx - a far weaker engine that can be used for practice.

This all comes nicely packaged with winboard (so you can see the analysis!) but also, and this is what roused my interest the most; a collection of PGN files of several hundred famous games/patterns/traps for you to analyse and enjoy at your leisure (and pleasure). Really, full credit goes to gardelin who collated all these things into one easy download!

So what does all this have to do with Paul Morphy and myself?

Well, as you probably know, Paul Charles Morphy (1837 – 1884) was an American chess prodigy; he played brilliant games at a young age, in a time when competitive chess was in its infancy. He eventually retired from competitive chess, having beaten all serious challengers he’d encountered, claiming that he wouldn’t play any more matches unless his opponents accepted a handicap! Sadly he died young from a stroke, aged 47. He came to be known as “The pride and sorrow of chess”.

In amongst the PGN files in gardelin’s download, I found this gem from Morphy, known as the “Opera game”, which is simply delightful; 

Now have a look at two games I recently played: 

This first game was no masterpiece, but the final position of the mating pieces reminded me of the final position in Morphy’s game above, so I decided to revisit it, whilst planning my advances in the other game against the same opponent in this two-leg tie.

I found inspiration in Morphy’s brazen style; appearing to throw caution to the wind, but always playing with a goal in mind, and managed to craft a very pleasing win. Thus, I share with you here; my tribute to Paul Morphy: 

P.s. For those interested in Morphy’s games, there is a PGN file in gardelin’s download with around 260 games ascribed to him, though a better file can be found in the downloads section of chess.com (search MyMorphy) which is more accurate, in terms of games historically ascribed to him, and has some commentary.

P.p.s. The “Opera game” above is in the directory Winboard > Games > 13 Chess Pearls in the files in gardelin’s download.