Paul Morphy - Chess History Part 1 (World Champion?)
Paul Charles Morphy (June 22, 1837 - July 10, 1884), "The Pride and Sorrow of Chess," was an American chess player. He is considered to have been the greatest chess master of his era and an unofficial World Chess Champion. He was also one of the first chess prodigies in the modern rules of chess era.
Morphy was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a wealthy and distinguished family. His father, Alonzo Michael Morphy, a lawyer, served as a Louisiana state legislator, attorney general, and Supreme Court Justice. Alonzo was of Portuguese, Irish, and Spanish ancestry. Morphy's mother, Louise Thérèse Félicité Thelcide Le Carpentier, was the musically-talented daughter of a prominent French Creole family. Morphy grew up in an atmosphere of genteel civility and culture where chess and music were the typical highlights of a Sunday home gathering.
According to his uncle, Ernest Morphy, no one formally taught Morphy how to play chess; rather, Morphy learned on his own as a young child simply from watching others play. After watching a lengthy game between Ernest and Alonzo, young Paul surprised them by stating that Ernest should have won. Father and uncle had not realized that Paul even knew the moves, let alone any chess strategy. They were even more surprised when Paul proved his claim by resetting the pieces and demonstrating the win his uncle had misse
After that incident Morphy's family recognized him as a precocious talent and encouraged him to play at family gatherings and local chess milieus. By the age of nine, he was considered one of the best players in New Orleans. In 1846, General Winfield Scott visited the city, and let his hosts know that he desired an evening of chess with a strong local player. Chess was an infrequent pastime of Scott's, but he enjoyed the game and considered himself a formidable player. After dinner, the chess pieces were set up and Scott's opponent was brought in: diminutive, nine-year-old Morphy. Scott was at first offended, thinking he was being made fun of, but he consented to play after being assured that his wishes had been scrupulously obeyed and that the boy was a "chess prodigy" who would tax his skill. Morphy beat him easily not once, but twice, the second time announcing a forced checkmate after only six moves. As two losses against a small boy was all General Scott's ego could stand, he declined further games and retired for the night, never to play Morphy again.
In 1850, when Morphy was twelve, the strong professional Hungarian chess master Johann Löwenthal visited New Orleans. Löwenthal, who had often played and defeated talented youngsters, considered the informal match a waste of time but accepted the offer as a courtesy to the well-to-do judge. When Löwenthal met Morphy, he patted him on the head in a patronizing manner.
By about the twelfth move in the first game, Löwenthal realized he was up against something formidable. Each time Morphy made a good move, Löwenthal's eyebrows shot up in a manner described by Ernest Morphy as "comique". Löwenthal played three games with Morphy during his New Orleans stay, losing all three.