Paul Morphy - Chess History Part 5 (Chess Abandoned / Death of a WC)

Apr 23, 2008, 6:27 AM |


Morphy abandons chess

Having vanquished virtually all serious opposition, Morphy reportedly declared that he would play no more matches without giving odds of pawn and move.[5] After returning home he declared himself retired from the game and, with a few exceptions, gave up public competition for good. Unfortunately, Morphy's embryonic law career was disrupted in 1861 by the outbreak of the American Civil War. Opposed to secession, Morphy did not serve in the Confederate Army. During the war he lived partly in New Orleans and partly abroad, spending time in Paris and Havana, Cuba.

Possibly because of his antiwar stance, Morphy was unable to successfully build a law practice even after the war ended. His attempts to open a law office failed; when he had visitors, they invariably wanted to talk about chess, not their legal affairs. Financially secure thanks to his family fortune, Morphy essentially spent the rest of his life in idleness. Asked by admirers to return to chess competition, he refused.

In accord with the prevailing sentiment of the time, Morphy esteemed chess only as an amateur activity, considering the game unworthy of pursuit as a serious occupation. Chess professionals were viewed in the same light as professional gamblers. It was not until decades later that the age of the professional chess player arrived.[6]

Tragedy and twilight

Morphy's crypt in Saint Louis Cemetery #1
Morphy's crypt in Saint Louis Cemetery

On the afternoon of July 10, 1884, Morphy was found dead in his bathtub at the age of forty-seven. According to the autopsy, Morphy had suffered a stroke brought on by entering cold water after a long walk in the midday heat. The Morphy mansion, sold by the family in 1891, is today the site of Brennan's, a famous New Orleans restaurant.


Wikisource has original text related to this article: Paul Morphy: His Later Life