Paul Morphy the greatest chess player A.K.A god of chess

CrimsonKnight7

Actually I am not trying to change your opinion Lady. As far as your projecting statement goes, whatever. However I am not saying his biographer is even wrong, but it was definitely written the way he saw it.

I also believe I know a little bit about history, family matters, and customs as well. I also know a little about our medical history.

dannyhume
It is not about whether Bobby Fischer is absolutely right or wrong on Morphy or that Fischer is the ultimate arbiter of chess greatness ... I am merely pointing out that someone who has played world champion chess at a dominant level in a more modern time sees nothing wrong with an assessment that acknowledges Morphy as the GOAT, and trying to contrast that with the patzers who outright deny the claim as completely baseless.

Second, the claims of "primitive" theory need to stop. They hold weight for an isolated single elimination game or maybe a short match. But ultimately chess is a battle of wits and logic (maybe chess-specific wits, but still). If Morphy displayed that in any era, then there is good reason to believe he may be the GOAT.

Of course, a modern grandmaster may be able to beat a fresh time-transported Morphy in an isolated or a few isolated games where the GM is working with mostly working memory and Morphy is brutely calculating, but give it a longer match (much like Fischer demanded with Karpov)... How can anyone be so sure with his savantic chess skills?

There is a fallacious tendency for people to believe that in their own "modern" time, that things are already solved to the "sixth place of decimals" and that the past is a hilarious primitive world of wacky superstition, illogic, and idiocy, then an Einstein comes and introduces relativity, and the joke is on them.

Today's chess theory is insanely primitive compared to what it will be in 50 years. But a brilliant logician, memorizer, and pattern-recognizer will always be so, and one who can show that s/he can do it better-- nay, overwhelmingly crushingly better-- than the rest has to be in the GOAT discussion.

kindaspongey

dannyhume wrote:

"... I am merely pointing out that someone who has played world champion chess at a dominant level in a more modern time sees nothing wrong with an assessment that acknowledges Morphy as the GOAT, and trying to contrast that with the patzers who outright deny the claim as completely baseless. ..."

If there is indeed a basis for the claim of "greatest of all time" for Morphy, then why is it difficult to identify GMs who have agreed with the Fischer "ultimate endorsement" in the last six decades?

dannyhume wrote:

"... If Morphy displayed [wits and logic] in any era, then there is good reason to believe he may be the GOAT. ..."

Doesn't it depend on HOW MUCH "wit and logic" was displayed? ("... if we examine Morphy's record and games critically, we cannot justify such extravaganza. ..." - GM Reuben Fine)

dannyhume wrote:

"... How can anyone be so sure with his savantic chess skills? ... an Einstein comes and introduces relativity, and the joke is on them. ..."

Until such an "Einstein" appears and is generally recognised as correct, what is the most sensible conclusion from six decades of GMs not agreeing with the Fischer "ultimate endorsement"?

dannyhume wrote:

"... one who can show that s/he can do it better-- nay, overwhelmingly crushingly better-- than the rest ..."

Better than the rest of WHOM? 1857-8 players? ("... The titanic struggles of the kind we see today [Morphy] could not produce because he lacked the opposition. ..." - GM Reuben Fine)

dannyhume
First, one would have to evaluate the methods of what is considered "critical" ... Is Reuben being critical or is that an opinion ... Is Bobby Fischer critical? What makes one's assessment more accurate? This is really a lot of opinion. Again, I heard a master discussing with experts and higher level club players that based on a review of thousands of games from that time, that neither Tarrasch nor Steinitz could beat Morphy in an extended match, but that Lasker was the first player that might be able to (nearly 40 years after Morphy's time!!), but that assessment was marred by the fact that Morphy was so dominant that the assumption that he was playing every or even most of his games at full-strength is uncertain.

Second, Reuben says that we don't see the titanic struggles in Morphy's games ... Is that a knock on Morphy or an endorsement? Morphy so easily dispatched everyone that there weren't titanic struggles... Perspective is important. People today say we will never have a champ dominate like Fischer did, like Capablanca did, like Morphy did... Again the fallacy of assuming one's own generation is near the pinnacle.

Finally, one member already posted a quote (from Botvinnik?) that there has been substantially no progress in open games (the flavor in mid-19th century) since Morphy. Wow. Steinitz came up with his principles in this era of transition. If you can see and play as Morphy could, it wouldn't be difficult to pick up on those principles.

Ultimately, it is opinion, I get it, but the only fact is really Morphy's single-handed overwhelming dominance.
kindaspongey

H_Staunton wrote:

"Cyrus Lakdawals in his book Fischer: Move By Move he list the results of an e-mail discussion by a number of GMs and IMs They ranked all the greats in a number of different categories."

Here is some of what was actually written: "Fischer, the Greatest of them all? ... I don't really know what 'greatest' means, since there are so many categories. A few months ago, a group email discussion raged ... We agreed on the following categories (although I added a few) which constitute 'greatness': Creativity: Here, the greaatest may be Anderssen, Reti, ... Irrational positions: ... My candidates: Andersson, Lasker, ... Attacking ability: My candidates for greatest in this category would be Anderssen, Morphy, ..." At that point, Lakdawala continued with more categories and lists of names. I see NOTHING to indicate that Lakdawala was identifying a ranking of the greats resulting from the discussion. The next "category" was "Defence and counterattacking ability", and, after that, there was "Strategic understanding and planning".

H_Staunton wrote:

"... it was Morphy, Staunton, and Tarrasch. Carlson finished last, and Karpov was 3rd to last. ..."

The complete list was: "Morphy, Staunton, Tarrasch, Steinitz, Capablanca, Euwe, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Petrosian, Fischer, Karpov, Kramnik, Carlsen." Which seems more likely? (1) Without saying so, Lakdawala was providing a ranking from the discussion; or (2) Lakdawala was continuing to identify his own candidates in approximate chronological order?

H_Staunton wrote:

"... So according to these GMs and IMs Paul Morphy was either the best or second best in 5 of the 11 categories they looked at. ..."

I counted 13 categories, and I see nothing to indicate that Morphy's position in any of those categories was the result of a ranking from the discussion.

BlunderLots
kindaspongey wrote:

what is the most sensible conclusion from six (or more) decades of GMs not agreeing with the Fischer "ultimate endorsement"?

You'll be hard pressed to find many (or some would argue any) GMs who understand chess as well as Fischer did, who topped out at 2785, pre-inflation.

Of course, Fischer claimed that Morphy could beat any player alive. But was he right?

We can narrow our search to other World Champions talking about Morphy, to see what they thought of him.

Like WC Kasparov (peak rating of 2851), who described Morphy using the words "invincibility", "natural", and "brilliant".

Also WC Anand (peak rating of 2817), who said of Morphy: "... he was so dominant . . . the kind of chess he played was unbelievable."

WC Capablanca said of Morphy: "The magnificent American master had the most extraordinary brain that anybody has ever had for chess."

WC Alekhine? "The strength, the invincible strength of Morphy . . . !"

WC Smyslov (peak rating 2620, pre-inflation)? "His harmonious positional understanding and pure intuition would have made Morphy a highly dangerous opponent even for any player of our times."

It's debatable, of course. But these World Champion players all seemed to think of Morphy as a formidable, powerful player.

And I'm betting they all know/knew a thing or two about chess. :P

kindaspongey

dannyhume wrote:

"... Is Reuben being critical or is that an opinion ... Is Bobby Fischer critical? What makes one's assessment more accurate? This is really a lot of opinion. ..."

With regard to who is more accurate, one can ponder the difficulty of finding GM agreement with the Fischer "ultimate endorsement" in the last six decades.

dannyhume wrote:

"... Reuben says that we don't see the titanic struggles in Morphy's games ..."

GM Reuben Fine wrote: "... because he lacked the opposition. ..."

dannyhume wrote:

"... the only fact is really Morphy's single-handed overwhelming dominance."

Of 1857-8 players.

kindaspongey

BlunderLots wrote:

"... You'll be hard pressed to find many (or some would argue any) GMs who understand chess as well as Fischer did, who topped out at 2785, pre-inflation. ..."

Does good move ability necessarily equate to ability to predict how player A from one time would do against player B from another time? Anyway, should we suppose that Fischer's "ultimate endorsement" was the result of his perception of something invisible to Kasparov and other GMs for six decades?

BlunderLots wrote:

"... WC Kasparov (peak rating of 2851), who described Morphy using the words 'invincibility', 'natural', and 'brilliant'."

Do you have a Kasparov SENTENCE saying that Morphy would be invincible today?

BlunderLots wrote:

"Also WC Anand (peak rating of 2817), who said of Morphy: '... he was so dominant . . . the kind of chess he played was unbelievable.'"

Do you have an Anand sentence saying that Morphy would be dominant today?

BlunderLots wrote:

"WC Capablanca said of Morphy: 'The magnificent American master had the most extraordinary brain that anybody has ever had for chess.'"

Did Capablanca live to see any of the last six decades?

BlunderLots wrote:

"WC Alekhine? 'The strength, the invincible strength of Morphy . . . !'"

Did Alekhine live to see any of the last six decades? Do you have an Alekhine SENTENCE saying that Morphy would have been invincible in Alekhine's time?

BlunderLots wrote:

"WC Smyslov (peak rating 2620, pre-inflation)? 'His harmonious positional understanding and pure intuition would have made Morphy a highly dangerous opponent even for any player of our times.' ..."

Do you have a Smyslov sentence saying that Morphy would be the best in "our times"?

BlunderLots wrote:

"... these World Champion players all seemed to think of Morphy as a formiddable, powerful player. ..."

And GM Reuben Fine's book said that Morphy was one of the giants of chess history, but who would replace "one of the giants" with "the giant"?

BlunderLots
kindaspongey wrote:

GM Reuben Fine's book said that Morphy was one of the giants of chess history, but who disputes the inclusion of the words, "one of", in that comment?

I certainly don't dispute the words "one of". Whether he is the greatest (or could've been the greatest) is mostly a matter of personal opinion, and will always be hotly debated.

Regarding Fine, though: while a powerhouse player, he would likely (in my opinion) have crumbled against Morphy, as well. So I'm not sure if his analysis of Morphy is completely credible. After facing Paul over the board, Fine's eyes might've opened wide.

Of course, it's all speculation. And we can argue around in circles, looking at game moves, quotes, et cetera.

Consider, though, the fact that Fine fought hard to reach an even record against Capablanca.

Meanwhile, Capablanca repeatedly attested that Morphy was a superior player to himself.

This would seem to imply that Fine would be outmatched by Morphy, had they ever faced eachother over the board—at least, if we're to trust in Capa's assessment of Morphy's ability in relation to his own.

And round and round we go . . . speculation abounds! :D

LadyMisil

The main reason Fine had an even record against Capa was because of the AVRO tournament. It was such a grueling marathon tournament that it wore out the older players and gave huge advantage to the younger players like Fine and Euwe.

H_Staunton

Kindaspongey,

I think it is great that you took the time to look up the quote. I agree that the section you quoted is a bit confusing and therefore the implied meaning can be difficult to ascertain

Lets go through the section and see if we can determine what Cyrus was trying to say.

I believe that the first key is when Cyrus stated that he added a few categories. Which categories did he add? In a few of the categories he clearly states that it is his list. Those are the categories that were added by Cyrus.

In my mind the second key is found in the first sentence of the first paragraph following the list. There Cyrus states: “In my lists, Fischer leads in the categories” Since Cyrus speaks about his lists (more than one) it is not logical to assume that the proceeding list was one of his. As further proof he states that in his lists Fischer leads in the categories. In which categories of the referenced list does Fischer lead?

The fact that Cyrus brings up the e-mail debate just before presenting the list also suggests that the list is the result of the debate.

In summary Cyrus brings up a e-mail debate that centered on the question who was the greatest chess player of all time. He then states that he added a few categories to the ones covered by the debate. He then provided a list in which he identifies a few categories that are only his opinions. Finally he notes how the list provided differs from his lists.

In light of the above I believe we can safely conclude that the list, except for the categories added by Cyrus, is the one that resulted from the debate.

BlunderLots
LadyMisil wrote:

The main reason Fine had an even record against Capa was because of the AVRO tournament. It was such a grueling marathon tournament that it wore out the older players and gave huge advantage to the younger players like Fine and Euwe.

Ah. I didn't know that. Learn something new every day! :D

So many factors in these "Who would beat who?" discussions. In the olden days, players seemed to often struggle with health issues that affected their play.

LadyMisil

Oooops! Maybe it was Fine and Keres, not Euwe.

Daybreak57

Nuh uh!

euankmcdougall

If he had sudied books and continued laying chess for his lfetime instead of stopping at age 26 he may have reached 3000 ratings!

euankmcdougall

But there is no fulproof way to tell he is the greatest player because of the time separatation but he an beat the now world 22 for ages a minor piece down to begin with! until Maurice grew too strong for that.

yureesystem

The problem with players here they speculating instead knowing the actual facts, Morphy was far than prefect and if he was going to comptete against his comtemporaries, he better study to beat them. Here is a game before Paulsen became Paulsen, he not only ouplay Morphy positionally but use some defensive technique combine some tactics to arrive to an easy win. 

 

   

You can see Morphy positional understanding was lacking, he was like a bull charge with no consideration for positional and defensive skills. This before Paulsen did a deep study on the game, he already possess positional genius, two years later Paulsen is a monster in positional and attacking skills, I believe he would of beat Morphy in 1860 in match. So don't need to wait for modern GMs, if Morphy did not study chess he would of lost to his comtemporaries. There goes your myth Morphy's invisibility, masters were getting stronger and improving in a rapidly, any master not studying the lastest games were going to fall behind and that includes a Morphy.

batgirl
LadyMisil wrote:

The main reason Fine had an even record against Capa was because of the AVRO tournament. It was such a grueling marathon tournament that it wore out the older players and gave huge advantage to the younger players like Fine and Euwe.

Actually, there's an interesting story in this.

Before AVRO, which was of course played in Holland, Reuben Fine had been living in Amsterdam.  He had married his first wife, Charlotte Margoshes, a psychologist from Pennsyvania, in New York in Oct. 1936. It was a very short lived marriage.  After moving to Holland in 1937, Fine married Emma Thea Keesing of Amsterdam.  Her father was Isaäc Keesing Jr., a self-made publisher who put out "Keesings Historical Archive" among other things and authored a successful series of children's books.

The next year the incredibly strong AVRO tournament took place and Fine tied Keres for first place with Keres winning the tie-breaker.  During that time, Fine worked out a deal with his father-in-law, Isaäc Keesing:



"Keesings Internationaal Schaak-Archief" was published from 1939-44, ironically the same year Reuben and Emma divorced.  Two years later, Fine, back in the States, married Sonya Lebeaux (below)

Fine married two more times during his life.



batgirl

For the record, Morphy's retirement from chess was VERY MUCH due to family pressure. His mother Telcide was totally against public chess.  She  allowed Paul to go to Europe only very reluctantly and only to play in the Birmingham Meeting. When he claimed sickness (unable to travel) in order to stay longer than planned so he could play Anderssen, she sent her son-in-law, who was in Europe for business, to fetch Paul and escort him home.  Returning home, Telcide exerted all her considerable pressure on her son to abandon chess.  This isn't to say his mother's pressure was the only reason he gave up public chess, but it was most definitely an important reason.

BlunderLots
yureesystem wrote:

You can see Morphy positional understanding was lacking, he was like a bull charge with no consideration for positional and defensive skills. This before Paulsen did a deep study on the game, he already possess positional genius, two years later Paulsen is a monster in positional and attacking skills, I believe he would of beat Morphy in 1860 in match. So don't need to wait for modern GMs, if Morphy did not study chess he would of lost to his comtemporaries. There goes your myth Morphy's invisibility, masters were getting stronger and improving in a rapidly, any master not studying the lastest games were going to fall behind and that includes a Morphy.

This was Paulsen's shining moment, yes. But it was the only game he won against Morphy, out of their 8 games played.

The next two games with Morphy playing black, he switched from Three Knights to Four Knights—adapting, on the spot, as he always seemed to do—and Paulsen, once again, found himself on the losing side of the board against Morphy.

Loss, after loss, after loss, after loss . . .

That seemed to be one of toughest parts of playing Morphy in a match: even if you managed a win, the next time you tried the same ideas, Morphy would have already adapted and changed his approach—and you'd find yourself losing all over again. Safe, only, in the knowledge that you've helped improve his game a little more. :P