Paul Morphy's Rating>2638

dannyhume

 So Bobby Fischer thought a 2300-ish player was the greatest chess genius and talent ever?

kindaspongey

"Lasker ... didn't understand positional chess." - another Fischer quote from around the same time as his Morphy comments.
Extended discussions of Morphy have been written in books by GM Franco, GM Beim, GM Ward, GM Marin, GM Bo Hansen, GM McDonald, Garry Kasparov (with Dmitry Plisetsky), and GM Gormally. Anyone see any of them express the view that we should accept Fischer's conclusion about Morphy? There seems to be general agreement that Morphy was, as GM Fine put it, one of the giants of chess history, but that is a long way from saying that he was better than anyone playing today.
"... Morphy became to millions ... the greatest chess master of all time. But if we examine Morphy's record and games critically, we cannot justify such extravaganza. And we are compelled to speak of it as the Morphy myth. ... [Of the 55 tournament and match games, few] can by any stretch be called brilliant. ... He could combine as well as anybody, but he also knew under what circumstances combinations were possible - and in that respect he was twenty years ahead of his time. ... [Morphy's] real abilities were hardly able to be tested. ... We do not see sustained masterpieces; rather flashes of genius. The titanic struggles of the kind we see today [Morphy] could not produce because he lacked the opposition. ... Anderssen could attack brilliantly but had an inadequate understanding of its positional basis. Morphy knew not only how to attack but also when - and that is why he won. ... Even if the myth has been destroyed, Morphy remains one of the giants of chess history. ..." - GM Reuben Fine
https://www.chess.com/article/view/who-was-the-best-world-chess-champion-in-history

dannyhume

Yet I also hear that Botvinnik said that the open games have not evolved much in over 100 years from Morphy's time to his time, is that true?  Plus there is the ambiguity regarding evaluating Morphy's skill... His actual playing strength if he time-traveled to the future and, without any preparation, started playing modern GM's?  His performance in a tournament where he gets only 1-2 chances against a given opponent or a long match?  His potential playing strength if given the same information as modern players and a few years to prepare?  Also consider that when you beat everyone easily, you may choose not to play the top couple choices of Komodo against far weaker competition... you might play a BDG for or Latvian Gambit for fun, but future analysts may simply see that your moves were not technically or objectively the best. 

kindaspongey
dannyhume wrote:

Yet I also hear that Botvinnik said that the open games have not evolved much in over 100 years from Morphy's time to his time, is that true? ...

I am not an authority on the writings of Botvinnik, but, in connection with this report, it seems to me to be appropriate to keep these sorts of questions in mind:

Would Botvinnik necessarily have given fair recognition to non-USSR open game progress?

What about subsequent open game progress?

What about semi-open game progress, closed game progress, ...?

"... It was due to [Morphy's] principles of development that he had, in most cases, at the outset a better development than his opponent. As soon, however, as these principles of Morphy's had become the common property of all chess players it was difficult to wrest an advantage in an open game. ... the next problem with which players were confronted ... was to discover principles upon which close positions could be dealt with. To have discovered such principles, deeper and more numerous as they were than those relating to development in open positions, is due to Steinitz. ..." - Richard Reti (1923)

kindaspongey
dannyhume wrote:

... there is the ambiguity regarding evaluating Morphy's skill... His actual playing strength if he time-traveled to the future and, without any preparation, started playing modern GM's?  His performance in a tournament where he gets only 1-2 chances against a given opponent or a long match?  His potential playing strength if given the same information as modern players and a few years to prepare?  Also consider that when you beat everyone easily, you may choose not to play the top couple choices of Komodo against far weaker competition ...

Perhaps that is why we see this sort of thing:
"... [Morphy's] real abilities were hardly able to be tested. ... We do not see sustained masterpieces; rather flashes of genius. The titanic struggles of the kind we see today [Morphy] could not produce because he lacked the opposition. ..." - GM Reuben Fine

Another-Life

Read the book "Morphy: A modern perspective" and you will see his slight lack of positional understanding, as well as mistakes that his opponents didn't capitalise on. He was definitely not stronger than a modern IM.

kindaspongey

"... He could combine as well as anybody, but he also knew under what circumstances combinations were possible - and in that respect he was twenty years ahead of his time. … Morphy remains one of the giants of chess history. ..." - GM Reuben Fine

dannyhume
Another-Life wrote:

Read the book "Morphy: A modern perspective" and you will see his slight lack of positional understanding, as well as mistakes that his opponents didn't capitalise on. He was definitely not stronger than a modern IM.

Now let's take this a step further... especially the word "understanding"... I am wondering what is meant by saying Morphy isn't more than x strength.  To me, someone who easily beat everyone in the world shows an understanding and capability of learning that is far ahead of his time.  So, yes, I can see how Morphy may lose games to modern high-level players if transported to the present without the current state of knowledge and just started playing these high-level masters cold... but what if he was paired in a long match against a modern IM?  Given the homage paid to him by Fischer and even modern GM's such as Finegold, would Morphy be able to outplay these folks in long matches (not tournaments where you get one chance to spring a newly home-prepared line)?  

kindaspongey

The answer seems to me to be that we are simply not in a position to know whether or not Morphy would compete in the modern world and how he would rate if he did. What reason is there to suppose that any rating would not depend greatly on the circumstances of the competition?

dannyhume

That is what is being debated ... Is Morphy worthy of the 2638 rating? YES, he easily crushed the top competition of his day and the greatest GM of all-time Bobby Fischer agrees --or-- NO, he played positionally weak moves, does not have the theoretical or strategic knowledge of a modern barely-master (a BM... get it?), and Fischer is a nut-bag.

darkunorthodox88

too big a gap with modern chess theory. the jump from morphy to lasker is BIG. this is not to say morphy coudnt beat him ,but the way chess was played was reaching its turning point. i dont think morphy could have held his own vs capa the way lasker having absorbed the teachings of steinitz did. forget modern players.

darkunorthodox88

if you look at chess history, you will often see that many of the top players where a positive influence on each other. their rivalry often pushed their game to the next level, (and not just the top-top players, but  those lesser rivalries as well). Lasker has Steinitz, and then Capa to keep him in shape, Fischer had Petrosian, spassky and to a lesser degree Larsen, Karpov and Kasparov each other and so on.

 

who did morphy had? he had some games vs anderssen and zukertort but Morphy was better than them at their own romantic game and had no rivalry with Steinitz to move his game to the next level. he was too ahead of his time, as far as talent is concerned, but no one from the  coming age to develop with.

dashkee94

To clear up a few points:

Morphy never played Zukertort

Lasker's rivals were more Pillsbury and Tarrasch

 

But to contribute--your last point is my main point.  Throughout his life Morphy had no one to test him, to bring out the full depth of his play.  It seems the only time he worked on his game (the way we would today describe working on your game) was during the Harrwitz match for two nights between games 2 and 3--that's it.  Look at how far he got without the work, without being pushed.  Had he been pushed I'm sure there was another level to his play, but he was never pushed, so we'll never know.

batgirl
dashkee94 wrote:

Had he been pushed I'm sure there was another level to his play, but he was never pushed, so we'll never know.

That coincides with this passage from Lawson's book

 

[Lawson] "March 15, 1873 "...a letter from Charles J. Woodbury to the Hartford Times disclosed that Morphy still played chess, but only on special occasions and in privacy, although this time it was a "numerous" privacy, so to speak.... :

     'A flight of stairs leads the way up to the dwelling-rooms. I had never seen Paul Morphy, but I knew him the moment he stood quietly before me, simply dressed, slight, smooth and melancholy-faced, with a head and brow over-hanging with their own weight. So full of dignity, so empty of self-consciousness, was his presence, that I was almost prepared by it for the quick answer he made me that he was but an amateur, and was adverse to notoriety. But the passion of the Creole eyes overspoke the tutored voice at a remark I made about the contrast between what he said and what he had done. My imperfect French added to the embarrassment of the moment, and his thin self-control gave way to one of those paroxysms of passion to which I have since learned he is constantly subject. Happily, the coming of his mother soon divested him of the strange suspicion that I thought him to be a professional gambler; and, afterwards, through Mons. C. A. Maurian, an intimate friend and the best public player in New Orleans, all of these misunderstandings were removed...
     Once in a while, the solitary athlete can be induced to show that his power is only in abeyance. I saw him at a private séance, just before I left, beat simultaneously, in just 2¾ hours, sixteen of the most accomplished amateurs in New Orleans. His strength had never been fully tested, and will probably never be fully developed.'"

darkunorthodox88
dashkee94 wrote:

To clear up a few points:

Morphy never played Zukertort

Lasker's rivals were more Pillsbury and Tarrasch

 

But to contribute--your last point is my main point.  Throughout his life Morphy had no one to test him, to bring out the full depth of his play.  It seems the only time he worked on his game (the way we would today describe working on your game) was during the Harrwitz match for two nights between games 2 and 3--that's it.  Look at how far he got without the work, without being pushed.  Had he been pushed I'm sure there was another level to his play, but he was never pushed, so we'll never know.

yes, i did mess up with zukerkort lol , as for lasker, its quite telling that an Capa still held the elderly Lasker as very dangerous. i dont think Capa would have had nearly as much trouble vs morphy.

dannyhume

And there lies the rub... Morphy was so strong that virtually everyone admits ignorance as to how strong he really was or could be.  In other words, the biggest argument against Morphy's supreme playing strength is Morphy's supreme playing strength. 

kindaspongey
dannyhume wrote:

That is what is being debated ... Is Morphy worthy of the 2638 rating? YES, he easily crushed the top competition of his day and ...

Morphy's major chess play was against 1857-8 opponents. It has to be considered whether or not that is sufficient to get an idea about how Morphy would perform against players today (and how that performance would depend on the amount of modern preparation he would be allowed to have).

kindaspongey
dannyhume wrote:

... and the greatest GM of all-time Bobby Fischer agrees --or-- NO, he played positionally weak moves, does not have the theoretical or strategic knowledge of a modern barely-master (a BM... get it?), and Fischer is a nut-bag.

"Lasker ... didn't understand positional chess." - another Fischer quote from around the same time as his Morphy comments.
Extended discussions of Morphy have been written in books by GM Franco, GM Beim, GM Ward, GM Marin, GM Bo Hansen, GM McDonald, Garry Kasparov (with Dmitry Plisetsky), and GM Gormally. Anyone see any of them express the view that we should accept Fischer's conclusion about Morphy? There seems to be general agreement that Morphy was, as GM Fine put it, one of the giants of chess history, but that is a long way from saying that he was better than anyone playing today.

kindaspongey
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kindaspongey
dannyhume wrote:

And there lies the rub... Morphy was so strong that virtually everyone admits ignorance as to how strong he really was or could be.  In other words, the biggest argument against Morphy's supreme playing strength is Morphy's supreme playing strength. 

that was shown against 1857-8 players.