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Frederick Edge Meets Paul Morphy - in his own write
June 2006

from: Exploits and Triumphs in Europe of Paul Morphy, the Chess Champion
         by Paul Morphy's Late Secretary (Frederick M. Edge)
            New York :  D. Appleton and Company



     A circular was issued by the New York Chess Club, in the month of April, l857, “for the
purpose of ascertaining the feasibility and propriety of a general assemblage of the chess
players resident in America.” This “met with a hearty and zealous response from the
amateurs and clubs of the United States. So favorable was the feeling everywhere
manifested, that it was deemed advisable to proceed with the undertaking, and to complete at once the preliminary arrangements.”* [* Prospectus of “The National Chess Congress.”] In consideration of the movement having been initiated by the New York Chess Club, it was
conceded that the meeting should take place in that city. Some of the founders of the New York Chess Club still live to do honor to the  game. I believe that Mr. James Thompson and Colonel Mend suckled the bantling in times of  yore, sometimes forming the entire of the Club without assistance. In that day of small things, I believe, too; they defeated the Norfolk (Va.) Club, proving themselves just two too many  for their opponents. Then they travelled [sic] about from house to house, as their members  increased, with the arrival of Mr. Charles H. Stanley, Mr. Frederick Perrin, and others. About 1855 or 1856, the Club made the acquisition of two enterprising young players.  Mr. Theodore Lichtenhein and Mr. Daniel W. Fiske; and to the latter gentleman is due the  credit of first suggesting this Chess Congress, which made known to fame the genius of Paul Morphy.
     In the summer of 1857, being then engaged on the New York Herald, I used occasionally to tumble into the basement of an edifice opposite the newspaper office, where a jolly, fat German, with a never-to-be-remembered name, regaled his visitors upon sausages and “lager” Here the members of the Chess Club were wont to congregate; for the landlord had provided chessmen and boards as an inducement to visitors. One afternoon being engaged in a game with a brother reporter, a gentleman, whom I subsequently learned was Mr. Theodore Lichtenhein, stepped up to us, and put into our hands the prospectus of the approaching Chess Congress, stating his opinion that an event Of so much importance merited newspaper publicity. So began my acquaintance with  American chess amateurs. Although possessing but little skill as a player, I had a strong liking for the game, and determined that every thing in my power should. be done to render the meeting successful
     My visits to the saloon, and. eventually to the Club, became frequent, and the Committee of Management, finding that I both could and would work, did me the honor of  appointing me one of the secretaries. The Congress was advertised to open on the 6th of October, but players began to arrive some weeks previously. First of all came Judge Meek, of Alabama, a truly imposing specimen of a man. Soon after him followed Mr. Louis Paulsen, from Dubuque, Iowa, whose astonishing blindfold feats out West were the theme of general talk, and almost total disbelief, amongst Eastern players. From: Judge Meek we first hear of Paul Morphy’s wondrous strength. He told the New York Club that if the youthful Louisianian [sic] entered the tournament, he would infallibly wrest the palm of victory from all competition.
     We were much afraid, nevertheless, that Mr. Morphy would be unable to quit his legal studies for the purpose of attending the Congress, but when Mr. Fiske announced the receipt of a telegraphic dispatch, which stated that he was en route, everybody hailed the
news with satisfaction. Mr. Paulsen now came to the support of Judge Meek, and declared
that Paul Morphy would carry off the first prize in the tournament; giving, as the grounds of
his opinion, some two or three published games of the young Louisianian [sic], which he
considered worthy to rank with the finest master-pieces of chess strategy. Benignant fate
brought the young hero safely to New York, some two days before the assembling of the
     Who that was present that evening does not remember Paul Morphy’s first appearance at the New York Chess Club? The secretary, Mr. Frederick Perrin, valorously offered to be his first antagonist, and presented about the same resistance as a musquito [sic] to an avalanche. Then who should enter the room. but the warrior Stanley, tomahawk in one  hand and the scalps of Schulten and. Rousseau in the other. Loud cries were made for “Stanley! Stanley!” and Mr. Perrin resigned his seat to the new comer, in deference to so general a request. Thus commenced a contest, or rather a succession of contests, in which Mr. Stanley was indeed astonished. “Mate” followed upon “mate,” until he arose from his chair in bewildered defeat.
     The following day, the assembled delegates and amateurs from the various clubs, 
organized the Congress by the election of a president, in the person of Judge Meek, with Mr.Fiske as secretary, four assistant secretaries, marshals, treasurer, etc. All these matters of  detail, as well as the games played, the laws passed, etc., etc., will eventually appear in the long looked for “Book of the Congress,” forthcoming with the completion of the “British
Museum Catalogue.”
     In the absence of the “Book of the Congress,” I must give a slight sketch of its proceedings, in order to trace the career of Paul Morphy ab initio. After taking possession
of the magnificent hall which the New York Committee of Management had chosen for the
meeting, the sixteen contestants in the Grand Tournament, proceeded to pair themselves off
by lot. Never was fate more propitious than on this occasion in coupling the antagonists. It is
obvious, that however apparently equal in strength two opponents may be, one will prove
stronger than the other. This is an axiom requiring no proof. Out of sixteen, one is better
than the rest, and one out of the remaining fifteen is stronger than the fourteen others. The
latter player may be drawn in the first round of the tournay with the former, and though he
stand incomparably the superior of all but one, he loses every chance of a prize by being put
immediately hors du combat.
     Amongst the sixteen players who entered the lists, two were unmistakably the
strongest, namely, Messrs. Morphy and Paulsen; and much fear was manifested lest they
might be drawn together, in the first round. Such, however, was not the case. Mr. Paulsen
was coupled with Mr. Dennis Julien, the well-known problem maker, and a gentleman whose hospitality to chess players scarcely, requires praise from me. Mr. Julien had allowed his name to be entered in the Grand Tournament in the absence of the representative of
Connecticut, Mr. S. R. Calthrop, but the latter player arriving shortly after, Mr. Julien was
but too happy to resign in his favor. Mr. Morphy’s antagonist was Mr. James Thompson, of
New York, a gentleman who finished his chess education at the Café de la Régence, and the
London Chess Divan, noted for the brilliancy and daring of his attack, and his pertinacity in
playing the Evans’ Gambit wherever he has a chance. If Mr. Thompson had. not been pitted
against such a terrible opponent, in the first round, he would have tested the powers of some of the other players.
     Mr. Morphy’s second opponent was Judge Meek. As they took. their seats opposite each other, one thought of David and Goliath; not that the Judge gasconaded in any wise after the fashion of the tall Philistine, for modesty adorns all his  actions; but there was as much difference in cubic contents between the two antagonists, as between the son of Jesse and bully of Gath, in both cases the little one came out biggest. Judge Meek sat down with an evident conviction of the result, an although he assured his youthful opponent, that if he continued mating him without ever allowing him the least chance, he would put him in his pocket, he. consoled himself with the reflection that Paul Morphy would serve everybody else as he served him.
     Hitherto our hero had won every game. In the third round. he encountered the
strongest player of the New York Club, Mr. Theodore Lichtenhein, a gentleman who had
formerly been President of the Circle des Echecs at Königsburg in Prussia, and an admirable exponent of the Berlin school of play. Mr. Lichtenhein eventually carried off the third prize in the tournament, and although he did not win any game from Mr. Morphy, he succeeded in effecting “a draw" which, against such a terrible enemy, is almost worthy of being esteemed a victory.
     Mr. Paulsen had also been successful in the first and second rounds without losing or drawing a single game, and, as if to keep even with his great rival, he, too, had made “a draw” in the third section of the tournament — with Dr. Raphael, of Kentucky. Now
was to be decided the championship of the New World, and notwithstanding that the
majority anticipated the result, yet many of the spectators thought that the Western
knight might prove a hard nut for Morphy to crack. Mr.. Paulsen’s game is steady and
analytical to a nicety. Modelling [sic] his operations on profound acquaintance with
Phillidor [sic], he makes as much out of his Pawns as most others of their Pieces. In reply to
Mons. de Rivière, I once heard Morphy say, “Mr. Paulsen never makes an oversight; I
sometimes do.”
     It is only justice to Mr. Paulsen to state, that he never for one moment imagined  that he would beat Mr. Morphy. So exalted was his appreciation of the latter’s wondrous powers of combination, that he has been frequently beard to declare—.” if Anderssen and Staunton were here, they would stand no chance with Paul Morphy; and he would beat Philidor and Labourdonnais too, if they were alive.” And when, after the termination of the Congress, Mr. Morphy offered Pawn and. Move to all and every player in America, Mr. Paulsen declared that be could easily give those odds to him. But this invariable confession of  inferiority did not at all interfere with his doing the utmost to become victor, although
supremacy was only to be decided by one player scoring five games. If I recollect rightly, it
was in the third game that Mr. Morphy committed an error, which spoiled one of the finest
combinations ever seen on a chess-hoard. This combination consisted of some eighteen or
twenty moves, and its starting point was one of. those daring sacrifices which European
players dignify with the title “à la Morphy.” Certain of the inevitable result, (humanum est
[sic] almost loses its signification when applied to his combinations,) our hero played
rapidly, and misplaced a move. The result was, loss of attack and a piece, and apparently of
the game; the most ardent admirer of Paul Morphy believed it was impossible for him to
avoid defeat. But though angry with himself for his carelessness, he was not disheartened, but  set to work with courage, and effected "a draw.” The latter part of this game is a
masterpiece of perseverance and strategy. The result of the tournament is well known. Mr.
Morphy won five games, drew one, and lost one in the concluding section—only one battle
lost during the entire campaign. The annals of chess do not furnish a similar victory.


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