encapsulation from David Lawson's Paul
Morphy: the Pride and the Sorrow of Chess
Concerning Paul Morphy's challenges to France, England,
the world at large of odds of Pawn & Move.
Fiske had written to Prof Allen in Jan. that Morphy was "About to offer
Harrwitz a match at Pawn and Move and will make the same offer to any
English player on his return to London." Until the Anderssen Match, Morphy
had exempted Harrwitz from his "odds-to-all" rule from France, but now
decided to silence the latter's pretensions. In the presence of witnesses,
Morphy authorized a fellow American, probably James Mortimer, to propose
to Harrwitz on his behalf a second match on the following terms: Harrwitz
to receive the odds of Pawn and Move; the winner of the first of seven
games to the victor, and the stake to be 500 francs, more or less as
Harrwitz might choose.
The challenge was duly presented to Harrwitz on Jan. 3, 1859, but he
declined an the grounds that Morphy had treated him badly. However, as the
Era commented: "Considering the courtesy that Mr. Morphy had
extended to each and all of his antagonists since he visited Europe, this
is perhaps the most ludicrous excuse that could have been made for
declining the challenge so boldly proposed."
Edge says that "Morphy felt so much desire to play this proposed match,
that he even offered to find stakes to back his antagonists, but all to no
purpose." As he is quoted in the New York Herald of January 30,
1859, St. Amant said he believed Morphy could "give pawn and move to any
living player" and had hoped to witness such a contest between Morphy and
Harrwitz. It was the general opinion that Harrwitz lacked the courage to
accept Morphy's challenge. When he received Harrwitz's refusal, Morphy
seemed to lose all interest at playing at the La Régence, and to have
taken a positive aversion to chess.
Harrwitz now made an attempt to give La Régence players the same odds as
Morphy, but without success. Morphy had given Budzinsky - a very strong
Polish player, probably as strong as Laroche - the odds of Pawn and Move,
winning five games to Budzinsky's one. Harrwitz offered him the same odds
but the results were Harrwitz one, Budzinski three.
In January 1859, the Chess Monthly carried the following
Mr. George Walker publicly states that in his opinion, Mr.
Morphy can give any player in England the same odds [as those offered
Harrwitz] and urges Mr. Morphy to issue a challenge to that effect upon
his return to the shores of Albion."
On January 7, 1859, Dr. Johnson, the Paris correspondent of the New York
Times, reported that:
Mr. Morphy offers now to play Mr. Staunton, and give him a
Pawn and a Move; but, of course, no player of Mr. Staunton's calibre would
accept such an offer. Mr. Morphy, however, is justified, after the course
of Mr. Staunton, in making such an offer, and he says to his friends, that
he is sure he can beat him with that advantage.
Porter's Spirit of the Times of January 15, 1859 also carried the
news of Morphy's challenge:
To silence all cavil in regard to the English Champion
[Staunton], Morphy now offers to give him Pawn and Move, and play him for
any sum he pleases."
George Walker, in Bell's Life in London of July 17,
1859 may have expressed the ultimate confidence in Morphy:
It is something for America to be able to say with truth
"we have Paul Morphy a boy of twenty-two, who can give pawn and move to
every other player in the world' And large as the world is, this, we,
Bell's Life of London, honestly believe the BOY can do.
And so at the age of twenty-two, Morphy was
internationally regarded as the strongest player in the world.
Edge, in his long dispatch of January 5 1859, to the New York Herald,
was the first to announce that "Paul Morphy had declared that he will play
no more matches with anyone unless accepting Pawn and Move from him." And
perhaps he was not too presumptuous.