THE LIFE AND CHESS OF PAUL MORPHY                                                                                                                                                                       The Denouement - Morphy retires
"On his return from his European triumphs, he entered into an engagement with his mother never again to play for a money or other stake; never to play a public game or a game in a public place, and never again to encourage or countenance any publication of any sort whatever in connection with his name."
                                         -Charles A. Maurian, May 2, 1877


According to Regina Morphy-Voitier, Paul spend two months in Havana on his way to Paris. He stayed at the Hotel America where his presence became known around the 16th of October and a committee consisting of Señors Don Blas Du Bouchet, Don Vicente, Don Aureliano Medina and Don Felix Sicre called upon him at the hotel. Suddenly he was besieged with private invitations and banquets in his honor.

Morphy, in turn, played some games and gave some blindfold demonstrations, mostly notably one on October 18, probably at Sicre's home. Among his opponents in Cuba were Señors Medina, Fesser, Toscano and Sicre. He also played against J. M. Sicre, a slave of Felix Sicre, who, as it seems, was a strong chess player. Maurian also played a few games with their hosts.

On October 31, after attending a banquet given by Señor Eduardo Fesser at L'Hermitage, a French Inn, Morphy and Maurian booked passage on a mail steamer heading for Cadiz, Spain.  After arriving in Cadiz, they took a train to Paris. Not a lot is known about Morphy's stay. David Lawson claims, without giving specifics, that in December of 1862 an "American correspondent for the New York Times in Paris" wrote:

Since my arrival I have met with Mr. Paul Morphy, the famous chess player, about whose doings and whereabouts such contradictory reports have been circulating in the United States. Mr. Morphy has not been on any rebel general's staff, nor has he taken any part in the war. He left New Orleans long after the capture of the city by Federal forces and went to Havana, taking passage thence to Cadiz, and reached Paris a few days ago. Kolisch, the eminent Hungarian player is also here, and chess amateurs are making an effort to bring about a meeting between the greatest chess genius of the world and another star not worthy to encounter the master. Morphy, however, assures me he has renounced chess altogether...

Of course, the chess Morphy had renounced was competitive chess. He still played with friends and for enjoyment.  He played games at the homes of both Rivière and Doazan. Besides Morphy, Gabriel Eloy Doazan, who had played both  Deschapelles and Bourdonnais, in a letter written later to George Allen, expressed some of his observations:

     After Deschapelles and Labourdonnais, I was lucky enough to see a young man whom one can and whom one must place in the same bracket. His superiority is as obvious as theirs. It is undeniable too and reveals itself in the same way.
- is Morphy as good as or better than Labourdonnais?
     I was often asked this question, to which it is impossible to answer in a simple and affirmative way. Some reflections will help understand this impossibility. Art has several faces, and should be examined, analysed, appreciated in various aspects by seeing things from different points of view.
Is Raphaël a greater painter than Rubens? Another pointless and insoluble question.


Let us come now to Labourdonnais and Morphy, one entering life, the other dead, but both immortals! I do not want to compare them, I will leave someone else the sad task of lowering one of them just to raise the other. I only want to emphasize the strange contrast of their organizations and to highlight the impossibility of a discussion the purpose of which would be to demote one of them to the second rank.

In Labourdonnais' time, chess was still a game. A game infinitely higher than any other, but one which excluded neither gaiety nor animation. The loss of one or two games was suffered without irritation and was not looked upon as a disastrous event, a major humiliation which lowered you in the opinion of your contemporaries and of posterity while giving victory to your enemies. These expressions are exaggerated, undoubtedly; but this expression is founded on something real. Yes, by making efforts everywhere and unanimously to improve the theory of chess, while trying to make it a positive science, we changed, so to speak, the aspect of the play; and the very character of the players was appreciably modified.
     When Morphy doesn't play a move for twenty minutes, he analyses the positions, calculates all the variants and their consequences until their last limits, without the least apparent effort; his face remains calm, blood does not rise to his forehead. It is an incomparable power of abstraction and a clearness of intuition that one cannot admire too much. So like all real chess-lovers, I just watch, wait and admire. But, not far away, there are players of fourth or fifth force who make us just as long for a bad move. This systematic slowness is the wound of our time. Ancient times were less serious: Allow me to miss them for some reasons.
     These general considerations will help us understand better what I have to say about these two famous players. We know Morphy, his distinction, his reserve, his sobriety, the delicacy of this young body which supports a head so admirably formed; moreover, the bust by Lequesne and his photo and engraving reproductions have made his features familiar to all, so to speak, popularized them. The features of Labourdonnais are unknown to the majority of current players. For me, who lived with him, they become uncertain as time goes on and our memories weaken. Instead of a portrait, we only have a sad caricature drawn from a dreadful mask molded after death.

Morphy's mother,Thelcide, and his sister, Helena, had arrived in Paris long before Paul. They were visiting his other sister, Malvina, who had moved there a few years before - though her husband, John Sybrandt, spent most of his time in the United States conducting his business. In Paris Morphy met with his family but led a life apart from them.


Ignatz Kolisch





Learning that Morphy was in Paris, Ignatz Kolisch took the opportunity to challenge him to a match.
On February 14, 1863, (published in La Nouvelle Regénce in March 1863) Kolisch wrote to Morphy:

     The distinguished reputation you have acquired at chess has long since excited in me an ambition - presumptuous perhaps, but very ardent - to have the honor of encountering you at that game. You will remember that two years since my friends endeavored to bring us together and transmitted you a proposal, to which you replied by a promise equivalent to a formal engagement in case you should ever return to Europe - a promise which was made public in the American journal, Wilkes' Spirit of the Times, and which has been registered in La Nouvelle Regénce. On the faith of this engagement I left England when I heard of your arrival in Paris to put myself at your disposal. Knowing, however, that at the beginning of your visit private considerations withheld you from playing chess, I abstained from communicating my resolution. But now, Sir, that you have resumed a recreation in which you so much excell [sic], and daily play the game with various adversaries, the time appears to arrive when I can recall to you your former promise.
     I am sure, Sir, that I shall not appeal to your courtesy in vain; and I believe you will think it reasonable that I should exercise the same liberty which you used when you first came and threw down the gauntlet to the chief players of Europe.
     Justified by both your promise and your example, I have the honor to propose to you a chess match. The conditions, if you please, shall be the same as those first proposed to you in the letter of the secretary of the St. George's Club - namely, that whichever of us wins the first eleven games shall be pronounced the conqueror.
     Awaiting your reply, I beg you to accept the assurance of my consideration,  &C.
                                                                                                          Ignatz Kolisch

In response to this seemingly reasonable challenge, Morphy apparently sent to Kolisch (and to La Regénce) a note, declining the offer to play, explaining his desire to divorce himself from competitive chess. In addition, Morphy sent a note to La Regénce,  asking them to publish this additional statement:

"I could have believed at the time when hearing of your successes that you are superior to other players I had encountered in Europe, but since, as you are well aware, the result of your matches with Messrs. Anderssen and Paulsen had not been favorable to you, there is now no reason why I should make an exception in your case, having decided not again to engage in such matches, an infringement of my rules which I should be obliged to extend to others, &C, &C.
                                                                                                           Paul Morphy

Morphy further indicated his resolve to abandon competitive chess in his letter to Willard Fiske dated February 4, 1863. It was ostensibly a reply to Fiske concerning an invitation to Morphy by the Vienna Chess Club:

My dear Fiske,
     Pray, do not be too prompt in condemning the tardiness of my reply, for in this case at least, it can be justified. I have purposely abstained from returning an immediate answer to your favor, in the hope of being enabled to take a trip to Vienna, not for the sake of chess-playing, but activated by the very natural desire to see you after such a lapse of time as has gone by since my last visit to New York, and inquire about old friends and associations made doubly dear by the sad events that are transpiring in our distracted America. Much as I would enjoy a visit to Germany for those and other reasons, I am sorry to say that it will not be in my power to leave Paris at present. I am here with my brother in law and part of my family, the remainder being in New Orleans. We are all following with intense anxiety the fortunes of the tremendous conflict now raging beyond the Atlantic, for upon the issue depends our all in life. Under such circumstances you will readily understand that I should feel little disposed to engage in the objectless strife of the chess board. Besides, you will remember that as far back as two years ago I stated to you in New York my firm determination to abandon chess altogether. I am more strongly confirmed than ever in the belief that the time devoted to chess is literally frittered away. It is, to be sure, a most exhilarating sport, but it is only a sport; and it is not to be wondered at that such as have been passionately addicted to the charming pastime should one day ask themselves whether sober reason does not advise its utter dereliction. I have, for my own part, resolved not to be moved from my purpose of not engaging in chess hereafter. The few games that I have played here have been altogether private and sans facon.
     I never patronize the Café de la Regénce; it is a low, and, to borrow a Gallicism, ill frequented establishment.
     Hoping that you will excuse my dilatoriness, and wishing you health and happiness,
                                                                                                  I remain Yours truly,
                                                                                                        Paul Morphy
P.S. Sybrandt begs to be kindly remembered to you.


During Morphy's first trip to Europe, Prince Sergei Urusoff, one of Russian master Alexander Petroff's  frequent opponents, had written a letter to Morphy inviting him to Russia to play a match with Petroff. Morphy, of course, couldn't make such a a trip and the match never occurred. During Morphy's second visit to Paris, Petroff was living in Warsaw and came to Paris with his daughters to visit a health spa. He was very aware of Morphy's presence. Petroff, born in 1794, was considerably older than Morphy and had retired from active chess but he still greatly desired to play the famous American. Morphy, also retired from chess, met with Petroff on two occasions.

Urusoff had described Petroff as: "tireless, and that is a great virtue; he is not nervous like Harrwitz and does not yawn like Anderssen He is like Morphy in everything but has an advantage over him in years."

              Alexander Petroff

Marginal notes found in Petroff's 1859 and 1860 issues of Shakmatny Listok indicate that Petroff had studied and analyzed many of Morphy's games. Particularly notated were Morphy's handling of the four Philidor Defenses employed by Harrwitz during their match.
Petroff was quoted, in the Shakmatny Listok as saying: "As far as a match with Morphy is concerned, why not play? I'm ready to play whenever they will back me... I don't regard myself as Morphy's equal in strength."

The chess world was ready for a confrontation between these two living legends:

"We have heard about the coming encounter between Morphy and Petroff. This will truly be one of the most remarkable battles which has ever taken place. This will be a splendid day for chess."
                                                                                                                                            - La Nouvelle Regénce, July 1863

"One of the oldest and most accomplished masters, Mr. Petroff (now 69 years old), has lately enlivened the Chess circles of Paris by his presence. His stay, for the moment, was a brief one but he intends, it is said, to return to the French capitol in a few weeks and make it his home for the winter. Should he do so, the expectations are entertained that Mr. Morphy, who is still in Paris, will be tempted to break a lance with the Nestor of Russian chess. In that case we may anticipate the pleasure of recording some of the finest games which have been played since the great combats of twenty or five and twenty years ago. During his recent sojourn in Paris, Mr. Petroff was a frequent visitor to the Café de le Regénce (and played with Journaud and others).
                                                                              -Howard Staunton in the Illustrated London News, November 7, 1863

However, a match wasn't to take place. Petroff wrote to Mikhailov, the editor of Shakmatny Listok: "I've visited Morphy twice, and he has visited me. Doazan has told me that he has absolutely given up the game."

While no games between the two have been recorded, they did meet on several occasions. It seems that Morphy met with other Russians besides Petroff. He is thought to have made the acquaintance of the Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883) and while they may not have met, Leo Tolstoy, who was in London in 1861, is known to have purchased, while there, a book on Morphy for his personal library.

In the end of January 1864, Morphy left for New Orleans to see what  could be salvaged from the results of the Civil War and Northern occupation.

Arriving in Santigo de Cuba and then making his way the 540 miles north-west to Havana on the steamship, Aguila, on February 16, Morphy only spent two days on the island despite his warm welcome.

The rich banker, Mr. Francisco Fesser, gave a sumptuous banquet on Tuesday in honor of the celebrated chess player Mr. Morphy who should be leaving today for New Orleans. aturally the greater part of the invited guests were enthusiasts of the noble game in which Mr. Morphy recognizes no rival, but this was no reason why we could not count many and very beautiful ladies of our high society. Before dinner he played a game with Mr. Sicre, giving him a knight. Later he played alternately several games with Messrs. Dominguez, Golmayo, and Sicre, by memory, while carrying on at the same time an animated conversation with the estimable  family of Mr. Fesser. On all the games he came out the winner, being applauded each time his fatigued opponents gave up their games and asked for grace... Among the invited guests we could count Messrs. Villergas, Golmayo, Sicre, Dominguez and Palmer, very well known for their affection for the difficult game, and the Messrs. Valdes, Cespedes, La Calle, Diaz, Albertini and others.
                                                                                                                                                           -the Havana El Tiempo, February 18, 1864

Morphy played Celso Golmayo five games at Knight odds, winning two, losing three. El Moro Muza repoted that:

Mr. Morphy having played several games with Señor Golmayo, to whom he gave a Knight, has come to confess frankly that Señor Golmayo is too strong to receive a Knight from him and that the most he could give him would be a Pawn and two moves, a declaration that places Señor Golmayo at the very highest level amongst chess players.

In return, Goyomayo, in the April 1888 issue of the Charleston Chess Chronicle wrote:

In my many games with Morphy at odd of a Knight, I became hopelessly bewildered by the brilliancy and the intricacy of his combinations, but when I sit down with Steinitz on even terms I feel as though I have a very respectable chance to win.


Morphy arrived in New Orleans the last week of February  at which time he tried to establish himself in his profession.

David Lawson is adamant that it was after his return from Paris in 1864 that Morphy first attempted to open a law office on 12 Exchange Street.
It only survived a few months.

Elsewhere [e.g. p.26, Morphy Gleanings] it is stated    erroneously that he opened a law office soon after his return in 1859, but this was his first time to establish himself at his profession.


After the end of the war, Morphy decided to go to New York to attempt to discuss the possible publication of a book of his games which he would annotate. He left for New York around July 25 and met with Daniel Fiske and Napoleon Marache. Marache and Charles A. Gilberg aided Morphy in trying to amass the texts of his games from a variety of sources (his uncle Ernest wrote to the editor of La Stratégie on March 14 that Paul was in New York working on some of the proofs to a four volume collection of his games to be published by Appleton). They worked on the project for several weeks but with financing tight after the war, a book had to have more than speculative value.  The book of the Fifth American Chess Congress explains that the project fell through because they couldn't come to financial terms. According to Gustavus Charles Reichhelm [president of the Philadelphia Chess Club as well as a chess editor and an historian of chess in Philadelphia], Morphy had applied to him for the scores of some games he played in Philadelphia and that he learned that the project ended because Morphy refused to play any new games which might make the book more salable and worth investing in.

Returning to New Orleans in the beginning of November, the New Orleans chess club revitalized itself and on November 14, 1865 elected Paul Morphy as it's president with Charles Maurian as secretary. Morphy is known to have played a four board blindfold simul of which the score of only one game, against Paul Capdevielle, has survived.

Little is known about Morphy's legal activities. Other than his chess games with Charles Maurian, little is known about Morphy's activities for the next two years.  Whitelaw Reid, an author who was in the South gathering material for his book, "After the War: A Southern Tour," met Morphy at a soirée at the home of Christian Roselius, Dean of Faculty at the University of Louisiana and a Professor of Civil Law. After commenting on the abundance of fine spirits and wines and the general absence of ladies at these soirées, Reid described meeting a "modest-looking little gentleman of retiring manners with apparently little to say; though the keen eyes and well-shaped head sufficiently showed the silence to be no mask for the poverty of intellect." He then interjected his opinion that Morphy was "the foremost chess-player of the world, now a lawyer, but, alas! by no means the foremost lawyer in his native city."   


  Born near Xenia, Ohio on Oct. 27, 1837, Whitelaw Reid became a war correspondent for the Cincinnati Gazette, served as served as aide-de-camp to General William S. Rosecrans and was present at both Shiloh and Gettysburg. After the war he took up cotton-planting in Louisiana for a while resulting in After the War. Horace Greeley hired him to work for the New York Tribune . When Greeley died in 1872, Reid took his place as editor, printer and circulation manager. In 1881, Reid married Elizabeth Mills, the daughter of Darius Ogden Mills, a California millionaire. In 1892 he ran as the Vice Presidential candidate with Benjamin Harrison.  He also wrote:  Ohio in the War - 2 vols., 1868;  Schools of Journalism, 1871;  The Scholar in Politie 1873;  Some Newspaper Tendencies, 1879;  and Town-Hall Suggestions, 1881. He died Dec. 15, 1912.
                                       Whitelaw Reid


Christian Roselius was born on Aug. 10, 1803 near Breman, Germany. In 1819 he emigrated to New Orleans. First he became a successful lawyers, then from 1841-1843, he was appointed Louisiana State Attorney General. In 1857 he was named Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court. The last 20 years of his life were spent as Dean of Faculty and professor of Civil Law at the University of Louisiana. A well read man, he possessed on of the largest private libraries in the South and was known as a congenial and generous entertainer whose soirées were well known and well attended. He died Sept. 5, 1873.

                                                                                                                                            Christian Roselius

In July of 1867, Morphy accompanied his mother and sister, Helena, to Paris where they spent the next 15 months. That same month in the Grand Cercle, 10 boulevard Montmartre, The Grand Tournament of Paris was taking place in conjunction with the Exposition Universelle, the Paris International Exhibition.  Although the tournament started in June and concluded in July, it was rumored that Morphy might enter it.  Nothing could have been less likely. Morphy wasn't interested in playing chess at all in Paris. (The prize-winners in order were: Kolisch , Winawer, Steinitz, Neumann, De Vère  and De Rivière). Morphy spent time at the home of Arnous de Rivière and associated with Gustav Neumann and Eugene Lequesne, but seemed to have never played a single game of chess.

     Sergeant relates W. J. A. Fuller's account of of running into Arnous de Rivière at the Café de la Régence in the summer of 1885. De Rivière told Fuller that Morphy had pawned his watch while engaged in some expensive legal matters (referring here to p.73 concerning Morphy's suit against his brother-in-law John Darius Sybrant, the administrator of Alonzo's estate) and that Rivière had "loaned Morphy a large sum of upon it" and that "the pledge was never redeemed."
     Adding some substantiation to Fuller's account, Sergeant continues by relating how that Augustus Mongredien's son, A. W. Mondgredien, saw the watch in Paris, 1921, at which time he could have bought it for 6,000 francs from the heirs of Arnous de Rivière.
     Lawson adds (p.292) that  "His present circumstances suggested to him that his brother-in-law Sybrandt, the administrator of his father's estate, had defrauded him or mismanaged the estate and so Morphy started an absurd lawsuit against him which came to nothing - he had probably spent most of his available patrimony before his second trip to Europe, one reason why he had taken a large loan on his watch while there."

According to Lawson, Sheriff W. C. Spens wrote in the Glasgow Weekly Herald, July 19, 1884  - which would be 17 years later -

Morphy returned to Paris, where he had a married sister living. Events had proved disastrous to his parents [the Civil War] and also blighted his own prospects, which had such a depressing influence on his over-wrought mind, that it perfectly paralyzed his energies. He lost his taste for chess entirely.and Neumann told us in 1867 that he could never prevail upon Morphy to play a game. They frequently met at De Riviere's house, and Morphy would occasionally condescend to look at some variations, when the Paris congress book was being prepared for press. We recollect his coming once as far as the door of the Régence to make some inquiries, but he would not enter, in spite of M. Lequesne's entreaties.

According to Edward Winters' Chess Note #4053, entitled The Pride and Sorrow of Chess: "On page 113 of the April 1885 International Chess Magazine Steinitz wrote:
‘... the fearful misfortune which ultimately befell “the pride and sorrow of chess”, as Sheriff Spens justly calls Morphy, can only evoke the warmest sympathy in every human breast.’

Sheriff Walter Cook Spens (Feb.1, 1842 - July 13, 1900) was a leading Scottish player and one of the founders of  the Scottish Chess Association in 1884.

His tournament achievements include: 10th Dundee, 1867; 11th Glasgow, 1875;13th Cheltenham, 1876;
10th Manchester, 1882; 6th-8th Birmingham, 1883; 3rd Glasgow, 1884; 7th Edinburgh, 1885;
 9th-10th Glasgow, 1886; 7th Edinburgh, 1887; 6th-7th Glasgow, 1888; 3rd-4th Edinburgh, 1889;
1st-2nd Dundee, 1890; 8th-9th Manchester, 1890; 3rd Glasgow, 1891; 6th Edinburgh, 1892;
1st Glasgow, 1893; 3rd-4th Edinburgh, 1895; 4 Dundee, 1896; 4th-5th Stirling, 1899; 5th Dundee, 1900

                                    Sheriff Walter Cook Spens

According to the chess column in the Scotsman newpaper, "The Spens Cup was donated by Sheriff Walter C Spens, the founder of the SCA, in 1901. The current trophy is a 1946 replacement after the original was destroyed during the Second World War."

"Sheriff  Spens is alleged to have won the shortest ever game in the Scottish Championships, "about 1893". 1 e4 d5 2 exd5 Qxd5 3 Nb3 - White was distracted while in conversation and intended Nc3. Since Nb3 is illegal the rules of the time required a king  move be played, so 3 Ke2 Qe4 mate! This story is recounted in the British Chess Magazine of January 1932 by six-time Scottish  champion,  Dr.Ronald MacDonald, but there is some doubt as to its veracity. The Graham Burgess book The Quickest Chess Victories of all Time does not mention Spens but gives the same moves in an 1893 (!) game Lindemann-Echtermayer, from Kiel, Germany."


Morphy returned to America arriving in New York in September, 1868, where he stayed at the New York Hotel (and avoided the New York Chess Club) a few days before returning to New Orleans where his life became as hidden as it was (most likely) simple and monotonous.

Between 1868-9 Morphy and Charles Maurian played 4 series of games at Knight odds.

Series 1 - Morphy 6, Maurian 3, Drawn 2
Series 2 - Morphy 3, Maurian 3
Series 3 - Morphy 7, Maurian 10
Series 4 - Morphy 0, Maurian 4, Drawn 1

After the last series, played in December 1869, Morphy informed Maurian that he was now too strong to receive Knight's odds and thenceforth he would only receive the odd of Pawn and two.

According to Sergeant's Morphy Gleanings

In the biography of Morphy in the Book of the Fifth American Congress it is stated that he retained his interest in chess, after ceasing to play, to the extent of analyzing and solving problems. He did not compose. Judge L. L. Labatt, of New Orleans, relates that Morphy, after he had given up practical chess, could read down the score of a game and get the entire game in his mind. He could then point out the weak moves in the loser's game and would say he could beat "any of these fellows."

According to 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. Woodbury's interview letter is for the most part taken up with the story of and comments on Morphy's life. Morphy greeted him in French and Woodbury replied in the same, and knowing something of the family circumstances may have mentioned that chess could do a lot for him. As Woodbury reveals, if there was one thing that enraged Morphy it was constant talk of chess with strangers and the suggestion that he use his skills at the game for profit:

     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.
     Paul Morphy is poor. Unlike a Yankee, he finds it impossible to live on his talent. Opportunities there are in abundance, - rich offers for public exhibitions of himself as delicate as those grasped at by men who would pretend to more honor. He steadfastly refuses them. He was morbidly sensitive to misjudgment, lest he be taken for one who "travels on his muscle," and on all his journeys, defrayed his own expenses, and always played in the presence only of select companies, to which no money could gain access. There seems to me to be a certain attraction in this fine delicacy, which one would encounter not elsewhere among us than in the half-foreign society of New Orleans, amid which Mr. Morphy was reared. It is dearer to than wealth or renown, or the strange gift by which he must get his daily bread or go without it. Some there are who do not live by bread alone."


From about 1872 to 1874 Paul Morphy partnered with established attorney  E. T.  Fellows. Most information about this venture is speculation. Morphy's aversion to discussing chess would have made any public profession difficult at best. The extent of his involvement in this firm is unknown.



In a letter to the New York Sun, May 2, 1877, Charles A .Maurian explained:

[Morphy] is now practicing law in this city, and has never been insane, or spoken of in that relation by his family or friends. As to chess, he is unquestionably to-day the best player in the world, although he does not play often enough to keep himself in thorough practice. He gives odds of a knight to our strongest players, and is seldom beaten, perhaps never when he cares to win.

This demonstrates that Paul was doing some sort of legal work and playing chess as late as 1877.


Paul Morphy's brother, Edward married Alice Percy and together they had two children, Edward (1862) and Regina (1870). Regina Morphy, who was 14 when Paul Morphy died (1884), married George Gastien Voitier. In 1926 Regina Morphy-Voitier wrote about her famous uncle from her reminiscences, from family papers and other research as well as from her connections with people who had known Paul.


Her finished product was a 40 page paper-covered, privately-published pamphlet, entitled, "Life of Paul Morphy in the Vieux Carré of New-Orleans and Abroad"



From this pamphlet we learn something of Paul Morphy's life after chess

"Paul Morphy was exceedingly fond of grand opera and very seldom missed a performance at the old French Opera House on Bourbon Street..."

We learn he liked to walk along Canal St. carrying a cane and sporting a monocle, admiring the ladies. He generally attended daily Mass at the St. Louis Cathedral after which he'd continue his stroll, perhaps buying flowers or "calas" (rice cakes) or cakes from Himbert's "charcuterie shop."    

 " ... He was exceedingly fond of tea...He never ate much lunch but invariably helped himself to two cups of tea and several pieces of buttered toast." 

    " ... Paul Morphy was exceedingly charitable, and old age and childhood strongly appealed to him. He was never known to refuse alms to worthy mendicants."

Morphy Madness