|THE LIFE AND CHESS OF PAUL MORPHY Paul Morphy goes to England|
Paul Morphy went to Europe by way of Africa see note and returned by way of Persia.
The steamship, Africa, arrived in Liverpool, England on June 20, 1858 and immediately caught the train to Birmingham. The Birmingham chess tournament had been scheduled to begin on June 22 (incidentally, Morphy's birthday) but, unknown to Paul, it had been postponed until August 24. Paul met Thomas Avery, the president of the Birmingham Chess Club, at the Curzon Street station and was apprised of the change of plans. Morphy spent the night in Birmingham and proceeded to London the following morning. Avery gave us a description of his brief encounter with Morphy:
According to Frederick Edge, Morphy's constant companion in Europe, Paul took sick in Birmingham. They arrived in London on June 21 and registered at Lowe's Hotel. Edward Lowe, the proprietor, was a chess player and engaged Morphy in six games, all won by Morphy. It wasn't until June 23 that Paul felt well enough to venture into the chess clubs of London. He visited both Simpson's and St. George's where he played Thomas Hampton, St. George's secretary. There, at some point, he also encountered Howard Staunton. After making the perfunctory introductions, Morphy inquired about the challenge made by the New Orleans Chess Club concerning a match between himself and Staunton. Staunton accepted the challenge on the condition that he be allowed a month to brush up on his chess openings, a condition which Morphy gladly agreed to, informing Staunton that he had written to Lord Lyttelton, the president of the British Chess Association, informing him that his stakes would be available the moment they were desired. Morphy, uncharacteristically, asked Staunton if he cared to play a few casual games but Staunton demurred, citing urgent business elsewhere. However, Staunton invited Morphy to spend the weekend at his country home in Streatham. At Streatham with Morphy and Staunton were Thomas Barnes and the Reverend John Owen (1827-1901). Staunton proposed
While waiting for Staunton's month of preparation to pass, Morphy visited all the London chess clubs but tended to gravitate toward Simpson's Grand Divan. Although he made himself constantly available for chess and played casual games against most of London's strongest players (of which he considered Boden the strongest), Staunton always managed to elude him. On July 3, Morphy played a series of three games with Alter - John Owen. Owen won the first and Morphy won the final two. Later they played two more games which Morphy won.
When Morphy finally caught up with Staunton, Staunton proposed that they delay their match until after the Birmingham tournament in August. Morphy reluctantly agreed. Staunton then publicized the agreement in the Illustrated London News:
Now that the match was postponed, yet again, Morphy accepted a challenge from John Löwenthal whom he had beaten in New Orleans when he was but 13 years old. The stakes were originally set at £50, but Löwenthal was confident, from Morphy's results with Barnes, that he had the advantage and asked to double them to £100. Morphy agreed and provided his own stake money. Somehow, Löwenthal's seconds were Barnes and Oldham while Morphy's seconds were Arthur Hay and John Owen. The winner was to be the first player to score 9 wins.
After ten games, the score stood 7 to 2 (with the first game drawn) in Morphy's favor. Löwenthal took sick and Morphy insisted on postponing the rest of the match. When the match resumed a week later, Löwenthal won the first, one game was drawn, and Morphy won the other two he needed to win the match. Accepting the £100 stakes, Morphy bought a set of furniture valued at £120 and gave it to Löwenthal's family for their new apartment.
But there's a curious aside to this match with Löwenthal. Edge explains it in his letter or August 6 to Daniel Willard Fiske:
At the commencement, before in fact the match begun, Morphy bet Lowe [the proprietor of Lowe's Hotel where Morphy was staying] that Löwenthal would not score 5 games, and now it stands M.7 - L.2 - Drawn1. leaving 2 games for Morphy to gain to pocket the 100 Spondulicks. I need not send you the games inasmuch as you will find them in the Illustrated London News, accompanied by those mean, sneaking notes, which have constituted Staunton the "Chess Pariah" of the London world. ... After the second game, which Morphy won, the first being a "draw", the Rev. John Owen, alias "Alter" who is one of Morphy's seconds, came up to Löwenthal and said to him in my hearing, "Never mind, one swallow don't make a summer." This reverend gent...is more inimical to Morphy than any man in London. God knows how he became Morphy's second; Morphy did not chose him. After each games Löwenthal lost, he would come to Morphy and tell him that he won by L.'s oversight, and that he played much below his strength, or he would not beat him. Morphy has become so disgusted by his ungentlemanly conduct, and thickheaded observations on the games, that he had challenged him to a match, giving him odds of Pawn & Move, and this may probably come off, before the match with Staunton...
One comical oddity was Owen's comment to Morphy prior to the match:
Owen successfully avoided the second match at Pawn and two that he had consented to in the first match agreement.