Quotes on Morphy
Morphy was the first positional player who, unlike his Romantic rivals,
understood the strategic basis for attack. He wrote nothing more than a
few game notes and played fewer than seventy-five serious games. But his
exploitation of open lines prepared the way for Steinitz's scientific
treatment of closed positions and the era of modern chess.
Encyclopedia of Chess, New York, 1977)
Genius is a starry word; but if there ever was a chess player to whom that
attribute applied, it was Paul Morphy.
J. A. Galbreath
(American Chess Bulletin, October,
has been truly said that Morphy was at once the Caesar and the Napoleon of chess. He
revolutionized chess. He brought life and dash and beauty
into the game at a time
when an age of dullness was about to
set in and he did this at
a stroke. Then he quit forever. Only
two years from the
beginning to the end. The
negotiations for some modern
matches have taken that long!"
(in The Adventure of
Chess, 2nd Edition, New York, 1959)
After the passage of a century, Morphy still remains the most glamorous
figure that has ever appeared in the chess world.
(in Great Moments in Chess History,
Brancliff Manor, New York 1963)
Paul Morphy was a great chessplayer, a genius... Morphy, I think everyone
agrees, was probably the greatest genius of them all...
In Paul Morphy the spirit of La Bourdonnais had arisen anew, only more
vigorous, firmer, prouder... Morphy discovered that the brilliant move of
the master is essentially conditional not on a sudden and inexplicable
realisation, but on the placing of the pieces on the board. He introduced
the rule: brilliant moves and deep winning manoeuvres are possible only in
those positions where the opponent can be opposed with an abundance of
active energy... From the very first moves Morphy aimed to disclose the
internal energy located in his pieces. It was suddenly revealed that they
possess far greater dynamism than the opponent's forces.
Jose Raul Capablanca
Reviewing the history of chess from La Bourdonnais to the masters of our
day right up to Lasker, we discover that the greatest stylist was Morphy.
He did not look for complicated combinations, but he also did not avoid
them, which really is the correct way of playing... His main strength lay
not in his combinative gift, but in his positional play and general style.
Morphy gained most of his wins by playing directly and simply, and it is
this simple and logical method that constitutes the true brilliance of his
play, if it is considered from the viewpoint of the great masters.
[I play in] the style of Morphy, they say, and if it is true that the
goddess of fortune has endowed me with his talent, the result [of the
match with Emanuel Lasker] will not be in doubt. The magnificent American
master had the most extraordinary brain that anybody has ever had for
chess. Technique, strategy, tactics, knowledge which is inconceivable for
us; all that was possessed by Morphy fifty-four years ago.
How much more vivid, more rich does the figure of Morphy appear before us,
how much clearer does the secret of his success and charm become, if we
transfer ourselves in our thoughts to that era when he lived and created,
if we take the trouble to study, only a little, his contemporaries!
Then...in London and in particular in Paris, where the traditions of
Philidor were still alive, where the immortal creations of La Bourdonnais
and McDonnell were still in the memory, at that time, finally, when
Anderssen was alive, and with brilliance alone it was hardly possibly to
suprise anyone. The strength, the invincible strength of Morphy- this was
the reason for his success and the guarantee of his immortality!
To this day Morphy is an unsurpassed master of the open games. Just how
great was his significance is evidant from the fact that after Morphy
nothing substantially new has been created in this field. Every player-
from beginner to master- should in this praxis return again and again to
the games of the American genius.
A popularly held theory about Paul Morphy is that if he returned to the
chess world today and played our best contemporary players, he would come
out the loser. Nothing is further from the truth. In a set match, Morphy
would beat anybody alive today... Morphy was perhaps the most accurate
chess player who ever lived. He had complete sight of the board and never
blundered, in spite of the fact that he played quite rapidly, rarely
taking more than five minutes to decide a move. Perhaps his only weakness
was in closed games like the Dutch Defense. But even then, he was usually
victorious because of his resourcefulness.
There is no doubt that for Morphy chess was an art, and for chess Morphy
was a great artist. His play was captivated by freshness of thought and
inexhaustible energy. He played with inspiration, without striving to
penetrate into the psychology of the opponent; he played, if one can
express it so, "pure chess". His harmonious positional understanding the
pure intuition would have made Morphy a highly dangerous opponent even for
any player of our times.
If the distinguishing feature of a genius is that he is far ahead compared
with his epoch, then Morphy was a chess genius in the complete sense of
Morphy can be regarded as the forefather of modern chess.
What was the secret of Morphy's
invincibility? I think it was a combination of a unique natural talent
and brilliant erudition. His play was the next, more mature stage in the
development of chess. Morphy had a well-developed feel for position,
and therefore he can be confidently regarded as the first swallow -
the prototype of the strong 20th century grandmaster.