Paul Morphy

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Paul Charles Morphy (June 22, 1837 – July 10, 1884), was an American chess player. He is considered to have been the greatest chess master of his era and an unofficial World Chess Champion.[1] He was a chess prodigy and called "The Pride and Sorrow of Chess".[2]



Early life

Morphy was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a wealthy and distinguished family. His father, Alonzo Michael Morphy, a lawyer, served as a Louisiana state legislator, attorney general, and Supreme Court Justice. Alonzo, who held Spanish nationality, was of Spanish, Portuguese, and Irish ancestry. Morphy's mother, Louise Thérèse Félicité Thelcide Le Carpentier, was the musically-talented daughter of a prominent French Creole family. Morphy grew up in an atmosphere of genteel civility and culture where chess and music were the typical highlights of a Sunday home gathering.[3]

According to his uncle, Ernest Morphy, no one formally taught Morphy how to play chess; rather, Morphy learned on his own as a young child simply from watching others play. After watching a lengthy game between Ernest and Alonzo, young Paul surprised them by stating that Ernest should have won. His father and uncle had not realized that Paul knew the moves, let alone any chess strategy. They were even more surprised when Paul proved his claim by resetting the pieces and demonstrating the win his uncle had missed.

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