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Paul Morphy
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Chess Champ
    (June 22, 1837-July 10, 1884)
    Born in New Orleans, Louisiana
    Won the first American Chess Congress (1857)
    After a series of victories in Europe, was considered the unofficial world chess champion
    He was a child prodigy.
    He retired from competition after only two years.
    Although he had a law degree, his practice was unsuccessful and he lived mainly off the family fortune.
    He became increasingly reclusive and paranoid and would only eat food prepared by his mother or sister.
    He died of a stroke reportedly caused by jumping into a cold bath after a long walk on a hot day.
    He was never formally taught chess and learned on his own by watching other players.
    Europe's leading player, Adolf Anderssen, explained his loss with the comment, 'I win my games in seventy moves, but Mr. Morphy wins his in twenty.'
    While studying for the bar, he memorized the Louisiana law code.
    His law practice failed partly because of his opposition to secession during the Civil War.
    Bobby Fischer said, '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.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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