Chess Player's Chronicle/Series 3/Volume 1/Number 10/Paul Morphy: A Sketch from the Chess World

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Chess Player's Chronicle, Series 3, Volume 1, Number 10
Paul Morphy: A Sketch from the Chess World



Such is the title of the work before us. It was published some months ago at Leipzig by Messrs. Veit & Co. in two volumes; the author is Herr Max Lange, the well-known editor of the Berlin Schachzeitung. We have received, at the same time, the proof-sheets of a translation of the above, by Herr Ernest Falkbeer, which is to be presented to the public in a few days by the Chess publisher Mr. J. H. Starie, of Rathbone Place, London.

The German edition is divided into fifteen chapters, of which the first volume contains ten, the second five; to each chapter are added notes, which the learned author, in contra-distinction to the notes of the games, calls glossaries. The style is entirely German, and perhaps too didactic for a Chess work, but on the whole, much valuable information may be gathered from it. The games, one hundred and twenty in number, are given in the German notation, and are very correctly printed. The notes to the games are generally to the purpose, and often elaborately disquisite. Particular care seems to have been bestowed on the analysis of the games in the match between Anderssen and Morphy, which fills half of the second volume. This section is analyzed in so masterly a manner, that we strongly suspect the German champion himself has furnished the necessary data to the notes.

In order to give our readers a more distinct idea of the work, we will here cite the contents of the different chapters, of which, however, the glossaries generally form the greater part.

Chapter I. treats of the chivalrous nature of the game. Chapter II. compares Paolo Boi with Paul Morphy. Chapter III. gives five games played by Morphy in his youth. Chapter IV. speaks of the Chess Congress in New York in 1857. Chapter V. relates Morphy's triumphs in New York. Chapter VI. represents the American champion on his return to New Orleans. Chapter VII. narrates his voyage to, and his arrival in England. Chapter VIII. enumerates his victories over his English opponents. Chapter IX. is devoted to the match with Löwenthal, and the last Chapter of the first volume refers to the Chess Meeting at Birmingham.

In the second volume, the first chapter describes the youthful hero's reception and blindfold performance in the Café de la Régence in Paris. The second contains the games with his French opponents. The third and fourth present a detailed account of the respective matches with Harrwitz and Anderssen. The concluding chapter of the second volume expresses the author's own reflections on the American champion's extraordinary triumphs and future prospects.

These are the elements of which this work is composed, the merits of which we fully acknowledge; we cannot, however, conclude these remarks without animadverting to some points which must obtrude themselves to the English reader. First and foremost among them is the way in which the German author speaks of Morphy in the first volume; his praises sound like an apotheosis, no Roman poet ever addressed more flattering or high sounding epithets to his Cæsars. Even Caïssa's crown of glory seems to grow pale before this new-born light. No living Chess player, nay, even none of our dead celebrities could be compared to him, whose rising reputation is, as yet, in its first phase, and whom, when in his full glory, no Pantheon could hold, nor Westminster Abbey enshroud. Far less high sounding, however, are the praises meted out to the youthful hero in the cantos of the second volume, at the end of which there seems to be even an inkling of the possibility that some player may yet be found whose lance may not be shivered upon the unconquered breast-plate of this fearful paladin. Similar discrepancies on other points may be found in the two volumes. Although we fully agree with Max Lange in the estimate of Anderssen's play, and think with him that in his match with Morphy he has played considerably below his strength, we cannot but disagree with him in his estimate of Harrwitz's play, who, as he seems to infer, has played up to his strength. Whoever peruses the games between Morphy and Harrwitz must easily see that in the latter part of the match, Harrwitz laboured under some inimical influence, moral or physical, whatever that might have been, we leave it to him to explain.

In the glossaries we have found much interesting matter, and many details with which we were, as yet, unacquainted, especially as to the match between Anderssen and Morphy; as to these, however, we must refer our reader to the book itself, or the English translation by Herr Ernest Falkbeer, which has united the two volumes into one, added a goodly number of games to the original edition, and enriched it with translator's notes, which, considering Herr Falkbeer's skill as a Chess player, must considerably augment the intrinsic value of the work. In comparing the English text with the German, we were struck with the correctness of the translation, especially in the notes, where redundant phrases and periphrastic style are the prevalent characteristics of the original, thus making an exact translation doubly difficult.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).