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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ernest Morphy

     Paul Morphy’s exploits are stuff of legend; a young champion who roamed the world conquering everybody and finally retiring without a blemish on his record. Born on June 22, 1837 to wealthy parents, his father was a well-to-do lawyer, a justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court and state Attorney General, Morphy was raised to be a gentleman in the antebellum South.
     In 1845 he witnessed the match between New Yorker Stanley Fink and the South’s best player, Eugene Rousseau, a friend of the Morphy family. In those days Morphy played against his father, Rousseau and his uncle Ernest on Sundays, the only acceptable day for such gentlemanly activity.
     Most believe that it was Uncle Ernest who taught Morphy how to play though Ernest claimed Paul learned just from watching his father play. Ernest was considered the best player in New Orleans but mostly devoted himself to his nephew’s chess interests. It was Ernest who sent Paul’s games to various publications and tried to arrange matches with the best players in America. 
    Ernest lived in my home state of Ohio for a time. He lived in Claremont County which includes the city of Cincinnati, at the time one of the country's chief hog packing centers. It was also an important stop on the Underground Railroad, which helped slaves escape from the South. After a brief stay in Cincinnati, he moved to Quincy, Illinois
     Ernest was born at Charleston, S.C., 22nd Nov. 1807 and died of a stroke in Quincy, Illinois on March 7th, 1874.
     The following game was played on October 25, 1858 and it was published in the Cincinnati Dispatch in 1858 (according to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Chess) and historian Daniel Fiske gives Ernest’s opponent as J. R. Smith of Cincinnati. They played 7 games with Morphy holding a 4 to 3 edge.

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