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Happy Friday Kibitzers! As always you should push the pawn.


Kibitzing. The word immediately gets me thinking about chess. I used to play a bit back in the day. Carried around a board and clock; started a chess club and got to be president; I was the perfect stereotype of social ineptitude. Never was very good at chess, though. I still enjoy the game and if anyone is to blame for that I'd finger Bobby Fischer. Bobby Fischer's World Championship match with Boris Spasky in 1972 was an exciting event for all nerdy American kids and, well, as you may have previously surmised from my dKos content, I was one of them.

Bobby Fischer's genius for chess was first demonstrated in 1956 when at the age of 13 he devised a sensational victory over the International Master Donald Byrne at the Rosewald Memorial Tournament in New York City. Hans Kmoch, the famous chess journalist, called this prescient contest the Game of the Century.

Donald Byrne Vs. Bobby Fischer
The Game of the Century

1. Nf3 Nf6
2. c4 g6
3. Nc3 Bg7
4. d4 O-O
5. Bf4 d5
6. Qb3 dxc4
7. Qxc4 c6
8. e4 Nbd7
9. Rd1 Nb6
10. Qc5 Bg4
11. Bg5 Na4 !
12. Qa3 Nxc3
13. bxc3 Nxe4
14. Bxe7 Qb6
15. Bc4 Nxc3
16. Bc5 Rfe8
17. Kf1 Be6 !!
18. Bxb6 Bxc4
19. Kg1 Ne2
20. Kf1 Nxd4
21. Kg1 Ne2
22. Kf1 Nc3
23. Kg1 axb6
24. Qb4 Ra4
25. Qxb6 Nxd1
26. h3 Rxa2
27. Kh2 Nxf2
28. Re1 Rxe1
29. Qd8 Bf8
30. Nxe1 Bd5
31. Nf3 Ne4
32. Qb8 b5
33. h4 h5
34. Ne5 Kg7
35. Kg1 Bc5
36. Kf1 Ng3
37. Ke1 Bb4
38. Kd1 Bb3
39. Kc1 Ne2
40. Kb1 Nc3
41. Kc1 Rc2
Fischer is still considered by many (especially if they aren't Russian) to be the greatest chess master of all time. If you are Russian then, of course, it is Garry Kasparov, who retired from competition in 2005 after 20 years at the top and has since devoted his time to humanitarian causes.

There is now, though, an up and coming Norwegian youngster named Magnus Carlsen who may eventually change everyone's opinion. Unlike Fischer who played a lowly International Master at age 13 Carlsen vied against the former World Champion Anatoly Karpov at a 2004 blitz chess tournament in Reykjavík, Iceland and won! Since that time he has become the #1 player in the world, earned the highest ELO rating of all time (2872), a hot male model, and will play, this coming November, the current world champion Viswanathan Anand in Chennai, India.
If you are interested various lists and methods for rating the best chess players of all time you can find them here.

To be sure, however,  Fischer was a brilliant child but a very, very troubled man. His shenanigans and tantrums during his playing days as a young adult and the rants and ravings of his fetid and fertile imagination later in life are well documented. For him, in the end, the world was but 64 squares and everything colored in black or white. One can't help but wonder what the chess world would have been like had Bobby Fischer been more grounded in reality. Still, Fischer wasn't the only American chess genius to achieve greatness and world renown and then slip into a nether world beyond chess and reality itself. There was another—The Pride and the Sorrow of Chess. More(phy) after an exchange of queens....

Paul Morphy
The Pride

Paul Morphy was born in New Orleans in 1837.  He, like Fischer, exhibited his precocious talent at an early age.  At the ripe old age of almost 9 Morphy played "Old Fuss and Feathers" himself, General Winfield Scott.

Scott thought his hosts were pulling his leg when they lead the slightly built child in to meet him and didn't find it a particularly funny, but his hosts assured him that young Paul was a strong player and Scott acquiesced. If the very young Paul Morphy felt intimidated by the burly 6 foot 5 inch Scott it certainly didn't show over the chessboard where the youngster beat the general two straight, rather convincingly. Another game was offered but Scott declined to play any more games and retired for the evening.

Paul Morphy's chess career was distressingly short. Although he played at a very high level from an early age his master level play only lasted for approximately 2 years starting with the First American Chess Congress held in New York in October of 1857.  Between then and his return to New Orleans in 1859 he'd beaten the best American and European chess players and was declared (unofficially) the World's Chess Champion by many. The only chess great of the time Morphy failed to face over the board was Howard Staunton (you may recognize the name because he standardized the design of chess pieces).

Morphy is considered to be the first modern chess master. One of Morphy's most famous and brilliant games introduced informally as A Night at the Opera and sometimes as The Most Beautiful Game against the talented amateurs Duke Karl of Brunswick and the French aristocrat Count Isouard at the Italian Opera House in Paris (October 1858).
Morphy was extremely fond of music and opera and was eager to see Norma, which played on his first visit. Unfortunately, his host had seen Norma countless times, and Morphy found himself forced to play chess, even seated with his back to the stage.

As the game progressed, the two allies conferred loudly enough with each other, debating their moves against the American genius, that it attracted the attention of the opera performers. Madame Penco, who had the role of the Druidic priestess in Norma, kept looking into the Duke's box, to see what all the fuss was about, even as she was performing the opera. Then the performers who were the Druids, marched about, "chanting fire and bloodshed against the Roman host, who, they appeared to think, were in the Duke's box", Edge recounted.wikipedia
Morphy Vs. Duke Karl/Count Isouard
The Most Beautiful Game Ever Played

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 Bg4
4. dxe5 Bxf3
5. Qxf3 dxe5
6. Bc4 Nf6
7. Qb3 Qe7
8. Nc3 c6
9. Bg5 b5
10. Nxb5 cxb5
11. Bxb5 Nbd7
12. O-O-O Rd8
13. Rxd7 Rxd7
14. Rd1 Qe6
15. Bxd7 Nxd7
16. Qb8 Nxb8
17. Rd8 checkmate
And the Sorrow

After Morphy returned to New Orleans in 1859 he rarely played chess and never again after 1869. Some sources posit that he was suffering from a psychological disorder.
The mental derangement which overwhelmed Morphy's brilliant mind and clouded his later life is a curious chapter in his career, and has given rise to no little wonder among chess players as to the cause and conditions of his mania. Without going into the details of his mental troubles, two conclusions stand out very clearly, namely, that chess in no way contributed to it, and that the reverses he experienced in his material affairs did. The latter conclusion is borne out by the fact that his mania took the form of a delusion that his brother-in-law, Sybrant by name, administrator of his father's estate, had defrauded him of his legacy. So intensively did this delusion dominate him that his perverted mind conjured up machinations on the part of Sybrant to poison him in order to quiet his proposed action at law to recover. Morphy was perpetually in fear of being poisoned, and as a precaution would eat nothing except at the hands of his mother or his unmarried sister, Helena. This proposed action against his brother-in-law absorbed Morphy's attention for many years; being a lawyer himself he busied himself with the details of his suit, and was much about the law courts in consequence. It should be stated, however, that Mr. Sybrant discharged the obligations of the trust entirely to the satisfaction of the court, which is a matter of record.

It is difficult to fix the time when Morphy's mind was noticeable unbalanced. When the second American chess congress was held in Cleveland in 1871 strenuous efforts were made to secure Morphy's attendance, but he persistently declined all invitations that were urged upon him. Rumors of his malady were abroad then ; some people who were in a position to know aver that his mania was perceptible even before that date. Morphy was never legally declared insane; he was so harmless and reticent, and lived in such quite retirement at his home, that there was no need of putting him under any restraint. In June, 1882, his family did endeavor to place him in a sanitarium in the hope that he would be benefited. The institution was called the Louisiana Retreat, located near New Orleans, and under the patronage of the Catholic church. Those in the party that accompanied Morphy were his mother his brother Edward, and his intimate friend C. A. Maurian. When they reached the asylum Morphy protested against his detention with such evident sanity, and discussed his civil rights with such a learned knowledge of the law, that the Sisters in charge were afraid to assume the responsibility, and he was taken back home.wikisource


Paul Morphy died on July 10th, 1884 after a long walk on a typically brutally hot day in his home town of New Orleans. It was reported that he expired in his tub and that it was the shock of the cold water  that evidently caused what was then called 'brain congestion' (it was most likely a stroke). So passed the first great American Chess master. Of the 59 serious games (against the best competition) Morphy won 42, lost 8, and drew the remainder. A truly remarkable record.

Thanks for stopping by kibitzers. I hope you enjoyed my little chess diary.
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Kitchen Table Kibitzing is a community series for those who wish to share part of their evening around a virtual kitchen table with kossacks who are caring and supportive of one another. So bring your stories, jokes, photos, funny pics, music, interesting videos, and so forth. We would also appreciate links—including quotations—to diaries, news stories, and books that you think this community would appreciate. Please note that pie fights will be unwelcome in this community, just as in most other series at DKos. Finally, readers may notice that most who are posting diaries and comments in this series already know one another to some degree, but that definitely does not mean that newcomers will be excluded or unwelcome. We're happy to welcome guests to our kitchen table, and hope to make some new friends as well. KTK posts nightly at 5:00 Pacific, 6:00 Mountain, 7:00 Central, 8:00 Eastern.
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