The Olympic Torch and an Encounter with Paul Morphy

About thirteen months ago I decided I needed a car to match our eco house and lifestyle. The petrol guzzling, super fast, sports estate car would have to stay locked in the garage and a small petrol electric hybrid would be our main means of transport. Like chess, I prefer extremes rather than average! Little did we know that the test drive coincided with the Olympic Torch tour, so we crawled silently around town, on electric power, in slow moving traffic but, unfortunately, missed seeing the Olympic Torch!

Last month I returned the car for it’s first service, which they did while I waited. To kill time I went into one of my favourite bookshops and could not resist buying an 1886 copy of ‘Morphy’s Games of Chess’ by J. Lowenthal. It has an introduction from Morphy and a nice Stevenson print from a photograph, which appears to be signed, although I know Morphy had died two years before publication of this edition.

I was surprised to find a game he played against John Rhodes, my namesake, who was born in Leeds in 1814, a member of Leeds Chess Club from 1834 until his death in 1898 and was acquainted with Buckle, G. Walker, Staunton, and St. Amant. As far as I know he is no relation! It was one of eight simultaneous games that Morphy played blindfolded and without sight of a board. It was the anniversary Meeting of the British Chess Association in 1858 in Birmingham, England. Morphy won six games, drew one and lost one, a remarkable score even with a very rare defeat.

Here is his game played blindfolded against my namesake with the original annotations by Lowenthal, although in algebraic notation: –

John Rhodes