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The Smile Of A Champion

July 2024
1min read

THE YOUNG MAN at the left is Paul Morphy, the god of American chess players and perhaps the greatest natural genius the game has ever produced. Photographs of Morphy exist, but daguerreotypes, such as this one, are extremely rare. It was discovered in a flea market in New Jersey by Dr. Enoch Nappen, who bought it without knowing that it was, indeed, Morphy. Neither Nappen nor we, the editors, know who the other young man is (apparently he is in the act of resigning by turning down his king). We would be glad to hear from any reader who can enlighten us.

Dr. Nappen believes the picture was made in 1857 when Morphy was in New York for the first American Chess Congress. He was twenty, but contemporary descriptions all stress that he looked younger.

Shortly after the tournament in New York (which he, of course, won), Morphy sailed for Europe in pursuit of new triumphs. His particular target was the English scholar and chess champion Howard Staunton, but Staunton was afraid of him and avoided a match. Morphy was disappointed but went on to astonish the world with his play in Europe and returned home as our country’s first star of an international sport.

WE CONTINUE TO ask our readers to send unusual and previously unpublished old photographs to Carla Davidson at American Heritage Publishing Co., 10 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020. Please send a copy of any irreplaceable material, include return postage, and do not mail glass negatives. American Heritage will pay $50.00 for each one that is run.

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