By Bill Wall
Here are a few similarities between Bobby Fischer and Paul Morphy.
Both of them learned chess at around age 6.
Both of them were child prodigies in chess.
Both of them had extremely good memories.
Both were found unfit for military during war (Morphy for the Civil War in 1861 and Fischer for Vietnam in 1964).
In 1857, Morphy won the American Chess Congress. 100 years later, in 1957, Fischer won the US Open and won the Centennial U.S. Championship in 1957/58.
Morphy was the best player in the United States in 1858. Fischer was the best player in the United States in 1958.
Both are the only US world champions in chess. Morphy was the unofficial world champion in 1858 after beating Anderssen in a match. Fischer was the official world champion in 1972.
Both returned to the USA as heroes after the world championship.
Both withdrew from competitive chess after winning the world championship.
Neither defended their world championship title.
Both demonstrated paranoid symptoms and delusions.
Both thought they were being persecuted in later life. Morphy thought he was being persecuted by unknown persons. Fischer thought he was being persecuted by Jews and Russians.
Both died relatively young. Morphy died a 47. Fischer died at 62.
Both died in isolation.
Both had famous biographers. David Lawson was the biographer of Morphy. Brady was the biographer of Fischer.
Both had a Regina (Spanish for Queen). Morphy’s niece was Regina. Fischer’s mother was Regina.
Both of their fathers died at a young age. Morphy’s father died at age 57. Fischer’s father died at age 56 if we assume that Paul Nemenyi is his father.
Both won the U.S. chess championship in Manhattan.
Both played several games with a reverend. Morphy played many games against Reverent John Owen. Fischer played many games against Reverend Bill Lombardy.
Both were the youngest members of their chess club. Morphy was the youngest member of the New Orleans Chess Club. Fischer was the youngest member of the Manhattan Chess Club.
Both were particular about how they were dressed. Both preferred suits and ties.
Both had chess clubs named after them. New York had a Morphy Chess Club. In Yugoslavia, a chess club was named after Fischer.
Both had lawsuits against other people and both had their lawsuits dismissed by the court.
Both physically attacked a friend. Morphy attacked his friend, Mr. Binder, over an incident. Fischer attacked his friend, Pal Benko, over an incident, and got into a fistfight.
Here are a few differences between Bobby Fischer and Paul Morphy.
Morphy’s family was wealthy. Fischer’s family was poor.
Morphy lived in a mansion. Fischer lived in various apartments.
Morphy had a career in law. Fischer’s only career was chess.
Morphy did not own or real a lot of chess books. At age 20, Morphy only owned 3 chess books. Fischer had a large chess library and read many chess books.
Morphy was gifted academically (Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees) and received a law degree at age 20. Fischer dropped out of high school at age 16.
Morphy was short (5 foot 4 inches). Fischer was tall (6 foot 2 inches).
Morphy was not athletic. Fischer was very athletic with tennis, swimming, walking, racquetball, etc.
Morphy never asked for money or would play for money. Fischer always played for money.
Morphy never gave simuls around the country. Fischer did give simuls around the country.
Morphy’s name was used to advertise everything from cigars to hats. Fischer’s name was never used for advertising.
Morphy was a southern gentleman with manners. Fischer was demanding and had a difficult personality.
Morphy never married. Fischer was with several women and was married.
Morphy’s father, Alonzo, is known. Fischer’s father is unknown (was it Hans Fischer or Paul Nemenyi?).
Morphy played blindfold games in public. Fischer did not play blindfold games in public.
Morphy was nearsighted and wore a monocle. Fischer’s vision was 20/20.
Morphy lived with his mother throughout his life. Fischer’s mother moved out of their apartment and Fischer did not stay with his mother.
Morphy’s parents were Catholic. Fischer’s parents were Jewish.
Morphy played competitive chess for 2 years. Fischer played competitive chess for 20 years.
Morphy’s family is Spanish-Irish-Creole. Fischer’s family is Polish-Jewish.
Morphy played hundreds of games against the best players in New Orleans, and won most of them. Fischer played hundreds of games against the best players in New York, and won most of them.