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A First Book of Morphy [Paperback]

Frisco Del Rosario

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Book Description

6 July 2006
A First Book of Morphy illustrates basic principles of chess with more than 60 brilliant and instructive games played by the first American chess champion, Paul Morphy.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Economy & Lucidity a la Morphy 14 Dec 2004
By Big Wave Dave - Published on Amazon.com
Nineteenth century American prodigy Paul Morphy never wrote anything about how to play chess, but his games are sparkling examples of classical chess principles at work. He had a talent for discovering magical moves that wound his opponents up in knots -- check, check, and mate out of nowhere. How did he do it? Everyone agrees that it was his insight into principles and his tactical genius that allowed him to dominate the greatest masters of Europe in his day. So, a book of Morphy's games would be entertaining and inspiring. But Frisco del Rosario has done more than compile brilliancies from Morphy's games -- he uses carefully selected games as case studies to illustrate principles enunciated by chess writers such as Fine, Horowitz, and Purdy. On the one hand, you have a principle, such as "Develop with threats" and on the other you have an application, "Morphy vs. Duke of Brunswick and Count Isouard." The back and forth between principle and illustrations is well-choreographed and told in a lean and lucid manner. The beauty of this approach is del Rosario's choice of games to illustrate the principles -- they are all crystal clear. The cumulative wisdom of the principles themselves form a unified approach to good chess. Very helpful are del Rosario's explanations of tactical sidelights that informed the decisions of Morphy and his opponents. Some authors go overboard on this and leave you mired in detail. Not in this book. The text, like the games of Morphy, moves quickly. Read it and play through the examples for enjoyment, and you'll feel the effects next time you're faced with a decision over the board.
48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is THE must have book 18 Oct 2004
By B. Fallon - Published on Amazon.com
This book is incredible. I have bought (and sold!) many different chess books but this is the first that has had a dramatic impact on my game.

I have been to many of the author's lectures that were based on this book. It was how I was able to rediscover my game and got me back to the core principles of how to win a game (vs. memorizing the 20 variations to the xyz defense to the abc attack). It made chess fun again and had me winning more games.

The book is very readable and well thought out. It is also very powerful - you can spend a little time with it and still have a solid improvement - or you can spend a lot more time and be amazed at how much it can do for your game and your perspective on chess.

With regard to applicability, it has a wide range. I am using it with my young kids and know a bunch of expert players who love it also.

I can't recommend it highly enough.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots to Learn from Morphy 17 Jan 2011
By Eric Noel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book after reading the recommendation list of Dan Heisman and because I like Morphy's style of super rapid development, not to mention brilliant attacks.

The book is well written, with not too much commentary, so as not to get bogged down in endless variations. Thirty basic chess principles are put forward (10 opening, 10 middlegame and 10 endgame). Morphy games are then discussed with a focus on the principle being illustrated (one principle per chapter with a few games to illustrate it).

The method of teaching chess principles with real games is an excellent way to learn, at least for me. After going through about half of the book, it becomes not too difficult to guess what Morphy's next move will be as you will be well acquainted with his style.

My only gripe is the non-standard notation, which takes some getting used to. I am not sure why the author abandoned standard notation but it is a pain to read his bare bones notation if you are used to standard algebraic notiation. Hence, only 4 stars.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, bad notation choice. 10 Mar 2008
By ROB - Published on Amazon.com
As previous reviewers have said before, the book is fantastic.

Unfortunately it has a peculiarity that makes it somewhat hard to read. The author wants to do without any indicators (!, !!, ?, !?, etc), which says have been abused in the past.

Well, the author takes that premise to the extreme, removing all indicators, including the capture and check symbols. For example, Nxc3+, Nxc3, Nc3 and Nxc3# are written as Nc3 on this book. It may not sound as a big deal, but it eventually gets tiresome. It is specially annoying when side-lines are given.

Here is to hoping the next revision is printed on Algebraic or Descriptive notation.
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Player, Good Games, Okay book..... 2 Feb 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am still new to the study of chess so my opinion could change with hindsight in a couple of years, but I have to say this book was just okay. I was really excited when I ordered the book, as it was going to be my first game collection focused on one person. (I have gone through Chernev's Logical Chess, which obviously has games featuring many different players)

It has been fun to play over Morphy's games but the book's layout is a little awkward to me and the annotations are somewhat dry, especially for a book that acts as if it is going to be an instructional book.

I know that it has been a worthwhile experience to go through Morphy's games but I am glad to be done with this book and looking forward to studying some Tarrasch and maybe some Tal.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will say that at this VERY EARLY stage of my chess study, I seem to prefer playing over games that are strategic struggles instead of quick and flashy "brilliancies". The games I really enjoyed in this book were the few that took Morphy awhile to win (and even the one he lost to Anderson!!)

This IS a worthwhile book to study just because of Morphy's tactics and sound principles, it just hasn't gotten me as excited about chess as some other ones I have worked through.

Update: 11/18/08

I am even more convinced that this book is over rated! I have played through some other game collections and have a little more experience under my belt, and these annotations are just not that informative. I have recently gone back and begun to analyze some games I have played over per my coaches instructions. I went back to a few of these Morphy games and the author's annotations just don't give you anything to go on. I am thinking there has to be a better Morphy collection out there..there just has to be! I have changed my rating from three stars down to two stars! If you want to get game collections that have truly instructional annotations I recommend the following books: Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking, Anything by Paul Keres (especially his own game collections), anything by Chernev and Best Lessons of a Chess Coach.
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