Saturday, August 6, 2011

Louis Paulsen's blindfold exhibitions in Illinois

After Paul Morphy's retirement from active play in the early 1860s, Louis Paulsen may have been the strongest chess player in the world.  He emigrated from Germany in 1854 and lived in Dubuque, Iowa, until 1860, after which he returned to Europe.  Most chess players remember him for his famous games with Morphy from the First American Chess Congress, his contributions to the Sicilian Defense, and his proto-hypermodern playing style.

I never knew how strong a blindfold player he was until reading Olimpiu G. Urcan's Chess Cafe article on Paulsen's blindfold exhibitions.  In May 1858, Paulsen scored 9 wins, 0 losses, and 1 draw in a ten-game Chicago exhibition; later than month in Rock Island, Paulsen scored a perfect 10-0-0.  You'll find several of those games in Urcan's article.

Amateur historians may wish to help Urcan in filling the gaps of Paulsen's exhibition record.  And while you're at it (plants tongue in cheek), can you find any evidence that a certain avid amateur chess player from Galena (only a few miles from Dubuque) ever played Paulsen, and thus gained strategic insights put to use in winning the Civil War?  (One might argue that Gen. Grant's style was closer to Morphy's.)

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