Yes, I can. But first I'll give you a clue: Pe2-e4 Pe7-e5. I'll bet you knew right away that this is chess notation. And the street between Gentilly Boulevard, Broad Street and St. Bernard Street is named for a man who has been called the "pride and sorrow of chess." At age 21, he was rightfully acknowledged as the best player in the world, but after an active career of only two years, he retired.
Paul Charles Morphy was born in New Orleans on June 22, 1837. His father, Alonzo, was a distinguished lawyer who became the state attorney general and a member of the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Paul had learned the fundamentals of chess by age 10 from his father and uncle, both very good amateur chess players. His Uncle Earnest said, "This child has never opened a work of chess ... In the opening he makes the right moves as if by inspiration; and it is astonishing to note the precision of his calculations in the middle and end game."
By age 12, Paul was the leading chess player in New Orleans, having defeated several famous players including Eugene Rousseau. In 1850, he defeated Johann Loenwenthal, the Hungarian master. Paul, you see, was a genius, and many people regard him as one of the greatest chess players the world has ever known.
As a boy, he attended Jefferson Academy in New Orleans and St. Joseph's College in Spring Hill, Ala., from 1850 to 1854. Paul was an honor graduate and studied law at St. Joseph's before entering law school in 1855 at the University of Louisiana, now Tulane University. While he was there, his father died, leaving him a very wealthy young man.
Paul graduated in 1857, fluent in French, Spanish and German, but since he was only 20, he was too young to practice law. Paul, however, planned a legal career until chess drew his attention.
That year, the first American Chess Congress was to be held in New York City. Paul, having both time and money, managed to get himself an invitation to the tournament. He was quickly acknowledged to be the greatest chess player in America.
Paul's playing style was noted for its creative moves. He had a great enthusiasm for the game and an even temperament. His power of analysis and his remarkable memory were astonishing. Even when he was still a teenager, he often played as many as 12 games at once. And he frequently played blindfolded!
In 1858, the British Chess Association invited the master to England where he proceeded to defeat the leading players before moving on to France. He defeated almost every top player -- Anderssen, Paulsen, Harrwitz and Loewenthal. However, the renowned Howard Staunton, author of a book on chess, was conveniently unavailable. Nevertheless, Paul was recognized as the best in the world.
Although he never really thought to make a career of chess, he did work as an editor for Chess Monthly from 1858-1860. And he also wrote a column on chess in 1861 for the New York Ledger.
It's not quite clear why Paul didn't continue playing chess, especially since his attempts to practice law in New Orleans were not very successful. For a while, in 1862, he traveled to Cuba and Europe, but didn't play in any tournaments. When he returned to New Orleans in 1864, he played very little chess for the rest of his life. In fact, his mental condition deteriorated, and he became quite eccentric, actually hating the sight of a chessboard and refusing to discuss the game. He died suddenly on July 10, 1884, and was buried in St. Louis Cemetery #1.
When Paul returned to the United States after his great victories in Europe, he was acclaimed a national hero. In 1859, Oliver Wendell Holmes declared, "I propose the health of Paul Morphy, the world's chess champion. His peaceful battles have helped to achieve a new revolution; his youthful triumphs have added a new clause to the declaration of American Independence."
Paul Morphy was a charter member of the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.