Some Thoughts on "A First Book of Morphy"

by NM Kerry Lawless

This book, written by Frisco Del Rosario, is long overdue. Frisco, the chief disciple of San Francisco Bay Area chess guru Richard Shorman, is a noted chess expert, writer and teacher in his own right. The book cleverly uses Paul Morphy's games to illustrate the amalgamation of Rueben Fine's 30 chess rules with Cecil Purdy's teachings.

  • Paul Morphy was the first real world champion.
  • Grandmaster Dr. Rueben Fine was a world championship contender from 1938 through the Second World War.
  • International master Cecil Purdy, the first Correspondence chess world champion, is generally acknowledged as the greatest chess teacher in English literature.

As the author points out in the Introduction, this book is not for absolute beginners. Its chief purpose is to create a rock-solid foundation for further chess development. In my opinion, this should be required reading for anyone from class "D" through class "A". Personally, I've retired Fine's "Chess the Easy Way" and now require all my students to use "A First Book of Morphy" as a textbook.

This book is not a formulae book where the author takes an idea and expands on it to create a sellable commodity. It's a very passionate endeavor where essential concepts and ideas are explained with such clarity and depth that it soon becomes apparent that the author has invested this book with 100% of his heart and soul. A quick glance through the chapters reveals an intellect deeply rooted, cognizant and appreciative of world chess literature. The author succeeds in finding and using just the right anecdote to illustrate the most subtle of chess concepts. Most books leave the reader asking the question, "But what if... ?" This book answers those questions, usually before they're asked.

But, this book is more... much more. As a long time student of Richard Shorman, Frisco has absorbed the Purdy-Fine method of teaching, which has been in development for over forty years. Thousands of SF Bay Area kids and teens have been exposed to the Purdy-Fine teachings over that period. Unfortunately, most of them have received only second hand information. This is the first and only book to remedy that problem. While the definitive book on the "Purdy-Fine school of chess" hasn't been written yet, this book is perfect for its target audience. If you're serious about getting good at chess, buy this book!

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