Tom Murphy: King of Dupont Circle
Images of Tom Murphy, blitz legend and chess artisan. Photos by Bill Bamberger and Daaim Shabazz.

Images of Tom Murphy, blitz legend and chess artisan.
(Photos by Bill Bamberger and Daaim Shabazz)

One of the most ironic things about chess is despite its characteristics as a game of war, it helps to unfurl the beauty of the soul. Listening to Tom Murphy, one can feel the depths of his soul radiating with passion… the passion of chess, the game of kings. Murphy is a king… king of the world famous Dupont Circle. In the annals of chess history in Washington, DC, his name brings about smiles and solemnity.

What is intriguing about the story of Tom Murphy is that it is heard too often… a person of immense talent and intellect, but a victim of unfortunate decisions and circumstances. In listening to Murphy and hearing his rich, resonant voice, one could imagine (under different circumstances) him making good as a business executive, a radio personality, or a chess Grandmaster. However, Murphy never hides from his problems, but finds solace in the royal game of chess… an arena where he owns a sense of  importance.

"For those of us who are truly obsessed with chess, a pure chess moment is a moment of art. What drives my obsession is the search of the next painting on the chessboard. It might take a painter a week, or a month, to create his masterpiece. In blitz, you do it in five minutes."

~ Tom Murphy on the appeal of blitz chess ~

Wells Tower ran a lengthy article on Murphy and actually took a trek with him to Philadelphia's World Open to see the life of a hustler. Here we find a world within a world. Hustlers  primarily eschewing classical forms of chess for the fast and furious arena of blitz. The story is lengthy, but worth the read and certainly gives Murphy the recognition that has been long overdue.

Read, "The Days and Knights of Tom Murphy"

Posted by The Chess Drum: 29 September 2007

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