Morphy Chess & Cultural Center Opens in New Orleans

The Morphy Chess & Cultural Center (“Morphy”) celebrated its grand opening in New Orleans on Friday, April 5 with a ceremonial ribbon cutting, tandem simuls and one heckuva party! The opening was the start to a weekend of chess where Louisiana would be running multiple events to name its qualifiers to the Denker (HS), Barber (K-8), National Girls’ and Senior Tournaments of Champions. These prestigious invitational events will take place during the U.S Open in August 2019 in Orlando, Florida.

Leila D’Aquin and legendary NOLA master and raconteur Jude Acers (photo Meyer)

The Morphy is the brain child of New Orleans resident and US Chess Women’s Committee member, Leila D’Aquin. D’Aquin told CLO that “New Orleans has a rich chess heritage. The Morphy is the culmination of the visions of many and the time is today for bringing a new chess club and cultural hub to New Orleans.”

Nestled in the Broadmoor/Marlyville neighborhood of New Orleans, the Morphy will serve as a hub, partnering with other community organizations to offer programs that meet the needs of the city. The Morphy will offer standard chess club fare – memberships, tournaments, lessons and camps. It also will be a gathering place for students after school, where they can receive homework assistance as well as work on their chess games. With several nearby arts-focused high schools, the Morphy will offer musical and other cultural events to the community.

On hand for the opening ceremony was Louisiana native and US Chess Executive Board Member Mike Hoffpauir. He believes that “the opening of this center signals a renewal of chess initiatives, especially scholastic chess, for the Crescent City and greater New Orleans area. Through Leila D’Aquin’s strong leadership, the program is certain to flourish.”

Also in town for the celebration was Carol Meyer, US Chess Executive Director. Meyer points out that “The opening of the Morphy Chess and Cultural Center represents the mainstreaming of chess as enriching the community it serves. It is directly linked to the US Chess mission to empower people, enrich lives, and enhance communities through chess.”

Photos from the event (all courtesy Carol Meyer):


  1. Thanks for the pictures of Jude. I had wondered if he would be part of this when I saw the notice about the place.

  2. Very cool! Congrats to Leila!

    Great to see our ED getting out there and supporting the communities – well done Carol!

    Mike H is from Louisiana? I never would have guessed it!

    Nawlins (my mom taught me to say it that way) is going to create another champion like Morphy!

  3. Bringing Chess alive for the people of New Orleans one player at a time. Congratulations to Leila and Jude working together to make life better!

  4. Very good to see. My good chess friend from Illinois Ray Kuzanek is a Morphy historian and was in New Orleans some years ago and had meals at Brennan’s restaurant, the old Morphy home. I will try and get him to go back.
    Paul Morphy is a hero for many of us as he went to Europe not long after his father had died and celebrated his 21st birthday there in June 1858. He then defeated all players prepared to meet him and returned to New Orleans where he gave the game away. Frances Parkinson Keyes’ book ‘The Chess Players’ makes some clever guesses as to his life. One day we may know who his real love was.

  5. I am delighted to learn of the existence of the Morphy Chess & Cultural Center. My great-grandmother, Josephine Leda LeCarpentier, was a second cousin to Paul Morphy. Morphy’s grandfather, Joseph LeCarpentier, was the brother of my great-great-great grandfather, Louis Auguste LeCarpentier. Both were natives of Saint-Domingue, and I suspect (but do not know for certain) that the LeCarpentier family originally came from Rouen, France. Louis was the first Sheriff of St. John the Baptist Parish, and later became a commission merchant in New Orleans. Old documents which describe legal “family meetings” involving my great-great grandfather, Francois Joseph LeCarpentier, bear the signature of Alonzo Morphy, who was in attendance. My great-grandmother was quite a beauty. Whether or not she played chess, I do not know – but she shared Cousin Paul’s love for the French Opera. Resourceful and independent, Josephine was widowed after the early death of my great-grandfather, Charles Guyot, raising seven children of her own, as well as many youngsters who would have otherwise been homeless. She supported them by catering for elaborate parties, preparing gourmet dishes and rich pastries. She was about four years younger than Paul Morphy, but they certainly spent some time together as children. Best of luck to all who enjoy the wonderful Morphy Chess & Cultural Center!

  6. I am member of Dayton Chess Center here in Dayton OH and we are downsizing our inventory of chess posters. Would you like some free to put on permanent display at your site. I plan on visiting there next year for tournament and could bring 5 to 10 down.
    These posters were collected over the years by resident master John Dowling who stipulated that they be given non-profit for display.

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