In the days before chess clocks, a player might wait for hours while his opponent decided on a move.
Morphy’s companion Frederick Milnes Edge remarked that “[József] Szén was so frightfully slow, even in ordinary games, that he would have worn out 200 francs’ worth of his opponent’s pantaloons before the match was half through.”
The most notorious slowpoke in England was Elijah “The Bristol Sloth” Williams: In the fourth game of his London match against Henry Thomas Buckle in 1851, Williams lavished such exquisite care on his 25th move that Buckle had time to write two chapters of his History of Civilization.
Buckle won. “The slowness of genius is hard to bear,” he said, “but the slowness of mediocrity is intolerable.”