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Paul Morphy vs Duke Karl / Count Isouard
"A Night at the Opera" (game of the day Dec-02-07)
Paris (1858)  ·  Philidor Defense: General (C41)  ·  1-0
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Given 366 times; par: 33 [what's this?]

Annotations by Robert James Fischer.      [17 more games annotated by Fischer]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <offramp>

From Frederick Edge's account of the evening.

<H. R. H. the Duke of Brunswick is a thorough devotee to Caissa; we never saw him but he was playing chess with some one or other. We were frequent visitors to his box at the Italian Opera; he had got a chess-board even there, and played throughout the performance. On our first visit "Norma" was performed. The Duke's box is right on the stage; so close, indeed, that you might kiss the _prima donna_ without any trouble. Morphy sat with his back to the stage, and the Duke and Count Isouard facing him. <Now it must not be supposed that he was comfortable. Decidedly otherwise; for I have already stated that he is passionately fond of music, and, under the circumstances, wished chess at Pluto.> The game began and went on: his antagonists had heard _Norma_ so often that they could, probably, sing it through without prompting; they did not even listen to most of it, but went on disputing with each other as to their next move. Then Madame Penco, who represented the Druidical priestess, kept looking towards the box, wondering what was the cause of the excitement inside; little dreaming that Caissa was the only _Casta Diva_ the inmates cared about. And those tremendous fellows, the "supes," who "did" the Druids, how they marched down the stage, chaunting fire and bloodshed against the Roman host, who, they appeared to think, were inside the Duke's box.>

Mar-10-14  LIFE Master AJ: This is the most famous game of all time, more people know/recognize this game than any other game in chess.
Mar-10-14  Petrosianic: <Sally Simpson>: <Well of course I have to add this game to my favourites. The most famous game ever played?
The most reprinted game ever played?>

Certainly in the Top 5, and certainly a strong candidate for #1. I doubt that any actual polls have been taken to show that more people recognize it than, say the Immortal Game or the Evergreen (or even the Fools and Scholar's Mates).

Mar-10-14  LIFE Master AJ: I did not make up the above fact.

Marshall, Reinfeld, Chernev ... and many others, said it first.

Mar-10-14  solskytz: Or Reti-Tartakower, 1910
Mar-11-14  LIFE Master AJ: <sol> Reti vs Tartakower, 1910.

Is that the one that you were referring to?

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Since it was first played this game has been repeated many times. So I suppose Morphy may have played this game before.
Mar-13-14  john barleycorn: Morphy had his warm-up in this game

Morphy vs Harrwitz, 1858

Concerning the foolowers of this game - <Rene Gralla> here has seemingly played a copy of almost every spectacular game in chess history. Just see his page.

Mar-20-14  solskytz: Sure, <AJ>
Mar-20-14  RedShield: <ĎParis, 13 Nov. Yesterday, Duke Charles of Brunswick caused a great scandal at the Thť‚tre des Italiens. He was playing chess with his companions during the performance and making so much noise that the theatreís director had to demand that he be quiet.í>

May-12-14  satkul: a very instructive game
Premium Chessgames Member
  Nightsurfer: Talking of your last posting, dear <John Barleycorn>, please do not exaggerate! Those very few cases of - partial! - replays that I was lucky enough to recognize OTB are less of one-tenth of a percent of all those games in more or less goofy style that me, a bloody amateur, I have played during those years since I have learned the rules of chess.

On the other hand I firmly believe that those very few cases of - partial!! - replays that can be checked out on my personal page are quite instructive since they help to demystify the game of chess a little bit. For they are proof of the fact that a game of chess can be defined as being a stringing together of recurring so-called "chunks", that is to say: typic constellations of the pieces, and you "only" have to recognise those chunks ... ;-) ... but the latter fact, that is the problem of course, in all too many cases I have overlooked even the most basic chunks.

The tragedy of a hopeless PATZER!

Premium Chessgames Member
  MindCtrol9: There was no player, before or now, that can be equal to Murphy in what attack and abilities to conduct it is.The only one close to him M Tal.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mating Net: Love this game. This is my absolute favorite mating pattern, the Opera House mate.
Aug-18-15  kishore4u: Great one!
Aug-28-15  narayase: first class game played by morphy in 1858.he is the world's bestplayer.none of the players can play like him.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <MindCtrol9> And Super Nez !
Sep-06-15  The Kings Domain: One of the most memorable games, and one of the most instructive. Morphy may have seen victory by move 10.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: It is probably correct about this game being printed more than any other.

Here is today's question.

Which well known chess book had the score of this game printed in it eight times (yes 8 times) and yet on the 3rd edition of the same book it does not appear at all, not even once?

Sep-07-15  The Kings Domain: Sally Simpson: Interesting, I don't know the answer but I couldn't help but wonder: why would they do that? Reminds me of "The Mammoth book of Chess" which is supposed to be a compilation of the best games recorded and it doesn't include a single game of Morphy!
Sep-07-15  Est2002: Qb8 !! What a tremendous exhibition of chess this game is. Morphy was sumptin else :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi King's Domain.

Of course you knew the answer (or it a fantastic coincidence.) - well done!

It is indeed ' "The Mammoth Book of Chess".

They used the Morphy at the Opera game to show all the different ways of recording a game from short algebraic, to long descriptive to Correspondence notation (where 1.e4 is 5254).

In the 3rd edition this was all gone. (I've no idea if it is or is not in the 2nd edition....Anybody?)

No Morphy game in the Mammoth book of the World's Greatest Games.

But it is the 'World's Greatest Games' not the most 'Famous Games.'

Also if 100 hundred Kibitzers on here drew up a list of the 10 greatest games placed in any order I doubt if any two list would contain the same 10 games.

The 'Immortal' and 'The Evergreen' make it in the book. Two games I'd leave out, also in is Adams - Torre, New Orleans 1920. Which even this site and the Mammoth authors admit was probably analysis. (leave it in as the World's Greatest Composed Game!)

E Z Adams vs Carlos Torre, 1920

I'm wondering if the cold dark hand of Dr. John Nunn, one of the co-authors, was at work here.

Dr John has gone on record as saying he did not like the Morphy Game.

" One of my pet hates is the choice of games for beginnersí books. There are certain standard examples that tend to be repeated in book after book.

In many beginnersí books, you will find the game Morphy vs Count Isouard and the Duke of Brunswick, played during a performance of the Paris Opera in 1858.

Itís not an especially good game, as one might expect when the strongest player of his day confronts two duffers.

Moreover, it has always seemed to me faintly incredible that authors couldnít find a relevant example less than 140 years old.

In this book, every game and game extract is from the twentieth century (indeed, only two are earlier than 1950).

The style of chess played today is quite different from that of 1858, and while some of the differences are subtle, there is no reason why players should not be exposed to contemporary chess thought from the beginning."

(pages 4-5 of his book 'Learn Chess.')

Fair enough. That was in the introduction

First Chapter.

1. Why Learn Chess

And Dr. John starts with:

"Chess is a game with a long history."

Hang on...then why only two pre-1950 games.


Sep-07-15  The Kings Domain: Sally Simpson: A mistake that turned out right: I actually meant "The Mammoth Book of the World's Greatest Chess Games". (Heh)

Nunn has peeved me with his anti-Morphy slant ever since. It seems the Brit has yet to get over the fact that his boy Staunton ran over the hills and far away to dodge Morphy more than a century and a half after the fact.

Premium Chessgames Member
  NeverAgain: <Sally sez: The style of chess played today is quite different from that of 1858, and while some of the differences are subtle, there is no reason why players should not be exposed to contemporary chess thought from the beginning."

(pages 4-5 of his book 'Learn Chess.')
Fair enough. That was in the introduction

First Chapter.
1. Why Learn Chess

And Dr. John starts with:

"Chess is a game with a long history.">

I see no no contradiction here. History is best admired at a distance. That's from someone who'd been reading college textbooks on Roman Empire in the fifth grade.

<The Kings Domain: It seems the Brit has yet to get over the fact that his boy Staunton ran over the hills and far away to dodge Morphy more than a century and a half after the fact.>

With history it's customary to conduct at least some research before claiming something as a fact. Hint: Morphy, Edge, Winter, Google.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Never Again,

I did a wee :) at the end of my piece noting the coincidence.


As I said 'fair enough' but why mention this game if he thinks it is "not an especially good game" in a book presumably aimed at people who don't know anything about chess.

Perhaps he thought traditionalists would grumble about the fact the Morphy game was not included.

I doubt many, if any, would have said anything. His objection to this game, which takes up a third of the introduction and has more words written about it than some of the games actually included in the book, has only highlighted the fact.

Leave it out. 'fair enough' but to have an unnecessary pop at it seems very strange.

It's like writing a book on how to buy a guitar, string it, tune it and play it and in the introduction to the book tell the bemused reader about a song you don't like.

Whilst I agree many writers use the same old examples, this game is instructive, easily explained and has lit the chess spark in many a beginner.

But in or out, I'm not bothered. I just find the rant strange.

The statement:

"There are certain standard examples that tend to be repeated in book after book"

Also quivers when you see the two famous pre-1950 games Doctor John allowed into his book.

Capablanca vs M Fonaroff, 1918

(Maybe he did not want two off hand games skittles games in his book.)

More about this game here:

The other chosen pre-1950 game is also a famous Capablanca game showing off a weak back rank.

A large percentage of the readers will already know what game I'm talking about.

Yes it's:

O Bernstein vs Capablanca, 1914

And now 90% of the lads here are playing 29...Qb2 in their minds.

I doubt if the Morphy - Staunton non-match influenced him. He does not seem to get to excited about any game (bar two) played before 1950.

And yet his 'John Nunn's Chess Course' by John Nunn! is based solely on the games of 'World Champion Lasker'. (1868 - 1941).

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