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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 381 times; par: 33 [what's this?]

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

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 26 OF 26 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-31-16  MariusDaniel: This is such a Great Game of Chess,I love it!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Est2002: I don't see how 4..Bg4 was "A weak move already" as Fischer said. I've seen many games with 4..Bg4 but just different outcomes. Nonetheless it's still one of my favorite games of chess.
Apr-20-16  Shams: <Est2002> Different outcomes yes but White wins more than three out of every four games against it. Opening Explorer. That's nearly as bad as Damiano's Defense. Opening Explorer

You're supposed to get something when you give up the bishop pair out of the gate.

Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: I think there is a gambit black could play here. Can't remember but I think maybe 4...Nc6 isn't too bad. At least he won't get mated right out of the opening.
Apr-21-16  sudoplatov: The usual gambit goes:
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 Bg4
4. de5 Nd7
5. ed6 Bd6
Premium Chessgames Member
  Est2002: Shams. Thank you for your reply Sir. I'll have a look at the opening explorer now. For someone who's my level I still don't think it's that bad but I guess it's hard to disagree with a player called Bobby Fischer. :)
Jun-06-16  Adrian Chantler: Great game! Morphy was an excellent player.
Jun-16-16  stst: Morphy is almost top on my fav list, maybe I rank him and Capa very roughly equal.

Both are simply huge raw talents at genius level, the rest that come very very close are Fish, Alek, Tal and, the latest, Magnus.

Morphy's game give an impression that the talent is simply too huge to put up any resistance, whereas for Capa, youa're virtually playing with a machine.

Aug-12-16  thegoodanarchist: <The Kings Domain>

I prefer "The Chess Book of Mammoths "

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Sally Simpson>, hello, Geoff.

I remember Time Out having a poll which asked its readers to send in their top 5 films of all time.

Great, I thought. And I started thinking: It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, Bride of the Monster, Son of Frankenstein, Old Mother Riley Meets The Vampire ...

But then I saw that there was a competition involved:

IF my top 5 matched the FINAL top 5, then I could win DVDs of the entire top 50 films! A major prize!

Obviously, to win it I had to change my top 5 drastically: Citizen Kane, Raging Bull, All Quiet on the Western Front, Star Wars, Gandhi ....

You can see the difference. The first set was MY own personal favourites.

The second was WHAT I THOUGHT other people would select as a top 5. Big difference!

Many people might think that this game, Morphy vs Duke Karl / Count Isouard, 1858, is WORTHY of being in the top 100, even though they don't particularly like it.

I'm not a big fan of it, but I can see why some people like it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <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. >

Geometry has a long history too, but that doesn't mean you teach it with Euclid's textbook.

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

It's not a good game in the sense that Black makes lots of mistakes. But there's still an amazing grace and elegance to it. As an illustration of the power of development it's worth a thousand precepts.

<Domdaniel: Just showed this game to my five-year-old nephew, who became a Morphy fan on the spot. After 16.Qb8 he said "I can take the Queen" - he's got good chess reflexes - and then was stunned by the mate. Such a great game.>

Yes, that shows exactly why this game winds up in so many books (though surely laziness plays a part).

<The 'Immortal' and 'The Evergreen' make it in the book. Two games I'd leave out>

I agree -- and surely there's no reason for both of them to be in there? If I were king I'd leave the Dufresne game in there, take out Kieseritzsky and add Morphy vs Harrwitz, 1858 or Morphy vs Anderssen, 1858.

Generally I found that book too heavily weighted towards sacrificial orgies.

Premium Chessgames Member
  saffuna: <And Dr. John starts with:

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

Analyzing one of his losses, Dr. John reportedly said, "I was in the right place, but it must have been the wrong time."

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: I bought, listened too and threw in the dustbin 'Norma' the opera Morphy was listening to whilst he played this game.

...and the Bile Beans tasted just as bad as the CD.

Oct-28-16  bharathdivyang: This is one of the classiest games of chess. I use this in my classes for beginners all the time. Please check out my analysis at

Oct-28-16  Petrosianic: There are some moves you don't comment on, but should.

For instance, although it's true that 3...Bg4 is a weak move, 6...Nf6 is another one. Something like 6...Qd7 is better.

8. Qxb7 may be the objectively best move. If Morphy didn't play it because he was either a) going easy, or b) counting on his opponents to misplay the position, fine. But comments like "White has way too much advantage to squander it away with an exchange" are misleading. Converting a Space or Time advantage into a Material one is a well recognized principle.

The fianchetto, 9...g6 is worth considering. Few people fianchettoed back then (Staunton did). b6 and a6 are also worth at least discussing.

9...b5 is as weak as Bg4 or Nf6 were, if not weaker. 10. Nxb5 would occur to players a lot weaker than Morphy. Even if they didn't see the entire followup, the idea of catching Black's King out in the center that way is eye-catching enough to warrant investigation.

"Time and quality in chess trumps material any day". Um no, not always. That's also misleading. You could find plenty of positions (mostly closed ones) where the player with such advantages can do nothing with them, and has to sit by helplessly while the guy with the Material catches up.

The last chance to avoid immortality would have been 15... Qxd7. After 16. Rxd7, Black is dead busted, of course, but at least he can keep playing until the intermission, and maybe go to the bathroom and never come back.

Oct-29-16  bharathdivyang: Petrosianic, thanks for the feedback. I agree with you on the general weak moves by Black during the opening. There is a certain hyperbole in the commentary to drive home the point. I teach kids who are 4 - 10 years old. Being absolutely technically right can be a little boring at times. But you've raised valid points and there are always exceptions to statements I've made. In any case, appreciate a counter view and feedback. Do check our blog from time to time
Oct-29-16  Shams: <Petrosianic> <8. Qxb7 may be the objectively best move. If Morphy didn't play it because he was either a) going easy, or b) counting on his opponents to misplay the position, fine.>

"That would be a butcher's way, not an artist's" was how Reinfeld or someone put it.

Oct-29-16  Granny O Doul: The "butcher" comment came from Lasker, as I read it. But he was talking about the move 8. Bf7+ .
Oct-29-16  john barleycorn: <"Time and quality in chess trumps material any day". >

What a nonsense is this?

Oct-29-16  john barleycorn: <keypusher: ...

Geometry has a long history too, but that doesn't mean you teach it with Euclid's textbook. ...>

In fact, they do teach with Euclid's "Elements" since 2000 years. At least in the primary courses. It is the most published book after the bible if my information is correct.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kramnikstudent: Analyzed this game in my blog

Nov-23-16  The Kings Domain: The only Chess game I've memorized. Morphy's genius shines admirably in this neat little gem.
Feb-22-17  Jimmy720: memorize
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Memorize.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <offramp: I asked: <<morpstau:...The duke and Count were wining over who gets to make the next bad move.> Can this be taken as an answer to this earlier question? <offramp: Here is a basic question: How did the allies play? How did they 'consult'? Did they talk to each other while the opera was on or did they play a move each, like in a bridge game?>

So presumably Morphy had the additional advantage of listening to the Allies choosing and analysing each of their moves before they played it. No wonder they lost!>

<LIFE Master AJ: I HATE Morphy bashers ... they really get under my skin. As for the yahoo who questioned how the consultation was carried off, you should read the account that was printed in a Paris newspaper.>

The Yahoo was me! Sadly I don't have that newspaper at hand. I am looking for it, though.>

I have still not found the Paris newspaper that described how the Allies talked about their moves and made them.

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