The Opera Game, also called “Night At The Opera”, is a one of the most famous Chess games that took place in Paris, 1858 where Paul Morphy played against two skills opponents Duke Karl and Carl Isouard.
Below is the PGN position of the game you can go through.
The Opera Game: Paul Morphy vs Duke Karl and Count Isouard
This game is rather short, but it’s been studied far more than most other games.
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 The Philidor Defence 3.d4 Bg4 pins the knight, but also enables White to create an open file as we will see in the next moves
( Nowadays 3… exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Be7 is played more often. )
4.dxe5 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 dxe5 6.Bc4 threatens mate 6…Nf6 7.Qb3! threatens a mate in two as illustrated by the next three variations 7…Qe7
( 7… Nxe4?? 8.Bxf7+ Ke7 9.Qe6# like in the 1994 game of Shaun Press vs Tony Salvage )
( 7… b6?? 8.Bxf7+ Ke7 9.Qe6# like in the 1994 game of Marek Smilowski vs Daniel Martins )
( 7… Nbd7?? 8.Bxf7+ Ke7 9.Qe6# as played in 2003 in the game Karjakin Sergey  — Sola Lluch Miguel Angel  )
8.Nc3 White threatens eventually to use d5 a a strategic outpost 8… c6 prevents that White can position his knight on this important square. 9.Bg5 pins the knight 9…b5
( 9… Qc7 is better, but White still has a strong attack )
10.Nxb5! White gives up a knight in exchange for the two pawns and a strong attack. 10…cxb5 11.Bxb5+ Nbd7 resulting in another pinned piece. Black is almost unable to move a piece and can only try to defend.
( 11… Kd8 doesn’t help either. 12.O-O-O+ )
12.O-O-O!! Castling into safety and even more important attacking a pinned piece. All White’s pieces are developed, while Black’s pieces are hardly developed and unable to move. 12… Rd8 13.Rxd7!! Please note that the knight at f6 is pinned, but the most interesting part of this move is that White sacrifices the exchange to win a rook 13… Rxd7 14.Rd1 attacking a pinned piece again 14…Qe6
( 14… Kd8 is better, but not enough to hold the position 15.Bxd7 Kc7 +- )
15.Bxd7+ Nxd7? a mate in two. Do you see it?
( 15… Qxd7 is a better move, but look at what happens after this better move 16.Qb8+ Ke7 17.Qxe5+ Kd8 18.Bxf6+ gxf6 19.Qxf6+ Kc8 20.Rxd7 Kxd7 21.Qxh8 +- )
16.Qb8+ Nxb8 17.Rd8# 1-0
Why Is The Opera Game So Famous
Why is the Opera Game so famous. Yes it’s a game that one of the best Chess players in history played, but what else is there that gives it so much notoriety and prestige? If you attend a Chess class in person and the topic of Opening Principles is taught. One of the games that is sure to be analyzed is the Opera Game, because this game does an excellent job at demonstrating the importance of rapid development of your pieces. Not only this lesson, but multiples other concepts in Chess, such as the sacrifice, that every players should learn like the back of their hands.
In fact, this game is so famous, they even made a movie about it, titled “The Opera Game”. You can watch it on Amazon.
Despite being less than 20 moves, there are many lessons to take away from this game.
The top five lessons are:
Develop you chess pieces quickly
Castling into safety
The strategic outpost at d5
Attacking a pinned piece
The use of an open file
I hope this article on the 1858 Opera Game of Paul Morphy informed you of everything you wanted to know about it.
Do you like games like this? If you did, you might be interested in looking at more of the most famous Chess games like the Immortal Game, the Evergreen Game.