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The Opera House Game

The Opera House Game is a famous chess game played in 1858 between the American chess master Paul Morphy and two strong amateurs, the German noble Karl, Duke of Brunswick and the French aristocrat Count Isouard, who consulted as partners against Morphy.

The Duke frequently invited Morphy to the Italian Opera House in Paris, where he had a private box that was so close to the stage, according to Frederick Edge, Morphy's associate, that “you might kiss the prima donna without any trouble.”

The Duke was a chess enthusiast as well as a lover of opera, and kept a chess set in his private box. Paul Morphy was extremely fond of music and opera, and eager to see Norma, which played on his first visit. Unfortunately, his host had seen Norma countless times; Morphy found himself forced to play chess, and even seated with his back to the stage.

As the game progressed, the two allies conferred loudly, debating their moves against the American genius, and attracted the attention of the opera performers. Madame Penco, who had the role of the Druidic priestess in Norma, kept looking into the Duke's box, to see what all the fuss was about, even as she was performing. Edge recounted that the performers, who were the Druids, marched about “chanting fire and bloodshed against the Roman host, who, they appeared to think, were in the Duke's box.”

It is doubtful that the distracted opera singers had a good enough view to see that what was being created on the chessboard was a game so brilliant, yet so clean and simple, that it has been remembered long after their opera performance has been forgotten. Morphy created this brilliant game, essentially without sight of the board (euphemistically 'blindfolded'), giving most of his attention to the opera performance.

Among other things, the game forcefully demonstrates the importance of rapidly developing one's pieces.

wiki/chess/mrt/operahousegame.txt · Last modified: 2022/05/25 11:42 by admin