The Opera Game

Round 1

One of the most exciting feelings a chessplayer that you can have OTB, is following a famous game, if not one from every chessplayers “childhood”.  Here, I was following the game Morphy vs. Duke Karl / Count Isouard.  When you first learn a game like this, the thought is “Oh well, that’s something only Morphy can do and understand.”  Well, of course OTB I knew that I was following Morphy.  I was going to follow Morphy’s game to move 13, and then remembered that I take on d7 with a piece.  I think I would have followed this game 100% because I remembered what the mate was supposed to look like, if he had allowed me to.  After the game, I told him that I was following this game and would have sacked on b5, had he famously or infamously played 9…b5.  Sheesh, talk about getting caught in the clutches.

Fischer’s memory is outstanding, as you can see here in this video.  Fischer at the end, as I remember, suggested 3…Nbd7 instead of 3…Bg4?  I told my opponent that he had simply played a bad line, the …Bg4 line.

OTB, I correctly felt that he should have played 4…Nc6, 5.exd6 Bxd6, simply sacking a pawn for activity because I knew where this game was headed.

6….Nf6?  A natural move, and a mistake.  Black needs to move the queen here,  to d7, e7, or f6.

8.Nc3  This move is stop the …Qb4+, as much as it is to protect the e4 pawn.  Qxb7 would also protect the e4 pawn, but would allow the trade of queens.  Also, taking the b7 pawn consumes time on the board.  I actually did consider Stockfish’s choice of 8.Bxf7+ followed by 9.Qxb7, but naturally wanted to see whether I could recreate the “Opera Game” and where he might deviate from it.

When I took the rook, I realized that he could “trap” my queen by playing …Qf6-e7-c7, then …Nd7, and so I saw my reply Nd5 before I took the rook, but also realized there is no trap in any event because worst case I could trade my queen for both his rooks and force him to consume many moves to carry out this plan.  I figured that I could simply make a concession here, and get on with the business of winning, since I had a very direct plan that could force.

21.Qc3  I wasn’t sure whether to play this or 21.Qf6, but I simply didn’t calculate far enough.  After 21.Qf6 Qc5, 22.axN QxBc4, I have 23.QxBd6.  I didn’t notice he’d be leaving his bishop unguarded here.  Naturally, I knew I was winning in any event, and finished the game with 22 minutes on my clock, but even then could see that this was far less than ideal for a game with so few moves.

After he resigned, I showed him the simple finish 28…RxBf7, 29.Rd8 Rf8, 30.QxR mate.

One of my favorite songs, it’s by The Kinks, and it sort of relates well to this post.






2 thoughts on “The Opera Game

  1. Yeah, it is a great game, I memorized it many, many years ago.
    You played very well.
    I liked your 14. Nd5, computer also suggests 14. Na4 Bd4 15. c3 Qc7 16. cxd4 Nd7 17. Qxf8+ Nxf8 18. Nc3 exd4 19. Rxd4, so you get two rooks, bishop and pawn for the queen.

    Allowing him to take on b4 was a good idea, 26… Qxb4 was a mistake.

  2. Thanks!

    14.Na4 looks like a great line, didn’t notice that.

    I played well tonight, except when I tried to play the clock one time, and it cost me the game. The clock should be meaningless. Flag or not, who cares? No one. Just play good moves, the clock shouldn’t be the measure of anything.

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