The Best Chess Game Ever Played

  • GM Gserper
  • | Sep 25, 2011

First of all, let me assure you that I am not discontinuing my 'classical games' series. As a matter of fact, this is a continuation of our journey through the classics. But the game I am going to present today is so beautiful and instructive that I decided to devote a whole article to it. Also I need to make a disclaimer in anticipation of your possible objections. When we talk about the best or most beautiful things it is always a matter of taste. You ask 10 people to name the most beautiful painting ever produced and the chances are you'll get 10 different answers. And of course we have the same situation with chess games since chess is also a form of art.

But let me explain the reason for my choice of the best game ever played. The first reason (and possibly the main reason) is it was the first chess game played by a strong player I ever saw.  Of course by the time I saw this game I already had played countless games myself and also saw many games played by my peers. But when I joined a chessclub and our coach showed us this game it completely changed my vision of chess. Before that exact moment, chess was just one of many board games for me, but after I saw this game I realized that chess is a unique World of its own-- I instantly realized the beauty of the Game!

The second reason is the beauty of this game.  I doubt that anyone would argue that this is not one of the most beautiful games ever played.

And the third reason is the instructive value of the game. In my opinion this single game can teach you more about chess than many entire chess books.

Before we proceed any further, I think it is time to reveal the game I am talking about (some of you have probably guessed it already anyway). It is the famous 'Opera Game' by Paul Morphy. In this short game Morphy has demonstrated practically all the most important chess concepts.

1) The Importance of Develoment.

I think every single chess player knows why it is important in the opening to develop your pieces as quickly as possible. Yet, judging by the games my students play on, it is still a popular strategy to play some useless moves (like a3 or h3) which just waste time and don't help to develop your pieces in any way.  Please notice how quickly and effortlessly Morphy develops all his pieces.

2) Forcing Moves.  

It is an extremely important concept in chess. Forcing moves by definition force your opponents to play what you want them to play, not what they want to play. Since chess is essentially a war between two players, a person who manages to force his will upon his opponent usually wins and this is why forcing moves are so important in chess. There are three different kinds of forcing moves: checks, captures and threats. I already talked a lot about forcing moves in one of my previous articles (, so you might want to refresh your knowledge there.  This Morphy's game is unique in the sense that out of 17 moves only 2 were not forcing moves!  Considering that it is impossible to play a forcing move on move one, all Morphy's moves but one were forcing moves! That is really powerful chess!

3) The Main Principle of an Attack.

I cannot tell you how many times I had the same kind of conversation with my students:

Student (S): I had such a promising attack and yet it went nowhere, what was wrong?

Me: You played Qh5, Ng5 and you call it a promising attack?

S: But I threatened a checkmate in one!

Me: Yes, but your opponent could easily defend against it besides how could you expect to beat him with just two attacking pieces vs. his five defenders?

S: (Silence)

This carries a very simple and important point. Your attack has the best chance to succed when you have more attacking pieces than the number of defenders. Consequently, when you attack, you want to bring as many pieces into attacking position as possible!  Morphy brought all his pieces for the attack!  How can you defend against an attack like that?

As I said I could write a book about this game alone because it features a whole bunch of different concepts, but if you master just the three above-mentioned ideas, you'll be a much better player!

So, here is the Morphy game given as a Quiz, so you can compare your moves to the moves Morphy actually played. Don't forget that all Morphy's moves (except move 9) were forcing moves! If you don't immediately understand why some particular move of his is indeed a forcing move, take your time and try to find out the answer since it is one of the most important concepts in chess.  Good luck!



  • 5 years ago


    A different article, complementary, based on this article:

    (...Thanks Gserper! Wink)

  • 5 years ago


    wow .. very nice

  • 5 years ago


    awesome piece!

  • 5 years ago


    One of my first chessbooks is a collection of Paul Charles Morphy's chess games and He taught me a lot about the king's gambit...Laughing 

  • 5 years ago


    I will remember this game, and use Q b3!

  • 5 years ago


    a gem

  • 5 years ago


    an important game for a beginner

  • 5 years ago


    it is a pleasure to watch white queen sacrifice and the subsequent mate!

  • 5 years ago


    What this game ultimately teaches is to strive for simplicity, I was able to follow this game through to it's conclusion. Does this mean I am as good as Morphy - no of course not however the fact I was able to understand the sequence of moves means that there is hope for us all. Too many games can develop into mind boggling complex positions observing some of the games on I prefer to keep it simple in my games too.

  • 5 years ago


    Move 16. Qb8+!!

    One of the most amazing moves I have ever witnessed! ;) Morphy must have been a tactical genius!

  • 5 years ago

    Yurij_2010 - Еще один мой сайт посвящен творчеству выдающегося шахматиста Пола Чарльза Морфи (One more my site is dedicated to the creative activity of outstanding chess-player Paul Charles Morphy)

  • 5 years ago


    queenside castle is awesome, sometimes unexpected from white, castleing often gives black a reprieve, but this one just adds to the pressure, a truly great game

  • 5 years ago


    I just note that if Count Isouard had played 10...Qb4+ the attack would have been muted. Black would still be lost but the train of sacrifice would be broken.

  • 5 years ago


    This game is well worth studying!! I added one more point to an arsenal that was getting rusty! Thank you very much. Embarassed

  • 5 years ago


    I love using a queenside castle as a forcing move. That is a beautiful game, and I understood a lot of it, which is rare for me. :D

  • 5 years ago


    Hey I got this almost right.

  • 5 years ago


    Beautiful game!I show it to my pupils many times.

  • 5 years ago


    Excellent game. Thanks for sharing it as a quiz as well. It improved the instructional value of the article immensely. I would also like to point out that this game could also be used to illustrate when it IS a good idea to bring one's queen out early. Obviously, in order to recapture material, but also to maintain pawn structure as well as to take advantage of positional weaknesses.

  • 5 years ago

    NM BMcC333

    Great collection, your translation is excellent! Thanks

  • 5 years ago


    Some interesting quotes about Paul Morphy:

    "Until today, Morphy is an unsurpassed master in open games. Just find the evidence that nothing substantially new has been created in the field since Morphy. Every player, from beginner to master, you should play, again and again, the games of the American genius. "(Mikhail Botvinnik)

    "From the first moves, Morphy was to show the internal energy contained in its pieces. The truth is that, suddenly, his pieces had much more dynamic than the enemy forces." (Emanuel Lasker)

    "Morphy was the first positional player who understood the strategic base attack unlike their romantic rivals." (Richard Reti)

    "Morphy can be considered the true founding father of modern chess." (Gary Kasparov)

    "Morphy won his games playing in a simple and straightforward, and that logical method is what constitutes the true brilliance of his game, at least when considered from the point of view of the great masters" (José Raúl Capablanca)

    "If the hallmark of a genius is that it is far ahead of his time, then chess Morphy was a genius in the fullest sense of the term." (Max Euwe)

    "He played, if we may so express it, a pure chess. Its harmonious and deep positional understanding intuition Morphy would have made a very dangerous opponent for even the most skilled players of our era" (Vassily Smyslov)

    "Morphy was probably the greatest genius of all. What he did was extraordinary "(Bobby Fischer)

    "Help your pieces to help you" (Paul Morphy)


    (Sorry for bad translation)

Back to Top

Post your reply: