Posts Tagged ‘chess and music’

My Favorite #Chess Games: The Opera House Game

June 12, 2018

The Opera House Game is perhaps the most famous chess game to have ever been played. It’s title is derived from the fact that the great American chess master Paul Morphy defeated the Duke Karl of Brunswick and the Count Isouard while all the parties involved were watching Norma being performed from the box seats at the Paris Opera House. I show this game several times a year to demonstrate the art of attacking in chess. Included below the game are my lesson notes.





The Opera House Game


[Event “The Opera House Game”]
[Site “Paris (France)”]
[Date “1858”]
[Round “”]
[White “Morphy Paul”]
[Black “Duke Karl of Brunswick and the Count Isouard”]
[Result “1-0”]
[Eco “C41”]
[Annotator “Chris Torres”]
[Source “”]

{[ PHILIDOR’S def.,C41] Morphy Paul +8 =1 -1 Duke Karl Count Isouard +0 =0 -1 Morphy Paul-Duke Karl Count Isouard +1 =0 -0}
1.e4 {Paul Morphy’s favorite way to start a game.} e5 2.Nf3 {Knights before bishops.}
d6 {Philidor’s Defense was quite popular during the time of Paul Morphy’s European
adventures and he was quite adept with either color of it.} {%08DA}
3.d4 {Paul Morphy choses to place a second pawn in the center. Of course, developing
a second piece with a move like Bc4 is also good.} Bg4 {?!} {
A questionable choice for black. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to bring
out a knight before the bishop. Here black could have played Nf6 or Nd7. Also
fine is exchanging pawns with exd4. Below are sample games for each move.}
( 3…exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Be7 6.g3 d5 7.e5 Ng4 8.Bg2 O-O 9.Nxd5
Bc5 10.c3 c6 11.Ne3 Nxe5 12.O-O Re8 13.b4 Bb6 14.a4 a5 15.Bb2
Na6 16.bxa5 Bxa5 17.Qc2 Qf6 18.Rad1 Qg6 19.Be4 Qh5 20.c4 Nc5
21.Bg2 Bh3 22.f4 Bxg2 23.Kxg2 {…0-1, Carlsen Magnus (NOR) 2837 – Mamedyarov Shakhriyar (AZE) 2726 , Astana 7/10/2012 Ch World (blitz) (final)}
) ( 3…Nf6 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7 6.O-O {?} ( 6.Bxf7+ Kxf7 7.Ng5+
$40 ) O-O 7.Qe2 c6 8.Bg5 ( {‘better is’} 8.a4 {‘better is’} )
h6 9.Bh4 Nh5 10.Bg3 Nxg3 11.hxg3 b5 12.Bd3 a6 13.a4 Bb7 14.Rad1
Qc7 15.axb5 axb5 16.g4 Rfe8 17.d5 b4 18.dxc6 Bxc6 19.Nb1 Nc5
20.Nbd2 Qc8 21.Bc4 g6 ( 21…Qxg4 22.Bxf7+ {!} $18 ) 22.g3 Kg7
23.Nh2 Bg5 24.f3 Qc7 25.Rfe1 Rh8 26.Ndf1 h5 27.gxh5 Rxh5 28.Bd5
Rah8 29.Bxc6 Qxc6 30.Qc4 Qb6 31.Kg2 Ne6 32.Re2 Nd4 33.Ree1 Qb7
{!} 34.Rxd4 ( 34.c3 bxc3 35.bxc3 ( 35.Qxc3 Rc8 $41 ) Qb2+ $19 )
exd4 35.Ng4 ( 35.Qxd4+ Bf6 36.Qxd6 Rd8 ) Qb6 36.f4 Be7 37.Rd1
f5 38.Nf2 fxe4 39.Qxd4+ Qxd4 40.Rxd4 d5 41.g4 Bc5 {!} 42.Rd1
Rh4 43.Rxd5 Bxf2 44.Kxf2 Rxg4 45.Ke3 Rc8 46.Kxe4 Rc4+ 47.Kd3
Rcxf4 48.Ne3 Rg3 49.Re5 Kf6 50.Re8 Kf7 51.Re5 Rf6 52.c4 b3 53.Ke4
Re6 54.Rxe6 Kxe6 55.Nd5 g5 {0-1, Teichmann Richard (GER) – Nimzowitsch Aaron, San Sebastian 1911 It}
) ( 3…Nd7 4.Bc4 c6 5.dxe5 dxe5 6.Be3 Be7 7.Nc3 Qc7 {‘better is’ Ng8-f6, 0-0, Rf8-e8}
8.a4 Nc5 9.b4 {?} ( {‘better is’} 9.Ng5 {‘better is’} Nh6 10.h3
{!} {=} ) Ne6 10.Rb1 Nf6 11.O-O O-O 12.Ne1 ( 12.Ba2 {!?} )
( 12.Be2 {!?} {(B) Alekhin} ) b5 {!} 13.Bb3 a5 14.axb5
( 14.bxa5 b4 15.Ne2 Qxa5 $17 ) axb4 {} $17 {} 15.b6 Qb7 16.Ne2
c5 17.c3 {!} Bd7 ( 17…Nxe4 {?!} 18.cxb4 cxb4 19.Nc2 {=} ) 18.cxb4
cxb4 19.Ng3 Nc5 20.Bc4 Ncxe4 21.Nxe4 Nxe4 22.Bd5 ( 22.Qd5 $13
Bc6 ( 22…Qxd5 23.Bxd5 Nc3 24.Bxa8 Nxb1 25.Be4 ) 23.Qxe5 Bd6
24.Qf5 Rae8 {} ) Bc6 23.Bxc6 Qxc6 24.Qh5 Nc3 $18 25.Rb2 Qb5 {!}
26.Nf3 ( 26.g3 Ra1 $18 ) Ne2+ 27.Rxe2 Qxe2 28.Qxe5 Bf6 29.Qc5
b3 30.Bf4 Rfe8 {!} 31.b7 Qxf1+ 32.Kxf1 Ra1+ 33.Bc1 b2 {0-1, Von Bardeleben Kurt (GER) – Alekhine Alexander A (RUS), Dusseldorf 1908 It}
) 4.dxe5 {Paul Morphy aims to punish his opponents’ last move.}
Bxf3 {Practically forced because otherwise:} ( 4…dxe5 5.Qxd8+
Kxd8 6.Nxe5 Be6 {and black is a pawn down and has lost their right to castle.}
) 5.Qxf3 {It is fine for Morphy to develop his queen to f3 as it does not block the
already exchanged knight that originated on g1. However, this didn’t stop
Steinitz from criticizing Morphy play here. Steinitz, who enjoyed finding
“mistakes” in Morphy’s games suggested the following:}
( 5.gxf3 dxe5 6.Qxd8+ Kxd8 7.f4 Nf6 8.fxe5 Nxe4 9.Bg2 Nc5 10.b4
{This is obviously good for white but history prefers Morphy’s method.}
) {%09DB} dxe5 {An interesting position where both sides have one pawn in the center and active queens.} {%09DB}
6.Bc4 {White develops with a Scholar’s Mate style threat. However, here Morphy’s
success is not dependent on poor play from his opponent as is the case with the actual Scholar’s Mate.}
Nf6 7.Qb3 {!} {A very powerful move which threatens both the pawn on b7 and the belly-button.}
Qe7 {The Duke and the Count wisely decide to defend the pawn that is attached to their king safety.}
8.Nc3 {Paul Morphy had three good choices here. The butcher’s choice would be to play
“8. Qxb7 Qb4+ 9. Qxb4 Bxb4” and grind out a long endgame victory. A robot could
evaluate 8. Bxf7+ as best and win in a cold fashion. However, it took Paul
Morphy to recognize that 8. Nc3 was the only move with potential to make the game a true artistic masterpiece.}
( 8.Qxb7 Qb4+ 9.Qxb4 Bxb4+ 10.Bd2 Bxd2+ 11.Nxd2 O-O 12.f3 Nc6
13.c3 Rab8 14.O-O-O Na5 15.Be2 h6 16.Nc4 Nxc4 17.Bxc4 Rb6 18.Rd2
Rc6 19.Bb3 a5 20.Rhd1 a4 21.Bxa4 Ra6 22.Bb3 c5 23.Rd8 Ne8 24.R1d7
Rf6 25.Bc4 g6 26.a4 Ng7 27.a5 Nh5 {…1-0, Kunte Abhijit (IND) 2517 – Akshay Vijayan (IND) 1766 , Jalgaon 11/23/2010 It (open)}
) ( 8.Bxf7+ Qxf7 9.Qxb7 Bc5 10.O-O O-O 11.Qxa8 c6 12.Nc3 Qc7
13.Nd5 cxd5 14.exd5 Qb6 15.Be3 Ng4 16.Bxc5 Qxc5 17.b4 Qb6 18.c4
Na6 19.Qc6 Qxc6 20.dxc6 Nxb4 21.h3 Nf6 22.c7 Rc8 23.Rab1 Na6
24.Rb7 Rxc7 25.Rxc7 Nxc7 26.Rb1 a6 27.Rb7 Nfe8 28.f3 Kf7 29.Kf2
Ke7 30.Ke3 Kd7 31.Rb2 Kc6 32.Kd3 Ne6 33.Rc2 Nd6 34.Rb2 Nc5+ 35.Ke2
Nxc4 36.Rb8 Kd5 37.Rd8+ Nd6 38.Rg8 Nf5 39.g4 Nd4+ 40.Ke3 Nde6
41.h4 h6 42.Rb8 Kc4 43.Rb6 Nf4 44.Kf2 a5 45.Rb8 Ncd3+ 46.Kg3
Kd4 47.Ra8 Ke3 48.Rxa5 Ne2+ 49.Kg2 Ne1+ 50.Kf1 Nxf3 51.Ra3+ Kf4
52.Kxe2 Nxh4 53.Ra4+ Kg3 54.Rb4 Ng6 55.Rb7 Nf4+ 56.Ke3 Nd5+ 57.Kd3
Kxg4 58.Rxg7+ Kf5 59.a4 e4+ 60.Kd4 Nb4 61.Rf7+ Ke6 62.Rh7 Kf5
63.Rxh6 Nc2+ 64.Kc3 Ne3 65.a5 Kf4 66.a6 Ng4 67.Rh4 e3 68.Kd3
{1-0, Moeller Stefan – Hertel-Mach Frank, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 12/11/2005 Landesliga 2005/06}
) c6 {Now the black queen defends her pawn on b7. Additionally, the pawn on c6 guards
d5 and b5 from being accessed by Morphy’s knight, bishop or queen.
Unfortunately, it is also another slow pawn move for black which gives Morphy
an opportunity to add to his lead in development.} 9.Bg5 {
Momentarily stopped on the queenside, Morphy deploys another piece. Now he has
four pieces in the game versus a pinned knight and an oddly placed queen.}
b5 {?} {This is overly ambitious. Even players well below Morphy’s level would not
hesitate to sacrifice the knight for two pawns and the check.}
( 9…Na6 {Is an improvement over the move the Duke and the Count played.}
10.Bxa6 bxa6 11.O-O Qb4 {Black has prospects to enter a difficult endgame against white.}
) {%09DB} 10.Nxb5 {Of course Paul Morphy does not retreat his bishop.} {%09DB}
cxb5 11.Bxb5+ {The Queen could also capture on b5 with check but why use a $9 piece to do the work of a $3 piece?}
Nbd7 {The Duke and the Count must block with the knight as stepping into the open file with the king would be suicide.}
( 11…Kd8 12.O-O-O+ Kc8 13.Rd3 ) 12.O-O-O {Castling queenside adds the rook’s power to the pinned knight on d7.} {%08DA}
Rd8 {The Duke and Count place the rook on d8 because Knight on f6 and Queen on e7
are not really defending d7. Black’s King is in full turtle mode.}
13.Rxd7 {!} {Paul Morphy fires the cannon for the first time!}
Rxd7 {The only logical response.} 14.Rd1 {Paul Morphy takes advantage of the fact that Black’s rook on d7 is pinned and reloads the cannon.} {%08DA}
Qe6 {This move does a lot of good things for black. First, it threatens to trade
queens and thus take the heat off of the black king. Second, it unpins the
knight on f6 while still having the queen defend the rook on d7. Thirdly, it
creates a roadway for the bishop on f8 and thus gives the black king an escape
rout by castling. Unfortunately for the Duke and the Count, it does not work.}
15.Bxd7+ {!} {The start of a beautiful combination.} Nxd7 {%08DA}
16.Qb8+ {!!} {The shot heard round the world.} Nxb8 17.Rd8# {Paul Morphy only has the bishop and the rook but in the end, that was all that he needed.}




Chess Master Eric Schiller Inspires Children at Fremont Summer Chess Camp

July 19, 2014

The Torres Chess and Music Academy describes their latest event in the esteemed guest series for the Fremont Summer Chess Camp. 

For Immediate Release:


Fremont, California 7/19/14


This past Thursday, chess master Eric Schiller came to guest lecture the students at the Fremont Summer Chess Camp. Having written two hundred top selling chess books, it’s a rarity for Eric to have time to perform in person. However, on July 17th, Eric Schiller managed to steal the spotlight at the sixth annual Fremont Summer Chess Camp.

Relaxed and highly personable, Schiller bantered amiably with the audience while presenting seven of his most exciting chess victories over famous adversaries. Perhaps the liveliest moments came during Eric’s analysis of his victory over International Master Emory Tate, who was also in the room. Every child in the room had their eyes glued to the massive movie screen where the ideas of Schiller and Tate came to life in vivid detail while the stars of the game explained their moves in depth. Eric Schiller’s presentation was highly polished and even in between games he managed to maintain the focus of close to fifty excited young chess players. At the conclusion of his lecture, Eric graciously awarded trophies to the winners of the weekly rated chess tournament as well as signed chess books for the scores of his young fans.

Relaxed and highly personable, Schiller bantered amiably with the audience while presenting seven of his most exciting chess victories over famous adversaries.

Relaxed and highly personable, Schiller bantered amiably with the audience while presenting seven of his most exciting chess victories over famous adversaries.

On July 24th the Torres Chess and Music Academy will be presenting Grandmaster Susan Polgar to the Bay Area. Single day tickets as well as full week camp subscriptions are still available. More information on the Torres Chess and Music Academy’s esteemed guest series can be found at

Chess Initiative to Transform the Quality of Life for Children Living in Stockton

July 29, 2013

map_of_stockton_caToday, I am proud to announce the launch of a chess initiative to transform the quality of life for children living in Stockton, California. With the help of the communities in and around Stockton, I know that the Torres Chess and Music Academy will be successful in improving the chances of success for Stockton’s children. If you refuse to allow being born in the wrong zip code to be the defining moment of a child’s life,

The National Champions from MSJE

The National Champions from MSJE

then please contact me. Together we can change Stockton.

Chris Torres

The Torres Chess and Music Academy on Facebook 

@TorresChess on twitter

Why Stockton?:

1) Stockton Unified has seven elementary schools listed as being the worst performing schools in California.

2) Stockton averages 318 crimes per square mile!

3) Nearly 30% of children in Stockton live below the poverty level!

4) Stockton regularly ranks as one of the worst cities to live in according to Forbes Magazine.

Why Chess?:

1)  Chess increases test scores.

2) Chess improves decision making skills thus lowering violent crime.

3) Chess is inexpensive.

4) Chess makes your neighborhoods more appealing.

Why the Torres Chess and Music Academy:

1) Chris Torres has worked successfully in low performing schools.

2) The Torres Chess and Music Academy has experience using chess to combat gang recruitment.

3) The Torres Chess and Music Academy is a nonprofit organization.

4) Chris Torres is one of the best chess coaches in the United States.

Fremont Summer Chess Camp: Preview 4

June 7, 2013

When I think of talented chess coaches, Tans Hylkema is one of the first names that come to mind. However, because you rarely hear Tans bragging about his fantastic chess students, he remains one of the best kept secret in the Bay Area chess scene.

The Mission San Jose Chess Camp in Fremont, California is lucky to have Tans returning to teach a fourth straight year. All students who sign up for our chess camp will benefit from Tans’ approach to teaching chess as well as get to watch one of the Bay Area’s premier flamenco guitarists perform.

Below is a recent article describing Tans as well as a video of Tans playing beautiful flamenco guitar music:

Tans Hylkema has been a TCAMA chess coach for nearly a decade. His abilities
allow him to be a fantastic coach for any level of student but his specialty is
working with young beginners. Several of the best students to ever come out of
the Torres Chess and Music Academy programs had their start in one of Tans’
classes. In addition to teaching chess for the TCAMA, Tans also teaches acoustic
guitar in the traditional Spanish tradition.

Read more:

California Chess Coach has the Blues

January 22, 2013

Chris Torres has the blues.

Chris Torres has the blues.


And it’s not what you think. My students are doing fine. Instead, I have the blues because I like it that way.

For several years I have tried to come to terms with why my favorite styles of guitar are the polar opposites of classical and blues. Could it be that they relate to chess more than other genres of music?

The very fact that classical music and blues music have completely different fan bases is reminiscent of the white and black pieces beginning on opposite sides of the board. Classical music grew out of the white European scientific approach to complex structure. Blues music found its roots in the southern black plantation workers/slaves who valued feeling over simple chord progression spirituals. At times the game of chess feels as thought out as a Bach Invention and at other times even seemingly simple positions require a fighting spirit and passion to bring home the point. Even a single game of chess can begin innocently in a well structured manner before it distorts into a string bending emotional melee. I believe that Chess, like music, is a blending of cultures and as such benefits when the practitioner is an expert of more than just one style.

Getting to my point:

A few days ago I was invited to take part in the Eric Clapton Guitar Symphony which requires the contestants to record an original instrumental take on the Eric Clapton ant-drug anthem “Cocaine.” On my first attempt I was able to seamlessly combine a simple delta blues approach with the more layered Eric Clapton jam. The result, in my humble opinion, is exactly the kind of music Eric Clapton would appreciate. Should I garnish enough votes from those who agree with my musical interpretation, my arrangement will be used in an upcoming release by Eric Clapton. This sort of exposure is an ideal opportunity for gaining attention towards the goals of the Torres Chess and Music Academy. Below is a link to my submission. Please listen to my 45 second performance and cast a vote that will help me help the Northern California students who learn chess and music in our classes.

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