In college I memorized a few chess games, and the only one that has stayed in my memory is Morphy vs. the Duke.

[fen ""]
[Event "Paris"]
[Site "Paris"]
[Date "1858"]
[Result "1-0"]
[White "Paul Morphy"]
[Black "Duke Karl / Count Isouard"]
[ECO "C41"]
[PlyCount "33"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Bg4 4.dxe5 Bxf3 5.Qxf3 dxe5 6.Bc4 Nf6 7.Qb3 Qe7
8.Nc3 c6 9.Bg5 b5 10.Nxb5 cxb5 11.Bxb5+ Nbd7 12.O-O-O Rd8
13.Rxd7 Rxd7 14.Rd1 Qe6 15.Bxd7+ Nxd7 16.Qb8+ Nxb8 17.Rd8# 1-0

Are there games similar to this one - short and with dramatic finishes - that you would recommend reviewing / memorizing after a decade spent not reading chess games?

  • Here is a video of Bobby Fischer annotating this game! en.chessbase.com/post/…
    – ezaspi
    Dec 20, 2013 at 12:25
  • Since this post got "exhumed", you asked for "similar" and there is a moral in the following dire story which I contribute for generic schadenfreude: In a team match, a member of my chess club got served the same lousy opening on a platter. He proceeded with 8.Qxb7 Qb4+ though, was up a pawn...and botched the endgame. Good for his health that I wasn't the team captain... Jun 5, 2021 at 8:34
  • There are many such games that can be found as these are the games typically highlighted by the chess press. However, I would not recommend reviewing / memorizing them. I just played through "Alexander Alekhine's best games" where he laments that many of his best games are not well known because they are not short and dominating. Jun 5, 2021 at 15:55

4 Answers 4


Morphy is great! I also am fond of the 1956 game Donald Byrne vs Robert James Fischer (when Fischer was 13 years old!) known as "The Game of the Century". Link

But of course there are many games that are great. Chessbase has an app for the Android or iPhone with a database of many of the great games to look at - just $5.


It's hard to beat Morphy when it comes to a dominance over contemporaries that leads to short, memorable games that culminate in utterly violent punishment of the failure to develop one's pieces. And while it's also hard to top the opera box game from the OP for a seamless destruction of a poorly developed army, the following two dismantlings are quite nice and in the same spirit, though different enough to be useful additions I think.

In the first game, Meek goes for a premature attack that, while it prevents Morphy from castling, primarily serves to waste time. (Note how 5...Nh6!, rather than say 5...Ne5?, makes it so that the h8 rook gets in the game after Meek's intended follow-up, while the remaining white pieces are still sitting at home.) Meek continues to neglect development (8 of the 21 total white moves are by the queen in this game), and after the clumsy 17.Nd2?, Morphy smoothly takes advantage of the fact that the white queen must guard e2 in order to bring out his last pieces with tempo.

[fen ""]
[Event "Mobile"]
[Site "Mobile"]
[Date "1855"]
[Result "0-1"]
[White "Alexander Beaufort Meek"]
[Black "Paul Morphy"]
[ECO "C44"]
[PlyCount "42"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 Bc5 5. Ng5?! Nh6! (5...Ne5? 6.Nxf7 Nxf7 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxc5) 6. Nxf7
Nxf7 7. Bxf7+ Kxf7 8. Qh5+ g6 9. Qxc5 d6 10. Qb5 Re8 11. Qb3+
d5 12. f3 Na5 13. Qd3 dxe4 14. fxe4 Qh4+ 15. g3 Rxe4+ 16. Kf2
Qe7 17. Nd2? Re3! 18. Qb5 c6! 19. Qf1 (19.Qxa5 Re2+ 20.Kg1 Qe3+ 21.Kf1 Bh3#) Bh3! 20. Qd1 (20.Qxh3 Re2+ 21.Kf3 Qe3+ 22.Kg4 h5+) Rf8 21. Nf3 Ke8

The second game is Morphy's classic destruction of Paulsen via queen sacrifice. Just a handful of poor, slow moves leave White's pieces mostly out-of-play on the queenside, and his king is exposed to a brutal attack. A great lesson on the role a few wasted moves can play, and that one should be alert to bold shots like 17...Qxf3!! if the opponent's pieces are too far away and can't regroup to defend the king.

[fen ""]
[Event "1st American Chess Congress"]
[Site "New York, NY USA"]
[Date "1857"]
[Result "0-1"]
[White "Louis Paulsen"]
[Black "Paul Morphy"]
[ECO "C48"]
[PlyCount "56"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Bc5 5. O-O O-O 6. Nxe5
Re8 7. Nxc6 dxc6 8. Bc4 b5 9. Be2 Nxe4 10. Nxe4 Rxe4 11. Bf3
Re6 12. c3? (12.d3) Qd3! 13. b4 Bb6 14. a4?! (14.Re1) bxa4 15. Qxa4 Bd7 16. Ra2? (16.Qa6)
Rae8 17. Qa6 Qxf3!! 18. gxf3 Rg6+ 19. Kh1 Bh3 20. Rd1 {Not 20 Rg1 Rxg1+ 21
Kxg1 Re1+} Bg2+ 21. Kg1 Bxf3+ 22. Kf1 Bg2+ 23. Kg1 Bh3+ 24. Kh1 Bxf2
25. Qf1 Bxf1 26. Rxf1 Re2 27. Ra1 Rh6
28. d4 Be3 0-1

These games are called miniatures.

You can find them in your database by simply filtering games with the required number of moves ( in order for a game to be considered a miniature, the total number of moves played in the game should be less than 30 ).

There are some books you can buy, like this one or this one, but I prefer the above method.

You could also search online databases if you do not have your own.

My advice to you is to search classical games ( the games of the old masters dating from years 1400 up to 1700 ), since the level of the defense in those days was low, enabling a lot of beautiful miniatures.


A New Year gift from me to you : Which was that Marshall's game with that spectacular Queen sac?

Enjoy! :)))

Hopefully this will help.

Best regards.


I would recommend the games collection from the book "Gm-Ram: Essential Grandmaster Chess Knowledge" by Rashid Ziyatdinov. Not all the games are the miniatures, but many of them.

The author suggests that to become a chess master, one has to remember by heart some positions and games. It looks aligned with your goal (reviewing / memorizing).

I've googled by "gm-ram chess games", the first link points to the collection https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chesscollection?cid=1003578.

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