The Real Chess GOAT Gives a Masterclass on the King's Gambit
Chess Openings

The Real Chess GOAT Gives a Masterclass on the King’s Gambit

The Real Chess GOAT Gives a Masterclass on the King’s Gambit


In the world of chess, there are legendary players who have left an indelible mark on the game. One such player is Paul Morphy, often considered the greatest of all time (GOAT). Morphy’s success rate with the King’s Gambit, an aggressive chess opening, was truly remarkable.

Paul Morphy

In this lesson, we will delve into the brilliance of Morphy’s King’s Gambit and explore how you can replicate his success. If you’re looking for an exciting and effective opening as White, this is the masterclass you need.

The King’s Gambit

The King’s Gambit chess opening is initiated by the moves 1.e4 e5 2.f4, where White sacrifices a pawn to gain quick attacking chances and open up lines against Black’s king.

king's gambit chess opening

It is a daring and aggressive opening that can lead to thrilling games filled with tactical opportunities. Paul Morphy’s games provide us with a blueprint to understand the true potential of the King’s Gambit.

Example Game 1: Paul Morphy vs. Eugene Rousseau

In this game, Morphy, playing as White, demonstrates the power of the King’s Gambit. After 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4, Morphy then develops his knight with 3.Nf3, simultaneously safeguarding his king from potential checks. Black played 3…g5, overprotecting the f4-pawn, potentially threatening to march forward with g4 to drive away the White’s knight on f3 so that Black can play Qh4+.

Paul Morphy vs Eugene Rousseau

White played 4.h4, undermining the Black pawns so that he can later push d4 and attack the f4-pawn with his bishop. Black played 4…g4, chasing the knight away. And Morphy went 5.Ng5 targeting the f7-pawn.

Morphy’s strategic moves unfold, creating threats and forcing Black to react. By sacrificing material and opening up lines, Morphy delivers a stunning checkmate.

Example Game 2: Paul Morphy vs. Alonzo Morphy

Even at the age of ten, Morphy showcased his brilliance with the King’s Gambit. In this game against his father, Morphy played 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4, known as the King’s Bishop Gambit Accepted, which is similar to the Bishop’s Opening.

King's Bishop Gambit Accepted

Note: You may learn more about combining the ideas of the Bishop’s Opening and the King’s gambit in this lesson.

Morphy’s father played 3…Qh4+, and after 4.Kf1, even though Black forced the White king to move, White is ready to play Nf3, push the Black queen back, and gain some extra tempo for his development.

Morphy expertly maneuvered his pieces, creating an advantageous position and ultimately securing a victory. His ability to dominate opponents of all ages and skill levels was due to his focus on piece activity, a key principle in chess.

Example Game 3: Paul Morphy vs. Henry Edward Bird

Henry Bird, a renowned player of the time, fell victim to Morphy’s King’s Gambit. The game began with 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.h4 g4. In the first game we saw that Morphy played 5.Ng5. In this game, he played 5.Ne5.

Kings Gambit Accepted Kieseritzky Gambit

Morphy’s pressure on the g4 pawn, combined with accurate piece development, allowed him to launch a devastating attack against Bird’s king, resulting in a triumphant win.

The Legacy of Morphy’s King’s Gambit

What makes Morphy’s games even more remarkable is their relevance even today. Despite being played almost 200 years ago, the moves made by Morphy’s opponents still resonate in amateur-level chess. This suggests that by studying Morphy’s games and understanding his approach, you can prepare for common responses and increase your chances of success with the King’s Gambit.


Paul Morphy’s mastery of the King’s Gambit continues to captivate chess enthusiasts around the world. Through his strategic brilliance, he demonstrated the immense potential of this aggressive opening. By sacrificing material to open up lines and maintain piece activity, Morphy overwhelmed his opponents and achieved extraordinary results.

To witness the true power of the King’s Gambit opening and how Morphy dominated his opponents with it, watch the full video lesson below where you can dive deeper into Morphy’s games and learn invaluable lessons to enhance your own chess skills.

Below, you can find the games shown in the video:

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you want GM Igor Smirnov to help you get better at chess, watch this Masterclass.

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