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Henry Bird vs Joseph Henry Blackburne
London (1899), London ENG, rd 6, Jun-06
Philidor Defense: Alapin-Blackburne Gambit (C41)  ·  0-1

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-21-08  Knight13: Here, the double pawns ARE weak. Too weak! I bet Silman wouldn't say anything if I told him that.
Dec-22-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: Beautiful play by Blackburne. He emerges from the opening with positional advantages, which he gradually converts into a win in a surprisingly modern style.
Dec-09-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Sorry to dissent from the prior opinions on this game, but I think Blackburne mishandled the opening and that--despite his foul-looking pawn structure--Bird had the better of the encounter until his incredibly weak play towards the end.

Blackburne's 3...Bg4? is a well-known mistake. This was the moved played against Morphy in his famous game against the Duke of Brunswick and Count Isouard. Needless to say, Blackburne plays the line better than did Morphy's opponents, but still had the worst of it until Bird's unfortunate Queen sallies on moves 10 and 11. Even with his isolated doubled King's pawn, Bird had the better game after Blackburne's poor 15...g5. All Bird had to play was 16. Qb5. Instead, he played the loony 16. Qa3, allowing Blackburne to saddle him with a second pair of doubled pawns.

Even with his atrocious pawn structure, Bird had all the chances through about move 33. He needed to play the obvious 34. a5, but instead began a downward spiral that lost him the game. He had another chance to play 35. a5 after Blackburne's weak 34...Kc7, but then game away his entire edge with 35. Nc4,and then got himself into realntrouble by playing the wrong Knight to d2 on move 36.

Just when it appeared Blackburne was back in business, he unaccountably failed to snatch the e pawn with 39...Bxe4, instead pursuing a bad idea with 39...Bb5, and then erred with 40...Kb7 (instead of 40...Kc6).

Bird now only had one set of doubled pawns, and had the (slightly) better game until his misguided 44. Rb1 (instead of the move the position cried out for, 44. Rd6). Even then, Bird could have made a fight of it had he played 45. Rd7 check (instead of his insipid 45. Rd5). Bird now had himself tied up in knots, in addition to his doubled pawns.

Bird's 48. e5 was bad, and his 51. Ra1 check ended his chances altogether. Blackburne soon won a piece, and the game was over.

Disappointingly, Blackburne (known for his brilliant combinations) missed a pretty way to finish the game. He could have played 58...Rxa5 or 59...Rxa5 and redeemed this otherwise poor game. Blackburne's actual winning procedure was just as effective, but after his great Rook sacrifice against Lasker two rounds earlier, Blackburne fans were entitled to see a flash of his greatness as he wrapped up this sorry encounter.

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