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Johannes Zukertort vs Joseph Henry Blackburne
Blackburne - Zukertort (1881), London ENG, rd 11, Jul-22
English Opening: Agincourt Defense (A13)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-08-13  optimal play: This was the eleventh game of the match between Blackburne and Zukertort played at London in 1881

After round 11 the match score stood at:-

½ ½ 1 1 1 0 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 [+6 =4 -1] (8/11) Zukertort
½ ½ 0 0 0 1 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 [+1 =4 -6] (3/11) Blackburne

With the victor to be determined by the first player to seven wins (draws not counting) Zukertort now only needed one more win to claim the match.

Feb-08-13  optimal play: <<The eleventh game played on Friday, the 15th [sic] inst., [it was actually played on the 22nd] at the St. George’s Chess Club...

As regards the progress of the game, we notice a feature in the play of the two parties, which is also strongly marked in several previous games of this contest. So long as the placement of the heavy pieces is masked by the movements of pawns, it requires great delicacy of judgment to place especially the rooks, on posts whence they may ultimately be brought into proper action. Though we have never observed it before, we find, from the present and other games of the match, that Blackburne’s play seems to suffer from a peculiar weakness in handling the rooks, and he often shifts then about on different files and rows in a helpless manner. On the other hand, Zukertort posts his rooks generally on squares on which they become soon useful, and rarely changes their position, even for purposes of manœuvring.

Blackburne’s fatal recapture of the R with the Q on the 21st move seems to have been the result of a miscalculation, in which his opponent had reckoned deeper. Most probably Blackburne had left himself open to the advance of P to Kt 5, and on the misapprehension that he could capture it, and if the opponent took the B he would regain the piece by Q to B 2, after exchanging rooks. If we are right in this assumption, it is quite clear that he overlooked the force of the answer Q to Q sq, which kept the piece.

Black’s game was lost after that, though he tried to retrieve his fortunes by some clever schemes, which were, however, frustrated by the adverse deep manœuvres. Notably there was a great deal of meaning in the advance of P to K R 3 on both sides on the 24th move, as will be shown below [*] ; and White’s 32nd move comprised a very ingenious trap, which Blackburne saw through and avoided.

Blackburne fought the game out tenaciously on some chance of an error ; but he had to resign when his opponent had placed his K out of all possible danger, and doubly attacked Black’s last passed P on the Q R file, which would leave White with a piece and several pawns ahead.>

The Field, London, 1881.07.30>



<23...g6 would have served his object better; for he would then obtain two passed pawns for the piece by ...Rc7, as will be explained in our next note.>

24.h3 Rd8

<White’s last move was, we believe, also best against 23...g6 proposed in our last note, and he could then obtain some compensation at this juncture by 24...Rc7, while, as it stands, this plan is not available, as White will ultimately win another pawn, either on the kingside or on the queenside, e.g.: 24...Rc7 25.bxc6 Bxc6 26.Bxc6 Rxc6 27.Rxc6 Qxc6 28.Qd8+ Kh7 (it would make all the difference now if the g-pawn had advanced on the 23rd move, and the king could play to g7) 29.Qxb8 Qc2 30.Bd4 Qc1+ 31.Kh2 Qxa3 32.Qb7 Kg8 33.Qa8+ Kh7 34.Bxb6, and wins easily.>

<Wilhelm Steinitz>

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