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Joseph Henry Blackburne vs Wilhelm Steinitz
Steinitz - Blackburne m (1862), London ENG, rd 4, Dec-??
Dutch Defense: Staunton Gambit. Accepted (A82)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  hesyrett: White is completely lost after 16...♖ae8.  Of course, the immediate threat is loss of the ♕, but fundamentally his ♔ is in a mating net and can only escape at a ruinous cost in material.
May-14-08  YoungEd: I think 11. ...Qg5 was the star move. It forced White to weaken the K-side and prevented O-O-O. If White had been able to castle queenside, it might have been an exciting slugfest!
Dec-10-10  YoungEd: White's position wasn't great, but 13. dxe5 looks bad. It just opens up the file, and that ends up dooming White. Maybe 13. Nf3 is a slight improvement.
Dec-30-12  Gely of the Horde: This 1862 game is exactly the same game that is recorded in for 1863.
Dec-30-12  Gely of the Horde: And, just to be either thorough or redundant, this 1863 game is exactly the same game in listed as 1862 . . .
Jan-03-14  MarkFinan:

click for larger view

Can someone please explain to me what the idea behind playing Bxh7+ is in this position, because it's even the engines first choice move and it maybe late right now in Ol blighty, and I may be tired, but for the life of me I don't understand that move! Btw, I obviously know whites completely lost and I don't think im exaggerating when I say this is like a game between a 1500 and an 1800. It really really has me questioning the quality of chess in this period, and not only this game because I said the same of another Steinitz game last week, the only exception (to the best of my limited knowledge) Morphy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <MarkFinan> The purpose of 17.Bxh7+ is to free c2 as a flight square for White's king. To do this, he has to move the bishop with check because of Black's threat to pin White's queen.

This is seen clearly if White tries 17.Qd4 immediately: 17...Rxe5+ 18.Kd2 Qg5+, and with the c2-square unavailabe White might give up his queen.

White is a piece ahead in the position, so giving it back to bring his king to safety isn't a bad idea. However, he should have followed up with the immediate flight 18.Kd2. It might not save the game in the long run, but after 18.Qd4 Qg5 Black was able to head the king off at the pass and the position quickly became hopeless.,

The finish could be 21.Kd2 Rf2+ 22.Kd3 Bf5+ 23.Kd4 Re4+ abd mate follows soon. One thing these 19th century masters were good at was chasing down a floating king.

Jan-04-14  MarkFinan: <Phony Benoni> Thank you very much for your reply, but even after looking in the cold light of day, I still see no reason to sac the Bishop! kd2-Re1-kc1 surely achieves the same without giving away the Bishop? I understood that that was *kind of* whites plan anyway, but I needed someone more learned than me to tell me if I had the right idea. There's no tempi (btw. Why do people say tempi as opposed to Tempo?) loss really when you actually go through the game instead of taking the above position as a starting point. Do you also agree with me about it being pretty poor quality chess?? Thing is, I've only recently been going through a lot of the old legends games and I find that the one's I've been checking are really poor! I know it's all different, a different era, Great players like Fischer and Kasparov have came and conquered and left, computers and engines rule the roost and do our teaching, etc etc etc, but taking all these things into account I still find the games *I've personally* been looking at very very poor quality!

Much appreciated ☺

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <MarkFinan> If White had time for the Kd2-Re1-Kc1 maneuver, he would be fine. But he doesn't. <17.Kd2> would be answered by <17...Rxe5>:

click for larger view

White can't keep his queen on the c1-h6 diagonal, which means that Black will get ...Qg5+ and the White king will have to come up the board.

As for the quality of play, it's certainly stronger than 1500 vs. 1800. Steinitz's play in particular is quite strong, his forcing play constantly making White to respond to threats rather than carrying out his own plans. Blackburne shows poorly, but his mistakes are due more to poor judgment than to tactical blunders. (In particular, 10.Qe2, appraently intending queenside castling, looks like dubious.)

Of course, many 19th century games are going to be of "poor" quality to today's players. But, paradoxically, the "average" player will learn more from games like this than from a masterpiece from Fischer or Kasparov or Carlsen. You have to master the simple ideas behind games like this before you can comprehend the subtler ideas of today's super-GMs.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Big Pawn: It seems like 11...e5 is the most natural move to play here. Black wants to rid himself of his backward pawn, let out his bishop and open up the game since White has not castled yet.

Steinitz played 11...Qg5 and missed his chance. White could have punished and fought back after:

12. g3 e5
13. Nf3

And now Black's e5 pawn falls if he takes the time to retreat his queen, so the best thing to do seems to muddy the waters with an exchange sac.

14. Qxf3 ed

Now white is a pawn down but has the exchange and needs to castle, connecting the rooks and safeguarding his king so he can activate his pieces.

15. 0-0

I think any expert level player nowadays would see 11...e5.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Big Pawn: The last move of the game is kind of curious too. 19... Qxe5+ still does the trick, but much more powerful is 19...Rxe5+.

There is a mating net around the king which forces

20. Ne2 (if not 20. Qxe5) Rxe2+
21. Kd1 Rh2+ (discovery)
22. Ke1 Rxh1+
23. Qg1 Rxg1 Mate.

These old games are fun to look at and quite instructive, but many of them show that the level of play was very low.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Count Wedgemore: "Four Thousand Holes in Blackburne's Position"

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