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Joseph Henry Blackburne vs Wilhelm Steinitz
"Four Thousand Holes in Blackburne's Position" (game of the day Jun-13-2022)
Steinitz - Blackburne m (1862), London ENG, rd 4, Dec-??
Dutch Defense: Staunton Gambit. Accepted (A82)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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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.

Feb-08-17  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.

Feb-08-17  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.

May-13-19  Count Wedgemore: "Four Thousand Holes in Blackburne's Position"
Jun-13-22  areknames: Poor quality game. As <Big Pawn> pointed out, 12...e5 is a move too late and after the fairly obvious 13.Nf3 White is doing ok. Clever pun but only experts in Beatles minutiae will get it without resorting to google. Anyone know what happened to <Count Wedgemore> ? He was an appreciated contributor here.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: After the move order 1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 e6 4.e4 fxe4 5.Nxe4 Be7, the Cuban grandmaster Vera missed a chance for advantage with 6.Nxf6+ Bxf6 7.h4 in a blitz game against me at Montreal 1996, but eventually won anyway after some vicissitudes.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: "Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire"--from "A Day in the Life." Brilliant pun, to be sure, but dang, if <areknames> hadn't mentioned the Liverpudlians, never would have solved it.
Jun-13-22  nalinw: Lovely pun - why did it languish so long .....
Jun-13-22  Brenin: "A Day in the Life" was based on newspaper headlines, ranging from the death of the boxer Freddie Mills to the poor state of the roads in Blackburn.
Jun-13-22  goodevans: Whilst never quite up there with the likes of Steinitz and Emanuel Lasker, Blackburne was held in sufficient esteem in his native Britain to be immortalised by this portrait in the British Vanity Fair magazine:

I was given a framed original of this as a present some thirty-odd years ago and it's hanging just over my right shoulder as I type this.

Jun-13-22  Cheapo by the Dozen: I started by seeing the Qh8+ line, but without the follow-on mating attack. Then I saw the Rxc8+ line, and declared victory. And it's indeed the simplest winning line.

Seeing the mating attack in the Qa8+ line seems to depend on looking ahead to Ba4. And by the way, Black can't easily maintain the b5 rook blockade, because White's capture there could be a diversion of a Black queen needed to defend d8 and/or e8.

Jun-13-22  Cheapo by the Dozen: Blackburne's last chance for a playable game was 15 f3. It lets him eventually castle long, and also unbinds his underdeveloped kingside.

However, he goes from a pawn up to a pawn down in the process of digging out of his hole(s).

Jun-13-22  Cheapo by the Dozen: Well, that assumes Steinitz can chop White's e-pawn, but this seems very likely.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Very nice pun.
Jun-13-22  drleper: The pun is a winner!
Jun-13-22  spingo:

click for larger view

I am surprised that Blackburne did tried to offer a pawn.
12. Qd3. Steinitz would have a whirl with

click for larger view

I suppose White would castle, 14. 0-0-0.

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  0ZeR0: I'm not one to comment on puns much because often I don't understand them. But once I realized where this one is from I found it quite enjoyable. Ditto the game, despite the mistakes. These old pre-20th century games seem to have a certain charm to them which is sometimes missing in modern chess.
Jun-13-22  Granny O Doul: The pun could be improved by dropping "'s position".
Premium Chessgames Member
  playground player: Poor Blackburne! But I love the pun.
Premium Chessgames Member
  PawnSac: < goodevans: >

Nice portrait! Wonderful gift.

Premium Chessgames Member
  technical draw: <Good Evening: "Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire"--from "A Day in the Life.">

Which reminds me of this beautiful song:

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Anyone know what happened to <Count Wedgemore> ? He was an appreciated contributor here.>

It would be good to have a place where Auld Lang Syne posters could let it known that they're dormant, not extinct.

Jun-14-22  spingo: < technical draw: <Good Evening: "Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire"--from "A Day in the Life."> Which reminds me of this beautiful song:


Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: Instead of 12.g3 white could have played 12.Qd3 with idea 12...Qxg2 13.Qxh7+ Kf7 14.0-0-0 Qxh1 15.Nh3 +- (black Queen is trapped, as 15...Qxh2 or 15...Qf3 is followed by 16.Ng5+, and 15...Qg2 is insufficient for 16.Rg1). After better 12...g6 13.Qg3 white has a fine game.
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