Friday, January 30, 2015

Joseph Henry Blackburne A Chess Biography

It can be argued that Joseph Henry Blackburne did as much as almost any other chessplayer, besides Alonzo Wheeler Jerome himself, to inform chessplayers about the Jerome Gambit - by publishing his sacrificial crush against it. (See "Nobody Expects the Jerome Gambit!")

Now Tim Harding, author of many fine chess books (I have 20 of them, plus his CD collection of correspondence games), has completed his biography of  the swash-buckling J.H. Blackburne (with over 1,000 of his games), for McFarland. I quote from the publisher's website:

About the Book
During a career spanning more than 50 years, J.H. Blackburne (1841–1924) won the British Chess Championship and several international tournaments, at his peak becoming one of the world’s top three chess masters. A professional player who derived his livelihood from annual tours of chess clubs in England and other countries, entertaining and teaching amateur players, he astonished his contemporaries by the ease with which he played the game without sight of the chessboard. At 21, he set a world record for such exhibitions, competing against 12 club players simultaneously, and he continued to perform “blindfold” into his sixties.

This first comprehensive biography of Britain’s greatest chess player of the early 20th century presents more than 1,000 of Blackburne’s games chronologically, including all his surviving games from serious competition, annotated in varying detail. Many are masterpieces containing beautiful combinations and instructive endgame play. Blackburne’s unusual family and social background are fully explored.
About the Author(s)
Tim Harding played for Ireland at the 1984 FIDE chess olympiad in Thessaloniki, and is a Senior International Master of correspondence chess. A well-known writer on many aspects of chess, he was editor of Chess Mail magazine from 1996 to 2005. Since 1996 he has contributed the monthly articles in "The Kibitzer" series at He lives in Dublin, Ireland.  

Blackburne's games against other masters are interesting and educational in their own right, but his exhibition games against amateurs are scintillating mini-lessons in aggression (and downright fun to play over). Not for nothing was he nicknamed "The Black Death"!

The book will be published in the spring or summer of 2015, but is available for pre-order from either the publisher McFarland or Amazon.

I have already ordered a copy.

No comments: