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.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

All's Well That Ends Well

The following game shows Philidor 1792 giving the "Jerome treatment" to the Berlin Defense of the Bishop Opening... The final position is worth bringing in a not-exactly-Jerome-Gambit line.

Philidor 1792 - guest63
3 0 blitz,, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.Bxf7+

3...Kxf7 4.Qe2 d5

4...d6 5.Nf3 h6 6.c3 Bg4 7.Qc4+ Ke8 8.Qb5+ Nc6 9.Qxb7 Ne7 10.Qb5+ c6 11.Qe2 g5 12.d4 Ng6 13.Nbd2 Bg7 14.O-O Kf7 15.Qc4+ d5 16.Qxc6 dxe4 17.Nxe5+ Nxe5 18.dxe5 Nd7 19.Qxe4 Bxe5 20.Qxg4 Qf6 21.Qxd7+ Kg6 22.Nf3 g4 23.Qxg4+ Kf7 24.Qh5+ Ke7 25.Nxe5 Rhf8 26.Ng6+ Black resigned, Philidor1792 - Stranger, 2014;

4...Bc5 5.Qc4+ d5 6.Qxc5 Na6 7.Qe3 Nxe4 8.Nf3 Qf6 9.d3 Nd6 10.Nxe5+ Kg8 11.Nc3 Nb4 12.Kd1 Be6 13.a3 Nc6 14.Re1 d4 15.Qe2 dxc3 16.Nxc6 cxb2 17.Bxb2 Qxb2 18.Qxe6+ Kf8 19.Qe7+ Kg8 20.Qe6+ Kf8 21.Qe5 Qxe5 22.Nxe5 Re8 23.Rb1 b6 24.Rb4 Re6 25.Rf4+ Ke7 26.d4 Rd8 27.d5 Nb5 28.Nc6+ Black resigned, Philidor 1792 - guest52,, 2014.

4...Nc6 5.Nf3 h6 6.c3 d6 7.h3 (7.b4 a6 8.h3 g5 9.a3 Qe8 10.Bb2 Bg7 11.d3 Rf8 12.Nbd2 Kg8 13.O-O-O b5 14.d4 Bd7 15.c4 exd4 16.Nxd4 Nxd4 17.Bxd4 c5 18.Bc3 cxb4 19.axb4 Rc8 20.f3 a5 21.bxa5 b4 22.Bxb4 Be6 23.Bxd6 Qa4 24.Bxf8 Bxc4 25.Nxc4 Rxc4+ 26.Kb1 Bxf8 27.Qa2 Qb5+ 28.Ka1 Kh8 29.Rb1 Qe5+ 30.Rb2 Bg7 31.Qxc4 Nd5 32.Qc8+ Kh7 33.Qf5+ Qxf5 34.exf5 Nb4 35.Kb1 Black resigned,  Philidor 1792 - guest83,, 2014) 7...Be6 8.d4 exd4 9.cxd4 d5 10.e5 Ne4 11.O-O Be7 12.Nc3 Nxc3 13.bxc3 Rf8 14.Qb5 Rb8 15.Nh2 Kg8 16.f4 a6 17.Qb3 Na5 18.Qd1 Nc4 19.g4 g6 20.Qd3 Kg7 21.f5 gxf5 22.gxf5 Bxf5 23.Rxf5 Qd7 24.Rxf8 Rxf8 25.Ng4 Bg5 26.Bxg5 hxg5 27.Nf6 Rxf6 28.exf6+ Kxf6 29.Rf1+ Kg7 30.Qf5 Qxf5 31.Rxf5 Kg6 32.Rxd5 Nb6 33.Re5 Kf6 34.Kg2 Na4 35.c4 Nc3 36.a3 Nb1 37.a4 Nd2 38.Rc5 c6 39.d5 Nb3 40.dxc6 Nxc5 41.c7 Black resigned, Philidor 1792 - guest164,, 2014

5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Nc3 Nd4 7.Nxe5+ Kg8 

Black has a piece for two pawns, but must continue to monitor the safety of his King.

8.Qd3 dxe4 9.Qc4+ Be6 10.Qa4 Qd6 11.Nc4 Nxc2+ 12. Kd1 Bxc4

This is a slip, as White will recapture with check.

13.Qxc4+ Nd5 14.Nxd5 h6 15.Nf6 checkmate


Monday, January 26, 2015

Method In't

Playing the Jerome Gambit - or any other opening, as far as I am concerned - in bullet (1 minute, no increment) chess is madness; but, as the following game from shows, as was said by Hamlet, "Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't"


1 0 bullet,, 2014

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Bc5 3.Bxf7+ Kxf7

Listed in lichess as "Bishop's Opening, Jerome Gambit" but referred to on this site as the "Abrahams Jerome Gambit". For a recent discussion, see "Alert!"

4.Qh5+ g6 

One advantage for the attacker in bullet chess is if the defender does not know the best opening moves, the game can be over very quickly due to an early blunder. Here, for example, Black's best move is 4...Kf8, with an advantage.

On the other hand, this is a bullet game, and anything can happen.

5.Qxe5 d6

The only other game that I have with this line in The Database  continued 5...Qe7 6.Qxh8 Qxe4+ 7.Ne2 Qxg2 8.Qxh7+ Kf8 9.Rf1 d6 10.d4 Bxd4 11.Nxd4 Qe4+ 12.Ne2 Bg4 13.Nbc3 Qxc2 14.Bh6+ Nxh6 15.Qxh6+ Kg8 16.Qxg6+ Qxg6 17.Rg1 Nd7 18.h3 Re8 19.Rxg4 Kf7 20.Rxg6 Kxg6 21.Nd5 Ne5 22.Nxc7 b5 23.Nxb5 a5 24.Nxd6 Re6 25.Nf4+ Black resigned, burraburra - grechy, FICS, 2011

Best, according to Houdini, is 5...Bxf2+ (getting a pawn for the endangered piece) 6.Kxf2 Nf6 when White has an edge, a pawn up.

With the text, Black may be remembering the Blackburne Defense to the regular Jerome Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Bxf7+ Kxf7 5.Nxe5+ Nxe5 6.Qh5+ g6 7.Qxe5 d6) but the Rook sacrifice does not work here.

Up the exchange and two pawns, White "only" has to make normal moves and watch his clock.

6.Qxh8 Be6 7.Nf3 d5 8.Qxh7+ Kf8 9.Qxg6 Bf7 10.Qf5 Nh6 11.Qf4 Ng8 12.exd5 c6 13.0-0 cxd5 14.Ne5 Black forfeited on time