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Blackburne - Bardeleben Match

Curt von Bardeleben4.5/9(+3 -3 =3)[games]
Joseph Henry Blackburne4.5/9(+3 -3 =3)[games] Chess Event Description
Blackburne - Bardeleben (1895)

A match of five games up, draws not counting, abandoned after nine games, with the score tied three games apiece. The venue was the British Chess Club, London.

The match began on Thursday 25th April, 1895: "The match between Herr Von Bardeleben and Mr. Blackburne, fixed to commence yesterday, was postponed, upon the former's proposal, till Thursday, at the British Chess Club." (1) This may have been due to problems funding the match: "There seems to have been some danger of the match between V. Bardeleben and Blackburne falling through, but Sir George Newnes has provided the necessary funds, and the match will after all come off. It is to be played, however, at the British Chess Club, and not at Hastings." (2)

"BLACKBURNE v. BARDELEBEN. This important match is now in full swing at the British Club, London. Sir George Newnes, M.P., (3) has provided the stakes, 25 (approx. 3,125/$4,040 in 2017 value - e. d.). The first winner of five games (draws not counting) governed by a time limit of 20 moves per hour, decides the contest. Herr Von Bardeleben is well known to our readers as the distinguished Leipsic master. His first brilliant victory was in 1883, when he won the minor tournament in connection with the great London tournament of that year. Since then he has had a successful career both as a match and tournament player." (4)

Blackburne took an early lead and then won two games in a row, but von Bardeleben fought back twice to tie the match: "BLACKBURNE v. BARDELEBEN. The two players in this well-fought match have equalised their scores. The English champion has, unfortunately, lost the position he had attained early in the match, and the score now stands three each, with three draws. As the match was for five games up, draws not counting, the result will probably be a drawn battle." (5)

The players

According to Edo Historical Chess Ratings (, von Bardeleben was 11th and Blackburne 12th in the world in 1895. Chessmetrics' analysis for January 1895 has Blackburne as 7th and von Bardeleben as 11th, and by May this had become 7th and 8th respectively ( At the time of the match, von Bardeleben was 34 and Blackburne 53 years old.

Joseph Henry Blackburne was the leading English player of the time, along with Isidor Gunsberg. It was a challenging time for "The Black Death", as strong new rivals were emerging, especially in Germany and Austria-Hungary. He had come a point behind von Bardeleben and Gunsberg at Breslau (1889). This was the tournament where Siegbert Tarrasch emerged winning with a dominant 13/17. He came a disappointing 10th in the Meisterturnier of the 7th German Chess Federation Congress at Dresden in September 1892. He improved to fourth in the equally strong 9th DSB Kongress, Leipzig (1894), but on both occasions he was behind Tarrasch, and at Leipzig he also trailed the German master Richard Teichmann, who then resided in London. Blackburne had lost to Gunsberg (Blackburne - Gunsberg (1887)), who as the result of his showing at New York (1889) (Game Collection: New York 1889) had challenged and played Wilhelm Steinitz for the world championship (Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890)). He heavily defeated Henry Edward Bird (Bird - Blackburne (1888)) and Francis Joseph Lee in 1890, but suffered a comprehensive defeat at the hands of Emanuel Lasker in Lasker - Blackburne (1892). The match on this page conveniently marks the beginning of a notable decline in Blackburne's performances. With the exception of his third place at Berlin (1897), an event lacking the absolute top players, he was outside the major prizes in all of the major tournaments in the second half of the 1890's - tenth at Hastings (1895), eleventh Nuremberg (1896) (but the best score of a non-prize winner against the prize winners), twelth at Vienna (1898), and sixth at London (1899).

Curt von Bardeleben was one of the top 20 players of the 1880s and 1890s, and was third in Germany behind Lasker and Tarrasch. His first place at London (Vizayanagaram) (1883) was the start of a series of good performances against strong opposition in the German Chess Association's Meisterturniers. He had become a recognised master by coming 5th at Nuremberg (1883). He came 4th at Frankfurt (1887), =4th at Breslau (1889) before finally tying for first at the 8th DSB Kongress (1893). Other achievements included =3rd in the very strong Bradford tournament of 1888, =1st at Leipzig (1888) and =5th in Berlin (1890). Immediately before this match, Von Bardeleben had won a match 4 - 1 against fellow Leipzig master Hermann von Gottschall (March 12th - 25th, 1895).


Game 1 - Thursday 25th April
Game 2 - Monday 29th April
Game 3 - Tuesday 30th April
Game 4 - Thursday 2nd May
Game 5 - Friday 3rd May
Game 6 - Monday 6th May
Game 7 - Friday 10th May
Game 8 - Monday 13th May
Game 9 - Thursday 16th May

"The players met again on the 17th May, but no play resulted as von Bardeleben had already got to the time limit, so far as his stay in the country was concerned, and there was no possible time for two more games to be played, and this was the minimum required for winning the match according to the conditions laid down. By mutual consent, therefore, the match was declared drawn, with the final score standing as above (+3 =3 -3). Herr von Bardeleben is to be congratulated on his gallant uphill fight, and Blackburne on the retention of his laurels." (6)


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Blackburne 1 0 1 1 0 0 4 von Bardeleben 0 1 0 0 1 1 4

Progressive score:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Blackburne 1 1 1 2 3 4 4 4 4 von Bardeleben 0 1 2 2 2 3 4 4

Blackburne had White in the even-numbered games.

Contemporary match commentary

The following are excerpts from British Chess Magazine of June 1895 (pp. 268-270), unless otherwise indicated:

Game 1
As originally arranged, play in this match was to have commenced on the 22nd April, but at the request of von Bardeleben the first game was not started until the 25th. Herr von Bardeleben had the move, and opened with a Vienna, very ably defended by Mr. Blackburne, who ultimately won a Pawn and finally the game.

Score: Blackburne 1, Bardeleben 0.

"The following is the first game. Both masters opened very cautiously, but at the twelfth move the German injudiciously advanced his King's pawn. Blackburne improved his position until the 26th move, when his opponent placed 27.Ra1, the only move to save the game.

click for larger view

Eventually Blackburne obtained a pawn, and in the end game he had a Knight against a Bishop, which won him a well-fought battle." (7)

Game 2
The second game was played on the 29th April. Mr. Blackburne opened with <d4>, his opponent adopting a Fianchetto defence. The Englishman got a promising attack, ultimately winning a Pawn, and at the time of adjournment, on the 40th move, had the better game, but on resuming play he made a weak move or two, and had therefore to be content with a draw.

Score: Blackburne 1, Bardeleben 0, drawn 1.

Game 3
The third game was played on the 30th April, von Bardeleben offering a King's Gambit, which was declined by Mr. Blackburne. An adjournment took place on the 41st move, and on resuming play von Bardeleben by clever manoeuvring succeeded in winning the exchange, and Mr. Blackburne was ultimately left with B and two Ps against R and two Ps, when the game was adjourned till the 2nd May. On resuming hostilities the English champion made a stubborn defence, but the position was a lost one, and he had to resign on the 93rd move.

Score: Blackburne 1, Bardeleben 1, drawn 1.

Game 4
The fourth game was played on the 2nd May. Mr. Blackburne again opened from the Q's side and got a good game, but von Bardeleben, playing well, did not give him any great chance, and a draw resulted on the 47th move.

Score: Blackburne 1, Bardeleben 1, drawn 2.

Game 5
The fifth game, played on the 3rd May, showed Blackburne in his best form. He declined the offer of an Evans Gambit, and later sacrificed a Pawn, for which he got a strong attack, and finally won a clear piece. On the 47th move matters were hopeless, and von Bardeleben resigned.

Score: Blackburne 2, Bardeleben 1, drawn 1.

Game 6
The sixth game was played on the 6th May. After <1. e4 e5>, Mr. Blackburne played the somewhat unusual move <2.Be2>. Von Bardeleben did not seem to get a good game, and about the 15th move began to play somewhat rashly, allowing Mr. Blackburne to assume a strong aggressive position, so that on the 27th move he was able to make a clearance of pieces with the gain of a Pawn, and shortly after, winning another Pawn, brought about a winning end-game, but von Bardeleben played very stubbornly, and did not resign until the 64th move.

"In the sixth game ... Blackburne temporarly sacrificed a knight, which, however, he shortly regained, and in addition two pawns. After this capture his victory was a question of time." (8)

Score: Blackburne 3, Bardeleben 1, drawn 2.

Game 7
The seventh game was played on the 10th May, and showed the German master in much better form than he had displayed in some of the early games, and he secured a victory in a short game by fine play.

Score: Blackburne 3, Bardeleben 2, drawn 2.

Game 8
The eighth game was played on the 13th May. Mr. Blackburne started with <1.d3>. Von Bardeleben got a slight advantage, and looked like forcing matters in his favour, but Mr. Blackburne recovered himself and had nearly equalised the positions at the time of adjournment. On resuming play von Bardeleben set up a strong attack, giving up a piece for Pawns, and ultimately won after sixty moves.

Score: Blackburne 3, Bardeleben 3, drawn 2.

Game 9
The ninth and as it turned out the last game of the match was played on the 16th May. Von Bardeleben opened with a Ponziani, which he treated in a somewhat original manner, and it looked as if he would win the game. Mr. Blackburne, however, was equal to the occasion, and got out of his difficulties, and a draw resulted.

Score: Blackburne 3, Bardeleben 3, drawn 3."

"The match between Bardeleben and Blackburne, at the British Chess Club, was given up as a draw, with the score at three games all and three drawn, in consequence of Herr von Bardeleben having other engagements which prevented his continuing the contest." (9)


(1) London Evening Standard, Tuesday 23rd April 1895, p. 7.
(2) Nottinghamshire Guardian, Saturday 2nd February 1895.
(3) Newnes was a newspaper and magazine publisher and Liberal politician. He was president of the British Chess Club, and used his wealth to support English Chess, financing matches such as Lasker - Blackburne (1892), and being the umpire for Mieses - Teichmann (1895).
(4) Newcastle Courant, Saturday 4th May 1895, p. 2.
(5) Belfast News Letter, Thursday 23rd May 1895, p. 3.
(6) British Chess Magazine, June 1895, p. 269.
(7) Newcastle Courant, Saturday 4th May 1895, p. 2.
(8) Northern Whig, Thursday 16th May 1895, p. 7.
(9) Morning Post, Monday 27th May 1895, p. 3.

See also:


The original collation of the games, with material for the introduction, was completed by User: MissScarlett. Additional material was contributed by User: jnpope and User: Pawn and Two. This collection was cloned by User: Chessical, who added score tables and further material from contemporaneous reports and expanded the introductory text.

 page 1 of 1; 9 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Von Bardeleben vs Blackburne 0-1591895Blackburne - BardelebenC28 Vienna Game
2. Blackburne vs Von Bardeleben ½-½581895Blackburne - BardelebenB06 Robatsch
3. Von Bardeleben vs Blackburne 1-0911895Blackburne - BardelebenC31 King's Gambit Declined, Falkbeer Counter Gambit
4. Blackburne vs Von Bardeleben  ½-½471895Blackburne - BardelebenD00 Queen's Pawn Game
5. Von Bardeleben vs Blackburne 0-1491895Blackburne - BardelebenC51 Evans Gambit
6. Blackburne vs Von Bardeleben 1-0641895Blackburne - BardelebenC20 King's Pawn Game
7. Von Bardeleben vs Blackburne 1-0411895Blackburne - BardelebenC51 Evans Gambit
8. Blackburne vs Von Bardeleben 0-1601895Blackburne - BardelebenA07 King's Indian Attack
9. Von Bardeleben vs Blackburne ½-½401895Blackburne - BardelebenC44 King's Pawn Game
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

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