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Joseph Henry Blackburne vs James Moore Hanham
New York (1889), New York, NY USA, rd 20, Apr-25
Philidor Defense: General (C41)  ·  0-1


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find similar games 2 more Blackburne/J M Hanham games
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Kibitzer's Corner
Oct-07-13  Alpinemaster: While Mr. Blackburne is a noted Romantic 19th Century Master, who produced some of the most noted attacking games and annotations of his era requires little introduction, Major Hanham of the Union Army is relatively unknown by non-Chess historians today.

At his peak, Hanham ranked in as the 7th strongest player alive, according to; however, his tournament play was never really phenomenal: it was his opening theory contributions which are notable for a Master.

The Philidor is a stodgy, albeit solid choice for Black's defense in the open game. What Black gained in Solidity, he or she would lose in Mobility, causing the Philidor to get a reputation as a unambitious choice and found itself a defensive weapon in lower Master's arsenals. Major Hanham sought to change that- mobility, long term strategic potential, and the maintanence of stability cause his line to remain in use, even in today's modern Master play. However, it is worthy of note to mention, Masters of today tend to arrive at the Philidor Defense - Hanham variation through transposition from the Pirc Defense via 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 e5, in order to avoid quick central attacks.

To our game:

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6
-The Philidor Defense

3. Bc4 Be7
-The reason modern Masters prefer the Pirc transposition. If "Knights before Bishops", 3...Nf6, Black has fallen into the famous trap in the Two Knight's Defense, 4. Ng5! and major problems ensue.

4. Nc3 c6 5. d4 Nd7!
-Entering the Hanham Defense by maintaining Black's center strong-point at e5. Advocated in lieu of 5...exd4 6. Nxd4 g6, hoping to take advantage of the open a1-h8 diagonal by fienchettoing. The Hanham has been advocated by GM Sam Palatnik.

6. 0-0 Ngf6 7. Qe2 0-0 8. Be3 Qc7 9. Bb3 h6 10. Nh4! Nb6 -Play has continued into the middle game without fireworks; however, now that Middle-game manouvering has begun, the purpose of which is acquiring initiative and a stack of advantages, Blackburne has found an imaginative way of invading the Kingside. Hanham maintains the solidity of his position and simply deprives White of 3 tempi due to his fundamentally incorrect Knight sortie (which began with flanking a Knight -a poor choice, indeed).

11. Ng6! Re8 12. dxe5 dxe5
-This is VERY important! White will attempt to dislodge Black's center in the Hanham with dxe5 almost invariably. Maintaining the central outpost on e5 for Black is critical! Never recapture with the Knight unless there is no other choice, due to immediate forcing tactical complications.

13. h3 Bd6 14. Rad1 Be6 =
-With control of the center, development, and King-safety all catered to nicely, Black trades off the Bishop pairs for both players (which is advocated by Tartakower's theorems for Black as it expedites equality) and wins a third tempo from the now forced retreat of the Knight as the pawn on f7 is no longer pinned (Nh4 - Ng6 - Nh4 already burns 3 tempo for the failed attack, leaving Black strategically on the attack and, for all practical purposes, playing as White. This game is now = at worst and probably ).

15. Bxe6 Rxe6 16. Nh4 Nbd7 17. Nf5 Bf8 18. g4 Nh7 19. h4 Rg6 20. Kh1 Nc5 21. Rg1 Ne6 22. Rg3 Rd8 23. Rdg1 Nd4 24. Qf1 Nxc2 -After a great many positional moves, Black has found activity for his Knight by spending the tempos granted by White's failed Knight sortie. The result of superior strategy was a dividend of one pawn and a strong Kingside attack, plus central mobility superiority. Now it is defiantly .

25. Bc1 Nd4 26. h5 Rf6 27. f4 exf4 28. Bxf4 Qa5
-Black has lost his central pawn wedge but gained back some tempo via White's operations to remove it. The isolated e-pawn is fair compensation as the Black Rook is in need of a target.

29. Qc1 Re6 30. Bd2 Qe5 31. Bf4 Qa5 32. Be3 Nb5 33. Bd2 Nxc3 34. Bxc3 Qa4 35. Rd1 Rxe4 -Cashing in on the compensation, as above noted. White no longer has a center; furthermore, Black is on the attack with full initiative.

36. b3 Rxe1+ 37. Qxe1 Qxa2
-The 3rd pawn and the integrity of the Queenside are too great off loses to sustain at this juncture. It is now effectively game over with ; from here it is only a question of choice in technique.

38. g5 hxg5 39. h6 Qc2 40. Nd4 Qg6 41. Qe5 Qxh6
-And White has nothing left in reserve.

42. Kg2 Qd6 43. Qe2 Qd5+ 44. Kh3 Qh1+ 45. Kg4 Nf6+ 46. Kxg5 Rd5+ 47. Kf4 Bd6+ -After the long King-chase, White had not the heart to witness 48. Ke3 Re5+ 49. Kd3 Rxe3 50. Nxe3 Bxg3 51. Nxg3 Qf3+ obliterating White's entire army save the Bishop, and gaining a net Rook to the better.

Hope this is an educational and entertaining study. I dedicate it to William and Isabell, future Chess Masters!

Good Studies,


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