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Joseph Henry Blackburne
British Chess Magazine Vol 42 (1922)  
Number of games in database: 992
Years covered: 1861 to 1916

Overall record: +453 -240 =220 (61.7%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 79 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 French Defense (65) 
    C11 C01 C00 C14 C13
 Ruy Lopez (53) 
    C77 C65 C60 C67 C70
 Scotch Game (52) 
 Vienna Opening (42) 
    C25 C29 C26 C28
 French (40) 
    C11 C00 C13 C10
 Evans Gambit (37) 
    C51 C52
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (85) 
    C01 C11 C00 C14 C02
 Ruy Lopez (45) 
    C61 C62 C66 C60 C63
 French (38) 
    C11 C00 C10 C13
 Sicilian (33) 
    B45 B21 B25 B22 B40
 Queen's Pawn Game (26) 
    D00 D02 D05 A46 A40
 Scandinavian (23) 
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   NN vs Blackburne, 1880 0-1
   Blackburne vs NN, 1863 1-0
   NN vs Blackburne, 1871 0-1
   A Steinkuehler vs Blackburne, 1863 0-1
   Blackburne vs J Schwarz, 1881 1-0
   Blackburne vs Mr. L, 1886 1-0
   Bird vs Blackburne, 1886 0-1
   Blackburne vs Steinitz, 1883 1-0
   Blackburne vs Blanchard, 1891 1-0
   Blackburne vs NN, 1894 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Berlin (1881)
   Vienna (1873)
   Nuremberg (1883)
   Hamburg (1885)
   Frankfurt (1887)
   London (1883)
   Paris (1878)
   9th DSB Kongress, Leipzig (1894)
   Berlin (1897)
   Vienna (1882)
   London (1899)
   Breslau (1889)
   Hastings (1895)
   Nuremberg (1896)
   Vienna (1898)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Anderssen - Blackburne - Charousek - Fredthebear by fredthebear
   Anderssen, Blackburne, Charousek by monet11
   tactics 2 by tactics
   Annotations by Various Authorities & Fredthebear by fredthebear
   Blindfold Blackburne by ughaibu
   New York 1889 by suenteus po 147
   1870s - 1890s Classic Chess Principles Arise by fredthebear
   London 1883 by suenteus po 147
   London 1883 by JoseTigranTalFischer
   Challenger Blackburne by Gottschalk
   Vienna 1882 by suenteus po 147
   Vienna 1873 by suenteus po 147
   Vienna 1873 by JoseTigranTalFischer
   FAVORITE PLAYERS by gambitfan

   NN vs Blackburne, 1880
   NN vs Blackburne, 1871
   Blackburne vs NN, 1863
   A Steinkuehler vs Blackburne, 1863
   Blackburne vs Mr. L, 1886

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Joseph Henry Blackburne
Search Google for Joseph Henry Blackburne

(born Dec-10-1841, died Sep-01-1924, 82 years old) United Kingdom

[what is this?]
Joseph Henry Blackburne was born in Chorlton, Manchester. He came to be known as "The Black Death". He enjoyed a great deal of success giving blindfold and simultaneous exhibitions. Tournament highlights include first place with Wilhelm Steinitz at Vienna 1873, first at London 1876, and first at Berlin 1881 ahead of Johannes Zukertort. In matchplay he lost twice to Steinitz and once to Emanuel Lasker. He fared a little better with Zukertort (Blackburne - Zukertort (1881)) and Isidor Gunsberg, by splitting a pair of matches, and defeating Francis Joseph Lee, ( Blackburne - Lee (1890) ). One of the last successes of his career was at the age of 72, when he tied for first place with Fred Dewhirst Yates at the 1914 British Championship.

In his later years, a subscription by British chess players provided an annuity of 100 (approx 4,000 in 2015 value), and a gift of 250 on his 80th birthday.

In 1923 he suffered a stroke, and the next year he died of a heart attack.

Note: Blackburne played on the teams of Steinitz / Bird / Blackburne, Blackburne / Bird / MacDonnell, Bird / Blackburne, Blackburne / Aloof, Steinitz / Blackburne, Blackburne / Steinitz / De Vere, Blackburne / Potter, Blackburne / Horace Chapman & Joseph Henry Blackburne / Allies.

Wikipedia article: Joseph Henry Blackburne

1 Source: Grantham Journal - Saturday 17 December 1921, p.3.

 page 1 of 40; games 1-25 of 992  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. A Steinkuehler vs Blackburne 0-1241861ManchesterC44 King's Pawn Game
2. Paulsen vs Blackburne 1-0331861Manchester blind simC00 French Defense
3. Paulsen vs Blackburne 1-0501861Manchester (England)C15 French, Winawer
4. Anderssen vs Blackburne 1-0291862LondonC33 King's Gambit Accepted
5. Blackburne vs J B Payne 1-0301862ManchesterC45 Scotch Game
6. Steinitz vs Blackburne 0-1701862LondonC01 French, Exchange
7. Blackburne vs H B Parminter 0-1351862Blindfold simulC51 Evans Gambit
8. Blackburne vs F Deacon  0-1441862LondonC41 Philidor Defense
9. Blackburne vs Anderssen 1-0241862Offhand gameC37 King's Gambit Accepted
10. Blackburne vs A Pigott 1-0211862Blindfold simulC34 King's Gambit Accepted
11. Blackburne vs Lomax 1-0391862ManchesterC01 French, Exchange
12. Paulsen vs Blackburne  ½-½361862LondonA07 King's Indian Attack
13. Blackburne vs NN 1-0161862ManchesterC38 King's Gambit Accepted
14. Blackburne vs Paulsen 0-1551862LondonD00 Queen's Pawn Game
15. Hannah vs Blackburne 1-0411862LondonC42 Petrov Defense
16. Blackburne vs Hamiliton 1-0281862BFX ManchesterC38 King's Gambit Accepted
17. Blackburne vs Jebson 1-0191862ManchesterB40 Sicilian
18. Blackburne vs J F Gillam 0-1321862Blindfold simulB40 Sicilian
19. Blackburne vs Owen 1-0231862LondonB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
20. Blackburne vs A G Puller 1-0501862Blindfold simulC31 King's Gambit Declined, Falkbeer Counter Gambit
21. Blackburne vs Ravensworth ½-½221862Blindfold simulB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
22. Anderssen vs Blackburne 1-0531862LondonC01 French, Exchange
23. Blackburne vs A Steinkuehler 1-0211862Manchester (England)C51 Evans Gambit
24. Blackburne vs H T Young ½-½241862Blindfold simulC41 Philidor Defense
25. Blackburne vs W M Chinnery 1-0401862Blindfold simulC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
 page 1 of 40; games 1-25 of 992  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Blackburne wins | Blackburne loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Still waiting for that link...

* * * * *

Blackburne commenting on the <Ruy Lopez>:

<This, the most fashionable opening of to-day, was in not great favour in the sixties. It is a game I never play in a tournament, except when I feel a little off colour and am content with a draw, and then it means losing half a point. In a match this does not matter, as it leaves the two opponents precisely where they were before, but in a tournament every draw costs something, as the leaders usually win the majority of their games.>

Blackburne/Graham p35/52

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: I haven't scanned all the previous pages, so this might have been noted before...

Pop Quiz.

Q- What is the shortest game Blackburne played and lost?

(Wonder if Harding has this story?)

Premium Chessgames Member
  diagonal: Kingpin review on Harding's Blackburne biography:
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Today's Quote:

<Whiskey stimulates the imagination--but eating a big meal before the game is equivalent to giving knight odds> - Blackburne.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Acting on a lead from the <ACB>, Sept-Oct 1918, p.179. I found this in the <Falkirk Herald>, May 29th, 1918, p.4:

<Huns raid J. H. Blackburne: Readers will be sorry to hear that the Huns have treated the veteran chess-master's residence as a "fortified place" (!) and glad to know that their bomb did no personal damage to the aged player and his wife. Mr H. W. Butler, of Brighton, sends us these particulars :- "Mr J. H. Blackburne and Mrs Blackburne have had a most dangerous and nerve-shattering experience. In the last air-raid of Sunday night a bomb dropped close to their residence, damaging the house very much, but, fortunately, neither of them were personally injured. But both have suffered such a shock that it has been deemed wise for them to go into the country to recuperate." British chess players fully sympathise with Mr and Mrs Blackburne in their trying experience, and are delighted to know the "present from Germany" missed its mark.>

The account in the <ACB> had the additional information that <Mrs. Blackburne was thrown down by the force of the explosion and the veteran international player was rendered temporarily deaf>, but their source for this remains unknown.

Having the proximate date of attack, and the knowledge ( that Blackburne lived in Lewisham, London, at the time, it wasn't difficult to locate the details:

<The last and largest aeroplane raid of the war took place on the night of 19 May 1918, when 38 Gothas and 3 Giants took off against London. Six Gothas were shot down by interceptors and anti-aircraft fire and a seventh aircraft was forced to land after a protracted close quarters engagement with a Bristol fighter of 141 Squadron from Biggin Hill, crewed by Lieutenants Edward Eric Turner and Henry Balfour Barwise. This was the first victory of the war for Biggin Hill,[83] for which Turner and Barwise were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.[84] The British estimated that 2,724 lb (1,236 kg) of bombs were dropped, although the German figure was 3,200 pounds (1,500 kg). 49 people were killed, 177 injured and damage was 117,317.>

More info on the general damage in Lewisham: http://lewishamwarmemorials.wikidot...

Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: Happy birthday, Joseph Henry!
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: The grand man gets a grand day from <CG>.

He was the embodiment of Victorian chess and its history.

Joseph Henry Blackburne (kibitz #188)

We're all indebted to Harding for his wonderful biography.

PS- still waiting for those links from <offramp>

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Harding, via Graham's son Stephan, relates this anecdote where Blackburne imitates Steinitz:

<That is the back story of the semi-autobiographical novel Lost Battle (1934), written by his son Stephen Graham (born 1884), in which his father is called John Rae Belfort and Blackburne appears as a drunken acquaintance. The author probably exaggerated his early memories of the chess master, writing a quarter of a century later. In an early chapter Blackburne joins the Belforts for Sunday tea. The veteran champion "with the big red face" is also described as "vinous, swollen-veined, dead-featured, but with back of his head colossal." When Belfort tells Blackburne he has played over all Steinitz's games, Blackburne closes his eyes and parodies the ex-world champion's fractured way of speaking English: "I do not vant to vin a pawn. It is enough if I only veekens a pawn." They play chess in Belfort's study after tea. The more whisky Blackburne drinks, the better he plays and he leaves only in time to catch the last train.

Harding - Blackburne p404

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: And, from ibid p405, we have Harding quoting Buckley's review of Blackburne's book, specifically commenting on Graham:

<In the Birmingham Weekly Mercury, of 18 November 1899, Buckley first praised the games, the collection of which "must be an endless pleasure to amateurs of many succeeding generations."

Then he wrote:

The editor's work is less satisfactory, though Mr. P. Anderson Graham has at least one requisite for the task. He possesses enthusiasm, and, moreover, is a sincere admirer of his hero. But his biographical sketch is lamentably incomplete and unsatisfactory, The sketch of the history of blindfold chess is little more than a pretence, and both sketches have the painful air of amateurishness which is the almost invariable characteristic of chess lucubrations. We cannot but regret that a subject so interesting should have been given to the world so imperfectly. The opportunity was a great one. The record of Blackburne's career presented incomparable opportunities; but the editor has derived little of interest there from, and largely contents himself with writing of the catalogue-type mingled with his own inconclusive opinions and doubtful statements.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Does Harding estimate how many simul exhibitions Blackburne gave over the years? The number of times one sees references to him in newspapers, one could be forgiven for thinking he played chess non-stop for 50 years. And yet there are less than a thousand of his games here.

The only masters who come to mind who might challenge him on this front are Alekhine, Koltanowski and Marshall, but I can't speak about the Continental scene.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: I'm not sure about general simuls, but for blindfolds, Harding gives a listing in his appendix V

< ~2444 total (excluding just a few exceptions) W-L-D = 1552-202-660 >

Harding must give an estimate of Blackburne's total, but I couldn't readily find it.


Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Blackburne interview excerpt:

Edward Pindar (kibitz #12)


Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: There is an excellent drawing (worthy of inclusion IMO) in the Illustrated London News, 8 Oct 1881.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <Tab> is it online anywhere?

Where did you see it?

If it's not available online can you mail me a scan? I could post it for you (well, for the www - whole wide world) if you'd like.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Ah, I see, he's got the "I just won Berlin" shine.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: I always thought this one was rather grand:

(Maybe it's the hat?)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: <z> That's a good one too, but not the one I found in ILN, 8 Oct 1881 (via the steadily improving http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.... who are constantly adding new periodicals). Oh, please, don't have me go through the OneNote (or whatever it was) process again.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: What's the OneNote process?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: Nah it was something else. The process of taking a screenshot and then making it available on the web. I did it a year or three back, and you told me how.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <Tab> I really can't imagine doing my research without being able to save snippets of text and pictures.

Certainly for visuals/portraits out of the old magazines and newspapers.

Of course, most of them go into various folders for personal use - but very many make their way to both <CG> and Zanchess.

You should start your own blog - it could be in Norwegian and showcase your research/writing, in addition to being a launching-pad for <CG> contributions.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: My website would go stale after some years.
Jul-17-17  Sally Simpson: I was reading 'The Story of the Dundee Chess Club' by Peter Walsh.

The famous story about Blackburne taking a drink en passant apparently took place in Dundee in 1911.

The piece on page 29 starts off with "The following true story illustrates the good fellowship between him [Blackburne] and the Dundee players."

It continues with Blackburne taking a drink by mistake and then being jokingly forgiven. Then comes the famous en passant quip. He is giving another drink and another then Blackburne leaves a piece en prise and resigns.

Blackburne liked Dundee. Between 1897 and 1911 he visited the club every year bar 1910 to play simuls and give a lecture.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <My website would go stale after some years.>

Perhaps, but so does pretty much every website, though some might last as long as a good bottle of whiskey. The real idea is to get a framework out there which others will copy and propagate.

<jnpope>'s site is one I hope lasts a long, long time.

What happens to <Winter>'s site will be interesting. <CG> will be OK as long as Daniel is around I think, but it will always run the risk of going the way ChessCafe did.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Glory is fleeting but obscurity is forever.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Entropy wins in the end.
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