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Blackburne - Lee Match, Bradford-London, 1890.
Compiled by Chessical


Commenced: Monday 14th July 1890, Bradford Chess Club; Concluded Monday 11th August 1890,Simpson's Divan London


Blackburne was white in the odd numbered games.
Note that draws were only counted into the score from game 6.

Blackburne = 1 = = = = 1 0 1 1 1 0 = = 8.5
Lee...........= 0 = = = = 0 1 0 0 0 1 = = 5.5


Joseph Henry Blackburne was 48 years old and Francis Joseph Lee 33 years old. Blackburne was ranked in the top five players in the world at the time, and the 1880's had been his peak time with his best individual performance being in Game Collection: Frankfurt 1887.


This match opens the apogee of Lee's career which was the 1890's when he was in the top thirty of players. His best tournament result was at Game Collection: New York 1893, The Impromtu Tournament where he finished third equal, and he went into win two matches against Henry Bird in London 1897.

"A match for a stake of £50 (approximately £4,700/$6,300 in December 2013 values) between Mr. Blackburne (the English champion) and Mr. Lee (the winner of the recent London handicap), was commenced at the rooms of the Bradford Chess Club, yesterday. The conditions are— the first scorer of six games to win; draws, after the first five, to score half to each player and the match is to be played day-by-day until completion. Mr. H. Muff (president of the Bradford Chess Club) formally opened the match at mid-day, and made the first move for Blackburne.

Sheffield Independent - Tuesday 15 July 1890.


Blackburne consistently was the more aggressive player in this match. Lee relied on the French defence and Queen's pawn openings, Blackburne's main defence was the Slav.

Contemporary reports:

(Game 1) Lee played the French defence, and, after appearing to get an advantage in the opening moves, played with, perhaps, too much caution, and the first game ended in a draw, after 22 moves had been made.

Sheffield Independent - Tuesday 15 July 1890

THE BLACKBURNE - LEE CHESS MATCH. To-day, at Bradford, Lee opened the second game with the Giuoco Piano. The game developed into an interesting struggle, though of a close order, and on the twentieth move Blackburne had the initiative well in hand.

Manchester Evening News - Tuesday 15 July 1890

CHESS. BLACKBURNE v . LEE. Play in the match between Messrs. Blackburne and Lee was resumed at the Exchange Cafe, Bradford, at one o'clock yesterday afternoon. Mr. Lee opened the second game of the contest with the Guioco Piano, but hesitated with the attack, and thus lost any advantage which might be expected from a bold continuation of the opening. Blackburne pressed so closely that Lee had eventually to abandon any idea of castling, and from the fifteenth move or so was entirely on the defensive. Lee fought very hard, but could not prevent Blackburne gaining a Pawn after forcing the exchange of Queens. In the end of the game the old master had matters pretty much his own way, winning a fairly-contested game in forty-four moves. The time occupied was — Blackburne two hours forty-seven minutes ; and Lee, two hours fifty- two minutes. The score is —Blackburne, one ; Lee nil. Play continues on Thursday.

Manchester Evening News - Wednesday 16 July 1890

CHESS. CHESS MATCH AT BRADFORD. The second game in the Blackburne v. Lee chess match at Bradford, was played yesterday. Lee had an opening move, and played a Guioco Piano, which developed in the ordinary way until about the thirteenth move, when Blackburne, finding his opponent doing nothing definite, took up the attack. From that time Lee was kept entirely on the defence, and after about forty moves of remarkably interesting play, Blackburne obtained a perceptible advantage, which he pressed to a win. Forty-four moves wore recorded, the time occupied was : Blackburne, 2h. 47 mins, Lee 2h. 52 mins.

Sheffield Independent - Wednesday 16 July 1890

THE BLACKBURNE-LEE CHESS MATCH. The third game in the Blackburne v. Lee chess match was commenced at Bradford this morning. Lee again adopted the French defence. Blackburne manifested some impatience in his attack and made some risky advances. Lee playing with great judgment repelled the attack, and Blackburne, having to play quickly to make up time, was compelled to relinquish a pawn, and remain with an inferior position at the twenty-first move.

Manchester Evening News - Thursday 17 July 1890

The Blackburne v. Lee Chess Match.—The fifth game of the Blackburne v. Lee match was played at Bradford yesterday. Lee, playing Black, adopted the French Defence again. The game was drawn on the fifty-third move after Blackburne had consumed three hour 3 and twenty-five minutes, and Lee had occupied three hours and twenty minutes.

Manchester Evening News - Wednesday 23 July 1890

THE BLACKBURNE-LEE CHESS MATCH. (Special Telegrams.) The sixth game of the Blackburne-Lee chess match was commenced at Bradford this morning. Lee again played Zukertort's opening. For seven moves that game proceeded absolutely on the same lines as the fourth game. Lee again opened his King's Knights file, but profiting by the previous experience devoted more attention to his Queen's side pawns.

THE BLACKBURNE-LEE CHESS MATCH. The seventh game of the Blackburne chess match was commenced this morning, and though Lee again played the French defence he played much more boldly than in any previous game, and by making a sacrifice early got distinctly the better of the position, and will probably win. The game is one of extraordinary interest and much complexity, and Blackburne is the exchange and a pawn behind

Manchester Evening News - Wednesday 23 July 1890

C H E S S. BLACKBURNE v. LEE. The seventh game of the match between Messrs. Blackburne and Lee was played at Bradford yesterday. The game in its opening gave promise of something brighter than had been seen in the preceding games, although Lee again played the French Defence. Up to Blackburne's eighth move it was merely a copy of the fifth game, but Lee then castled. The second player proceeded to move up his pawns, and to maintain a pawn at king's fifth Blackburne moved his king's side pawns freely. Lee, by checking with the queen on rook's fifth, took up the attack.

White castled on queen's side and Lee then formulated a formidable-looking attack with queen, rook, two knights, and bishop, giving up one of the knights for two centre pawns. Later on Blackburne gave up the exchange temporarily and formed a pretty combination, which must either recover the loss or, in the alternatives, draw by perpetual check or mate in two. At the adjournment of the afternoon sitting a reduction of the pieces to queen, knight, and bishop each had rendered the possibilities of what had been all through a brilliant and interesting game, somewhat smaller. Blackburne, who was a pawn to the bad, consumed twenty-five minutes in determining upon his last move prior to the adjournment. On the resumption, Lee suddenly gave a fine chance to Blackburne by leaving two pieces subject to danger for the white queen, he having to rely entirely on his queen to serve the three purposes of protecting the two pieces and preventing an immediate mate. It need hardly be said that Blackburne took full advantage of this surprising turn of events, which there is reason to think Lee had anticipated, and won in a few moves. The score is now - Blackburne, two; Lee, nil.

Leeds Mercury - Friday 25 July 1890

The eighth game of the Blackburne-Lee match was commenced at Bradford this morning. Lee again played the Zukertort opening game, but in its early stages took entirely different form to those played previously. At about the twentieth move Lee had his pieces well developed, but the defence seemed perfectly sound.

Manchester Evening News - Friday 25 July 1890

CHESS. BLACKBURNE v. LEE. The ninth game of the Blackburne v. Lee chess match was played this afternoon at Bradford, and resulted in the resignation of Mr. Lee on the 37th move after three hours' play, Lee played the French Defence again, but Blackburne was able to get an opening attack on his King's side, and Lee resigned a few moves after a sacrifice of a Knight by Blackburne. Score: Blackburne, 3, Lee, 1

Manchester Evening News - Monday 28 July 1890

CHESS. MATCH. BLACKBURNE v. LEE. The thirteenth game in this match— which for six games up—was played Simpson's Divan London, on Saturday. The score from the previous day being — Blackburne, 5; Lee, 2; and drawn, 5. It was perhaps owing to the fact that the game might be the deciding one of the match—if won by Blackburne — that large number of spectators, despite the line weather and outdoor attractions, congregated in the room, at times crowding it inconveniently, to witness the play.

The hopes of any exciting finish were not, however, realised. for Lee again playing the close French defence, never gave his opponent chance, and although draws, which now and are not to his interest he seemed, curiously enough, nevertheless, to be satisfied with drawn game, which ultimately was agreed on the thirty-eighth move, after about three hours play. The score now — Blackburne 5 1/2 , Lee, 2 1/2; and 5 draws. Blackburne need, therefore, only draw his next game to win the match.

Western Daily Press - Monday 11 August 1890

THE BLACKBURNE - LEE CHESS MATCH. The fourteenth game in the Blackburne v Lee match was played yesterday, amid some excitement. Lee obtained an early advantage on the Queen's wing, which he pressed with much vigour. At one moment it seemed as if he had winning chances, but relaxing somewhat in his attack, he allowed Blackburne to consolidate his position, and further turn the tables on him by a clever surprise, which won a pawn. Further struggle being hopeless, a draw was agreed upon. This decided the match in Blackburne's favour, the final score being Blackburne six, Lee three. Five other games were drawn.

Manchester Evening News - Tuesday 12 August 1890

Game 1 - French Exchange - Monday, 14th July, 1890
Blackburne vs F J Lee, 1890 
(C11) French, 22 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 2 - Giuoco Pianissmo - Tuesday, 15th July, 1890.
F J Lee vs Blackburne, 1890
(C50) Giuoco Piano, 43 moves, 0-1

Game 3 - French Exchange - Thursday, 17th July, 1890.
Blackburne vs F J Lee, 1890 
(C01) French, Exchange, 64 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 4 - Queen's Gambit Declined Slav - Monday, 21st July, 18
F J Lee vs Blackburne, 1890
(D12) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, 50 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 5 - French Classical - Tuesday, 22nd July, 1890.
Blackburne vs F J Lee, 1890 
(C14) French, Classical, 53 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 6 - Queen's Gambit Declined Slav - Wednesday, 23rd July,
F J Lee vs Blackburne, 1890
(D12) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, 39 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 7 - French Classical - Thursday, 24th July, 1890.
Blackburne vs F J Lee, 1890 
(C14) French, Classical, 47 moves, 1-0

Game 8 - Queen's Gambit Declined Slav - Friday, 25th July, 189
F J Lee vs Blackburne, 1890 
(D12) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, 67 moves, 1-0

Game 9 - French Classical - Monday, 28th July, 1890.
Blackburne vs F J Lee, 1890 
(C14) French, Classical, 36 moves, 1-0

Game 10 - Queen Pawn Game: Anti-Torre - Wednesday,6th August, 1
F J Lee vs Blackburne, 1890  
(D02) Queen's Pawn Game, 29 moves, 0-1

Game 11 - French Classical - Thursday, 7th August, 1890.
Blackburne vs F J Lee, 1890
(C14) French, Classical, 53 moves, 1-0

Game 12 - Queen Pawn Game: Anti-Torre - Friday, 8th August, 189
F J Lee vs Blackburne, 1890
(D02) Queen's Pawn Game, 31 moves, 1-0

Game 13 - French Classical - Saturday, 9th August, 1890.
Blackburne vs F J Lee, 1890
(C14) French, Classical, 24 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 14 - Slav Defence - Monday, 11 August, 1890
F J Lee vs Blackburne, 1890 
(D12) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, 51 moves, 1/2-1/2

14 games

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