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  1. Albin - Marco 1901

    The match took place in the Bohemian spa resort of Carlsbad (at the time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but now in the Czech Republic and known as Karlovy Vary).

    "Along with Vienna and Prague, over the past few years Carlsbad has developed to be an equally important Austrian chess centre. It has through its vigorous chess club and its tireless director of the match, Herrn. Senior Tax Inspector Tietz, become a magnet towards which chess master events are powerfully attracted." [(1)]

    Viktor Tietz saw that he could combine simultaneously the promotion of chess and of Carlsbad as an European resort for the well-healed.

    The Albin-Marco match of 1901 (from July 31 to August 12, 1901) took place in the Kurhaus [(2)] spa hotel during in the middle of the social season at Carlsbad [(3)]. For Viktor Tietz, this was the first of his increasingly ambitious chess projects at Carlsbad.

    In 1902, the chess club and the city council financed a more ambitious match between David Janowski and Carl Schlechter ; and in 1907 they instigated their first international tournament - Karlsbad (1907). The tournament attracted top players which generated significant publicity, and it established the spa as a host for very strong grandmaster events: Karlsbad (1911), Karlsbad (1923), and Karlsbad (1929).


    The cost of the match was underwritten by the town council and the Carlsbad Chess Club. The players received an appearance fee of 50 Krowns, with a further 30 Krowns for a win and 15 Krowns each for a draw. "Pražské Šachové" criticised the purse of 400 Krowns as being "not very much." [(4)]

    50 Krowns would be approximately £206 in 2015 value [(5)]

    Albin: 2 wins and 4 draws = 50 + (2x30) + (4x15) = 170 Krowns (£700 in 2015 value)

    Marco: 4 wins and 4 draws = 50 + (4x30) + (4x15) = 230 Krowns (£950 in 2015 value)

    <The players>

    Adolf Albin

    "Albin, Adolf...was born at Bucharest, Roumania. He was educated at Vienna for a mercantile career, and filled an engagement with the German railway king, Dr. Stroussberg [(6)], till his downfall. Herr Albin, how ever, kept up his end of the see-saw for a few years by returning to Vienna. He now represents New York. The goddess of chess did not make his acquaintance till he was a well-grown man, but so great was his aptitude that, never too old to learn, he quickly came to the front and, after winning several first prizes in Vienna tournaments, he entered the Masters' Tournament at Dresden in 1892, and surprised the world by giving Siegbert Tarrasch his only defeat in a very fine game (Albin vs Tarrasch, 1892 ). His style of play is ingenious and picturesque, with a pleasing dash of rashness, perhaps deficient in book knowledge but showing a keen appreciation of the leading principles of the game. His other chief successes are : 1893, second prize at New York; following Emanuel Lasker a drawn match with Albert Hodges of New York; and a win versus Eugene Delmar." [(7)]

    Albin was fifteen years' older than his opponent. His peak period was in the mid 1890's and his best performance was in Game Collection: New York 1893, The Impromtu Tournament [(8)] Returning to Europe, after two years as a chess professional the United States, to play in Hastings (1895), he finally settled in Vienna. Although he was not to win any major tournament, on his day he was a dangerous opponent.

    Georg Marco

    "Marco, Georg, from Vienna, a man of considerable stature and fine muscular appearance, so much so that he has been jokingly termed 'the strongest chess-player of the world.' He won the first prize finely in the last Amsterdam National Tournament without losing a game, and coming out ahead of Max Weiss, Carl Schlechter, Berthold Englisch, etc. His general appearance is very German, with but little of the bandbox about him [(9)]. One of the chief favourites with the visitors, and apparently on good terms with the masters also, he was largely the life of the Tourney, always bubbling over with fun, and cracking jokes with any and all who could understand his language...His style of game also might be called playful, delighting in comical and puzzling positions of a problematic type." [(10)]

    Marco was a strong player peaking at ninth in the world in 1900 [(11)]. His best results were in the early years of the twentieth century until the First World War.

    Marco was an influential man in the chess world. He had originally gone to Vienna to study medicine, but had became seriously ill with pneumonia and pleurisy and had to abandon his studies. Instead built a career in Vienna combining chess administration, playing and journalism. In 1893, Marco became secretary of the Vienna Chess Association (Wiener Schachgesellschaft) [(12)] and he was editor of the "Wiener Schachzeitung" from 1898 to 1916 [(13)]

    Before this match they had played seven times with Marco having the advantage (+3,=2,-2). Edo Chess' analysis indicates that

    at the time of the match and for several years before, Marco was the higher rated player. In the Vienna Chess Club Winter Tournament over the New Year, they had shared third and fourth prizes behind Schlechter and Semion Alapin. Albin was not able thereafter to sustain his position in the rankings, probably due to advancing age.

    <Progress of the match>

    Marco had white in the odd numbered games.

    Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Total
    Albin ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 1 0 0 ½ 0 4
    Marco ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 6 ]table

    <Progressive scores:>

    Albin twice was in the lead and after Game 7 the score was level. Marco then won with Black in Games 8 and 10.

    Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    Albin ½ 1½ 2 2½ 2½ 3½ 3½ 3½ 4 4
    Marco ½ ½ 1 1½ 2½ 2½ 3½ 4½ 5 6]table

    <The Games>

    [[Game 1]]

    In the first game, Marco had white and played a Ruy Lopez. Albin used a defence with which Harry Nelson Pillsbury had achieved a terrific attack - Showalter vs Pillsbury, 1898 but Marco played carefully and a draw should have ensued. Marco misplayed a King and pawn endgame, but with victory in sight Albin stumbled:

    click for larger view

    losing a tempo with <44..Kf6?>

    Instead, <44...c4!> wins after 45. g5 d4 46. cxd4+ Ke6 (not 46... Kxd4? 47. g6 c3 48. g7 c2 49. g8=Q c1=Q =) 47. Kh5 c3 48. g6 c2 49. g7 Kf7 50. Kh6 c1=Q+

    [[Game 2]]

    Albin, with his first white of the match, played a Stonewall with obvious intentions of a King-side attack in the manner of Pillsbury (Pillsbury vs D G Baird, 1893). Marco was too strong and experienced to succumb to such a rustic opening and gradually took over the initiative. He was happy to repeat his play three year's later - Showalter vs G Marco, 1904. In a good position he threw his good work away:

    click for larger view

    with <34...Rxb2?>; most probably believing he would be giving mate to the White King.

    [[Game 3]]

    Marco again used the Ruy Lopez and Albin defended with an uncommon continuation similar to Bird's Defence. Albin had all but equalized when he gave Marco an unwarranted opportunity by allowing him to position his rook on the sixth rank

    click for larger view

    with <29.Rxa6>. Instead Marco exchanged Rooks and the game was eventually drawn.

    [[Game 4]]

    Albin changed to a K-pawn opening with a Giuoco Piano. The players followed the famous Steinitz vs Von Bardeleben, 1895 to move 10. Neither player made a conspicuous error, and the game progressed to a drawn Rook and pawn ending.

    [[Game 5]]

    Game Five marks the start of a turbulent period in the match with four successive decisive games. Albin chose to change his defence introducing the French Defence into this match. Albin lost with a careless move

    click for larger view

    <22...Rc4?> handed the initiative to Marco and as Albin's king was stranded and vulnerable in the centre of the board. Marco had now managed to catch his opponent up in the match.

    [[Game 6]]

    Albin again chose to open with <1.e4> but Marco varied defending a Ruy Lopez. Albin established a dangerous passed pawn at <c7> and Marco had to give up material. Once again Albin was ahead in the match.

    [[Game 7]]

    Despite his setback in game Five, Albin again chose the French defence, but he varied by exchanging central pawns early in a manner and then posting a Knight on <f6>. Albin had seen Delmar play in this manner - S Ricardo-Rocamora vs E Delmar, 1894. In a minor piece ending, mutual blunders led the advantage veer one way and then the other before Albin made the last mistake.

    Georg Marco had a decided view about luck in chess:

    ‘...any unbiased chess friend will have come to the conclusion that in a game of chess chance rules almost as often as in a game of roulette. Nor is there anything surprising in that; the probability that in a given critical position a chess master will select the best move...(but) is easy to show that the values of these powers diminish very rapidly, and the probability of always finding the correct move diminishes in a very alarming way. Now consider physical weakness; exhaustion after a protracted struggle; tendency to light-heartedness when the position is favourable; tendency to dejection when the position is critical, and it will be clear that absolute correctness is an ideal at which everybody aims, but which nobody attains, or ever will attain.’[(14)]

    [[Game 8]]

    No longer a point ahead, Albin played the solid Giuoco Piano, which was part of his usual repertoire. In the early middle game, he played passively and Marco had some initiative on the White squares preventing Albin from castling. Albin could not untangle himself and lost a pawn. He was then unable to prevent Marco queening his <a> pawn.

    Marco was now ahead for the first time in the match.

    [[Game 9]]

    Marco with White played a Ruy Lopez. He attempted to attack on the King-side by allowing the opening the <g> file in front of his castled King. Albin played calmly and was able to exchange material to create a drawn minor piece ending.

    Albin remained a point behind but with White in the final game.

    [[Game 10]]

    Albin played a non-theoretical opening <Nf3, e3 followed by Ne5 and f4>. and a reversed Dutch-Stonewall pawn structure developed. As in Game 2, Marco had little problem with this line. He created vigorous Queen-side counterplay before Albin could establish any attack on the opposite wing.

    click for larger view

    Having to win to tie the match, Albin attempted to engineer a King-side attack, but Marco had no weakness there. Instead, Marco was now able to penetrate Albin's position on his weak white squares. Marco attacked, he won a key pawn on the Queenside and was able to create a unstoppable passed pawn.

    Albin later refined his opening play to defeat Marco the next year - Albin vs G Marco, 1902


    [1] “Wiener Schachzeitung”, No.7-8, July-August, 1902, p.163-164.


    [3]The social season at Carlsbad,"begins on April 1st and lasts till November..", “North Devon Gazette”, Tuesday 12th February 1901. See


    [5] 1 Pound sterling = 23.97 Kr.
    ( and for relative values see


    [7] "The Hastings Chess Tournament 1895", edited By Horace F. Cheshire. Chatto & Windus, 1896, p.359.


    [9] The phrase alludes to being smartly dressed, e.g. being as smart as something fresh out of the box.

    [10] "The Hastings Chess Tournament 1895", edited By Horace F. Cheshire. Chatto & Windus, 1896, p.359-60.


    [12] "Wiener Schachzeitung", January-February 1915", p.2-3,5 and 9.


    [14] Georg Marco quoted in the "British Chess Magazine", December 1907, p.558.

    The original collation of the games of this match was completed by User: Pawn and Two.

    10 games, 1901

  2. Alekhine - Teichmann (1921)

    This match of six games up took place between Alexander Alekhine (28) and Richard Teichmann (52) in Berlin from 4th to 10th June 1921. The players were newly arrived in the German capital, both having endured privation during the First World War and its aftermath.

    They had met three times previously, each had won one game and one being drawn. On this occasion, Alekhine seemed to be running away with the match. By Game 4 he was two games up. Teichmann then rallied and recovering his old strength, he managed to tie the match. The decisive games of this match are of high quality.

    <The organization of the match>

    The match was arranged and financed by Bernhard Kagan who also arranged further matches involving Alekhine in Berlin. [(1)] Kagan played an important role in ingeniously maintaining master chess in Berlin despite the grave economic dislocations of the war. In September 1918, he had organised the exceptionally strong Berlin Grandmasters (1918) in the Cafe Kerkau in Berlin whose first prize consisted of 1,000 cigarettes rather than the depreciating paper currency. In December 1920, he organized the Berlin (1920) which brought Gyula Breyer the greatest success of his life.


    During 1919-1921 Alekhine had little opportunity to play master chess in Russia. His homeland had been wracked by political revolution, civil war and then, in 1921, a catastrophic drought and famine. In those dystopic times, Alekhine managed to secure an interpreting job. This at least fed him whilst his victories in several small matches, the 1919-1920 Moscow City Chess championship and then the All-Russia Chess Olympiad in October 1920 brought him very little material reward.

    Alekhine's final chess engagement in Russia would be to win a match against the Moscow champion Nikolay Grigoriev in early March 1921 (+2,=4,-0).

    Three months later, Alekhine was in Berlin and at odds with the Soviet authorities. On March 15th, 1921, Alekhine had married the Swiss communist and journalist Annaliese Rüegg.

    "Because Anneliese Rüegg had excellent connections to the Bolshevist leaders she and her husband were allowed to leave Russia." [(2)]

    In June 1921, Alekhine abandoned Rüegg in Paris and went to Berlin.


    In July 1914, after the outbreak of the First World War, Teichmann travelled to Lucerne in Switzerland. His lengthy emigration to England may have made him apprehensive of internment in Germany. In fact, this did not begin until early 1915 and was restricted to the imprisonment of British and French male residents.

    Teichmann would live in Switzerland from 1914 to 1921. His existence was threadbare and miserable. The absence of any international chess tournaments made left him barely making a living. He survived by hustling in cafes, giving exhibitions [(3)] and reluctantly writing a weekly column for a newspaper.

    Living in Switzerland did not shield Teichmann from all the doleful effects of the war. During the war, Switzerland was blockaded by the Allies leading to shortages. At the same time inflation took off as the government printed money to finance its defence spending. [(4)] In 1918, there were food shortages and a nationwide general strike.

    Teichmann had played little chess after June 1914 when he had won two exhibition games against Frank Marshall (+0 =1 -1) [(5)]

    There were very few Swiss chess opportunities; even the national championship lapsed from 1915 to 1920. Whilst in Switzerland, he only played one event with a master strength player, Hans Fahrni. This took place in Zurich in 1917 and Teichmann won by 3 to 1. [(6)]

    On 25th May 1921, Teichmann returned to Berlin. He had probably been encouraged by Bernhard Kagan who arranged this match and Teichmann was soon to be a contributor to "Kagan's Neueste Schachnachrichten" (Kagan's Latest Chess News).[(7)]

    <The progress of the match>

    ..........1 2 3 4 5 6 Total
    Alekhine. ½ 1 ½ 1 0 0 3
    Teichmann ½ 0 ½ 0 1 1 3

    Progressive scores:

    ..........1 2 3 4 5 6
    Alekhine ½ 1½ 2 3 3 3
    Teichmann ½ ½ 1 1 2 3

    <The games>

    [[Game 1]]

    A draw in only sixteen moves, Teichmann making no apparent effort to play for a win as White.

    [[Game 2]]

    Alekhine opened with the Vienna, which transposed into a King's Gambit Declined. He played extremely accurately to build up a Kingside attack. Teichmann without making any obvious mistake was pressed back and Alekhine in his notes to the game stated after move 17 for White,

    click for larger view

    "Preparing <18.d4>, against which there is no defence. The loss of the present game by Black can be attributed to the fact that his Knights lack bases in the centre, and that in positions of this character the possession of the two Bishops constitutes a decisive advantage for the opponent... Black will find himself reduced to absolute passivity." [(8)]

    [[Game 3]]

    Teichmann was unable to gain any advantage from the opening and the game soon petered out. So far, Teichmann had failed to put Alekhine under any pressure.

    [[Game 4]]

    This was another impressive game by Alekhine. Teichmann defended with the Open Variation of the Ruy Lopez.

    click for larger view

    Despite a lack of material in the late endgame, Alekhine managed to push his <b> and <c> pawns forward fatally cramping Black. Alekhine chose this game for [(9)]

    [[Game 5]]

    Two games down with only two to play, yet Teichmann did not break. Facing the same defence as in Game 3 he was more forceful, quickly castling Queenside and building an attack. Alekhine's king was stranded in the centre and in an unfavourable position, he blundered losing a piece to a pin against his Queen.

    [[Game 6]]

    Alekhine was still a game ahead in the match. He appears to have decided to play carefully perhaps because his older opponent was not tiring but was playing better. Alekhine as White chose the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez, with which over the previous few years, he had been successful. Teichmann was significantly stronger than Alekhine's previous Russian opponents in this line and Alekhine was strategically outplayed.

    click for larger view

    The advance of the <f> pawn won Teichmann the game and levelled the match at two wins each.

    After the conclusion of the match, both players tested out an experimental defence <1. e4 e6 2. d4 d6>. Alekhine drew as White and then won the second game with Black.



    [(2)]. André Schulz,



    [(5)]. Di Felice, Chess Results, 1901-1920, page 219.

    [(6)]. Di Felice, Chess Results, 1901-1920, page 242.

    [(7)] .

    [(8)]. Alekhine, "My Best Games of Chess 1908 -1923, Game 90, pages 239-241. Dover.

    [(9)]. Alekhine, "My Best Games of Chess 1908 -1923, Game 91, pages 241-243. Dover.

    User: MissScarlett - original collection.

    User: Chessical - text.

    6 games, 1921

  3. Andersson - Kavalek (1978)
    This match was played in Washington DC, from 30th April to 14th May 1978.

    A prominent Washington businessman - Ilya Chamberlain - privately sponsored the match after he was unable to secure corporate sponsorship from Volvo. Chamberlain provided a $5,000 purse, with $3,000 going to the winner. (1)(4) In the case of a tie, the purse would be divided equally. (2)

    "Chamberlain is a retired biochemist who receives royalties from patents on a soybean fermentation process. A native of London, he taught at Oxford and was for four years a vice president of a major American food-processing company. In his retirement, Chamberlain passes his time selling Volvos to members of the diplomatic corps in Washington.." (3)

    Ulf Andersson stayed with Lubomir Kavalek during the match which was played in a friendly atmosphere.

    For the first game, the play took place in Chamberlain's car dealership's showroom: "Volvo of Washington", 4800 Wisconsin Ave. Thereafter, the players moved to the manager's office.

    Spectators were admitted to the showroom for a charge of $2, where Mark Diesen (World Junior Chess Champion in 1976, ELO 2440) provided analysis and commentary. Diesen had the opportunity to get to know Andersson when they had both played in 18th International "Costa del Sol" tournament in Spain, February 1978

    Mike Ciamarra was the referee.

    The games began at 4 p.m. (4)

    <The players:>

    Andersson was aged 26 and Kavalek 34 at the time of this match.

    This was a time of improvement for Andersson. He won first prizes at Belgrade 1977, Buenos Aires (Clarin) (1978) and Hastings 1978-79, and reached a career ranking peak in 1982-85.

    "During the 1970's Kavalek was one of the most active and successful tournament competitors from the USA." (5) Kavalek had finished joint first in two U.S. championships ( US Championship (1972) and US Championship (1973)). After this match he went onto win the 26th US Championship (June 4th-26th 1978) outright; by doing so, he qualified for the 1979 Interzonals.

    Andersson was considered a slight favourite. They had met eight times since 1972, with Andersson winning twice. The remaining games were drawn and usually short. On this occasion, Kavalek won by 6½-3½. Although Kavalek had won the match by winning the 9th game, the tenth was played anyway.

    <"The publicity , both in the local press and on TV were highly gratifying..."> (4)


    <Progress of the match:>

    This was a slow burning match which came to life in its final four games - three of which were decisive. Kavalek won twice with White and once with Black.

    Andersson had White in the odd-numbered games.

    Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts
    1 GM Andersson 2545 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 3½ 2 GM Kavalek 2570 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 6½ ]table (6)

    Game 1: Sunday 30th April - In the first game Kavalek had White. It was a very cautious draw, a main line Queen's Indian lasting only 17 moves. Next year at Sao Paulo, Andersson repeated the defence and drew in 21 moves with Ljubojevic.

    Game 2: Monday 1st May, <They played 16 moves of a King's Indian Defense yesterday> ("Evening Star", 2nd May p.28)

    Andersson opened the second game with a double fianchetto, but neither player wanted a fight, and there was a short draw in 16 moves.

    Game 3: Thursday 4th May, <yesterday ... their third draw, this one in 20 moves> ("Evening Star", 5th May p.30) (which also says game was postponed because the local group called the Washington Plumbers had recruited Andersson for their National Chess League telephone match).

    The third game also was a solid and short draw, this time a QGD Semi Tarrasch in 20 moves.

    Game 4: Friday 5th May, <yesterday adjourned the fourth game> ("Evening Star", 6th May p.16).

    The fourth game was the first game in the match of real substance. Kavalek won a Pawn, but was unable to convert the win when Andersson held up the passed pawn in an opposite coloured Bishop ending. It appears to have been drawn after the adjournment.

    Game 5: Sunday 7th May, <drew the fifth game ... yesterday> ("Evening Star", 8th May p.55)

    Andersson had to contend with Kavalek's rook on his seventh rank, but after he had liquidated it, he held an opposite coloured bishop ending.

    Game 6: Tuesday 9th May, <short draw yesterday> ("Evening Star", 10th May p.71)

    A King's Indian Defence, in which Andersson as White, was content to draw in short order.

    Game 7: Wednesday 10th May, <Kavalek .. defeated .. Andersson ... in the seventh game ... yesterday> ("Evening Star", 11th May p.45)

    Kavalek as White, played dynamically against Andersson's Caro-Kann. Andersson, judging by his play, seemed taken aback and played imprecisely. He tried to sacrifice an exchange at his 18th move, but this was insufficient to save him, and he was overwhelmed rapidly.

    Game 8: Thursday 11th May, <the eighth game ... was adjourned yesterday after 40 moves> ("Evening Star", 12th May p.28)

    Andersson opened using one of his slow K-side fianchetto systems but achieved little. He tried for a long-time to win an ending in which he had only a scintilla of an advantage.

    Game 9: Friday 12th May, <adjourned the ninth game ... Friday after 42 moves ... Game 8 was also adjourned. Thus, two games awaited conclusion. The 10th and final game was to be played today, starting at 1 p.m.> ("Evening Star", 14th May p.57)

    Andersson lost again on the Black side of a Caro-Kann. This time he lost late in the game due to a blunder.

    click for larger view

    Andersson played <44.Bxb3?> and resigned four moves later.

    Game 10: Sunday 14th May, <Kavalek won the tenth ... game in 39 moves .. yesterday> ("Evening Star", 15th May p.39)

    Andersson had White and was faced with a King's Indian Defence. Kavalek obtained some advantage, but the game ended unexpectedly after Andersson lashed out on the K-side with <g4>, fatally weakening his position.

    click for larger view



    (1) "Chess", July 1978, nos 797-8, p.309.

    (2) "Evening Star", Washington DC, 1st May, p.43.

    (3) "Washington Checkmate?", Joseph McLellan, "The Washington Post" December 30, 1978 -

    (3) "High-Geared Chess",Joseph McLellan,"The Washington Post" - May 3, 1978 -

    (4) "Chess", Vol. 43, nos.797-8, P.309-310.

    (5) "The Oxford Companion to Chess", Second edition, p. 195, Oxford University Press (1992).

    (6) "Chess Results, 1978-1980", Gino Di Felice, p.90.


    User: Chessical - original text and compilation.

    User: OhioChessFan - proof read and provided improvements to the text.

    User: Chessdreamer provided the missing scores for games 1,2,3,4,6 and 8.

    User: Tabanus sourced and transcribed the match reports from the "Evening Star" newspaper, Washington DC, this material has been used in full.


    10 games, 1978

  4. Atkins - Napier British Championship play-off

    This match of four games was to decide the 1904 British Chess Federation Championship (which had been held from 22nd August - 3rd September). It was a play-off between William Ewart Napier, aged 23, and Henry Ernest Atkins, aged 32. Napier and Atkins had tied at 8½ points each, having quickly drawn their individual game.

    They finished a point ahead of Joseph Henry Blackburne whom Atkins had defeated and with whom Napier had drawn. They had played each other only once previously, in 1902, also with a drawn result.

    "At a meeting of the British Chess Federation in Hastings in August, the title of chess champion of England, together with a gold medal, could not be conferred as there was a tie between Napier and Atkins. These two masters have now again met at Hastings to decide the tie by a series of four games." [[(1)]]

    The match took place from 2nd to 5th January 1905 in Hastings, England. The venue was the Queen's Hotel and was held "under the auspices of the Hastings Chess Club." [[(2)]]

    "The meeting of Mr Atkins and Mr Napier at Hastings this week to play off their tie for Federation Amateur Trophy will make an interesting opening for the chest of the New Year..." [[(3)]]


    1904 was the inaugural British Chess Federation championship. Atkins would go on to dominate the event in the first decade of the Twentieth century. He won the championship at:

    1905 Southport
    1906 Shrewsbury
    1907 London
    1908 Tunbridge Wells
    1909 Scarborough
    1910 Oxford
    1911 Glasgow

    and then after the First World War he would win twice in a row at:

    1924 Southport
    1925 Stratford on Avon.

    Despite his obvious strength and good results in the few international tournaments he took part in, his profession was firmly set in teaching.

    "Mr Atkins was born in 1872 at Leicester, where as a schoolboy of 12, he first became interested in chess. Three years later he joined the Leicester Chess Club and his progress was so rapid that when he 17 he was playing top board. In 1890 he entered Peterhouse College, Cambridge, and during his four years’ residence there he played a large number of matches, losing only one game.

    Mr Atkins’ excellent performance at Hastings in 1895, where he won his section and finally came out third, Geza Maroczy being first and Lomas second, gave him the title of Amateur British Champion, as the first and second men were debarred by nationality from holding that proud position. Four years later, in 1899 Mr Atkins made his first appearance in Continental chess at the Amsterdam International Amateur Tournament - Game Collection: Amsterdam 1899 - where he succeeded in defeating every one of his fifteen opponents. Perhaps Mr Atkins' finest achievement was at 13th DSB Kongress (Hanover) (1902), where in a tournament confined to the world's masters he came out third with 11½ points behind Harry Nelson Pillsbury (13½) and David Janowski (12).

    Below the Englishman were such masters as Jacques Mieses, Napier, Mikhail Chigorin, Frank Marshall, Isidor Gunsberg, Heinrich Wolf, Heinrich Wolf and James Mason. Mr Atkins has played in nine of the cable matches with America and can show a score of 4 wins, 3 losses and 2 draws. In the British Chess Federation Congress, he tied with Napier at Hastings in 1904 and lost the play-off by the one game. Since then, however, he has won the Championship every year with highly commendable regularity. Mr Atkins' quiet and modest demeanour, combined with gentle geniality, has won him a host of friends, and during his residence in Northampton as Mathematical Master at the Grammar School, he took so great an interest in local chess that his influence is felt even now. He was greatly missed when left here for the Wyggeston School, Leicester. Now, however, Mr Atkins is Headmaster of Huddersfield Grammar School and has become a tower of strength to the local chess club." [[(4)]]


    Although born in London, his family emigrated to the United States when he was 5 years old.

    1904 to 1905 was a period of intense chess activity for Napier. He returned to England in 1904 having developed into a strong player in New York. Napier won the Brooklyn Chess Club championship when only 15 years old. In 1906 he defeated Marshall, then New York State Junior Champion, Napier - Marshall (1896) by 8½ to 2½.

    He came second with the prominent American master Eugene Delmar a distance behind Harry Nelson Pillsbury at the American Master's Tournament - Buffalo (1901). Napier took part in Monte Carlo (1902) coming eleventh out of twenty players, and at 13th DSB Kongress (Hanover) (1902) he came fifth equal and was awarded the Baron Rothschild brilliancy prize for Von Bardeleben vs W Napier, 1902.

    Napier then returned to the United States to play at Cambridge Springs (1904) but had a disappointing result coming thirteenth out of sixteen.

    His accomplishments were sufficient to gain a place in the inaugural 1904 British championship.

    "Napier's record is well known. He is a very young man and since his arrival in England last autumn he must have been almost satiated with victory. In the National tournament at the City of London Chess Club he came out first, half a point above Richard Teichmann but in the Rice Gambit tournament at the London Criterion Teichmann, a master of much experience, whose health has not always permitted him to do full justice to his powers, was well ahead." [[(5)]]

    <Progress of the match>

    1 2 3 4
    Atkins ½ 0 ½ ½ 1½
    Napier ½ 1 ½ ½ 2½]table

    <Progressive score>

    1 2 3 4
    Atkins ½ ½ 1 1½
    Napier ½ 1½ 2 2½ ]table

    <The Games>

    [[Game 1]]

    This was a steady game in which Napier defended a Queen's Gambit with <dxc4>, <b5>, <a6> and then <c5>.

    click for larger view

    "THE BRITISH CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP. Atkins and Napier, who tied for first place the recent Hastings Chess Tournament, met yesterday at the Queen's Hotel, Hastings, and entered upon the first of four games, to be played on consecutive days, to decide the British chess championship. Play began late and lasted three hours. Atkins had the move and selected Queen's Gambit, which Napier declined. Careful play by both men resulted in a draw being agreed upon, after thirty moves, with a knight and six pawns each." [[(6)]]

    "The first (game) was played yesterday. Atkins adopted the Queen's opening. He played in a non-aggressive manner, the result being a draw after 31 moves, with a knight and six pawns each." [[(7)]]

    [[Game 2]]

    Atkins, as Black, played a King's Gambit Declined extremely poorly and lost barely out of the opening.

    "THE BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIP. The second game in the British Chess Championship at Hastings was resumed yesterday. Napier was the first player and opened with the King's Gambit, which Atkins declined. Atkins did not appear in his best form, and the finish was rather sensational. At the seventeenth move, Atkins resigned.

    click for larger view

    This unexpected early finish was a great disappointment to the onlooking chess players, who included Mr Horace Chapman, the Hastings President. Score: Napier 1 and 1 draw. The third game will be played today." [[(8)]]

    [[Game 3]]

    Napier played accurately as Black and accrued an advantage out of the opening, Atkins having played rather passively.

    click for larger view

    He then prematurely exchanged Queens and Atkins was able to hold on for a draw.

    [[Game 4]]

    Atkins, a game down and with the Black pieces, attempted to ensure the game was unbalanced and complex. He played an irregular Indian system of defence:

    click for larger view

    Atkins accepted a double <e> pawn for control of the <d> and <f> files, but neither player gained an advantage.

    "The fourth and final game for the British Chess Championship, between Napier and Atkins, was played at Hastings Thursday. Napier opened and selected Queen's Gambit. Atkins's defence was peculiar and irregular. The game proceeded slowly and eventually, after the 41st move, it resulted in a victory for Napier (sic, in the match not in this game which was a draw - ed.), who won the cup and British championship by a total of 2½ games to 1½. Of the four games played only one was won. Atkins resigning at the 17th move Tuesday. Though Mr Atkins, who was formerly master at Northampton School, was not successful in winning the championship, he is to be congratulated on the excellent stand he made. I hear that is not in really first-class form just now." [[(9)]]

    "Napier becomes the British champion as well as the amateur champion, having won the Newnes Cup, also." [[(10)]]

    <Contemporary reaction>

    "It cannot be said that the contest between Atkins and Napier at Hastings last week to decide their tie for the Federation Championship was quite satisfactory, either as a test of skill or as an exhibition of play. The great ability of the rivals led to anticipations of a spirited encounter, and there is sufficient indication of their equality in the fact that three of their four games were drawn. It is a pity that issue should have been determined by the game given below (game 2 - e.d), which, though it embodies some amusing tactics and was well conducted by Napier, is on the whole beneath the standard that one expects from a meeting of such importance. To offer the King's Gambit was a bold strategy on the part of Napier, doubtless induced by the consideration that his opponent's style is more suited such sound openings the Ruy Lopez and the Queen's Gambit. Atkins was either unfamiliar with the defence or was tempted to try something new, with the result that his position was so compromised after the fourth move that he never had a chance of making a fight.

    By winning the Federation Championship Napier has proved himself to be most successful player of the season, having also gained the first prize and the Amateur Championship in the tournament of the City of London Chess Club. Though he did not win the Rice Gambit tournament of the Metropolitan Chess Club (Teichmann having been first), Napier distinguished himself introducing the most effective defence that has yet been devised against Professor Rice's invention.

    It is evident, indeed, that we have in Napier player of exceptional capacity and brilliance, and wish that if it were possible to claim him as a thoroughly English player, but all his practice was obtained during his long residence America, to which country it said that may return after having swept the board of English championships. In that case, his successes may scarcely be gratifying to British vanity; but we still hope that he may remain as an acquisition to the land of his birth. Mr Napier spent the Christmas holidays in Devonshire, and during his stay found time visit various clubs in West of England, giving simultaneous displays at Reading, Taunton, and Plymouth, and at Falmouth, where he succeeded in winning 19 and drawing 1 out of 20 games played." [[(11)]]

    After this match, in February 1905, Napier lost a match to Teichmann (+5,-1,=5) - Game Collection: Napier - Teichmann - in Glasgow. In March 1905, he tied a match with Mieses held in Hastings Mieses - Napier (1905) (+4,-4,=2), before returning to the United States. Perhaps it was around this time that Napier decided that working in the insurance business was a more dependable livelihood than the precarious lot of a chess master?


    [[(1)]]. "Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer", Tuesday 3rd January 1905, page 10.

    [[(2)]]. "Pall Mall Gazette", Saturday 7th January 1905, page 11.

    [[(3)]]. "Morning Post", Monday 2nd January 1905, page 3.

    [[(4)]]. "Northampton Mercury", Friday 14th January 1910, page 11.

    [[(5)]]. "Woolwich Gazette", Friday 24th February 1905, page 6.

    [[(6)]]. "London Daily News", Tuesday 3rd January 1905, page 11.

    [[(7)]]. "Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer", Tuesday 3rd January 1905, page 10.

    [[(8)]]. "Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer", Wednesday 4th January 1905, page 12.

    [[(9)]]. "Northampton Mercury", Friday 6th January 1905, page 5.

    [[(10)]]. "The Field", Saturday 7th January 1905, page 33.

    [[(11)]]. "Morning Post", Monday 9th January 1905, page 3.


    User: Chessical - original text and compilation.

    4 games, 1905

  5. Becker - Wagner match

    This was a match of eight games between the Austrian master Albert Becker (aged 27) and the German Heinrich Wagner (aged 35).

    This match took place after the North German Chess Congress in Bremen. Wagner had won that tournament, half a point ahead of Becker and Carl Carls. [(1)]

    That tournament ended on 19th July 1924 [(2)]. The match appears to have commenced very soon afterwards, on Tuesday 22nd July [(3)]. This match was reported in the August edition of "Weiner Schach Zeitung" but none of the games is given.

    Both players were near the peak of their respective careers [(3)]. Becker outstanding result would be to come fifth equal with Max Euwe and Milan Vidmar at the tremendously strong Karlsbad (1929) whilst Wagner's would be third equal with Akiba Rubinstein at Breslau (1925).

    The match took place in Hamberg, Germany, which only a few months earlier had been riven by an attempted Communist putsch. Political violence would eventually affect both men, Wagner's ended his playing career with the rise of the Nazi tyranny and Becker would take refuge in Argentina.

    <Progress of the match>

    Wagner had white in the odd-numbered games. Becker was in the lead throughout the match and won three games in under 25 moves. Wagner suffered two quick losses from playing a deficient line against the Queen's Gambit Declined. All of his losses were with the black pieces.

    Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total
    Becker ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 5
    Wagner ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 3 ]table

    <Progressive scores:>

    Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    Becker ½ 1½ 2 3 3½ 3½ 4 5
    Wagner ½ ½ 1 1 1½ 2½ 2½ 3]table

    <The Games>

    [[Game 1]]

    Wagner sacrificed a piece to break open his opponent's King-side.

    click for larger view

    [Wagner played 20.Qh5?!]

    The sacrifice was unsound, but Becker missed the refutation. Instead, he played a natural move after which Wagner was able to draw by vigorous play.

    [[Game 2]]

    Wagner defended the Queen's Gambit Declined; despite the solid reputation of the defence and his experience with it, he quickly fell into an extremely poor position. By move 23, Becker had decisively doubled his Rooks on Wagner's back rank. A better defence can be seen in A Becker vs Prins, 1936

    [[Game 3]]

    As in Game 1, White had a substantial advantage but it was whittled away in an endgame. This time Wagner held the advantage playing White against a Slav Defence.

    [[Game 4]]

    Wagner repeated his <b6>, <Bb7> and <c5> defence to the Queen's Gambit Declined. His "improvement" to his previous play was no improvement at all; once again he suffered rapidly a disastrous defeat.

    [[Game 5]]

    Wagner played a sharp line against the Torre attack despite having previously lost with it - H Wagner vs Saemisch, 1921. Wagner achieved an advantageous position from the opening, but slowly let his advantage be whittled away. Becker was able to hold the double rook ending and secure a draw.

    [[Game 6]]

    Having suffered a double debacle with the Queen's Gambit Declined, Wagner switched from the classical to the newly fashionable hypermodern school. Playing the King's Indian defence, Wagner had significant piece activity but had weaknesses on the King-side. Becker failed to find the critical line and instead responded with a sacrifice of the exchange

    click for larger view

    but this proved insufficient. This was Wagner's first win of the match, he was now one point down. He now had to win both remaining games to take the match.

    [[Game 7]]

    Wagner as white had to win this game. He opened <1.Nf3> in hypermodern style, but did not fianchetto his King's Bishop, preferring to play <2.d4>. Becker quickly equalised and after exchanges of minor pieces, the game was quickly drawn.

    [[Game 8]]

    With the score at 4 - 2½ against him, and with his opponent as white, Wagner could have been forgiven for playing safely for a draw. Instead, he played the tactical Two Knights defence. Wagner had nearly equalised when he made a Queen's move that unexpectedly lost a piece.

    click for larger view

    [After <21....Qa5?> 22.Qg3! threatens to take the Bishop on <g6> as well as the Knight on <d6> immediately ended the struggle and the match.]


    [(1)]. "Weiner Schach Zeitung", No.5, 15/16 (August 1924) - p.233

    [(2)]. "Chess Tournament Crosstables IV", p.614, Gaige.

    [(3)]. Research by User: Tabanus has uncovered a report on page 7 of the "Hamburger Anzeiger" of 5th August 1924. It gives the date of Game 1 as 22nd July and that of Game 2 as 23rd July. It also reports the sixth game.

    The order of the games differ in that games 1 and 2 are inverted.

    [Game 1, Queen's Gambit, drawn.

    Game 2, Spanish, Becker won. (our source shows a draw, supported by the Chess 365 database and the Chessbase database).

    Game 3, Queen's Gambit, drawn.

    Game 4, Queen's Gambit, Becker won.

    Game 5, Queen's Gambit Alekhine's variation, drawn.

    Game 6, Queen's Gambit, Wagner won.] Unfortunately, the "Fraktur" style newspaper typeface is difficult to read.



    User: Chessical - original text and compilation.

    8 games, 1924

  6. Bird v Blackburne

    Frederic Hyman Lewis, a barrister, provided the funds for the match. He originally proposed that it be a match dedicated to the Evan's Gambit, (Opening Explorer).

    "Match.— Bird v. Blackburne. A short match consisting of a series of five games, having been arranged by Mr. F. H. Lewis, who also provides the stakes, was commenced on Monday at the British Chess Club....Originally, Mr. Lewis proposed that all the five games should be Evans Gambits; but Mr. Blackburne thought that in such a contest little scope for originality would be left to the players, and it was agreed to play only two Evans. In both cases the defence won...". [(1)]

    <The Terms of the match>

    According to the "British Chess Magazine" of June 1887:

    "I understand that arrangements are now being made for a match between Messrs. Bird and Blackburne, on similar terms to the match now being played between the latter player and Zukertort.

    The principal conditions are:

    1st. No stakes, but a purse of £25 to be played for, £15 to go to the winner, £10 to the loser.

    2nd. The winner of first five games to be victor, draws not to count.

    3rd. Time-limit 20 moves per hour.

    4th. Play to commence about a fortnight after completion of pending Blackburne-Zukertort match.

    It is evident that these short and friendly matches continue to maintain their popularity, and I trust they long may do so, as it is evident that Chess gains thereby" [(2)]

    This suggests that the match was arranged before May 1887, and the purse matched Blackburne - Zukertort (1887) which also had a purse of £25, and a £15/£10 apportionment (£15 is approximately £1,450/$2,420)

    MacDonnell mentioned in the "Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News" of 4th June that he was requested to act as stakeholder and umpire.

    The match was held in the British Chess Club, 37 King Street, Covent Garden, London, in November 1888.

    "A match of five games between Messrs. Bird and Blackburne was commenced at the British Chess Club on Monday. Mr. Bird won the first game, and the remainder were won by Mr. Blackburne, who was therefore victorious by four games to one. The match was arranged by Mr. F. H. Lewis, one of the conditions being that the Evans Gambit should be played once by each player. This was done, and it is noteworthy that the defence won in both cases." [(3)]

    <The players:>

    In 1878, Joseph Henry Blackburne had defeated Henry Bird in a match with a 5-2 score.

    Their previous games usually ended in a decisive result, according to the Chessgames database prior to this match their score was: 6 wins to Bird, 11 to Blackburne with two draws. Their last six games in the database before this match included no draws and had five wins for Blackburne. Of course, the database is not complete, but this gives a good impression of two players who enjoyed combat which allowed them to exercise their tactical flair.

    Alexander Alekhine later commented on the "English school and style of chess" which he stated was founded by Blackburne, James Mason and Bird:

    "Bird, always lay greater stress on a thorough study of each tactical unit of a scheme than on judging the expediency of such a scheme.

    That they had good results despite such a primitive conception of chess was due, especially by Blackburne, first to their extraordinary combinatorial talent and, second, to the fact that Wilhelm Steinitz ’s epoch-making explanations of the principles of chess strategy were then only beginning to become popular." [(4)]

    In 1886, Blackburne had won tournaments with Bird coming in second place behind him, The BCA Handicap Tournament and the "Criterion" tournament.

    Blackburne was now 46 years old, and this match took place during his peak period between 1886 and 1888. In 1887, he played three matches defeating George MacDonnell and then an ailing Johannes Zukertort, (May - June 1887).

    Both he and Zukertort then travelled to Frankfurt (1887), (July - August 1887) where Blackburne came a close second to MacKenzie in a very powerful field.

    Within weeks of this strenuous achievement, he was contesting a match with his nearest British rival, Isidor Gunsberg, who had tied for first in 1887 British Championship and would win the title outright in 1888, - Blackburne - Gunsberg (1887), (September - November 1887). It was reported that Blackburne's health had broken down during the match - Morning Post, Monday 17 October 1887, p. 2. and this time he lost, the match concluding +5 -2 =6 in Gunsberg's favour.

    London 1887 B.C.A. Masters 6.5/9; Bradford 1888 B.C.A. Masters 10/16

    Bird was of master strength but by profession he chose to be an accountant specialising in railway finance. He was 57 years' old, and was in decline from his peak rating in 1875-1880 [(5)]

    By the mid 1880s, Bird was suffering with gout, although still active in tournaments and travelling to give exhibitions. At Vienna (1882) he had been ill with gout for 5 rounds and of his performance at the Second British Chess Association Congress, London 1886, a sympathetic commentator remarked:

    <"Frequently in tourneys of late years has Mr. Bird, for the first half of the contest, held the foremost place. But then his health fails, gout comes on, and the veteran favourite has a hard struggle for even a low place in the prize list. Of course it would be a very hard thing for Mr. Bird to train for anything, such a sufferer is he from chronic gout."> [(6)]

    Bird's recent form had been mediocre. In June 1886, he had lost a match with Gunsberg by 5 games to one, affected by gout his form collapsed. After being a game in the lead he was to lose five games in a row. He had then come fifth the 16th Congress of CCA in Nottingham (August 1886) behind Amos Burn, Emil Schallopp, Isidor Gunsberg and Zukertort, and at the CCA Congress, Stamford (August 1887), Bird shared a disappointing third place with William Pollock and Edmund [bad player ID].

    In December 1887, Bird was a distant seventh in the Third Congress of the BCA, London (November-December 1887). He showed a return to better form in the Handicap Tournament at Simpson's Divan (March-May 1888) coming second to Gunsberg, only to plunge to ninth at the Fourth Congress of the BCA at Bradford in August 1888.

    <The match>

    Mr Lewis seems to have got the type of match he had wanted, highly tactical and with sharp play and combinations. This match was hard fought, with no draws.

    Bird had White in the odd-numbered games.

    1 2 3 4 5 Total
    Bird 1 0 0 0 0 1
    Blackburne 0 1 1 1 1 4

    Progressive scores:

    1 2 3 4 5
    Bird 1 1 1 1 1
    Blackburne 0 1 2 3 4

    <Reflections on the match:>

    "... some time ago that Mr. F. H. Lewis, with his usual generosity, provided the stakes for the recent match between Bird and Blackburne. This match was commenced on a Monday and closed on the following Friday. A game was played on each of the five days, and the whole affair passed off very quietly and satisfactorily. Bird's play seldom reached the full height of his genius, but Blackburne's play was in many instances superb.

    Bird magnanimously said to me a few evenings ago, Blackburne's play against me was very grand. I think it was the finest exhibition of combined force and beauty that I have ever seen on Blackburne's part." And here I may observe that Bird fully agrees with myself and George Henry Mackenzie, that Blackburne's genius for chess would suffice to make half-a-dozen Steinitzes or Zukertorts." [(7)]

    <The Games:>

    [[Game 1]]

    Bird accepted Blackburne's Evans's Gambit and was two pawns up at one stage. Blackburne did not play accurately enough to maintain an attack. Bird then sacrificed one of his additional pawns and after a blunder by his opponent was then able to force two connected passed pawns through on the Q-side.

    click for larger view

    <32.a7> would have given Blackburne a chance to draw, but instead <32.Ne2?!> lost

    [[Game 2]]

    This time Blackburne accepted the Evans's Gambit and for most of the game Bird had the initiative in a tense game with both Kings on opposite wings. Bird seemed to be on the verge of breaking through on the Queenside, but eventually blundered and fell into mating net.

    [[Game 3]]

    Bird chose to defend with an open Sicilian Defence but played the opening very poorly. As a consequence, Blackburne won a Knight for two pawns. Bird defended tenaciously but was slowly ground down losing in 70 moves.

    [[Game 4]]

    Blackburne met Bird's eponymous opening <1.f4> with the aggressive From's Gambit. Blackburne played energetically

    click for larger view

    and Bird's King was too slow to escape to a safe refuge on the Queen-side. Blackburne finished off the game quickly.

    [[Game 5]]

    Bird played a Queen's Fianchetto Defence to counter Blackburne's <1.e4>.

    Blackburne smashed through Bird's King-side and ended the game with a pretty Bishop sacrifice.

    click for larger view



    Games 2,3 and 5 were submitted to database 2nd March 2017.

    [(1)]. "The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser", (quoting "The Field") Saturday 26th January 1889, p.201. and "H.E. Bird: A Chess Biography", Hans Renette, McFarland, p.401.

    [(2)]. "British Chess Magazine", volume 7, June 1887, p. 263.

    [(3)]. "Morning Post", Monday 3rd December 1888, p.3.

    [(4)]. "New York Times", 25th August 1929, pages 1 and 2 of the sports section, Alekhine.

    [(5)]. and

    [(6)]. "Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News" - Saturday 6th October 1888, p.12.

    [(7)]. "MARS" - "Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News", Saturday 22th December 1888, p.13. George Alcock MacDonnell wrote under the name of "Mars". See Winter's "Chess Notes" 3974. "The Steinitz-Wormald-MacDonnell controversy"

    Original collection and text by User: Chessical

    5 games, 1888

  7. 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.

    The match began on the 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. BARDLEBEN This important match is now in full swing at the British Chess Club, London. Sir George Newnes, M.P. [(3)], has provided the stakes, £25 (approx £3,125/$4,040 in 2017 values - 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. BARDLEBEN. 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 he a drawn battle." [(5)]

    <The Players:>

    According to Edo Historical Chess Ratings, von Bardeleben was tenth and Blackburne 12th in the world - in 1895.

    Chessmetrics' analysis for January 1895 has Blackburne as 7th and von Bardeleben as 11th, by May this had become 7th and 8th respectively -

    At the time of the match, von Bardeleben was 34 and Blackburne 53 year's old.


    Blackburne and Isidor Gunsberg were the leading English players of the time. These were challenging time for "The Black Death" as strong new rivals were emerging especially in Germany and Austro-Hungary. He had come a point and four places behind Curt von Bardeleben and Gunsberg at Breslau (1889). This was also the tournament where Siegbert Tarrasch emerged winning with a dominant 13/17.

    Blackburne came a disappointing tenth in the Meisterturnier of the 7th German Chess Federation Congress at Dresden in Leipzig in September 1892. He improved to fourth in the equally strong 9th Congress in Leipzig in September 1894, but on both occasions he was behind Tarrasch and at Leipzig he also trailed the German master Richard Teichmann who was resident in London at the time.

    Blackburne had lost to Gunsberg - Blackburne - Gunsberg (1887) who had as a result of his showing at Game Collection: New York 1889 challenged and played Steinitz for the world championship - Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890). Blackburne had heavily defeated Bird Bird - Blackburne (1888) and Francis Joseph Lee in 1890, but he suffered a comprehensive defeat at the hands of Emanuel Lasker in 1892 - Lasker - Blackburne (1892)

    This match 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, in all of the major tournaments in the second half of the 1890's he was outside the major prizes - 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).

    [[von Bardeleben:]]

    Von Bardeleben was one of the top 20 players of the 1880s and 1890's and was third in Germany behind Lasker and Tarrasch

    He had become a recognised master by coming fifth at Meisterturnier at Nuremberg (1883). His first at London (Vizayanagaram) (1883) was the start of a series of good performances against strong opposition in the German Chess Association's Meisterturnier. He came fifth at Nuremberg (1883), fourth at Frankfurt (1887) and fourth equal at Breslau (1889) before finally tying for first at 8th Congress (1893).

    Other achievements included 3rd-4th in the very strong Bradford tournament of 1888, 1st-2nd at Leipzig, 1888 and 4th-7th Breslau, 1889, 5th-8th 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).

    <Progress of the match:>

    Played at the British Chess Club.

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

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    Blackburne 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 0 0 ½ 4½
    von Bardeleben 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 1 1 ½ 4½]table


    <Progressive score:>

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    Blackburne 1 1½ 1½ 2 3 4 4 4 4½
    von Bardeleben 0 ½ 1½ 2 2 2 3 4 4½]table


    "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)]

    <Contemporary match commentary:>

    The following are excerpts from British Chess Magazine of June 1895, (p.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 temporarily 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)]. Sir George Newnes, (13th March 1851 – 9th June 1910), was a prominent newspaper and magazine publisher and Liberal politician. He was president of the British Chess Club and used his wealth to support English Chess both to provide finance for matches, this match and 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:


    This is a work of several hands.

    The original collation of the games of this match with material for the introduction was was completed by User: MissScarlett. Additional material was then contributed by User: jnpope and User: Pawn and Two.

    This collection was cloned by User: Chessical and further material added from contemporaneous reports. The introductory text was expanded and scores tables added.

    9 games, 1895

  8. Blackburne - Gunsberg (1881)

    This was a match between Joseph Henry Blackburne (aged 39) and Isidor Gunsberg (aged 26). It took place in London, England, from 17th Match to 11th April 1881.

    Blackburne gave odds of two games.

    "Very shortly after he (Gunsberg - e.d.) resumed public play he challenged so redoubtable an opponent as Blackburne to a match, and a contest was arranged in which the Englishman conceded the odds of two games, and won by a single game." [(1)]


    "Mr Blackburne ... has held the position for a long time of the foremost English player, owing to his success in various British and international tournaments. He won the first prize in the Grand Tournament of 1876, and was third in Paris (1878) he also tied for first prize with Herren Berthold Englisch and Adolf Schwarz at Wiesbaden last year." [(2)]

    1881 was a year of mixed fortune for Blackburne, in July he would lose heavily to Johannes Zukertort in a match Blackburne - Zukertort (1881), but then in September, he was a clear first in the very strong Berlin (1881).


    Gunsberg had emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1876. He had spent most of his time since as the surreptitious human operator of the Mephisto (Automaton).

    "Mr Gunzberg's bold offer to play any English chess master for a stake of £20 has not yet been accepted. There can be no doubt, however, that the challenge is put forth in perfect seriousness. There is no bounce about Mr Gunzberg. His manner is always quiet and unassuming. It is only when he sits down to the chessboard that the lightning play of his genius arrests attention". [(3)]

    Gunsberg continued to gain strength throughout the 1880s. He would get his revenge for this defeat in Blackburne - Gunsberg (1887) and at the very end of the decade was the world champion challenger in Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890)

    <The background to the match>

    "Mr Blackburne sometime ago accepted Mr Gunsberg's challenge published in the Chess Player's Chronicle. From a letter which appears in the last issue of that magazine, it seems that Mr Gunsberg's challenge has been misunderstood. He offers to play Mr Backburne a match of six games, getting two games start, and draws counting one-half to each. Mr Blackburn writes that he cannot accept this challenge, but will play a match of seven games, giving him two games start, but draws not to count. The stake proposed is £10 [(4)]. We hope the match will go on, as there is a considerable lack of chess chivalry just now.

    Since the above paragraph was written we have seen a letter from Mr Gunsburg published in the Chronicle, in which he accepts Mr Blackburne's proposal; but stipulates that the winner should get only £7 10s of the stake, and the loser £2 10s. Our readers will not be surprised to learn that the Editor of the Chronicle puts his foot on this novel and ingenious method of converting a £10 into a £5 stake. We think Mr Gunsberg will ultimately agree to go the whole animal, and we are sure the Chess world will be a gainer by the match." [(5)]

    "After various preliminaries ... the terms of play between these experts were finally agreed upon as follows: the match to commence on Thursday, March 17th, at Purssell's Chess Room, Cornhill, and to be continued on succeeding Saturdays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, at the Divan and Purssell's alternatively. The first winner of seven games to carry off the stakes, £10 a side, Mr Blackburne yielding the odds of two games. Draws not to count - time limit 20 moves per hour. Mr Lovelock, President of the City of London Club, is the holder of the stakes and Herr Johannes Zukertort is the umpire." [(6)]

    <Progress of the match>

    Blackburne was never behind in this match and Gunsberg remained between one and three points adrift of his opponent.

    Gunsberg had White in the odd-numbered games.

    Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Total Blackburne 1 1 0 ½ 1 0 1 1 0 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 8½ Gunsberg 0 0 1 ½ 0 1 0 0 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 5½ ]table

    <Progressive scores>

    Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Blackburne 1 2 2 2½ 3½ 3½ 4½ 5½ 5½ 6½ 7 7 7½ 8½ Gunsberg 0 0 1 1½ 1½ 2½ 2½ 2½ 3½ 3½ 4 5 5½ 5½ ]table

    [[Game 1]]

    Both players showed their determination to press for an advantage in this game, Gunsberg with White facing Blackburne's Sicilian. Gunsberg overpressed, miscalculated and lost the exchange. Despite, Gunsberg's best efforts to fight back and complicate the position, Blackburne forced his <e> Pawn through.

    [[Game 2]]

    Another hard-fought game in which Blackburne again won the exchange, but this time Gunsberg had a pawn as compensation. Blackburne penetrated Gunsberg's kingside and won back the Pawn. Gunsberg tried to force his queenside pawns through in the endgame, but Blackburn's kingside Pawns were the fleeter.

    [[Game 3]]

    Having lost the first two games, Gunsberg had to make the White pieces count. Blackburne repeated his Sicilian defence. Gunsberg managed to double his Rooks on the <h> file threatening Blackburne's King. Despite this, Blackburne tactically outplayed Gunsberg before making an error that cost him a Rook

    click for larger view

    with <29...Rf5?> 30. Rh8+ Kg7 31. R(3)h7

    [[Game 4]]

    This was the first draw of the match, although Gunsberg was lucky to draw. Blackburne emerged out of the opening with a great advantage. Gunsberg then plunged into complications by sacrificing his Bishop for the <g> and <h> pawns in front of Blackburne's King. In the complex tactics, both players missed winning continuations.

    In the subsequent double minor piece ending, Blackburne had passed and connected <b> and <c> Pawns. In

    click for larger view

    He could not find a path to victory and the game was drawn on the 57th move.

    [[Game 5]]

    Once again Blackburne was successful on the black side of the Sicilian Defence.

    click for larger view

    He took the <e5> Pawn seeing a tactical coup Gunsberg had been oblivious to; if White recaptured with his Rook, he would lose the piece or be mated on the first rank after <Qd6!!>.

    [[Game 6]]

    Blackburne sacrificed the exchange on <f6> to weaken Gunsberg's kingside defences. He also had two potentially powerful Bishops. Gunsberg counter sacrificed a Pawn and managed to activate his rooks which methodically picked off Blackburn's queenside Pawns. The match score was now 3 to 2 in Blackburne's favour.

    The games so far had been tactical scraps which had swung violently one way and then the other.

    [[Game 7]]

    Gunsberg lost this game as White by making an elementary blunder when scarcely out of the opening. He suicidally "won" a Pawn

    click for larger view

    with <16. Bxc6?> bxc6 17. Nxd4? and after 17...Rd8 his Knight was pinned fatally against his Queen.

    [[Game 8]]

    This game was the second defeat in a row for Gunsberg, who again snatched a hot Pawn in the opening and paid the price.

    click for larger view

    With <10...Qxb2?> Gunsberg's queen became trapped. Although Gunsberg obtained two Rooks in exchange, Blackburn established a passed Pawn on <b7> easily supported by the <a> Pawn. Gunsberg was left with no way to prevent Blackburne queening one of the passed Pawns at a ruinous cost of material to Gunsberg.

    [[Game 9]]

    This was the longest game of the match. Blackburne changed defences to the French Defence. He outplayed Gunsberg, but in a minor piece ending Blackburne made a succession of small errors which whittled away his advantage. He then blundered into a loss with

    click for larger view

    <66...Bd6?> allowing <67. g6> winning the <e> pawn and the game.

    The score was now 5½ to 3½ in Blackburne's favour.

    [[Game 10]]

    After the longest game of the match came this which was the shortest. Gunsberg's lack of familiarity with the tactical intricacies of Blackburne's openings continued to cost him valuable points.

    [[Game 11]]

    Gunsberg missed an opportunity.

    click for larger view

    With <29. Rh5+> Kg8 (or 29... Kg6 30. Re5 Rxe5 31. Nxe5+ Kf5 32. Rxe3) 30. Ne5 Nc4 31. Nxc4 Rxc4 32. Rd7 he would have won instead of drawn the game.

    [[Game 12]]

    Blackburne's King was unexpectedly and neatly trapped after <28. Kh2?>.

    click for larger view

    Gunsberg thereafter very deftly manoeuvred his Queen to win.

    [[Game 13]]

    Gunsberg introduced a new opening into the match with <1. c4>. Blackburne had the better position when a draw was agreed but the this was a very different type of game without the tactical melees and rapid changes of fortunes seen in many of the earlier games of the match.

    [[Game 14]]

    This was the fourth French defence of the match., Gunsberg having used the defence and won when he was Black previously in Game 12.

    click for larger view

    Blackburne's well-placed Rook on Gunsberg's seventh rank put pressure on his opponent. Gunsberg tried to whip up complications on the King-side initiative but shed two Pawns. When his initiative petered out, he was left with a hopeless endgame.

    <Contemporary reaction>

    "The match terminated on Monday, April 11th, in the defeat of Mr Gunzberg, Mr Blackburne having scored 7 games to 6 (including the two given), three being drawn. The loser has increased his already high reputation by the gallant stand he has made against his accomplished antagonist. According to "Land and Water" the games will be published in pamphlet form with notes by Mr William Norwood Potter at the price of one shilling." "The British Chess Magazine", May 1881, p.184.


    [(1)]. "Bradford Observer Budget", 28th July 1888

    [(2)]. Bury and Norwich Post, Tuesday 12th July 1881, p. 3

    [(3)]. "The British Chess Magazine", February 1881, p.41.

    [(4)]. £10 is approximately £1,224/$1,663 in 2021 value, see and or about 11.5 weeks worth at average earnings in 1881.

    [(5)]. "Irvine Herald", Saturday 12th March 1881, p.8.

    [(6)]. "The British Chess Magazine", April 1881, p.116.

    [User: MissScarlett - original collection and the sourcing of ten games for the database. User: Chessical - text. ]

    14 games, 1881

  9. Blackburne - Lee Match, Bradford-London, 1890.

    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

    14 games, 1890

  10. Blackburne - Vazquez

    Joseph Henry Blackburne and Andres Clemente Vazquez contested a five games up match in Havana from 5th March - 11th March 1891. [(1)] .

    <The players:>

    Dr Vazquez was a leading figure in Cuban chess as well as a notable jurist and diplomat. A prolific match player, he had the prestige to play both formal and casual matches against the leading masters of the day including Mackenzie, Steinitz, Chigorin and Gunsberg. He was at his peak [(2)] in the 1890s and was a very strong amateur player but not quite of master class. Blackburne thought enough of the games to append notes to several of them which were printed in the "Times Democrat" and then in other newspapers.

    Blackburne would be a top-ten player for most of the 1890s although his peak years were in the late 1880s. In 1887, he had beaten the former world championship contender Johannes Zukertort (Blackburne - Zukertort (1887) - by 5 wins to 1 with 8 draws) and had come second in the extremely strong Frankfurt (1887).

    Having secured second place in Manchester (1890), Blackburne's next challenge took him to Havana. Also invited for simultaneous and exhibition play was George Henry Mackenzie

    "After his match with Judgo Golmayo, which he won by 5 games to 3, with 3 draws, the English Champion engaged in another with Señor Vazquez, Golmayo's most formidable rival in Cuba. This he won much more easily, the final score being Blackburne 5, Vazquez 1" [(3)]

    "Mr Blackburne has been able, after all, to accept the invitation of the Havana Chess Club. He was to leave England for Cuba on January 28, under an agreement to give four simultaneous performances, of which two were to be blindfold; and to play matches of five games up, under a time limit of 20 moves per hour, with Señor Golmayo, and with señor Vazquez. After leaving Havana be was to go to New Orleans, and probably to other American cities. There was some possibility, also, that arrangements would be made for a match between him and either Mr Steinitz or Mr Gunsberg." [(4)]

    In his first match in the Cuban capital, he defeated Celso Golmayo Zupide - Blackburne - Golmayo (1891). The match concluded on 3rd March and only two days later he sat down to play Dr Vazquez. .

    <Progress of the match:>

    Blackburne had white in the odd-numbered games.

    1 2 3 4 5 6
    Blackburne 1 0 1 1 1 1 5
    Vazquez 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 ]table

    <Progressive score:>

    1 2 3 4 5 6
    Blackburne 1 1 2 3 4 5
    Vazquez 0 1 1 1 1 1]table

    <The Games:>

    [[Game 1]]

    Vazquez, as Black, played a king-side fianchetto defence. He may have especially prepared this as he also played it in Game 3. Whilst scarcely common, it was experimented with at master level by Simon Winawer and Curt von Bardeleben and Jacques Mieses.

    He obtained a promising position with an initiative on the King-side.

    click for larger view

    Vazquez played too slowly to push an attack through and Blackburne defused the threat. Blackburne achieved a very powerful pawn centre which allowed his opponent no counterplay.

    [[Game 2]]

    Blackburne defended with a Caro Kann which was never a part of his usual repertoire. Against the Advanced Version, he chose the extremely rare plan of employing a King-side fianchetto. This does not seem to have been played again at master level for a hundred years.

    Vazquez maintained a spacial advantage, but Blackburne blundered the game by taking a pawn so allowing his opponent the move necessary to penetrate his Queenside and then push his <b> pawn to victory.

    click for larger view


    [[Game 3]]

    Vazquez again played his Modern Defence and again achieved a reasonable position as Black from the opening. Once again, he could not find an effective plan to prosecute his King-side attack. Vazquez then blundered away the exchange and despite a final desperate attack, he was quite lost.


    Yesterday evening Mr J. H. Blackburne played the third game his match with Señor Vazquez the Mexican champion, at the Havana Chess Club. The opening selected by Mr Blackburne was the Fianchetto del Rey. Señor Vazquez played a very weak defence, never utilising any of his forces on the Queen's side till getting on towards the middle the game. The game was adjourned after Mr Blackburne's 36th move, which left Señor Vazquez's Queen en prise. On the resumption of the game today, some eight more moves convinced Señor Vazquez of the futility of further resistance, and after his opponent's 44th move he resigned." [(5)]

    [[Game 4]]

    Vazquez opened with an Evan's Gambit. Blackburne had little difficulty equalizing and had the open position his combinational skills excelled in. Blackburne conclude the game with a Queen sacrifice

    click for larger view


    "HAVANA, March 10. Yesterday, the fourth game between the English and Mexican champions was played the rooms of the Havana Club. Vazquez commenced the Max Lange attack, but it eventually resolved into the Evan's Gambit. Blackburne played with more of his old dash, and by a series of brilliant exchanges mated his opponent 40 moves. This leaves the scores at present — Blackburne, 3; Vazquez, 1." [(6)]

    [[Game 5]]

    Blackburne, as White, failed to gain an advantage from the Vienna Opening. He then misplayed

    click for larger view

    with <25.f4?> and could have lost after <25...exf4!>. Instead, Vazquez chose the wrong path and was soon out-combined

    [[Game 6]]

    In the final game, Vazquez attempted to whip up a King-side attach by advancing his <g> pawn. His game collapsed after the natural-looking <Rg3> which permitted Blackburne his second Queen sacrifice of the match.

    click for larger view

    "CHESS IN HAVANA. Mr Blackburne was engaged by the Cuban Chess Club for one month in order to give some exhibitions of his wonderful skill as a blindfold player. He was also to play offhand games with the members, and two short matches with Señores, Golmayo and Vazquez, the two strongest Cuban amateurs, for merely nominal amounts. Mr Blackburne gave two exhibitions of blindfold and simultaneous play, in both of which he was very successful, playing with his usual brilliancy, and winning nearly every game. Be also won both matches, which of course was quite expected. Credit must nevertheless be given to the veteran Señor Golmayo for making such an admirable stand, his score being, as already reported, 3 to 5 and two drawn.

    The match against Señor Vazquez terminated on the 11th but the Mexican Consul proved himself much inferior to the Cuban Judge, as the final score in that match was Blackburne 5 to Vazquez 1 and no draws. Mr Blackburne suffered a good deal from the heat, as did Capt. Mackenzie, another English player, and was, therefore, disinclined to listen to the overtures made to him to prolong his stay on the island. It is quite probable that he may accept the invitation of the New Orleans Chess Club, and repair to the city of summary measures in the company of Captain Mackenzie."[(7)]

    The hot climate of Cuba (average temperatures being about 28°C) disagreed with Blackburne. [(7)] Mackenzie who also suffered from the heat and was any way in poor health due to tuberculosis died on April 14th 1891, soon after his return to New York. .


    [(1)]. Di Felice, "Chess Results, 1747-1900", page 131.


    [(3)]. "Leader", (Melbourne, Australia), (Melbourne, Australia), 13th June 1891.

    [(4)]. "The Australasian", (Melbourne, Australia), 7th March 1891.

    [(5)]. "Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer", (Leeds, UK), 2nd April 1891

    [(6)]. "Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer", (Leeds, UK), 2nd April 1891

    [(7)]. "Christchurch Times", (Canterbury UK), 4th April 1891

    [(8)]. The match is described in "Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography", McFarland, T. Harding, p.309 - 310

    User: Chessical - original text and compilation.

    6 games, 1891

  11. Blackburne - Zukertort

    A return match between Blackburne and Zukertort held in London ENG.

    This was effectively a match between the second and third players in the world behind Steinitz. Blackburne dominated winning by 5 to 1 with 8 drawn games.

    Despite the one-sided result, the quality of the games was seen as high and perhaps superior to those of the recently concluded world championship between Steinitz and Zukertort.

    <Venue and Duration>

    British Chess Club, 37 King Street, Covent Garden, London ( - commenced: Saturday 7th May 1887 and completed: Thursday 9th June 1887. The match lasted 34 days.

    A match has been arranged between Messrs. Blackburn and Zukertort for the winner of the first five games, to be commenced at the British Chess Club in the first week of May. This encounter will no doubt excite great interest among chess players, who may reasonably anticipate that it will be more productive of fine examples of chess play than was Zukertort's encounter with Steinitz a year ago. The remarkable game between Zukertort and Blackburn in 1883, probably the finest the former ever played, is well remembered (Zukertort vs Blackburne, 1883). A match between these two players in 1881 resulted in a victory for Zukertort by 7 games to 2. Another match was arranged but was not concluded, each player having won one game.

    Source - <Morning Post - Monday 18 April 1887, p.2.>



    Zukertort's peak was between 1881 and 1885. In this period he had been first or second in the world rankings, and he achieved his career best performance in London 1883 ahead of an elite field including the top seven players in the world ( At the time of this match Zukertort was 45 years old, and was ranked forth in the world.

    Blackburne was 45. Having been badly affected by the death of his wife in 1880, he had recovered and was ranked second in the world.

    Blackburne's peak was between 1886 - 1888. In 1887, he played three matches prior to facing Zukertort, he had defeated Francis Joseph Lee and George MacDonnell but lost to Isidor Gunsberg. After defeating Zukertort, Blackburne went onto achieve his greatest career and tournament result in Frankfurt 1887.

    This match was therefore between two masters one just beyond his peak and the other approaching his steadily.



    Through the good offices of different amateurs a match of five games up has been arranged between Mr. Blackburne and Mr. Zukertort. Three games per week are to be played and the time limit is 20 moves per hour. The stakes are nominal, but it is understood a liberal prize has been provided for each player.

    Source - <"The Daily Graphic", NY, USA, Saturday 21 May 1887, p 615.>

    "The Bohemian" reports a match, Blackburne vs Zukertort, promoted by that indefatigable worker in chess. F. H. Lewis. Esq...substantial rewards are provided for both victor and vanquished. This pleasant opinion is added: "There is reason to hope that Dr. Zukertort has recovered his old form." ..

    Source - <"New York Clipper" , NY, USA, May 21 1887, p.16>

    The prinicipal organizer appears to have been Frederic Hyman Lewis, a London barrister who made a number of contributions to chess matches and tournaments. His wife and son gave £150 toi 1th 1899 London Chess tournament in his memory (Source: Otago Witness, Issue 2,371, 10th August 1899, p.48).

    The "St. Louis Globe-Democrat" of May 28, 1887 states that the match is played for $125 (£25 in 1887-

    "I understand that the arrangements are now being made for a match between Messrs. Bird and Blackburne, on similar terms to the match now being played between the latter player and Zukertort. The principal conditions are <1st> -- No stakes, but a purse of £ 25 to be played for, £15 to go to the winner, £ 10 to the loser. <2>. -- The winner of first five games to be the victor, draws not to count. <3rd>. -- Time- limit 20 moves per hour. 4th. -- Play to commence about a fortnight after completion of pending Blackburne-Zukertort match. It is evident that these short and friendly matches continue to maintain their popularity, and I trust they long may do so, as it is evident that Chess gains thereby."

    Source - <"BCM, volume 7, 1887: June 1887, p.263>

    <£15> is approximately £1,450/$2,420 in 2014, and <£10> is approximately £970/£1620 in 2014.

    On sitting down to play both player looked in good form, Mr Blackburne especially seemingly being in the best of health, though hardly so stout looking as he was a little while ago, whilst Mr Zukertort seemed entirely to have thrown off that jaded look which he had on his return from the States which he retained unfortunately for many months.

    Source - <"BCM, volume 7, 1887: June 1887, p.268>

    "The Handicap Tournament, which is now approaching its conclusion, will be succeeded by a match between Messrs Blackburne and Zukertort. The idea originated with Mr F.H. Lewis, who kindly arranged the match and drew up the following conditions in consultation and perfect agreement with the players. The main points are: Play to commence on Saturday, May 7, at the British Chess Club; the winner of the first five games to be the victor; drawn games not to count; three games to be played each week,on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays ; unfinished games to be played out on the following bye days; hours of play from 2 o'clock till 6.30, and from 8.30 till 11.30 p.m.; time limit, twenty moves per hour."

    Source - <Chess Monthly, volume 8, 1886-87: May 1887, p.257-258>


    <Game scores>

    <thomastonk's> research has revealed that there are some differences in some of the game scores between "BCM" and the "Chess Monthly" in games: 1, 11 and 13. These will be shown against the individual games.

    "Chess Monthly" (published in London) was co-produced by Leopold Hoffer and Zukertort.

    The BCM is the primary source for this collection's game scores.



    Blackburne was White in the odd numbered games.

    table[ Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Total Blackburne ½ 1 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 9 Zukertort ½ 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 5]table

    This match was the complete opposite of their 1881 contest (Blackburne - Zukertort (1881) on this occasion, it was Blackburne who had the initiative throughout this match and Zukertort who was continually attempting to catch him up.

    From 1886, although only 44 years old Zukertort's health began a marked deterioration. This led to patchy results and a fall away from the top ten chess masters. After this match he had a poor 15th place in Game Collection: Frankfurt 1887 5th German Chess Federation Congress, Meisterturnier, (July-August 1887) five points behind Blackburne, and 6.5 behind the winner George Henry Mackenzie . This was followed by a mediocre 7th in London in 1887 (November - December 1887) 6 points behind the winner Isidor Gunsberg. This supports the hypothesis that he was now unable to consistently muster and then maintain his physical strength.


    <Contemporary reaction>

    The match between Mr. Blackburne and Dr. Zukertort, which has been progressing during the past week at the British Chess Club, was concluded on Thursday. The last game was a particularly interesting one, and by his masterly play in a very intricate ending Mr. Blackburne won the game and the match, the final score being — Blackburne, 5 ; Zukertort, 1 ; drawn, 8. The fact that there were so many as eight draws in 14 games shows that the players are remarkably evenly matched, and proves how tenaciously Dr. Zukertort conducted an uphill contest. Mr. Blackburne is to be congratulated on his brilliant success. The match produced several brilliant games and many examples of high-class chess strategy. The games are certainly superior to those played between Steinitz and Zukertort last year (Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship Match (1886)) and Blackburne having won by a larger proportion of games than did Steinitz, the wish is very generally expressed that a match between Blackburne and Steinitz may be arranged. As, however, the latter has foregone his intention of visiting Europe this year, that interesting contest, if it should ever come off, will not be for some time.

    Source - <Morning Post - Monday 13 June 1887, p.2.>

    "MATCH: BLACKBURNE v. ZUKERTORT.-- The match was concluded on the 9th ult., the final score being: Blackburne 5, Zukertort 1, and 8 drawn games. As we publish the games, we leave the reader to form his own opinion on their merits, and congratulate Mr. Blackburne cordially on his well-deserved victory. Everything passed off smoothly, and not the slightest contretemps marred the feeling of good-fellowship between the combatants."

    Source - <Chess Monthly, volume 8, July 1887, p.323>

    The match also was great boost for Blackburne's reputation, and his performance against Zukertort was contrasted favourably with Steinitz's own. This match gave Blackburne's reputation a significant filip, he was now seen as a world championship contender.

    I hear that an effort is being made by the leading members of the British Chess Club to arrange a match between Blackburne and Steinitz. The superiority shown by the former over Zukertort in the match now concluded was so decided that friends of the English champion are convinced that he is able to lower the colours of that redoubtable player.

    Source - <Sheffield Evening Telegraph - Monday 20 June 1887, p.2.>

    In the great championship match being played in London between Blackburne and Zukertort the former leads by the score of four to one and six draws, with but one more game to win. The prospects are that be will defeat Zukertort by a more decisive score than that of the Steinitz-Zukertort match, which will confirm Blackburn's claim to the title of chess champion of the world.

    Source - <"The Daily Graphic", NY, USA, Saturday 18 June, p.891.>

    The match between Blackburne and Zukertort, so long and stubbornly contested, has at last terminated in a very decisive victory for the English champion...The match has probably excited a wider interest than any event occurring in the chess world since the conclusion of the Steinitz-Zukertort match last year.

    Source - <Belfast News-Letter - Thursday 16 June 1887, p.3.>


    <Zukertort's health problems>

    It is notable that at the time Zukertort's health problems were not fully recognised. From contemporary reports it was accepted that he had a frail physique and that his health would be delicate but it was not considered to be chronic.

    "Mr Zukertort is now in excellent health , and if his capital performance in the Handicap of the British (British Chess Club Handicap Tournament, June-July, 1888 - ed.) is to be any guide to his present form , he will be a most formidable foe"

    Source - <BCM, 1887, p.218>

    Dr Zukertort being now apparently quite restore to health, much better examples of first-rate modern chess may be expected in the match than in the recent Steinitz - Zukertort contest...

    Source - <Belfast News-Letter - Thursday 16 June 1887, p.3.>

    It is only five years ago that, after winning the London International Tournament, Dr. Zukertort was universally admitted to be pre-eminent as a chess player. The great strain of that contest, however, undoubtedly had an injurious effect upon his delicate constitution, and this effect was increased by the match he played with Steinitz in 1885. He engaged in this contest in spite of urgent medical advice to the contrary, and he returned from America after his defeat in a seriously debilitated state of health. After that time he showed a marked falling off in his powers of chess combination, but he nevertheless won the handicap at the British Chess Club last year. He was engaged in the tournament which is now progressing at the same club, and the excellence of some of his games gave rise to the hope that he was recovering his form.

    Source - <Morning Post - Thursday 21 June 1888, p.3.>

    In the following report of the match, Zukertort's form is affected by fatigue late in two games early in the match:

    (In the second game) ...Dr. Zukertort became tired and a series of rather weak moves on his part contributed in no small degree to Mr. Blackburne's victory. The third, game, played on the 12th, was a more interesting game than any yet played in the match. It was evenly contested to nearly the close, when Dr. Zukertort overlooking a" beautiful combination of Mr.Blackburne's, fell into what looked very like a trap and again contributed to his adversary' score at a point when there was every chance in favour of a drawn game.

    Source - <Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW, Australia) Saturday 9 July 1887, p.44.>

    Only a year later, on the 20th June,1888, Zukertort died suddenly and unexpectedly. He was 46 year's old.

    ...Dr. Frank Jeeves, the house physician of Charing-Cross Hospital ...had since made a post-mortem examination, and found that death was due to cerebral haemorrhage. The kidneys of the deceased were slightly unhealthy ...and the arteries and the base of the brain were diseased....the jury accordingly returned a verdict of death from natural causes.

    Source - <Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Monday 25 June 188, p.8.>


    <Steinitz's comments>

    In the current number of the International Chess Magazine, Mr. Steinitz refers to the late Blackburne- Zukertort match, and, after carefully explaining that he has no wish to disparage Mr. Blackburne's " highly creditable performance, "goes on to show that "the previous contest between the same players in 1881 which was played for seven games up under the 15 move (per hour - ed.) time limit, and was won by Zukertort by 7 to 2 and 4 draws, afforded a surer test of relative strength at least for the time being, than the last short match for five wins only, under the 20 move time limit. For frequently the ultimate victor in a match has made a bad start, and it requires no argument to prove that in such a case the really better player is more likely to recover in a long match from the demoralising effect of his first losses than in a short one.

    As regards the time limit, there can be no doubt that Zukertort is essentially a fast player, but I have seen him occasionally take his full time even in sittings of more than eight hours' duration, under the 15 move per hour rule. The games of the match, on the whole, were neither better nor worse than the average of games played under the fast time rule"

    One is tempted to ask, then, where the "highly creditable performance" comes in?

    Source - <Nottinghamshire Guardian - Saturday 16 July 1887, p.8.>



    Many thanks to <User: thomastonk> whose extensive research found original source material in the BCM which he and uploaded and disseminated. He also consulted the "Chess Monthly" (Hoffer & Zukertort), volume 8, Sept 1886 - Aug 1887. This allowed the match dates to be confirmed, and exposed the difference in scores between "Chess Monthly" and "The Field". His contributions added a great deal to this work.

    Thanks also to <User: Phony Benoni> who added the dates to the games in this collection from <thomastonk>'s information.

    14 games, 1887

  12. Blackburne-Gunsberg Match, Bradford-London 1887.

    This was a match between Britain's two best players. Blackburne the 1886 British Chess Federation Champion and Gunsberg who tied for first in 1887 and won the title outright in 1888. They were two very credible and obvious challengers to world champion Steinitz.

    The match was level until Game 10, Gunsberg then pulled away with three wins, two of which were with the Black pieces

    Gunsberg's victory in this match +5,-2,=6 reversed his previous match loss to Blackburne in 1881.


    Commenced: Monday 26 September 1887, Victoria Hotel, Bradford; concluded: Wednesday 9th November 1887, British Chess Club in London.


    This match had national interest. It was opened by the Mayor of Bradford, John Limber Morley, in a prestigious venue the Victoria Hotel (now the Great Victoria Hotel) in Bridge Street, Bradford. This large and impressive brick railway hotel designed by Lockwood & Mawson, is now officially recognised as being of special historical and architectural significance.

    Bradford had grown immensely in the 19th century due to industrialisation and especially textiles. There was the money in the local economy to pay for chess matches.

    “Between 1800 and 1850 Bradford changed from a rural town amongst the woods and fields to a sprawling town filling the valley sides. The town centre expanded and its old buildings were largely replaced by new ones with lavish Victorian architecture still much in evidence today. Bradford was granted city status on 9th June 1897...”.



    This was a match between Britain's strongest players.

    In August 1886, Blackburne had won the British Chess Federation championship. In December 1887, Burn and Gunsberg tied for first, and Gunsberg won the title outright in 1888.

    Blackburne was 45 years old and Gunsberg was 32 years old. Respectively second and third in the world behind Wilhelm Steinitz having both overtaken Zukertort in ratings in 1886 (Chessmetrics). This was before the emergence of Emanuel Lasker and Siegbert Tarrasch and Mikhail Chigorin at the end of the 1890s as the dominant players.

    Blackburn would remain a top-ten player for most of the 1890s. He had won the London tournament in July 1886 and in 1887 he had beaten in match play both Macdonnel and then a declining Johannes Zukertort (Game Collection: Blackburne - Zukertort - by 5 wins to 1 with 8 draws). These were Blackburn's peak years and he rose to be number two behind Steinitz on the rankings. His greatest career achievement winning Frankfurt 1887 was just around the corner.

    Gunsberg peaked at the end of the 1880s, New York, 1889, Chigorin-Gunsberg Match (Havana), 1890 drawn at 11.5 points out of 23, Manchester, 1890 2nd behind Tarrasch, Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890) losing by 8.5 to 10.5.

    "The difference in style between the two players has been very well brought out in the present match. Gunsberg is impetuous and Blackburne is careful, but both have a wonderful power of combination, and are capable, of very brilliant strokes. The level score points to the probability of a protracted contest, but in any case it may be anticipated that public interest in the match will be maintained to the end. A large proportion of drawn games seems to be inevitable in every first-class match, but it is doubtful whether the custom of not counting them in the score tends to reduce their number"

    Source - <Morning Post - Monday 10 October 1887, p.2.>

    They had played a previous match in 1881, Blackburne winning 5.5 to 2.5. Since that match they had played five times with Blackburne scoring four victories to Gunsberg’s one. These had been tournament games and illustrates the lack of British tournament opportunities at the time, it is notable that three of the five games were in Germany.

    Gunsberg's victory in this match was a great achievement, and gave him the status to be a credible challenger to Steinitz for the world championship.



    CHESS. The match played at Bradford between Blackburne, the champion player of England, and Gunsberg, now stands adjourned, the conditions limiting play at Bradford to three weeks, with four games weekly. Twelve games played resulted in Gunsberg winning four, Blackburne two, drawn six. Play must be resumed in London within two months. The match may be considered a great success, as it was supported by all sections of the community, even non-chess players, headed by the Mayor of Bradford attending it. The quality of the play was dashing and enterprising, therefore also pleasing to chess players.

    Source - <Morning Post - Saturday 15 October 1887, p.3>

    IMPORTANT CHESS MATCH. A chess match, in which five won games are necessary to win, was begun by the renowned players Blackburne and Gunsberg this afternoon at the Victoria Hotel, Bradford. The Mayor of Bradford welcomed the competitors, and made a first move for Gunsberg. The Four Knight's opening was chosen, and, after two hours' play, and twenty-two moves, the game was quite even, Gunsberg working a well-resisted attack on the King side. The play was watched with great interest.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Monday 26 September 1887, p.3.>

    The match between Mr. J. H. Blackburne and Mr. I. Gunsberg commences at 1.30 to-day, at the Victoria Hotel, Bradford. The match will go to the winner of the first five games, draws not counting. The time limit is 15 moves an hour. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the days appointed for play.

    Source - <Morning Post - Monday 26 September 1887, p.2.>


    Blackburne was White in the even numbered games.

    table[ Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Total Blackburne 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 5 Gunsberg 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 8 ]table

    +5,-2,=6 in Gunsberg's favour.


    The match was level until Game 10. Despite suffering a disaster in the opening of the Game 8 and resigning in only 11 moves, Gunsberg pulled away from his opponent in the final quarter of the match with three wins, two of which were with the Black pieces. It may be that as reported Blackburne's health took a turn for the worse in the latter stages of the match; he was indisposed after the 11th game.


    <Contemporary reports on the games>

    Game - 1 - Monday 26th September 1887

    IMPORTANT CHESS MATCH. An important chess match between Blackburne and Gunsberg, the scorer of five games to win, was commenced at Bradford yesterday. The Mayor of Bradford made the first move for Gunsberg. The opening developed into the Four Knight’s game. Gunsberg got a strong attack upon the King's side, and finished in a brilliant advance of the Pawn on the King's file, which, combined, with a strong position of his officers, necessitated Blackburne's resignation on the 32nd move, when a mate in five was inevitable. Time occupied: Gunsberg, 1 hour 30 min. ; Blackburne, 1 hour 50 min.

    Source - <Sheffield Independent - Tuesday 27 September 1887, p.7.>

    BLACKBURNE V. GUNSBERG. The first game in this chess match ended last night in a brilliant win for Gunsberg. To-day Blackburne played the Scotch Gambit, varying the usual continuation at the eighth move, which made the game very instructive. At the eighteenth move there was absolutely no advantage, the game being, however, very complicated. When play was adjourned at the 22nd move matters looked highly interesting. There was an assembly of local chess enthusiasts.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Tuesday 27 September 1887, p.3.>

    The match between Messrs. Blackburne and Gunsberg was commenced at Bradford on Monday, and the play during the week has excited considerable interest. Four games have now been contested, with the result that each player has won one and two have been drawn. Accounts of the progress of the match have appeared daily in our columns, so that it is now only necessary to refer to the quality of the play. The first game was weakly defended by Blackburne, but Gunsberg's pretty combination at the end has excited much admiration. The second game was poorly played on both sides, Gunsberg missed more than one opportunity of drawing, if not of winning, and Blackburne's victory is mostly to be attributed to his opponent's bad play. The game played on Friday was the most interesting of all. Both players exhibited more boldness than in the previous encounters, and each in turn seemed on the verge of victory, only to be foiled by the accuracy of the defence. It should be remembered that drawn games are not counted, and, as one of the player must win five games, sometime must elapse before the match is concluded.

    Source - <Morning Post - Monday 03 October 1887, p.2.>


    Game - 2 - Tuesday 27th September 1887

    CHESS GUNSBERG v. BLACKBURN. This match was resumed at Bradford yesterday, Blackburn having the move and playing Scotch gambit. The game was perfectly even for 20 moves. On the 21st Gunsberg had a strong advantage in position, which encouraged him to indulge in experimental moves for the purpose of winning when a draw could easily have been secured. He made three successive palpably weak moves which finally brought about defeat, Gunsberg's King not being able to approach two pass Pawns, Blackburn winning a stubbornly fought game in 40 moves. Time :—Blackburn, 2 hours ; Gunsberg, 1 hour 40 minutes.

    Source - <Sheffield Independent - Wednesday 28 September 1887, p.7>

    CHESS. BLACKBURNE v. GUNSBERG. In this competition, the players agreed upon resting yesterday, and the match will be continued today. A careful analysis of games first and second shows that both were faulty, and not very fine specimens. In the first game, Blackburne made a few initial mistakes, also relying much upon the breakdown of Gunsberg's attack. The second was spoilt through Gunsberg's three weak moves in the end of the game. Barring these faults, the games were finely contested, and never lacked interest.

    Source - <Sheffield Independent - Thursday 29 September 1887, p.7>

    THE CHESS MATCH.- The match between Gunsberg and Blackburne was resumed at Bradford yesterday, Blackburne having the move, and playing the Scotch Gambit. The game was perfectly even for twenty moves. Gunsberg subsequently made three successive palpably weak moves, which finally brought about defeat, Gunsberg's King not being able- to approach two passed Pawns, Blackburne winning a stubbornly-fought game in forty moves. Time; Blackburne two hours, Gunsberg one hour and forty minutes.

    Source - <Pall Mall Gazette - Wednesday 28 September 1887, p.10>


    Game - 3 - Thursday 29th September 1887,

    BLACKBURNE V. GUNSBERG. The third game of the match between these players was commenced this afternoon. Gunsberg played Giuoco Piano. The time occupied showed that the game was more carefully opened than the previous ones. After careful development of the pieces, Gunsberg offered the sacrifice of a Knight, which was not accepted. The attack is on the King's side, which is finely defended. The complications of position when the adjournment took place were so delicate that the prediction of the result was quite impossible.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Thursday 29 September 1887, p.3.>

    THE CHESS MATCH AT BRADFORD. The third game of the match between Blackburne and Gunsberg was played at Bradford yesterday. Gunsberg played Giuoco Piano, which proceeded to 12th move according to book. Both players had castled on King's side, and White's establishment of the Bishop on King's Knight's fifth gave Blackburne much trouble. White, to gain a Pawn, got his Queen at Queen's Rook's second, when Blackburne might have won Queen by intricate combinations. After this oversight Gunsberg played very well, offering a draw at the 39th move, when only Kings, Knights, and Pawns were left. Blackburne, two hours ; Gunsberg, one and a half.

    Source - <Morning Post - Friday 30 September 1887, p.3.>


    Game - 4 - Friday 30th September October 1887.

    CHESS. The fourth game of the chess match at Bradford between Blackburne and Gunsberg was played last evening. Blackburne played White, and adopted the Ruy Lopez, Gunsberg adopting the Berlin defence. This is much the best game played so far, both masters attacking in turn, and defending in thoroughly sound style. The result could not have been predicted at the 29th move. Gunsberg then forced the game, when Blackburne was within an ace of scoring. At the 38th move Gunsberg offered to draw, which was accepted, and subsequent analysis fully justified the result. Blackburne was two hours one minute, and Gunsberg one hour 52 minutes. Play will be resumed on Monday.

    Source - <Morning Post - Saturday 01 October 1887, p.3>

    At the thirty- eighth move Gunsberg offered to draw, which was accepted. Blackburne, two hours and one minute; Gunsberg, one hour fifty-two.

    Source - <London Standard - Saturday 01 October 1887, p.3>


    Game - 5 - Monday 3rd October 1887

    THE BLACKBURN-GUNSBERG CHESS MATCH. The Blackburne-Gunsberg chess match was resumed this afternoon. Gunsberg offered a King's Gambit, which was declined. Blackburne prepared an attack on the queen's side, which prevented Gunsberg from castling on the King's side. Soon after Blackburne had castled on the King's side Gunsberg got up a powerful attack on the King, and Mr. Blackburne took twenty minutes' consideration over his twenty-second move. Gunsberg's position looks very good, but if this attack does not succeed he has practically no chance.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Monday 03 October 1887, p.3>

    CHESS - The fifth game of the match between Blackburne and Gunsberg was played at Bradford yesterday. Gunsberg offered King's Gambit, and Blackburne declined. Gunsberg did not castle, but advanced Pawns on the King's side, and developed a heavy attack on his opponent's castled King with the queen, Rook, two Knights, and Pawns. A smart defence enabled Blackburne to come out with the loss of exchange of two Pawns, but the middle of the game was marred by Gunsberg's losing an opportunity for a certain win. The end of the game was very pretty. It was drawn when Rook and Pawn opposed a Bishop and three Pawns. Blackburne was 1h. 55 min., and Gunsberg 2h. min.

    Source - <Morning Post - Tuesday 04 October 1887, p.3>


    Game - 6 - Tuesday 4th October 1887

    CHESS. In the sixth game of the match between Blackburne and Gunsberg, which was decided at Bradford yesterday, Blackburne played the Queen's Gambit. Gunsberg declined to accept and introduced a comparative novelty by playing Pawn to Kings Knight's third at fourth move. The game was very sound, and neither player was able to obtain any advantage. Exchanges early in the game left it pretty certain that a draw was inevitable, and, though the master played on doggedly with opposite Bishops, one Knight each, and an equal number of Pawns, nothing better could be done.

    Source - <Morning Post - Wednesday 05 October 1887, p.3>

    THE BLACKBURNE-GUNSBERG CHESS MATCH. The sixth game of this chess match at Bradford was commenced this afternoon. Blackburne offered the Queen's Gambit, and Gunsberg declined. The game was remarkably well contested, and neither player was able to get any advantage. At the sixteenth move an exchange of Rooks simplified matters, and the exchange of the Queen's at the twenty-seventh move practically determined a draw. The game was adjourned at the thirty-fourth move. Gunsberg consumed less than, half the time taken by Blackburne.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Tuesday 4 October 1887, p.3>


    Game - 7 - Wednesday 5th October, 1887.

    The seventh game of the match between Blackburne and Gunsberg was played at Bradford yesterday, and proved to be one of exceptional interest. Gunsberg played King's gambit, to which Blackburne responded with the Falkbeer Counter Gambit. Neither player castled. Gunsberg, though his King was queen's second early in the game, maintained a strong attack and won two Pawns ; Blackburne never surmounted the embarrassments of his position, and Gunsberg got two powerful passed Pawns, which completely defeated his opponent, who resigned at the fortieth move. Time — Gunsberg, one hour and ten minutes ; Blackburne, one J hour and forty minutes. Present score : Gunsberg, two ; Blackburn, one ; drawn, four.

    Source - <London Standard - Thursday 06 October 1887, p.2.>


    Game - 8 - Thursday 6th October 1887.

    THE BLACKBURNE - GUNSBERG CHESS MATCH. A remarkable change took place in today's play in this match at Bradford, a game being disposed of at one o'clock in 42 minutes. Blackburne opened with the Ruy Lopez, and at the seventh move Gunsberg, who, as usual, was playing the opening very quickly, committed a grave blunder, which led to his resignation upon the eleventh move. Time: Gunsberg, 15 min.; Blackburne, 27min.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Thursday 06 October 1887, p.3>


    Game - 9 - Thursday 6th October 1887.


    The players then proceeded with the ninth game, in which Blackburne played French defence. The game was wearisome and stereotyped, and at the fifteenth move it was agreed to draw, as remaining Bishops were on opposite colours. Play was adjourned till Monday.

    Source - <Sheffield Independent - Friday 07 October 1887, p.5.>


    Game - 10 - Monday 10th October 1887

    BLACKBURNE V. GUNSBERG. The chess match was resumed at Bradford this afternoon with the score standing at two games each and five draws. Blackburne played Queen's Bishop's opening. After Blackburne had castled, Gunsberg got up a heavy attack on the King's side and compelled him to place the King on the King's second. The position is very complicated and all the pieces are on the board, except one Knight and a Bishop. Twenty six moves have been made.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Monday 10 October 1887, p.3>


    Game 11 - Tuesday 11th October 1887/Wednesday 12th October 1887

    BLACKBURNE V. GUNSBERG. This match was resumed to-day. Gunsberg played the White. Blackburne adopted the French defence. Gunsberg eventually pushed his Pawn to the King's fifth, thus altering the tactics from Thursday's game. Both castled on the King's side. Gunsberg at once proceeded with the attack. At the adjournment, the game looked rather interesting. The tenth game was won by Gunsberg after seventy-seven moves. The score at present stands Gunsberg three, Blackburne two, and five drawn.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Tuesday 11 October 1887, p.3.>

    CHESS. — The 11th game of the match between Blackburne and Gunsberg, which was adjourned on Tuesday, terminated in a draw yesterday, Blackburne deciding to allow Gunsberg to draw the game by perpetual check. He certainly could have played the ending with three minor pieces against the Queen, but it was very difficult to foresee what would have been the result of Gunsberg's attack on the Rook's file. Subsequent analysis shows that Gunsberg's attack, although powerful, could not have been fatal, Blackburne defending in excellent style. Owing to Blackburne's indisposition another game was not commenced, and the match will be resumed to-day.

    Source - <Morning Post - Thursday 13th October 1887, p.3>

    CHESS MATCH. BLACKBURNE v. GUNSBERG.-Play was resumed yesterday, Blackburne (Black) playing the French Defence. The usual moves were made up to the twelfth when Gunsberg initiated an attack by a Pawn to a King Knight third. Both players had then castled King's Rook. Then Gunsberg followed with the King's Knight second Rook Rook square, &c. The game became very exciting. Blackburne succeeded in establishing a strong counter-attack on the queen's side, compelling Gunsberg to force the pace by sacrificing the Knight. The game adjourned at the fortieth move. Blackburne, 2 hours 15 minutes; Gunsberg, 2 hours, 30 minutes. Play will be resumed today.

    Source - <Leeds Mercury - Wednesday 12th October 1887.>

    CHESS. BLACKBURNE v. GUNSBERG. The eleventh game (which was adjourned on Tuesday) of chess between these masters terminated in a draw yesterday. Blackburne decided to allow Gunsberg to draw the game by perpetual check. He certainly could have played, ending with three minor pieces against the Queen; but it was very difficult to foresee what would have been the result of Gunsberg's attack on Rook's tile. Subsequent analysis shows that Gunsberg's attack, although powerful, could not have been fatal. Blackburne defending in excellent style.

    Owing to Blackburne's indisposition another game was not commenced.

    Source - <Sheffield Independent - Thursday 13 October 1887, p.7>

    After a long examination before adjournment Black decided to allow White to draw the game by perpetual check. Black certainly could have got out with three minor pieces against the queen, but it was very difficult to foresee the result of White's attack on the Rook's file.

    Source - <Morning Post - Saturday 15 October 1887, p.3>


    Game 12 - Thursday 13 October 1887.

    The twelfth game of the match between Blackburne and Gunsberg was played on Thursday at Bradford. played White and opened with the Lopez, to which Gunsberg responded in the usual way, Blackburne adopted the unusual course of castling on the queen's side after his opponent had castled on the King's side, thereby abandoning the King's Knight's Pawn. A very interesting contest ensued, but Gunsberg defended soundly, maintaining his advantage and being three Pawns ahead on the forty-fourth move when Blackburne resigned. Score:—Gunsberg, four; Blackburne, two; drawn, six.

    Source - <Derby Daily Telegraph - Friday 14 October 1887, p.4.>

    BLACKBURNE V. GUNSBERG. The twelfth game in the chess match was commenced at Bradford today, and, at the adjournment for dinner, was left in a position which did not show advantage on either side. It is a Ruy Lopez game. Blackburne playing White, again adopted the old-fashioned continuation of Q—K2 (Qe2), and also departed from custom by castling on the queen's side. Eighteen moves occupied an hour and a half.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Thursday 13 October 1887, p.3>


    Game 13 - Wednesday 9 November 1887 (British Chess Club, Covent Garden, London).

    The match between Messrs. Blackburne and Gunsberg stands adjourned, to be completed in London. Those who have been interested in following the play are doubtless disappointed that the match was not finished at Bradford.

    The three weeks during which the players undertook to remain in that town have, however, expired, and it appears that there is a further reason for adjourning in the unsatisfactory state of Mr. Blackburne's health. Twelve games were contested, which, generally speaking, were of a high order of merit. The score stands at present — Gunsberg, 4 ; Blackburne, 2 ; drawn, 6.

    Source - <Morning Post - Monday 17 October 1887, p.2.>

    Chess.— The match between Blackburne and Gunsberg, recently commenced at Bradford and adjourned, was resumed yesterday at the British Chess Club in London. Gunsberg opened with Queen's Pawn, and attacked vigorously, but Blackburne defended well, and even positions resulted. On the 25th move Blackburne injudiciously advanced a Pawn, enabling Gunsberg to win his Queen. Blackburne was mated on the 42nd move, the time being — Gunsberg, 1 hour 55 min; Blackburne, 2h. 10 min. By this victory Gunsberg, with the score of 5 to 2 games and 6 draws, wins the match.

    Source - <Morning Post - Thursday 10 November 1887, p.3>


    Thanks to User: thomastonk whose who provided a breakdown of the Blackburne - Gunsberg games played between their 1881 and 1887 matches and who realised that there was another and 13th game to the match. His research provided the score to the 13th game from the <"BCM", Vol. 7, p. 454>.

    Thanks also to User: Karpova for indicating valuable secondary sources.


    13 games, 1887

  13. Bogoljubov - Eliskases 1939

    After the Nazi annexation and absorption (Anschluss) of Austria (12th March 1938), Austrian chess players such as Erich Eliskases, Albert Becker, Ernst Gruenfeld and Josef Lokvenc were incorporated into the National Socialist organisation the Grossdeutsche Schachbund (Greater German Chess Federation - GSB).

    Becker, on behalf of the Austrian Chess Association, quickly wrote to Otto Zander, the head of the GSB, "In indelible gratitude towards the man who has led us German Austrians to freedom and unity, we greet our chess comrades in the Greater German Chess Federation with Heil Hitler!" [(1)]

    Eliskases was the German Champion in both 1938 and 1939. The only other grandmaster of equal stature in the Greater German Chess Federation was Efim Bogoljubov.

    At the time of the match, Bogoljubov was almost fifty whilst Eliskases was twenty-five year's old. Bogolubov was no. 11 and Eliksases no. 9 in the January 1939 Chessmetrics rating list [(2)]

    <The match:>

    The match was of twenty games and was played between 4th January and 12th February 1939 in eleven towns and cities in Germany. The itinerary involved over 1,700 km (1,078 miles) of travel.

    Although opening in the capital, Berlin, from then on the match's progress was an untidy zigzag path across Southern Germany and in particular Bavaria. In its itinerary, only Berlin and Munich were, by population, in the top ten cities of the country.

    After two games in Berlin, the first leg south was 160 km west to the medieval city of Magdeburg on the River Elbe for one game. Then it was then south to Regensburg in Bavaria which was a 450 km journey and which passed by the great cities of Dresden and Leipzig. The third leg, north-west through Bavaria to Nuremberg, was less taxing at 110 km. Bamberg was a short hop north at 62 km, but the next stage, south to Augsburg, passing Nuremberg again, accounted for 207 km. Then, it was 72 km south-east to the Bavarian state capital of Munich, and a further 90 km south-west to the small Swabian town of Kaufbeuren.

    The tiny Black Forest town Triberg, involving a 267 km trek west may seem a surprising choice, but it was also Bogoljubov's adopted home. The players then proceeded north-west and into the Rhineland-Palatinate to play at Kaiserslautern (250 km) and finally, the match ended to the east amidst the baroque splendour of Mannheim (67 km). Bogolubov would have been familiar with this having played across the country from his world championship matches against Alekhine. The constant upheaval and travel of this peripatetic match does not seem to have weighed more heavily on the older grandmaster, as he scored more points in the second half of the match!

    [ Game Venue

    1. Berlin
    2. Berlin
    3. Magdeburg
    4. Regensburg
    5. Nuremberg
    6. Nuremberg
    7. Bamberg
    8. Augsburg
    9. Augsburg
    10. Munich
    11. Munich
    12. Munich
    13. Kaufbeuren
    14. Triberg
    15. Kaiserslautern
    16. Kaiserslautern
    17. Mannheim
    18. Mannheim
    19. Mannheim
    20. Mannheim


    It seems extremely probable that this match was held to decide whom the Grossdeutsche Schachbund would support as a prospective challenger to Alexander Alekhine for the world championship. Would it be the established but ageing Bogoljubov or the much younger Eliskases? Eliskases had won the 1938 and 1939 championships of the Grossdeutsche Schachbund whilst Bogoljubov had twice been the world championship contender to Alekhine, Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship Match (1929) and Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship Rematch (1934)

    <The players:>


    Bogoljubov was a strong tactician and this was allied to an optimistic character. In terms of positional skill, he was significantly behind Alekhine and Capablanca.

    Bogoljubov's peak had between the second half of the 1920's when he was 4-5th in the world rankings. Efim Bogoljubov in the late 1930s had a series of mediocre results in top-class international tournaments. He had been 10th out of 15 at Nottingham (1936), 3rd of 4 in Bad Nauheim-Stuttgart-Garmisch (1937) and 5th of 10 at Noordwijk (1938). Whilst there were some successes, such as winning the strong Stuttgart tournament (May 1939), this appears to have been a period of on-going decline. [(3)]

    [(2)] See Chessmetrics,


    Eliskases was a predominantly positional player with a particular technical proficiency in the ending.

    During the 1930s, Eliskases became one of the strongest players in the world. He was a member of the Austrian national team in the Chess Olympiads of 1933 (Folkestone) and 1935 (Warsaw) where he scored the highest individual score on the third board.

    In the late 1930s, his success at major international events put Eliskases into consideration as a plausible world championship candidate for the 1940's along with Reuben Fine, Salomon Flohr, Paul Keres and Reshevsky. Eliskases put together a run of very impressive tournament victories: Swinemünde (Świnoujście) in 1936, Zurich in 1938 and he won in Noordwijk (1938) (ahead of Paul Keres and Max Euwe, with Bogoljubov in fifth place), Milan 1939 and Bad Harzburg and Bad Elster (both 1939).

    Both World Champions of the 1930s used his services as a second, Euwe in 1935 and Alekhine in 1937.

    Eliskases was 'Österreichischer Vorkämpfer' (Austria's foremost standard bearer). According to Chessmetric's data, Eliskases was behind Reuben Fine (#2) Samuel Reshevsky (#3) Max Euwe (#7) Salomon Flohr (#8) and Mikhail Botvinnik (#12) in the world rankings.

    There was no doubt that he was a strong grandmaster, up to end of 1939 Eliskases' personal score against the world's leading players was: Paul Keres (+3 =2 -2), Alexander Alekhine (=0 =2 -2), Jose Raul Capablanca (+1 =2 -1), Max Euwe, Samuel Reshevsky (+0 =0 -2), Salomon Flohr (+1 =2 -6), Reuben Fine (+0 =2 -1).

    Whilst he had shown he was very strong, he had not yet shown that he was exceptional. His performances at the elite tournaments: Podebrady (1936), 6th = (+6 =7 -4), Moscow (1936), 7th= which was last place (+2 =11 -5) Semmering/Baden (1937), 6th which was second to last (+2 =8 -4), had been disappointing.

    <The progress of the match>

    Eliskases was White in the odd-numbered games.

    Halfway through the match at Game 10, Eliskases was three games up. Bogoljubov had not won since the opening game of the match, yet did not fold. Instead showed his fighting spirit. In the next ten games, Bogoljubov won two games and only lost one further game.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Bogoljubov 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 8½ Eliskases 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 11½ ]table

    Progressive score:

    Eliskases was ahead in the match from Game 7 until its conclusion.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Bogoljubov 1 1½ 1½ 2 2½ 3 3 3 3 3½ 4½ 5 5½ 6 6 7 7 7½ 8 8½ Eliskases 0 ½ 1½ 2 2½ 3 4 5 6 6½ 6½ 7 7½ 8 9 9 10 10½ 11 11½ ]table

    From Game 8, he was never less than two points ahead.

    Eliskases was much more effective with the White pieces than his opponent; Bogoljubov only won one game with White (Game 16) whilst Eliskases won five.

    In defence, Bogoljubov won two games with Black and lost five, whilst Eliskases as Black won one but lost two.

    <The games>

    [[Game 1]] - Eliskases played a topical line against Bogoljubov's Nimzo-Indian. Whether by choice or by chance, Eliskases was following his opponent's method of play in the Classical variation; Bogoljubov vs Saemisch, 1937. Bogoljubov equalised and then outplayed his opponent in a Rooks and Knights late middlegame. Just before the time control, Bogoljubov became distracted by his opponents Passed <a> pawn and missed the winning line <40...Nxd4> playing his Rook to <a2> instead.

    click for larger view

    Luckily for him, Eliskases also missed <41.Rb3+> which would have snatched a draw from imminent defeat.

    Bogolubov was to use this variation himself in Game 14, as he deployed a wide variety of systems against his opponent's Queen Pawn opening from established to the experimental.


    [[Game 2]] - Bogoljubov chose a solid but old-fashioned opening, the Giuoco Pianissimo, which three years before he had won a spectacular game with Black against - G Machate vs Bogoljubov, 1936. Eliskases played energetically and drew the Rook and Pawns ending.


    [[Game 3]] - Having played an antique opening with White in the previous game, Bogoljubov defended with a hyper-modern Modern Benoni defence. Eliskases secured the centre but Bogoljubov had sufficient counterplay before he made a number of second-best moves in a sharp position and lost. Once again, Eliskases presented him with one fleeting opportunity to draw but he missed it.

    click for larger view

    Eliskases played the natural <30.Kg2?!> whereas <30.Rf2!> wins as after <30...Bxf2+> 31.Kg2! leaves the Black Queen with no squares, whilst taking the <b2> pawn loses the vital key-stone pawn on <d6>. The match score was now tied.


    [[Game 4]] - Bogoljubov remained faithful to <1.e4> but this time chose a Ruy Lopez. Eliksases used a long theoretical line of the Open defence following his opponent's moves from another Bogoljubov victory A Becker vs Bogoljubov, 1938 the previous year. It seems that as with game two, this was the result of studying of his opponents' games in preparation for the match.

    Bogoljubov won a pawn but despite trying for many moves, he could not win with two pawns versus one with both sides having Black-squared bishops.


    [[Game 5]] - Eliskases' second game using the Classical variation of the Nimzo-Indian was more successful than the first in that he drew, but he was unable to handle any initiative from the opening as White.


    [[Game 6]] - With Black in a closed Ruy Lopez, Eliksases used a defence he had previously played in his 1932 match with Spielmann - Spielmann vs Eliskases, 1932. In a game that proceeded methodically without tactical surprises, a bishops of opposite colour ending led to a draw after 45 moves.


    [[Game 7]] - This game began as another Classical Nimzo-Indian but Bogoljubov transposed into a QGD. Eliskases slowly outmanoeuvred his opponent and dominated the centre. Defending a cramped position Bogoljubov shed pawns and finally resigned three pawns down.


    [[Game 8]] - Bogoljubov unveiled a new opening, the Catalan, and Eliskases defended with a closed version. Eliskases had a passed <c> pawn which Bogoljubov mishandled. This toxic pawn fatally tied him down in the endgame and Bogoljubov recorded his second loss in two games.


    [[Game 9]] - With Black and two successive losses, Bogoljubov employed the solid Slav Defence. He developed a comfortable position, but an oversight gave his opponent the advantage.

    click for larger view

    <31...Bb7?> instead of Qxc5 allowed Eliskases to play <32.Rd6!> establishing a very powerful protected passed pawn. Bogoljubov attempted to launch an attack before an endgame emerged which would have been hopeless for him. It seemed he had chances by insinuating his Queen into Eliskases' King-Side. Instead, his opponent had seen more and trapped the Black Queen.


    [[Game 10]] - Bogoljubov now had White, as he had suffered three losses in a row he could be expected to be "out for blood". Eliskases defended with the combative Two Knight's Defence when he could have easily gone into quiet lines along the lines of Game 2. Bogoljubov had some advantage and eventually won a pawn, but Eliksases easily held the ending.

    This was to be the last <e> pawn opening of the match. The first half of the match completed, Eliskases was four wins to one up; there was the real prospect of a rout with Bogoljubov succumbing to demoralisation.


    [[Game 11]] - Eliskases has the initiative. He now had White have scored 3.5 out of 4 points in the proceeding games. This game could break Bogoljubov' resistance.

    Bogojubov's answer to his predicament was the sharp Budapest Gambit. Bogojubov tactically outplayed his younger opponent and developed overwhelming pressure on the King-side costing Eliksases both a piece and the game.


    [[Game 12]] - Bogojubov chose to open with a Queen-side debut and Eliskases defended with a Queen's Indian Defence. Obviously buoyed up by his previous win, Bogoljubov played energetically and should have won this game. With two connected outside passed pawns, he wasted a move by pushing the wrong one had had to resort to a perpetual check.

    click for larger view

    <45.b4?> drew but <45.a5!> wins. [45. a5 Rxg3+ 46. Kd2 Rd3+ 47. Ke2 Rxb3 48. a6 Rb2+ 49. Kd1 Rb1+ 50. Kd2 Rb2+ 51. Kc3 Rc2+ 52. Kb3 Rd2 53. a7]


    [[Game 13]] Bogojubov came close to winning this game on the black side of a Slav Defence

    Despite spoiling a winning position in the previous game, Bogojubov was still fighting hard but in this game, his opponent showed great resilience and technique. Eliskases managed to construct a draw-by-stalemate two pawns down.


    click for larger view


    [[Game 14]] - Bogoljubov as White chose the Classical Nimzo-Indian. He overplayed his by castling Queen-side (Keres also came to grief with this idea - Keres vs Botvinnik, 1941) and was only saved when Eliskases overlooked a tactic.

    click for larger view

    <23.Bxh7+!> Kf8 24. Bc2

    The final position bears testament to the "hair-trigger" nature of the game:

    click for larger view


    [[Game 15]] - Bogojubov defended with a new defence in this match, the Grunfeld. He was quickly overwhelmed by a King-side attack culminating in a knock-out blow:

    click for larger view

    24. Nf5!! [<24...Qe6> (24... gxf5?? 25. Qg3) 24... Bxf6 25. exf6 Qd7 26. Nh6+ Kh8 27. Re7 Qc6 28. Nxf7+ Rxf7 29. Rxf7 Qc5+ 30. Kh2 ]


    [[Game 16]] - Eliskases again defended with a Queen's Indian Defence despite his experience in Game 12. For a long time, the game was equal until Eliskases blundered and allowed Bogoljubov to establish two connected passed pawns. Bogoljubov had pulled a game back but was still two games down.


    [[Game 17]] - On the White side of a QGD, Eliskases whipped up a King-side attack. Once again, Bogoljubov was to suffer a disaster on <f5>

    click for larger view


    Eliskases was now three games up.


    [[Game 18]] - Three points ahead, Eliskases introduced the solid Lasker's Defence to the QGD into the match repertoire. Bogoljubov could make no headway and a completely drawn ending ensued.


    [[Game 19]] - Bogoljubov once again varied his defence by playing the first QGA of the match. In the following position, Bogoljubov made a critical decision.

    click for larger view

    Instead of taking the Rook on <b7>, he tried to complicate and protected his Knight with <25...Bd8>. The transaction was to leave him two pawns down. Bogoljubov defended with tenacity, but Eliskases stumbled and missed the win in the long Bishop and Pawn endgame.


    [[Game 20]] - Bogoljubov, with the White pieces, could have agreed on a quick draw, but he fought on. Eliskases, as in Game 18, used Lasker's Defence to the QGD. Eliskases had weak pawns on the Queen-side but Bogoljubov could not exploit this advantage and the game was drawn.



    Whilst the match was in progress, the British Prime Minister, Chamberlain was in Rome trying to negotiate with Mussolini. The clouds of war were gathering in Europe and neither player was to have an opportunity to take further part in the world championship.

    Eliskases was left isolated without financial or national support in South America. From there, he had little opportunity to stake a claim for consideration as a candidate. For the ageing Bogoljubov, his time as a realistic challenger for the crown was over. He lost to Euwe (+2 -5 =3) - Euwe - Bogoljubov (1941) at Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary), but more importantly, his reputation was to be irrevocably soiled by association with Nazi Germany.


    [(1)] "The Chess Game as Phenomenon of the Cultural History of the 19th and 20th Centuries", Edmund Bruns. Quoting M. Ehn, "Zwei Männer und Anschluß 1938" in "Der Standard", 20th January 1991.

    [(2)] See:

    [(3)] See:

    Eliskases wrote a book about the match: "Der wettkampf Bogoljubov-Eliskases, 1939", Erich Eliskases, Magyar Sakkvilág (1939).

    The game collection was cloned from: User: Pawn and Two who also used Eliksases' book of the match to supply the dates and locations of the games. Also see "Chess Results 1936-1940", Di Felice, p.272.

    Text by User: Chessical.

    20 games, 1939

  14. Bogoljubov - Kupchik

    This six-game match played in New York (1924) in May and June 1924 between Efim Bogoljubov (aged 35) and Abraham Kupchik (aged 32), took place after the New York (1924) International tournament (which had ended on 18th of April 1924).

    <The arrangements for the match>

    "E.D.Bogoljubow of Ukrainia, who plans to remain here for some time to come, is negotiating a match of five games up with A.Kupchik former state champion, beginning sometime next week. The earlier games will be contested at the Manhattan, Rice-Progressive and Stuyvesant Chess Clubs. After that, they will be prepared to continue the match at the rooms of any clubs subscribing for games. Clubs desiring to do so may communicate with the American Chess Bulletin...” [(1)]

    "Negotiations have been completed between E.D.Bogoljubow, who represented Ukrainia in the recent international tournament and A. Kupchik, former New York State champion, for a match of twelve games, to be contested at the rate of four a week from 2 to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m to midnight each day. The first game is scheduled this afternoon at the Manhattan Chess Club, the second at the same place on Saturday and the third at the Rice Progressive Chess Club on Sunday." [(2)]


    The early 1920s were a time when Bogoljubov was stateless having declined to return to the newly established Soviet Union, but he was in the ascendancy in his chess career. His victory at Bad Pistyan (1922) had established him as a leading grandmaster.

    The New York tournament of 1924 was a relative set back for him. His career peaks were Karlsbad (1923) and USSR Championship (1925) and between the two he also became Soviet champion. For the rest of the decade and until the mid-1930s, Bogoljubov would be a top-four player. He was to twice play Alexander Alekhine for the world championship, Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship Match (1929) and Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship Rematch (1934).

    Bogoljubov appears to have challenged Kupchik. It is unclear why Bogoljubow should have chosen to play this match with a relatively unknown player other than to defray his expenses. He did not approach Frank Marshall or David Janowski, the two grandmasters in the United States and who both were currently residing in New York. Perhaps it would have been too expensive or too difficult in the available time?

    Kupchik was less well known internationally than his fellow New York masters: Oscar Chajes, Jacob Bernstein and Charles Jaffe. Chajes had unexpectedly defeated David Janowski in a match in 1918 (Jaffe - Janowski (1917/18)) and Kupchik along with Chajes were reserve players for the New York tournament. [(3)]

    Kupchik had just finished second by half a point to Oscar Chajes in the annual championship of the Manhattan Chess tournament in January 1924. Chajes along with Jacob Bernstein had been invited to the prestigious international tournament at Karlsbad (1923).


    Kupchik was a quiet and reserved man who was not known for self-publicity. Yet, his results were superior to all his American contemporaries in the 1920s except for Marshall. In August 1923, he shared first place with Marshall at the 9th American Chess Congress (1923).

    <"Kupchik stood barely five feet tall and weighed less than 115 pounds, and the assertiveness of his personality was in proportion to his size. Arnold Denker called him a 'timid, tiny whisper of a man' and a 'frightened little rabbit.' Nonetheless, this diminutive introvert was one of the best players in America at the time (estimated Elo rating 2480), especially at speed chess; he once won a 10-seconds-per-move tournament over Capablanca. In keeping with his personality, his style was thoroughly defensive and non-aggressive; he would erect a staunch bulwark and invite his opponent to dash himself to bits against it (which many did)."> [(4)]

    Although Kupchick was known for his solid style, in the period 1913 to 1937, he was thirteen times the Manhattan Chess Club champion. Kupchik, by profession an accountant, was a very strong but never a professional player. By 1924, he had only once played in an overseas tournament at Havana (1913).

    <The progress of the match>

    1 2 3 4 5 6
    Bogoljubov 1 1 1 0 ½ ½ 4
    Kupchik 0 0 0 1 ½ ½ 2]table

    Progressive score:

    1 2 3 4 5 6
    Bogoljubov 1 2 3 3 3½ 4
    Kupchik 0 0 0 1 1½ 2]table

    Bogoljubov had White in the odd-numbered games.

    <The games>

    "After losing the first three games of his match with Bogoljubow, A. Kupchik took a very decide brace and in the next three, he won one and drew two, thus demonstrating to the satisfaction of his friends that he was not the man to be swept off his feet even against so fine a player as the Ukrainian Master. The turning point came in the fourth game, contested at the rooms of the Rice-Progressive Chess Club, which yielded Kupchik a well-earned victory. The next two games at the Manhattan Chess Club were both drawn. The standing after six games: Bogoljubow,3; Kupchik 1; drawn 2." [(5)]

    <The Games>

    [[Game 1]]

    Bogoljubov won a pawn as White in a Ruy Lopez. Kupchik managed to survive his opponent's King-side attack and may have been able to hold the ending. In the end, he could not prevent Bogoljubov's <a> heading for queening.

    [[Game 2]]

    Kupchik as White played the Ruy Lopez and followed the famous game Capablanca vs Bogoljubov, 1922 to move 15. There, either thorough preparation or through ignorance of that game, he diverged. Bogoljubov emerged with a Rook and two pawns for a Bishop and Knight. His pieces were more active than Kupchik's, whose King was also exposed, and Bogoljubov increasingly hemmed Kupchik in forcing resignation on the fiftieth move:

    click for larger view

    [[Game 3]]

    Two games down after two games, Kupchik as Black changed his defence to the Petrov. Unfortunately, he lost a pawn in the early middlegame for no compensation. Bogoljubov broke through into his Kingside and forced an early resignation. The match appeared to be heading the way of a whitewash with Bogoljubov's tactical sharpness exploiting Kupchik's errors.

    [[Game 4]]

    Kupchik changed to a Queen's pawn opening and his opponent replied with a Bogo-Indian defence. Kupchik despite his battering so far in the match was determined to fight and castled long.

    Kupchik blundered with <28.Ree1>,

    click for larger view

    but both players missed the mate threat to Kupchik's King with <28...Nc5!>. Bogoljubov threw away what should have been his fourth game of the match although Kupchik still had to avoid a stalemate trap at the end.

    [[Game 5]]

    Bogoljubov again opened Ruy Lopez playing an early <d4>. Kupchik played solidly and Bogoljubov was unable to establish an advantage. The first 14 moves of this game were later followed by V Gashimov vs Harikrishna, 2008 which was also a drawn.

    "Bogoljubow and Kupchik play draw chess

    E.D.Bogoljubow, Ukrainian chess champion, and A.Kupchik former New York State champion, contested the fifth game of their match yesterday afternoon. After 40 moves had been recorded a draw was agreed upon, leaving Bogoljubow still in the lead by a score of 3-1. Bogoljubow, with the white pieces, adopted the Ruy Lopez and Kupchik made use of the Morphy defence.

    Queens were exchanged on the eleventh move and at his twenty-first Bogoljubow temporarily sacrificed a piece, as a result of which he established one of his Rooks on the seventh rank. Kupchik, however, repelled every attack skilfully and after exchanging the menacing Rook in question emerged in an even ending." [(6)]

    [[Game 6]]

    Kupchik opened with <d4> and Bogoljubov played a Grunfeld defence. Bogoljubov allowed Kupchik to establish a dangerous looking passed <a> pawn

    click for larger view

    but Kupchik was unable to make this count and the game was drawn.

    The result of the match showed that Kupchik was a strong player but not quite in his opponent's class and in particular, he was vulnerable to Bogoljubov's tactical ability. Kupchik never played chess full time and his quiet personality meant that his achievements have been often overlooked. In 1925 Kupchik drew a six-game match with Carlos Torre Repetto (played at the Marshall Chess Club) and in 1926 Kupchik was a clear second place behind Jose Raul Capablanca in the very strong "Pan-American chess tournament" - Lake Hopatcong (1926)


    [(1)]. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 15th May 1924.

    [(2)]. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 22nd May 1924.

    [(3)]. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 7th February 1924.

    [(4)]. Some observations regarding Kupchik by Gabriel Velasco, page 99 of "The Life and Games of Carlos Torre", translated by Taylor Kingston, Russell Enterprises, Inc. (2000).

    [(5)]. "Pittsburgh Daily Post", 15th June 1924, section 6.

    [(6)]. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 1st June 1924.

    User: Chessical - original text and compilation.

    6 games, 1924

  15. Bogoljubov - Nimzowitsch

    This was a short four game match between two emerging masters Efim Bogoljubov (aged 31) and Aron Nimzowitsch (aged 33) whose progress had been held back for half a decade by the disaster of the First World War but who would both achieve great tournament successes in the 1920s.

    They had only played once before Bogoljubov vs Nimzowitsch, 1914 with Nimzowitsch winning with Black.

    This match was played in played between 1st and the 7th September 1920 [(1)] in the rooms of the Stockholm Schacksallskap, The Grand Hôtel in Stockholm. The hotel situated on the waterfront near to the Royal Palace; was and continues to be a premium luxury hotel.

    Sweden offered a rare opportunity for grandmaster chess. Neutral in the First World War, the demand for Swedish exports in a seller's market allowed the Swedes to pay their high national debt off and lower their interest rates. The newly wealthy country could afford the luxury of hosting chess tournaments when other economies were struggling to recover.[(2)]


    Bogoljubov had barely broken into the master ranks before the First World War. His best results were first at Łódź 1913 ahead of Salwe and second to Karel Hromadka in the All Russian Amateur Tournament (Liepāja) 1913. In January 1914, at the All Russian Master's Tournament he came 8th (9½ points) behind the winners Alexander Alekhine and Nimzowitsch (13½ points)

    Although arrested and held in Germany during the First World War, Bogoljubov had the opportunity to play strong masters as the interned Russian masters organised their own tournaments.

    Bogoljubov had been in Sweden for over a year along with Rudolf Spielmann, Richard Reti and slighlty later Akiba Rubinstein. Efim Bogoljubov played in "J.G.Schultz Memorial" (Stockholm) in November 1919, The Four Master's Tournament (Stockholm) in December 1919, played a match of 12 games against Rubinstein (January 1920) losing 5½ to 6½ and a match against the Swedish player Arthur Hakansson, (Kristianstad) [(3)]


    Nimzowitsch's security and opportunity to build his career rapidly were all destroyed due to the First World War. His homeland, Latvia had been invaded by the German and then by Red Army when it struggled to become an independent country. There would not be peace until the Latvian–Soviet Peace Treaty was signed on 11th August 1920.

    The early 1920s were consequently a precarious time for Nimzowitsch. He needed to restore his status as a master urgently. In 1920, he was 33 years old and with little money left he had to secure a living in a foreign country. He had been grinding out an existence by giving simultaneous displays and lectures in Latvia [(4)]. It would not be until 1923 with Copenhagen (1923) and Karlsbad (1923) that he began to play and in and win major tournaments which took him to third place in the rankings by the end of the decade.

    Nimzowitsch's first grandmaster tournament after the war was in Game Collection: Gothenburg 1920 (August 2nd - 20th, 1920). Nimzowitsch had not played tournament chess since St. Petersburg (1914) six years before. He was visibily nervous and played poorly, losing his last three games and finishing twelfth.

    Twelve days later, he would open this match against Bogoljubov, who had come third at Gothenberg behind Richard Reti and Akiba Rubinstein. This was to be a hard fought match revealing that Nimzowitsch's play was not yet in a good or stable form. This would take another two years during which his "hypermodern style" was honed. Nimzowitsch's first game victory was to be his only one in the match. In the next three games his play became less exact as he progressed into the later middlegame.

    <The progress of the match>

    1 2 3 4
    Bogoljubov 0 1 1 1 3
    Nimzowitsch 1 0 0 0 1 ]table

    Progressive score:

    1 2 3 4
    Bogoljubov 0 1 2 3
    Nimzowitsch 1 1 1 1 ]table

    Nimzowitsch was White in the odd numbered games.

    <The games>

    [[Game 1]] In the first game, Bogoljubow had Black and played aggressively. He then overstepped the mark, blundered and Nimzowitsch was able to finish him off with a coup de grâce.

    click for larger view



    [[Game 2]] The second game was a long grind. Bogoljubov accrued little advantage out of the opening. Bogoljubov had a Rook and two pawns for two Bishops. The two prelates were not particularly beneficial until Nimzowitsch began to play inexactly in the late middle game as he suffered in the toils of time trouble. Eventually, Nimzowitsch had two pawns for a Bishop but could not hold a difficult but not definitely lost ending.


    [[Game 3]] Nimzowitsch played his favourite Advanced French against Bogoljubov's second deployment of the French Defence. Nimzowitsch was unable to secure an advantage with the White pieces as Bogoljubov dominated the centre.

    Bogoljubov secured the game with a dramatic 28th move:

    click for larger view


    Nimzowitsch now to had win his next game with Black.


    [[Game 4]] Nimzowitsch, with the Black pieces, used an old favourite the Philidor Defence. He equalised without any real difficulty. As in Game 2, his play deteriorated in the late middle game and Bogoljubov was able to avenge his humiliation in the first game with his own spectacular Rook sacrifice:

    click for larger view




    [(1)]. The start and end dates are given on p.193 of the November-December edition of "Tidskrift För Schack", Nr.11-12, vol 26. Nimzowitsch annotated the first game and Bogoljubov the third and fourth games of the match in this edition.


    [(3)]. "Aron Nimzowitsch: On the Road to Chess Mastery, 1886-1924", Per Skjoldager, Jørn Erik Nielsen, p.277

    [(4)]. "Aron Nimzowitsch: On the Road to Chess Mastery, 1886-1924", Per Skjoldager, Jørn Erik Nielsen, p. 274-5)

    Original collection and text by User: Chessical.

    Game 4 found and submitted to database.

    Thanks to: User: MissScarlett ; User: Tabanus and User: zanzibar for reading over the text and suggesting improvements and additional material.

    4 games, 1920

  16. Bogoljubov - Romanovsky

    This was a match between the 32-year-old Efim Bogoljubov, the Soviet Champion and the 35-year-old Peter Romanovsky who had come a distant second to him at that championship.

    It took place from 30th November to 28th December 1924 in Leningrad (St Petersburg) and was advertised as the "Soviet Championship Match".

    With the undoubted approval of the Soviet chess officials, Romanovsky had written to Bogoljubov:

    [["Based on my achievements in three All-Russian tournaments, I believe that you will not refuse me the right to ask you for you to compete with me separately and perhaps allow another opportunity for both of us: you could prove your champion's title that you won at the recent tournament, and I could retain the title that I won in 1923 but had to relinquish to you this year because of your excellent play."]] [(1)]

    The conditions agreed were that the match would be won by the player who first scored six points with the first four draws not counting. The winner would be declared the 1924 Soviet champion and receive 500 roubles, the loser 250. In addition, Bogoljubov would have 150 roubles to cover his personal expenses. The match arbiter would be the experienced master Grigory Levenfish.

    The match was publicised by public advertising and it is supposed that Nikolai Krylenko (1885-1938) approved the match and authorised the expenditure.

    Kylenko was a senior and prominent Bolshevik legal official. Krylenko had recently (1923) led the prosecution in the political Cieplak show trial of the Soviet Union's Catholic hierarchy. His well-deserved bloody and ruthless reputation made him a formidable figure in a consistent drive to improve the quality of Soviet chess. He continued to support chess as a symbol of Soviet cultural progress and superiority until he was himself was swallowed up and destroyed in Stalin's Great Purge.

    "Finally on November 30, Bogoljubov's match against Peter Romanovsky started and it lasted for almost a month ... the first four draws were not counted in the final score. The magazine "Chess" noted that Bogoljubov was very sick while playing the only game he lost. It also published a note by Nikolay Ivanovich Grekov, who was one of the editors of the magazine, which ended with,

    [["The results of the encounters of our masters against Bogoljubov in the championship (USSR Championship (1924)) were not causing any optimism, but the match annihilated any illusions left..."]] [(2)]

    <The players>


    Bogoljubov had barely broken into the master ranks before the First World War. His best results were first at Łódź 1913 ahead of Georg Salwe and second to Karel Hromadka in the All Russian Amateur Tournament (Liepāja) 1913. In January 1914, at the All Russian Master's Tournament, he came 8th (9½ points) behind the winners Alexander Alekhine and Aron Nimzowitsch (13½ points)

    Although arrested and held in Germany during the First World War, Bogoljubov still had the opportunity to play strong opposition as the interned Russian masters organised their own tournaments.

    After the armistice, Bogoljubov travelled to Sweden. Having benefitted from neutrality, it was one of the few countries to have significant chess activity. Consequently, Bogoljubov remained there for just over a year along with Rudolf Spielmann, Richard Reti and slightly later Akiba Rubinstein.

    It was during this time that his playing strength and success established him as a leading master.

    Bogoljubov played in "J.G.Schultz Memorial" (Stockholm) in November 1919, The Four Master's Tournament (Stockholm) in December 1919. He played a match of 12 games against Rubinstein - Bogoljubov - Rubinstein (1920) - (January 1920) losing 5½ to 6½, won a short match - Bogoljubov - Nimzowitsch (1920) - against Nimzowitsch by 3 - 1 and another against the Swedish player Arthur Hakansson, (Kristianstad) [(3)]

    As international chess resumed in Europe, Bogoljubov won the extremely strong Bad Pistyan (1922) was fifth at London (1922) and second at Karlsbad (1923). Only New York (1924) was a relative disappointment when he came a disappointing seventh due to his poor score against the prize-winners.


    Romanovsky's international career was halted almost as soon as it had started. His first foreign tournament being the Haupttunier (Main tournament) B section of the Mannheim (1914) in which he came second equal in the semi-final of group two. The tournament was unfinished due to the commencement of the First World War. Romanovsky was interned in Germany as an enemy alien until March 1915. During this time he took part in three tournaments made up of captive Russian players including Bogoljubov.

    Chess activity in Russia was sparse as the economy had collapsed due to civil war and revolution. Romanovsky had to find a job in the Soviet banking system, but he was still able to play an active part in restoring chess activity in Russia including being a founder of the magazine "Shakhmatny Listok" ("Chess Papers", 1922).

    Romanovsky had come second to Alekhine in the USSR Championship (1920) and then won the USSR Championship (1923). He would come second to Bogoljubov in the USSR Championship (1924).

    After the departures of Alekhine and Bogoljubov, Romanovsky was one of the Soviet Union's most promising masters in the 1920s and 1930s along with Boris Verlinsky (born 1888); Grigory Levenfish (born 1889); Ilya Rabinovich (born 1891) and Fedor Bohatirchuk (born 1892). They were denied the opportunity to compete in tournaments outside of the USSR with the single exception of Rabinovich who was allowed to take part in Baden-Baden (1925). A Soviet master playing abroad was an extremely rare event before the Second World War.


    The match was dominated by Bogoljubov who overwhelmed his opponent in the first half of the match; at the halfway point the score was 4 to 0 in favour of Bogoljubov. In the second half of the match, whilst the deficit was too great to rectify, Romanovsky did not collapse but managed to keep the score level.

    Bogoljubov had White in the odd-numbered games.

    ...........1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    Bogoljubov ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ ½ - 8
    Romanovsky ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ ½ - 4


    <Progressive score:>


    ........... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    Bogoljubov ½ 1½ 2 3 4 5 5½ 5½ 6½ 7 7½ 8
    Romanovsky ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1½ 2½ 2½ 3 3½ 4


    <The games>

    [[Game 1]]

    Bogoljubov opened the match with a Ruy Lopez. Romanovsky sacrificed a Rook and a Pawn for a Bishop and a Knight leading to a draw.

    [[Game 2]]

    Romanovsky's first White in the match saw him play in his newly adopted hypermodern style, but he then strayed beyond the bounds of prudence with <19.g4?!>

    click for larger view

    allowing Bogoljubov to sacrifice a Knight for two Pawns and to open up Romanovsky's King. Both players made tactical errors in a complex position, but defending the King proved the harder task and Bogoljubov scored the first win of the match.

    [[Game 3]]

    Despite his reputation as a Hypermodern, Bogojubov was not stirred to follow the cutting-edge lead of Game 2, but instead used a Nineteenth-Century opening, the Vienna Game. He achieved little, Romanovsky methodically equalised and the game ended in a drawn opposite coloured Bishop ending. Bogojubov remained one game up in the match, but Romanovsky would have White in the next day.

    [[Game 4]]

    Romanovsky played an English opening which evolved into a QGD Cambridge Springs Defence. He could not establish any advantage and the game seemed to be heading towards a draw. In the ending, Bogoljubov spotted a fleeting tactical opportunity and was able to force a Pawn through to Queen. Bogoljubov was now two games up.

    [[Game 5]]

    This was a game in which Bogoljubov slowly outplayed Romanovsky out of the opening, pressing him back to eventually win two Pawns. Romanovsky, defending a Grunfeld set up against the English, was always on the defensive in the game and was now three games down.

    [[Game 6]]

    Romanovsky was once again outmanoeuvred by Bogojubov who won two pawns in the middlegame. This was the third loss in a row for Romanovsky, and he was now 4-1 down in the match with the prospect of the Black pieces in the next game.

    [[Game 7]]

    Bogoljubov blundered away this game,

    click for larger view

    after <42...Bxb5?> whilst <42...Bc7!> would have held the position. The two Bishops in the centre of the board combined with White's vulnerable King prevent Romanovsky from pressing forward with the passed Pawns.

    [[Game 8]]

    Romanovsky opened as White with a double fianchetto English system. Bogoljubov gained the initiative on the King-side but let his advantage dissipate. Romanovsky managed to double his Rooks on Bogoljubov's eighth rank, but Bogoljubov was still in sight of a draw until he allowed his King to become trapped. Romanovsky had now clawed back two points in three games; the score now stood at 5½ - 2½. The press noted that Bogoljubov was feeling ill that day.

    [[Game 9]]

    This game is famous for Romanovsky's Queen being trapped mid-board.

    click for larger view

    Romanovsky defended with a Stonewall structure. Bogoljubov's active response stymied Romanovsky in developing any initiative on the King-side. Romanovsky had absolutely no counterplay in this game; Bogoljubov opened the <c> file and placed a Rook on his opponent's seventh rank crippling Black.

    The Soviet masters obviously studied these games in depth and Rabinovich would use Bogoljubov's set up against Tarrash the very next year at Baden-Baden (1925) I Rabinovich vs Tarrasch, 1925.

    [[Game 10]]

    Bogoljubov used a similar defence in the Ruy Lopez as in Game 1 and quickly achieved equality. The game was drawn in 24 moves, but Romanovsky could have been put under more pressure

    click for larger view

    Here, Romanovsky has just played <19.Nfd4>, both players missed the strong rejoinder of <19...Qb6> and then <Bg4> tying up White's pieces.

    [[Game 11]]

    This was a draw, but also a lengthy fight. Bogoljubov as White achieved little from a symmetrical English opening and Romanovsky had a slight advantage. Despite all of Romanovsky's efforts, it was insufficient to allow him to grind out a win in a Bishop versus Knight endgame.

    [[Game 12]]

    The last game of the match on the 28th December was also the lengthiest. In this game, Bogoljubov introduced a new defence into the match - the McCutcheon variation of the French Defense. Nearing equality, he then played too casually and allowed Romanovsky to capture his dark-squared Bishop and so double his <d> pawns. Bogoljubov exchanged his Queen for two Rooks and a Pawn but was left with a passive position. At one point he was reduced to shuffling his King between <e7> and <d7>.

    Romanovsky should have won, and he undoubtedly wanted to win (he ignored a three-fold repetition on move 33), but he then missed several promising opportunities. His advantage dissipated progressively and the game was eventually agreed drawn on the 66th move.

    Bogoljubov took the match by five games to one and so retained his 1924 Soviet Championship. The next year he would make it two championships in succession.


    [(1)]. "Selected Games", Peter Romanovsky, Sergei Tkachenko, Grigory Bogdanovich, p.55.

    [(2)]. "Bogoljubov, the fate of a chess player", Sergei Soloviov p.83

    12 games, 1924

  17. Bogoljubov-Rubinstein

    From Thursday 8th January to Sunday 1st February 1, 1920 Akiba Rubinstein and Efim Bogoljubov contested a febrile match which took place in Gothenburg and Stockholm chess clubs, Sweden.[(1)]

    After the devastation of the First World War, there was little opportunity for grandmaster tournaments across an exhausted Europe. One exception was Sweden whose neutrality had allowed it to sell raw materials and manufactured goods in a buyer's market at premium prices. Consequently, in the immediate post-war year's Sweden became a hub of European chess activity. Aron Nimzowitsch, Bogoljubov, Richard Reti, Rudolf Spielmann and Akiba Rubinstein all spent considerable amounts of time in the country in 1919-1920.


    There were three strong tournaments in Sweden paying during this period: Stockholm in 1919 and Gothenburg (1920) and Stockholm again in 1920. Bogoljubov played in each and showed he was in good form. In the first Stockholm tournament, he was first ahead of Spielmann and Reti, in Gothenburg he was third behind Rubinstein and Reti in a strong field of mostly central European masters and he was first again in Stockholm 1920.

    He also played two matches of which this was the first; in the second - Bogoljubov - Nimzowitsch (1920) 1st and the 7th of September 1920 - he defeated Nimzowitsch.

    Bogoljubov's rating had risen rapidly since 1915, whilst Rubinstein's had fallen. Before the war, Bogoljubov would have had little chance in such a match, but 1920 was a new and a different time. [(2)]

    This match gave Bogoljubov a professional reputation and exposure he had no previously enjoyed.

    "Mr A. J. Mackenzie...remarks: “(Bogoljubov)'s fine play enables us to understand how this comparatively new master has stepped quickly into the front rank professional experts” [(3)]


    "…he is the greatest artist amongst chess players...with Rubinstein all is refined tranquillity; for with him in building up his game the position given to every piece is the necessary one. It is not a matter of a fight for him (the contrast here is clearly with Lasker), but the working out of a victory, and so his games create the impression of a great structure from which no stone dare be lifted." [(4)]

    Rubinstein had played only the occasional domestic chess tournament in Poland during the war, but as the war ended he played in several very strong events in Germany.

    In January 1918, he defeated Carl Schlechter in a close match (+2 =3 -1). His form collapsed in a quadrangular tournament in Berlin (April - May 1918) - Berlin Four Masters (1918) - where he could score only two draws out of eight games. In a second Berlin quadrangular tournament - Berlin Grandmasters (1918), in September 1918, he greatly improved, coming second to the world champion Lasker. Rubinstein's form continued to be unpredictable in a manner which had rarely seen in his pre-war performances. He was only a distant third in the 1919 Warsaw City Championship, losing to tail-enders.

    After the First World War, Rubinstein continued to be a top ten player until 1933 [(5)] but his highest rating and best individual performances remained in past.

    The new "hyper-modern" chess was not to his taste and the new opening ideas of the 1920's did not feature in his repertoire. Nevertheless, he still remained a leading master and a formidable competitor. The new guard of: Richard Reti, Savielly Tartakower, Aron Nimzowitsch, Ernst Gruenfeld all had negative life-time scores against him. Only Efim Bogoljubov had an equal lifetime score. [(6)]


    This was a hard-fought match; only three of the twelve games were drawn. Rubinstein won by a margin of one game.

    Bogoljubov had White in the odd-numbered games. Both players had difficulty in defence, Rubinstein losing three times defending against the Four Knights, and Bogoljubov only scoring one win out of six games with Black.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    Bogoljubov 0 0 1 1 ½ 0 1 0 1 ½ 0 ½ - 5½
    Rubinstein 1 1 0 0 ½ 1 0 1 0 ½ 1 ½ - 6½


    <Progressive score:>


    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    Bogoljubov 0 0 1 2 2½ 2½ 3½ 3½ 4½ 5 5 5½ Rubinstein 1 2 2 2 2½ 3½ 3½ 4½ 4½ 5 6 6½


    <The games>

    [[Game 1]] - This was a game Bogoljubov should have won after a blunder by his opponent.

    click for larger view

    <31. Ne4!> Qc7 32.Nxf6 wins

    Instead, Bogoljubov after missing this winning line then blundered his Q-side pawns away.

    . . .

    [[Game 2]] - From an equal but sharp position, Rubinstein outplayed his opponent finally killing him off with a temporary exchange sacrifice

    click for larger view


    . . .

    [[Game 3]] - Although two games down, Bogoljubov played aggressively against Rubinstein's patent <4...Nd4> defence against the Four Knights. Rubinstein blundered in the complications allowing Bogoljubov to his opponent's Queen with a Knight fork combination.

    Defending against the Four Knights was to be a surprising problem for Rubinstein in this match.

    click for larger view

    Rubinstein's preference for <5...Nxe4> rather than Qe7 proved an unhappyhoice in this match. He lost Games: 3, 7, and 9 trying to justify this variation. Yet, Rubinstein did not lose faith in his system, and given the opportunity to play it once more, he improved the variation Spielmann vs Rubinstein, 1925 and won.

    Like Wilhelm Steinitz before him, Rubinstein was prepared to pay to defend his principles when it would have perhaps been pragmatic to choose another variation.

    . . .

    [[Game 4]] - For the second game in a row, Bogoljubov, with Black, outplayed Rubinstein in a complex position so tying the score. Rubinstein's K-side attack collapsed and Bogoljubov's pieces flooded in to win in 33 moves.

    . . .

    [[Game 5]] - This game gave the impression it would be the steadiest of the match so far. Rubinstein defended with an Open Ruy Lopez and neither side disturbed the equilibrium but then from move 33 both players suddenly made a succession of unforced errors. Perhaps this was time-pressure, but the players both having made and missed various blunders the game ended in a draw.

    . . .

    [[Game 6]] - Faced with a Colle system for the second time in the match, Bogoljubov deviated from Game 4. Unfortunately, he lost a pawn and the initiative went decisively to his opponent.

    . . .

    [[Game 7]] - Once again Rubinstein lost on the Black side of Four Knights. This time it was not a quick combinational kill, instead Bogoljubov outplayed Rubinstein in the endgame which was one of Rubinstein's greatest areas of proficiency.

    The match was now tied; so far only one game had not been decisive.

    . . .

    [[Game 8]] - Rubinstein bounced back with a sparkling finish

    click for larger view

    <42. Nxc4!> Ka8 43. Rfd7! Qxc4 44. Qxh8!

    . . .

    [[Game 9]] - Bogoljubov only took 22 moves to defeat his opponent whose defence to the Four Knights again was made to appear fragile. Rubinstein in this match showed a vulnerability to tactical play against the highest level opponent (hence his poor score (-6) against Alekhine in the 1920's and 1930's).

    . . .

    [[Game 10]] - This lengthy game was marred by both players overlooking several simple but effective tactical blows. For instance:

    click for larger view

    <44...Nxg4!> on successive moves. It appears that the players were tired, but whether Rubinstein in particular would have played so poorly before the war is a moot point.

    . . .

    [[Game 11]] - Once again a simple tactical oversight decided the game.

    click for larger view

    <42..Rxf2!> and Rubinstein won.

    . . .

    [[Game 12]] - Rubinstein missed his way to drawing the match when presented with a late opportunity:

    click for larger view

    <53.Rxd4!> Rxf2 54. Rxf2 Rxf2+ 55.Kh3 and wins.

    . . .


    [(1)]. "America Chess Bulletin", vol.17 p.94.

    [(2)]. See

    [(3)]. "Falkirk Herald", Wednesday 29th September 1920, p.4.

    [(4)]. "Modern Ideas in Chess", Richard Reti, p.95.

    [(5)]. See -

    [(6)]. See - User: RubinsteinScores


    This was cloned from an original collection by User: Karpova. Text and original research by User: Chessical. ]

    12 games, 1920

  18. Botvinnik - Taimanov play off

    The Mikhail Botvinnik - Mark Taimanov match for the USSR Championship (1952) took place in Moscow from January 25th to February 5th, 1953 (a month before Stalin's death).

    At the end of the penultimate round of the championship, Taimanov was one point ahead of Botvinnik and had defeated him in their individual game. In the final round, Taimanov lost to Efim Geller. Botvinnik appeared to be held to a draw by Alexey Suetin but unexpectedly won - Suetin vs Botvinnik, 1952. By so doing he secured a sixth victory in the Soviet Championships (or seventh if the USSR Absolute Championship (1941) is included).

    <The players>


    It was especially important for Botvinnik (42) to reassert his position as the leading Soviet player. He felt his position was in jeopardy from the rising stars of Soviet chess. He was world champion, but only as a result of a tied match with Bronstein - Botvinnik - Bronstein World Championship Match (1951) - and he no longer dominated the top Soviet players as he had in the previous decade. Moreover, Botvinnik had played little chess between 1948 and 1951. Instead, he concentrated on his doctorate in electrical engineering and as late as the autumn of 1952 Botvinnik was still working on resolving technical problems at the Moscow Power Engineering Institute. [(1)]. Other leading Soviet players had become doubtful that he maintained his prowess and they reported their doubts to the bureaucrats.

    [["My mediocre results in the previous Soviet Championship (fifth in the USSR Championship (1951)) and in the Marcozy Memorial tournament (third equal in Budapest (1952)) resulted in my exclusion from the USSR side for the tenth Olympiad in Helsinki (a decision reached in a strange way - by a ballot of the team members of which only one vote (Isaac Boleslavsky - [(1)]) was cast for the World Champion). Naturally in the Twentieth USSR Championship, I wished to prove that I did not play any worse than our "Olympic Men"]] (David Bronstein, Paul Keres, Vasily Smyslov, Boleslavsky and Efim Geller - e.d.)." [(2)]

    Botvinnik also had a personal issue to settle with his opponent.

    [["I felt obliged to win this match - I did not like Taimanov's behaviour during our game in the championship (which Botvinnik lost - Botvinnik vs Taimanov, 1952 - e.d.). During play I offered a draw, my opponent accepted it (it was only necessary to play to the thirtieth move, but he began playing for a win..."]] [(3)]


    Taimanov (26) was a young and rapidly emerging talent. He had won the Leningrad Championship in 1948, 1951 and 1952. He came second at the Stockholm Interzonal (1952) and became a grandmaster aged 23. He would play in Zuerich Candidates (1953) coming eight equal.

    He would go on to become a leading Soviet Grandmaster for three decades, playing in twenty USSR Chess Championships, and becoming Soviet Champion in 1956.

    Taimanov had great respect for his opponent, who had served as director of the Leningrad Palace of Pioneers chess club whilst Taimanov had been a pupil there.

    [[ 2003 when he wrote his memoirs (Vspominaya Samykh, Samykh...), Taimanov spoke of Botvinnik as if he had been the most important figure in his life, even more than his wife (Lyubov Bruk - e.d.), who was also his long-time piano partner. “My entire chess fate is connected to the name Botvinnik.” Taimanov wrote.]] [(4)]

    [["Botvinnik was an amazing teacher! He said: “I don’t have to teach you to play chess. I have to teach you to learn”. He never gave us lectures, but instead set us problems that concerned various aspects of chess: openings, endgames, middlegames. And then he would listen and take a critical interest in our thoughts." (Rossijskaja Gazeta)]] [(5)]

    [["This is someone whom I deeply respected, who was my main teacher, who took me under his wing and blessed me with attention beginning from my school years. During my whole life, at critical moments, I would turn to him for chess advice."]] [(6)]

    <Progress of the match>

    Taimanov had White in the odd-numbered games.

    1 2 3 4 5 6
    1 Botvinnik 1 ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 3½
    2 Taimanov 0 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 2½ ]table

    Progressive score:

    1 2 3 4 5 6
    1 Botvinnik 1 1½ 2 3 3 3½
    2 Taimanov 0 ½ 1 1 2 2½ ]table

    <The Games:>

    [[Game 1]]

    Taimanov, as White, lost the first game of the match. Both sides had chances, but then made mistakes during lengthy manoeuvering in a middlegame with a static pawn structure. In the end, Botvinnik outplayed Taimanov to reach a winning King and pawn ending.

    [[Game 2]]

    The second game was solidly played by both players. Taimanov equalized and gave his opponent an isolated Queen's pawn, but agreed to a draw on move 25. He obviously saw little reward in attempting to grind a win in such circumstances against Botvinnik.

    [[Game 3]]

    Game three: Botvinnik defended with his customary Dutch (Taimanov having declined to transpose into a French defence) but deviated from an earlier game - Bronstein vs Botvinnik, 1951.

    In a complex middlegame, Taimanov pressed hard on the King-side and came very close to winning but faltered at move 44.

    click for larger view

    <44.Qc7+> would have maintained an advantage, but <44.Rxf4> as played gave Botvinnik unnecessary counterplay. It was doubly unfortunate as Taimanov was still following his adjournment analysis, according to his notes in "Shakhmaty v SSSR" (№ 5, 1953). Botvinnik eventually won Taimanov's Queen for a Rook and Knight. The presence of a passed white pawn on <d6> was just sufficient for Taimanov to draw.

    Botvinnik seems to have concluded that this line of the Dutch was not providing him with a promising position as it then fell out of his repertoire until the very end of his career.

    [[Game 4]] Botvinnik secured his second win of the match in a game he included in his collected works.

    [[Game 5]]

    This was Taimanov's first win of the match, bringing the score to 2:1 in favour of Botvinnik.

    Botvinnik made the decision to play the Nimzo-Indian defence despite it not featuring in his own repertoire and of Taimanov being an expert in the variation.

    Taimanov improved upon White's play from Tolush vs Keres, 1945 Botvinnik in unfamiliar territory played inaccurately and list.

    [[Game 6]]

    Taimanov defended with his favourite Nimzo-Indian defence. Botvinnik managed to prevent the pawn breaks necessary to penetrate his position and interlocking pawn chains arose. Despite, the majority of heavy pieces remaining on the board, Taimanov agree to a draw and Botvinnik took the match by two wins to one.


    [(1)]. "Botvinnik's complete games (1957-1970) and selected writings (Part 3), Moravian Chess, p.116-117

    [(2)]. "Botvinnik's Best Games 1947 - 1970" B.T.Batsford 1972, p.46

    [(3)]. "Botvinnik's complete games (1957-1970) and selected writings (Part 3), Moravian Chess, p,119-120

    [(4)]. "Mikhail Botvinnik Sixth World Chess Champion", Isaak & Vladimir Linder, Russell Enterprises (2020), p.6.



    The annotations to these games by both players have been collected and translated by D. Griffin,

    Original collection and text by User: Chessical

    6 games, 1953

  19. Botvinnik-Ragozin Match

    This match, held in May 1940 in Leningrad, was integral to Mikhail Botvinnik 's preparations to be recognized as the principal Soviet player. He would succeed in achieving this and would receive the support necessary to contest a world championship match with Alexander Alekhine.

    <The players>


    Botvinnik was widely seen as <the> up-and-coming Soviet player. He had been the Soviet champion three times, in 1931, 1933, and 1939. He had shared first place in the extremely strong Nottingham (1936) with Jose Raul Capablanca. Then he had come third at the strongest tournament yet to be held, AVRO (1938). Whilst he defeated Alekhine and Capablanca he was placed behind the emerging and younger Estonian Keres and American Fine.

    To the surprise of the Soviet authorities, Botvinnik then decided to concentrate on his Doctorate in Electrical Engineering rather than chess. He did not play in the URS-ch10 (1937) and the 48-year-old Grigory Levenfish became Soviet champion. Levenfish had also shared the USSR Championship (1934/35) with Ilya Rabinovich, another championship in which Botvinnik had not participated.

    The apparat wanted a representative of the new generation of "Soviet Man" who would show the superiority of their culture to represent the Soviet Union internationally. Botvinnik (born in 1911) had won the USSR Championship (1933) was a leading contender for this position.

    The Soviet authorities consequently decided to clarify the situation clearer by organizing a match with the pre-revolutionary Levenfish - Botvinnik - Levenfish (1937). This thirteen-game match ended in a tie (+5 -5 =3) so resolving nothing.

    Botvinnik's claim to first place was in danger of losing momentum, but the decision was made to send Botvinnik rather than Levenfisch to represent the Soviet Union at AVRO (1938). Botvinnik came third in an exceptionally strong field, a point behind Reuben Fine and Paul Keres (who had the superior Sonneborn–Berger score).

    This was an endorsement that Botvinnik would be supported as the next challenger for Alekhine's world championship crown. Botvinnik stated he had received a telegram from Vyacheslav Molotov (who at the time was Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars from 1930 to 1941, and effectively second in the political hierarchy to Stalin).

    ["If you decide to challenge the chess player Alekhine to a match, we wish you complete success. The rest is not too difficult to provide".] [(1)]

    Botvinnik won the 11th USSR Championship final took place in April in Leningrad from 15th April to 16th May 1939. Even so, Snegiryov, the chairman of the Physical Culture Committee, remained cautious and slow in approaching Alekine to arrange a match. Snegov had to negotiate the political minefield of a Soviet player consorting with a political renegade the exiled aristocrat Alekhine. The possibility of defeat was politically intolerable and probably deadly. [(2)]

    But by summer 1939, prolonged negotiations finally led to an agreement to play a match, half in Moscow and half in London. Botvinnik was given the resources to prepare thoroughly.

    ["In the summer of 1939, the Council of People's Commissars awarded me a stipend of 1,000 rubles a month - an exceptional act...."] [(3)].

    In May 1940, Chessmetrics estimates Botvinnik (aged 28) to have been the strongest active player in the world. Alekhine was fourth behind Reuben Fine and Samuel Reshevsky.

    This match, played in May 1940 in Moscow, was integral to this state-sponsored preparation for a world championship match.


    Viacheslav Ragozin achieved an eighth equal place in the extremely strong Moscow (1935) and had won the Leningrad Championship in 1936. He would come second in the URS-ch10 (1937) with Alexander Konstantinopolsky behind Grigory Levenfish

    He was given the rare opportunity to represent the Soviet Union at Semmering/Baden (1937), but his result, equal sixth, was disappointing.

    In May 1940, Chessmetrics estimates Ragozin (aged 31) to have been the 20th strongest active player in the world.

    Ragozin was a regular training partner and second for Botvinnik. They had played training matches in 1938 and 1939, and together they had analyzed thirty games of the USSR Championship (1939) for the tournament book. Ragozin, along with Salomon Flohr, would be Botvinnik's seconds at FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948) and Botvinnik - Bronstein World Championship Match (1951). In 1950, FIDE awarded him the grandmaster title.

    <Progress of the match>

    At first glance, Botvinnik dominated the match, he was never behind and scored five wins to none. The bald score does not reflect that Ragozin could have been two games up at the beginning of the match. In games 1,2, and 9, Ragozin had winning positions, but each time he dissipated his advantage.

    Ragozin also suffered two knockouts from poorly played openings (on both sides of the Gruenfeld defence) in Games 3 and 8.

    Capablanca's observation from 1935 seemed to still apply, ["In certain games Ragozin played with great vigour, but at critical moments he makes mistakes."] [(4)]

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    Botvinnik ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ ½ 8½ Ragozin ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ 3½]table

    <Progressive score>

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    Botvinnik ½ 1 2 2½ 3½ 4 4½ 5½ 6½ 7½ 8 8½ Ragozin ½ 1 1 1½ 1½ 2 2½ 2½ 2½ 2½ 3 3½]table

    Botvinnik scored 4.5/6 with the White pieces and 4/6 with the Black pieces.

    Ragozin scored 1.5/6 with the White pieces and 2/6 with the Black pieces.

    <The games>

    [[Game 1]]

    This was a hard-fought start to the match. Ragozin outplayed Botvinnik in the middle game, but hesitation frittered his advantage away and a draw ensued.

    With <35...h4!>, Ragozin could have broken through advantageously on the king-side with his rooks.

    click for larger view

    [35...h4 36.Rg1 Rh8 37.Kd3 hxg3 38.hxg3 Rdh7 39.Ba3 Rh1]

    [[Game 2]]

    For the second time, Ragozin outplayed Botvinnik, but once again he could not convert his advantage into a win. Botvinnik's pieces were pinned down as Ragozin built up pressure against his opponent's king on the queenside.

    click for larger view

    [<31.Ra5!> would have been best.]

    As in Game 1, the quality of Ragozin's play towards the time control deteriorated and he lost a piece for two pawns.

    Thus instead of Ragozin being two games up, the match score remained tied.

    [[Game 3]]

    Botvinnik hit his stride with an efficient win straight out of the opening. Playing against a variation of the Gruenfeld Defence with which he was not familiar (Grunfeld (D94)), Ragozin quickly went wrong by playing <12...c5?>

    click for larger view

    Ragozin allowed Botvinnik to establish a strong pawn on <d6> which crippled his opponent's game. After three games, had a one-point advantage. [(5)]

    [[Game 4]]

    Botvinnik defended with a Nimzo-Indian Defence. Ragozin played the solid Classical variation, traded pieces, and neither player secured an advantage. The game was drawn without incident in 27 moves.

    [[Game 5]]

    Botvinnik employed the English Opening for the first time in the match. Botvinnik played dynamically, he offered his <e> pawn as a sacrifice for a King's side attack. Ragozin's king's defences were compromised and his position quickly disintegrated. Botvinnik was now two games up in the match.

    [[Game 6]]

    This was the first <e> pawn opening of the match, albeit arrived at by transposition from a <d> pawn opening into the closed Tarrasch variation of the French Defence (French, Tarrasch (C05)).

    Ragozin was unable to use his space advantage to create an attack. It is interesting to compare his handling of the White pieces with Botvinnik's own Botvinnik vs Petrov, 1940 at the later Twelfth Soviet Chess Championship (September 5th to October 3rd, 1940).

    [[Game 7]]

    Botvinnik opened with <e4> for the first time in the match. He played a slow Ruy Lopez with an early <d6>. Both players were accurate and careful; Ragozin neutralizing Botvinnik's slow advance to secure a draw.

    [[Game 8]]

    Despite having the White pieces against his opponent's Gruenfeld defence, Ragozin was soon in trouble and he was never able to recover the game. [(6)]

    By playing <9.Qa4?!>, Ragozin allowed the manoeuver:

    click for larger view

    <9...Ne4!> and <10...Bxc3!>

    This game was the start of a three-game run of wins in which Botvinnik put the match result beyond doubt.

    [[Game 9]]

    Botvinnik played the English opening, and Ragozin replied with a Dutch set up which equalized. Botvinnik allowed his opponent to seize the initiative in the centre and on the queenside.

    If Ragozin had taken the exchange rather than the <d> pawn, later analysis suggests that he would have had a winning position.

    click for larger view

    [43... Nxe2 44.Qe2 Rfe8 45.e6 Qd6+ 46.f4 (46. Kg2 Rxe6!) 46...Qxf4+ 47. Kh1 c4 or;
    44...Qxh4 45. e6 Qf4+ 46. Kg1 Rd6]

    After <44.f4!> Botvinnik's pieces became active. Ragozin still had some advantage, but blundered it away and lost.

    [[Game 10]]

    Ragozin played a Ruy Lopez and Botvinnik defended with a mainline Chigorin closed defence (Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin, (C99)). This line was not part of his regular repertoire, but he went on to use it in the next USSR Championship - Smyslov vs Botvinnik, 1940

    Botvinnik showed his ability to both calculate long and accurately in taking Ragozin's <a> pawn to reach a winning endgame. [(7)]

    click for larger view

    [[Game 11]]

    Ragozin defended with a Slav defence with which he initially equalized. Botvinnik's play in this game was extremely accurate and he had some advantage when a draw was agreed on move 29.

    [[Game 12]]

    The final game, with Ragozin having the white pieces, was another Gruenfeld defence. It was quickly drawn, with both players missing an opportunity for an advantage.


    [(1)]. "Botvinnik's complete games 1957-1970 and Selected Writings (Part 3)", p.55-56.

    [(2)]. Ibid, p.55-56.

    [(3)]. Ibid, p.69.

    [(4)]. From the Russian Bulletin of the event (special issue of "64"), No. 20, 13 June 1936. Quoted in Edward Winter, "Capablanca: a compendium 1888-1942.", p.275

    [(5)]. This game is Game 65 in 'Botvinnik: One Hundred Selected Games'.

    [(6)]. This game is Game 67 in 'Botvinnik: One Hundred Selected Games'.

    [(7)]. This game is Game 68 in 'Botvinnik: One Hundred Selected Games'.

    This text and original research by User: Chessical.

    12 games, 1940

  20. Bronstein - Boleslavsky Candidates Playoff 1950
    <The participants>:

    Isaac Boleslavsky was 31 and David Bronstein 26 years old. They were leading representatives of an extremely strong generation of Soviet talent that had emerged in the 1940's. They were pillars of "Kiev School" of Ukrainian chess, personal friends and were innovative and sharp players.

    Boleslavsky and Bronstein, along with fellow Ukranian Efim Geller , were particularly important in the development of the Kings Indian defence in the 1940's and 1950's.

    According to Chessbase's "Big Database (2013)", they had played each other seven times, the only decisive game having being won by Boleslavsky - Bronstein vs Boleslavsky, 1947

    Bronstein wrote of his approach to the game:

    "When I play chess...I always try to vary my openings as much as possible, to invent new plans in attack and defence, to make experimental moves which are dangerous and exciting...I believe that my greatest quality in the chess world is that I have never played routine games...” [1]

    Boleslavsky too had a well-defined credo:

    "In playing I did not strive for victory just for the sake of points, and considered that the only win of a consistently played game could give real satisfaction...the game of chess is a struggle, but in the first place a struggle of ideas, and therefore the winner, if he wants to prove the value of his victory, ought to prove the correctness of his ideas". [2]

    In this match, they played consistently sharp and innovative chess.

    Both players were at the peak of their form. Bronstein had twice come joint first in the USSR Championship (1948) (with Alexander Kotov) and USSR Championship (1949) (with Vasily Smyslov whilst Boleslavsky had been Russian Federation Champion in 1946, was third in the extremely strong Moscow (1947) and shared the second place in the USSR Championship (1947)

    They had been selected by FIDE as part of a cohort of the strongest Soviet players to participate in the Candidates at Saltsjobaden Interzonal (1948), where Bronstein had come first and Boleslavsky third.

    <The background to the match>:

    This match took place as David Bronstein and Isaac Boleslavsky had tied for first place at the Budapest Candidates (1950) two points clear of Vasily Smyslov in third place.

    With two rounds left to play, Boleslavsky was in undisputed first place a full point ahead of Bronstein. Boleslavsky took short draws in his last two games, but Bronstein won both of his games and thus finished equal first with Boleslavsky.

    Boleslavsky had not lost a single game in the tournament. It has been stated in Bronstein and Furstenberg's book "Sorcerer's Apprentice", (Cadogan 1995) that Boleslavsky purposefully "slowed down" to facilitate the tie. The idea being was to then hold a three man tournament with the world champion Mikhail Botvinnik . Boleslavsky had a very poor record against Botvinnik and this seemed to be the best chance to dethrone him.

    According to Chessbase's "Big Database (2013)", at the time Boleslavsky's record against Botvinnik was: 7 loses, 4 draws and no wins. Bronstein's score was better: a win and a draw in his favour.

    The proposal for a three person match was not accepted by the Soviet federation. Instead, the joint winners of the Candidates tournament would play an elimination match to resolve the tie. The winner would be the next (1951) challenger to Mikhail Botvinnik for the world championship.

    The match was planned to be of 12 games, but if it was tied at the end of this, two further games were to be played. If the match was still undecided, it would go to a sudden death with the first win being decisive.

    The chief arbeiter was Nikolay Zubarev and FIDE's representative was its Vice-President Viacheslav Ragozin.

    The match was played at a culturally prestigious venue: "Railwaymen's Central Hall of Culture", Komsomolskaya Square, Moscow, between July 31st 1950 and August 27th 1950. This grand building, built in 1927, had a 1,000 seat theatre. [3]

    ................1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Bronstein...IGM 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 7½ Boleslavsky.IGM 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 6½ ]table

    <Progress of the match:>

    <Game 1:> Bronstein as White used a sharp sacrificial novelty which he had previously played against Boleslavsky in Round 7 of the Candidates tournament.

    click for larger view

    Bronstein had studied the position and found an improvement on move 17. He gained two pieces for a rook and won powerfully in short order.

    This line, which is still topical, appears to have been originated in Ukrainian chess circles. In a slightly different variation, it was used in [bad link] , Semi Finals 13th USSR Championship, Omsk. [4]

    "We were both playing extremely hard and showing the greatest respect for each other. It seems the only occasion in the history of chess contests when players have exchanged bouquets of bright flowers before the first move of the first game!". [5]

    <Game 2:> After some contemplation, Bronstein defended with Alekhine's Defence, which was not one of his usual defences. Boleslavsky achieved a spatial advantage but agreed to a draw on move 30.

    <Game 3:> Boleslavsky avoided the Grunfeld and Bronstein's opening preparation. Instead, a carefully classically played game unfolded in which Boleslavsky equalized without much incident. After 11 moves, the game had transposed into a turn of the century QGA - Pillsbury vs Blackburne, 1896 .

    <Game 4:> Boleslavsky played the White side of the Ruy Lopez extremely proficiently to build up a strong K-side attack. In a sharp tactical contest, Boleslavsky ran short of time and Bronstein was rather fortunate to achieve a draw. "A perfect model for those studying the Ruy Lopez attack!...Also deserving acknowledgement is Boleslavsky's courage, when in the endgame and still the exchange down, he nevertheless refused the draw that was offered him". [6]

    <Game 5:> Bronstein outplayed his opponent in the late middlegame and achieved an advantageous ending with active pieces, but on resumption after the adjournment Boleslavsky put up strong resistance. Later analysis found a win for Bronstein, but at the board he could not break through. This time it was Boleslavsky who was fortunate to secure a draw.

    <Game 6:> Bronstein played aggressively against Boleslavsky's Ruy Lopez, using the Marshall Attack. Once again, Bronstein was following deep into a previous game of his opponent. Boleslavsky had to be alert against another dangerous theoretical improvement from his opponent.

    Up to move 16, the game followed Boleslavsky vs Szabo, 1950 . Boleslavsky held the attack off but did not establish any advantage. Boleslavsky, however, had faith in this system of defence as he deployed it again Boleslavsky vs V Saigin, 1951 and Boleslavsky vs R Nezhmetdinov, 1954

    <Game 7:> Bronstein extended his lead to 2-0 lead with five games to go. Unlike Game 2, Boleslavsky chose a more complex variation, but Bronstein gained a clear spatial advantage and Boleslavsky was besieged. Bronstein maintained his advantage through to a win in a complex Rook ending despite Boleslavsky's tough defence.

    <Game 8:> Bronstein as Black against the Ruy Lopez and ahead in the match, chose a very different defence to that of Game 6. He adopted a more solid but passive approach with an old-fashioned Berlin defence. Both players strove hard to win and ran short of time, but it was Boleslavsky who won, and won artistically, to pull up to a single point behind.

    "Note carefully the amazing manoeuvres by the white pawns in the middlegame and the sudden composition-study-like finale to the ending, where the heroes were no longer the pawns, but the knight and the rook". [7]

    click for larger view

    <49.g6!> Re6 50. g7!

    <Game 9:> Boleslavsky (most probably unwittingly in view of his slow rate of play) followed a brilliancy of a great Ukranian forebear Efim Bogoljubov -Rotlewi vs Bogoljubov, 1910 . Bronstein's technique was superior to Rotlewi's but he too failed to achieve an advantage as White. He offered and Boleslavsky, who was short of time, accepted a draw on move 20.

    Boleslavsky's uncertainty in the opening gives the impression of an apparently impromptu manner in this game.

    <Game 10:> Boleslavsky as White needed to win this game, as with only two games left of the regular match, Bronstein had a one point lead.

    Bronstein adopted a solid Caro-Kann defence. Boleslavsky opened the <f> file and had considerable pressure against Bronstein's <f> pawn. Bronstein defended well and managed to hold the draw.

    <Game 11:> Boleslavsky had to win this game with the Black pieces and he played a King's Indian system he had pioneered

    It was a system to which both he and Bronstein had contributed significant developments and were regularly using.

    Bronstein played ambitiously and set up a broad centre, but then played inaccurately. Boleslavsky gained the initiative, but then allowed the ingenious Bronstein to fight his way back into the game. Boleslavsky then had to navigate his way to victory through a difficult Queen and Rook ending full of traps and snares to tie the match.

    <Game 12:> Bronstein played a sharp variation of the French and sacrificed a pawn. Boleslavsky regarded the variation as incorrect, [8] but played slightly inaccurately and Bronstein was able to instigate a very imaginative King-side attack. Rather than have an uncertain fight through this onslaught, Boleslavsky took a perpetual check.

    The match then went into its extra-time of two games.

    <Game 13:> A very sharp game that either player could at one point could have won; Bronstein rejected a forced draw and later analysis showed that he could have lost if Boleslavsky had found a key move.

    click for larger view


    <Game 14:> Bronstein repeated the same variation of French defence as in Game 12. Boleslavsky was out-prepared and outplayed in this game. Bronstein pocketed two pawns and then won efficiently. Boleslavsky shook his hand and wished him luck in his forthcoming battle with Botvinnik.


    Bronstein advanced to play a world championship match against Botvinnik in March 1951 - Botvinnik - Bronstein World Championship Match (1951) .

    Boleslavsky played in the USSR Championship (1950) (November 11th to December 11th, 1950) where he came 7-10th, and then assisted his friend as his second in the world championship match.


    Compiled from the original games collection - Game Collection: WCC Index (Bronstein-Boleslavsky 1950) - created by User: Hesam7 .

    Match dates from Golombek's report in the "British Chess Magazine" as reproduced in "World Chess Championship Candidates' Tournament Budapest 1950", E.G.R. Cordingley, p.177, Hardinge Simpole.

    [1] "Sorcerer's Apprentice", Bronstein and Furstenberg, Cadogan 1995, p.18.

    [2] Isaac Boleslavsky, "Selected Games", Caissa Books, 1988, p.18-19.

    [3] http://xn--d1ael0c.xn--p1ai/index.php

    [4] "World Chess Championship Candidates' Tournament Budapest 1950", E.G.R. Cordingley, p.65, Hardinge Simpole.

    [5] "200 Open Games", David Bronstein, Courier Dover Publications, 1991, p.95.

    [6] “200 Open Games", David Bronstein, Courier Dover Publications, 1991, p.96.

    [7] "200 Open Games", David Bronstein, Courier Dover Publications, 1991, p.95.

    [8] Isaac Boleslavsky, Caissa Books, 1988, "Selected Games" p.142.

    14 games, 1950

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