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Emanuel Lasker vs Joseph Henry Blackburne
Lasker - Blackburne (1892), London ENG, rd 8, Jun-10
French Defense: Schlechter Variation (C00)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-18-06  paladin at large: a very late resigner, Blackburne.
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Black loses two backward pawns in the chain on moves 26 and 29 that cost him the game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Compare another <what the hell was Black thinking?> game, Lasker vs Chigorin, 1896

Like Chigorin, Blackburne plays ...f7-f5 unprovoked, puts all his pawns on light squares and gets rid of his dark-square bishop.

Some great masters played some really bad games back then.

Nov-22-15  Nerwal: It's not sure the concept of bad bishop had been formulated in 1892. Kotov wrote that even in the 50s a strong grandmaster like Pilnik was still completely unconcerned about his bishop being bad (and as a result offered a draw in a lost position).

It was probably covered by Tarrasch and Steinitz but it seems not even Nimzowitsch wrote about it in Mein System.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Nerwal> My grasp of 19th century chess literature is not strong, but my sense is that the concept of the bad bishop by the 1890s was known. Of this game Lasker vs Steinitz, 1894, Ginsberg wrote:

<The whole game is most remarkably played by White, and the loss of the game is owing to just the one fact that Black neglected to bring his Queen's Bishop into play at the opening part of the game. Later on he never got the chance, and finally ended by being compelled to play the Bishop back to its own square, a kind of screw-back performance. We have never seen a game which illustrates so well as this does the disadvantages under which the Queen's Bishop labours in a close defense.>

I have read that Steinitz popularized the concept of the bad bishop, but I don't know his own writings well enough to say if that is true.

Thinking about this a little more, in the era of open games bad bishops would have arisen less often, and so received less attention. But it still happened. A few well-known examples of bad bishops from the 19th century:

Steinitz vs Sellman, 1885

click for larger view

Staunton vs E Williams, 1851

click for larger view

But with the popularization of the Queen's Gambit Declined, the concept of the bad bishop must have become much more prominent.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Nerwal> Here's another famous example of a master (not a first class master, but still a master) winding up with just about the worst bishop you can imagine.

Schlechter vs W John, 1905

Which would seem to illustrate your point that the concept wasn't well known.

I think the Pilnik game was a little different. I'm confident Pilnik was familiar with the concept of bad bishops, and knew he had one, but was trying to convince Kotov that White couldn't break his defenses down.

Kotov vs Pilnik, 1952

It occurs to me that what killed Black ultimately in that game was not just the bad bishop but the lack of space; otherwise he might have managed to get the bad bishop to e8 and hung on.

Nov-24-15  Nerwal: Thanks for all those examples.

Even E. Winter doesn't seem to know exactly when this bad bishop concept entered chess writings : (entry 7769)

We see in Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1916 that still in 1916 Lasker allows a clear-cut bad bishop vs good knight position to arise at a very early stage, and barely fighting against it. Of course it's Lasker and his decision had a psychological background, especially against Tarrasch, but still...

On the other side, Alekhine was well aware of it (both in writings and games), and Nimzowitsch pioneered 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 b6!?, initiating the strategy of trading the bad bishop as quickly as possible, making it clear that by the 20s it was fully part of chess strategy.

As for Pilnik, that would mean he was lying outright to convince Kotov to agree to a draw and Kotov took it as face value...

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <As for Pilnik, that would mean he was lying outright to convince Kotov to agree to a draw and Kotov took it as face value...>

Going from memory, Pilnik said something like <You have no advantage, except a little more space. On the other hand my pawns are securely guarded.> Kotov (incredulous): <Guarded by what?> Pilnik: <By my bishop>.

Which was probably a dumb thing to say in that position, but it's not per se crazy. Thoroughly modern thinker Suba has said <bad bishops guard good pawns> and you can find examples in e.g. Petrosian's games like Spassky vs Petrosian, 1966.

Re Lasker, I wouldn't necessarily bring psychology into it. I've looked at a lot of his games, and he had a markedly high tolerance for bad bishops/weak color complexes. Though he often managed to turn his bad bishops to account eventually.

Lasker vs Nimzowitsch, 1914

F J Lee vs Lasker, 1899

Nov-24-15  Petrosianic: <Which was probably a dumb thing to say in that position, but it's not per se crazy.>

Not crazy, but slightly illegal. You're really not supposed to negotiate a draw offer.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Petrosianic> I think it happened at adjournment. Which once struck Botvinnik as a dandy time for a short chess lesson. You probably know about this one:

Taimanov vs Botvinnik, 1967

Nov-24-15  Petrosianic: Oh, at adjournment it's probably okay.

And Pilnik's statement wasn't exactly wrong. Sure, the bad bishop guarded the a pawn just fine. But it was the f pawn that was the weakness.

Nov-24-15  Petrosianic: Yeah, Taimanov-Botvinnik is a good game, I just don't understand how Taimanov fell into it. Rxc1 is fairly obviously bad, since Black gets the Rook on the 7th, while the alternate line burns down to a drawn R+P ending (the QRP with White Rook behind it clearly doesn't win).

Maybe e3 is the move Taimanov overlooked.

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