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Mikhail Chigorin vs Joseph Henry Blackburne
London (1899), London ENG, rd 12, Jun-14
French Defense: Chigorin Variation (C00)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A true up and down story. Tchigorin outplays Blackburne and gets a won game, ruins his position with an unsound piece sacrifice, and then uses his tactical prowess to salvage a seemingly hopeless ending by walking into a mating net and then miraculously salvaging a draw with a surprise Rook sacrifice. A game with a little bit of everything.

Undaunted by his problems in earlier games, Tchigorin once again assayed his 2. Qe2 variation against the French Defense. Blackburne tried a new approach to combat this line (2... b6), and then made a bizarre recapture (12...exN instead of the seemingly obvious 12...BxN) giving Tchigorin an opportunity to begin what should probably have been a victorious march of his g-pawn with 13. g4, 14. g5, and 15. g6.

Blackurne only made things worse for himself with 15...h6 (15...hxg6 was a sad necessity), and Tchigorin had a clear win beginning with 16. h4. Instead of this, however, Tchigorin played the superficially attractive 16. Ng5. Blackburne, of course, could not have played 16...hxN (17. Qh5+ Nh6 18. fxg5 would have been murder), but after 16...BxN 17. fxB played the move the Tournament Book says Tchigorin overlooked, 17...f4, leaving the following position:

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Here, Tchigorin played 18. gxh6, sacrificing his Bishop on e3 (instead of the prosaic but winning 18. Bd2). With this one move, Tchigorin turned a won game into a lost one. Soon enough, Blackburne forced the exchange of Queens and although Tchigorin had two passed pawns on the King-side, the extra piece was too much, and a win for Blackburne seemed inevitable.

But never underestimate Tchigorin in a game with tactical possibilities. It is here that his genius always shined.

Blackburne made heavy weather of the ending. His 36...c5, 38...a4, and 40...Re3 missed faster and better ways to win, but he nonetheless still had the game in hand after Tchigorin's 41. Rf2:

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41...Nd4 would have been crushing here, but Blackburne got cute with 41...a3+, and Tchigorin then saved the game with a bit of tactical magic.. He played 42. Kxa3, springing a trap for Blackburne that worked like a charm when the English veteran took the bait with 42...Rxd3+ (42...Nd4 was the only winning chance remaining). Tchgorin then played the move Blackburne probably thought was impossible: 43. Ka4! After the following 43...Nd4 44. Rg2! Rc3, it appeared that Blackburn had walked into a mating net. But after 45. g7 Rxc4+ 46. Ka3 Rb4, Blackburne, though within a move of mating Tchigorin, suddenly faced a devastating Rook sacrifice in the following position:

click for larger view

If Blackburne had reckoned on 47. g7(Q) Nc2 mate, he got a rude shock when Tchigorin instead played 47. Rg6+ !. Since 47...Kh7 would have led to mate in one, Blackburne had to play 47...Kxh5. Tchigorin then sacrificed his Rook with 48. Rg5+ !!. Since Blackburne obviously couldn't accept the sacrifice (48...KxR 49. g8(Q)+), the game came to a sudden and incredible conclusion.

Blackburne must have needed another drink after this turn of events.

Jun-24-19  Straclonoor: <Blackburne forced the exchange of Queens and although Tchigorin had two passed pawns on the King-side, the extra piece was too much, and a win for Blackburne seemed inevitable.>

Analysis by Stockfisn gives that best chance for black to win was on move 28.

Analysis by Stockfish 150519 64 POPCNT:

1. -+ (-4.40): 28...Rd5 29.Bg4 Nxg4 30.Rxg4 Bc8 31.Rg2 Rh5 32.Re2 Kxg6 33.Re7 Rc5 34.Re1 Kf6 35.a3 Rf5 36.Re4 Rd5 37.b4 a4 38.Kd2 Bd7 39.Ke1 Rd6 40.Kd2 b5 41.Re1 Bg4 42.Re4 Be6 43.Re1 Rd5 44.Re2 Rd7 45.h5 Bf5 46.Rh2 Kg5 47.h6 Rh7 48.c3 Rxh6 49.Rxh6 Kxh6 50.cxd4 Kg6 51.Ke3

2. -+ (-4.04): 28...Bf3 29.a3 Nf5 30.Bxf5 Rxf5 31.Re1 Kxg6 32.Re8 a4 33.Rc8 c6 34.Ra8 Re5 35.b3 Re1+ 36.Kb2 axb3 37.Kxb3 Rb1+ 38.Ka2 Rb5 39.Rg8+ Kh5 40.Rh8+ Kg4 41.h5 Rxh5 42.Rxh5 Kxh5 43.Kb3 Bd5+ 44.Kb4 Kg5 45.a4 Kf4 46.a5 bxa5+ 47.Kxa5 Ke5 48.Ka6 Bf3 49.Kb6 Kd6

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