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Joseph Henry Blackburne vs David Janowski
London (1899), London ENG, rd 24, Jul-01
Four Knights Game: General (C46)  ·  1/2-1/2

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-31-06  paladin at large: Could Janowski have won with 46.....g4?
Apr-02-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: An engrossing and well-played game that Janowski had two chances to win. Blackburne deserves great credit for digging himself out of trouble and exploiting Janowski's few errors.

Blackburne's handling of the Four Knights Opening here with 4. Be2 seems to have little to recommend it besides novelty, but he managed to get an approximately equal game against the always dangerous Janowski.

Blackburne's 11. Be3, however, was not best (11. a4 or 11. Qb3 would have better) and gave up any inkling of an advantage for White. Also dubious was Blackburne's 15. dxc6 (15. Bf3 or 15. Bb3 were both better), and by 17...Bc7 Janowski definitely had the (slightly) better game. The Knights were off the board, so Janowski--whose handling of the two Bishops was probably second to none--must have bee delighted.

Blackburne, unwilling to languish in an inferior position, lashed out with 18. g4. This idea was unsound (18. Ba4 was best) but suited Blackburne's aggressive style.

But Blackburne's 25. Rfd1 (25. Rad1) and 27. Bf2 (27. Bg3 was much better) landed him in a losing position.

Janowski immediately jumped on the chance to obtain a decisive attack with the brilliant 27...Raf8! This left his a-pawn hanging, but Janowski undoubtedly foresaw that after 28. Bxa7 he would have had a won game with 28...Bd6. As the Tournament Book correctly notes, had Blackburne in this variation played 29. Bc5 Janowski would have played 29...BxB. Alternatively, if 29. Bb6 Janowski had 29...Rf3.

Blackburne decided to forego the win of Janowski's a-pawn, but his 28. Bc5 was even worse, and after 28...Bd6 29. BxB QxB Janowski's doubled Rooks, Queen and Bishop appeared to own the board. To this point, Janowski had played flawlessly.

But then Blackburne tempted Janowski with 30. Rf1, offering to trade off both pairs of Rooks giving Janowski a better Queen and Bishop ending.

Janowski should have refused this "Greek gift" and simply played 30...e4. But Janowski decided to take the "simple" approach and traded off all four Rooks beginning with 30...RxR+.

Suddenly, Janowski's win seemed problematic at best, though he still had a major edge after 32...e4.

But, as the Tournament Book also correctly notes (this game is one of annotator Hoffer's best efforts in this tournament) Janowski should played 33...h5. After Janowski's actual move, 33... Qe5, Blackburne's excellent 34. Qe1! fully equalized.

Janowski tried to make up for lost time with 34...h4, but Blackburne accurately played 35. dxe4, and after Janowski's 35...hxg4 had survived Janowski's attack.

But Blackburne wasn't satisfied with a draw, and pursued a faulty aggressive plan that should have led to his defeat.

Blackburne could simply have played 36. hxg4 or 36. h4, but went for the gold with 36. Qg3. This move in itself wasn't bad, but Blackburne's belief that he could turn the tables on Janowski proved a dangerous delusion.

After Janowski's 37...Qe8, Blackburne should have played the simple 38. Qxh3 securing material equality. But no, Blackburne wanted more, and sallied forth with the wild 38. e5?

Janowski responded with the punishing 38...Qh5! Blackburne, apparently not seeing the danger, erred badly with 39. Qe3? (39. Qxh3 would have lost the e-pawn but have given him drawing chances). Now Janowski's win was clear, and after 42...QxQ+ Janowski reached a winning Bishop and pawn ending.

paladin at large asks whether Janowski could have won with 46...g4. As the Tournament Book correctly notes, this was indeed a winning move for Janowski. But--what the Tournament Book fails to recognize--Janowski's 46...Ke6 should also have led to victory, and just as easily.

Janowski's first lapse in the Bishop and pawn ending was his 48...d4 (48...g4 was best). Blackburne responded with the brilliant 49. c4! creating chances on the Kings-side. The position was then as follows with Janowski (Black) to move:


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Janowski still had a win in this position with 49...g4, but--underestimating Blackburne's King-side advance--Janowski played 49...Bf5? and, after 50 BxB KxB 51. b5 the win was suddenly gone.

Both sides Queened pawns, and after 58...Qxc4 Janowski was again up a pawn, but the Queen and Pawn versus Queen ending was drawn, as Blackburne had cleverly recognized.

Queen and pawn versus Queen endings can (as Fine has noted in Basic Chess Endings) be trouble when the superior side has a Bishop pawn as here, but Blackburne proved up to the task of holding his own in this tricky endgame.

After Janowski's 60...Kd5, the only saving move is 61. Qg5+ (for example, 61. Qd7+ loses to 61...Kc5). But Blackburne found this move, and again after Janowski's 64...Kd4 found the only secure road to salvation with the lovely 65. Kd2!

When Janowski played 70...Ke5, Blackburne seized the opportunity to reduce to a drawn King and pawn ending with 71. Qe3+.

Apr-03-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <KEG>
After the suggested <30...e4> and then 31. Rxf7 Rxf7 32. dxe4, what has Black got?
Apr-04-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <beatgiant> If 30...e4 31. Rxf7 (probably best) Rxf7 32. dxe4 (32. Rf1 is best but hopeless) Black has the crushing retort 32...Qe5. White now has no defense to Black's multiple threats. (For example, if now 33. exd5 Qxc3).
Apr-05-17  Straclonoor: By the way. After 54th move of white Lomonosov's TB7 gives result - draw.
Apr-05-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <KEG>
<the crushing retort 32...Qe5> Of course! It's amazing how White falls apart after that, a point which I missed. Thanks.
Apr-05-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <Straclonoor> The game was indeed a draw after Black's 49th move. Thank you for this confirmation.
Apr-05-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <beatgiant> Thank you. I too was astonished as I analyzed the consequences of 32...Qe5
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