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Gustav Neumann vs Joseph Henry Blackburne
Casual game (1867), Dundee SCO, Sep-??
King's Gambit: Accepted. Traditional Variation (C38)  ·  0-1



Annotations by Joseph Henry Blackburne.      [148 more games annotated by Blackburne]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-01-03  refutor: a nice win by Blackburne
Dec-01-03  Kenkaku: As always, Blackburne's annotation is both informative and entertaining.
Dec-02-03  Catfriend: Rh2!! is cute. Can somebody try and see a defence-line for poor Neumann?
Oct-05-06  prinsallan: After Rh2 Neumann is lost, as Blackburn also in his own way descibes it... "but it was a sickly sort of smile" :P
Dec-11-08  thebribri8: Blackburne's annotations are priceless.
Dec-16-09  I play the Fred: FWIW, "One ill grin" is also an anagram for "Nei rolling", which I thought pointed to a miniature crush by Ivo Nei.
Dec-16-09  whiteshark: Well, it should be mentioned that <22...Rh1+!> would have done it, too.

click for larger view

Dec-16-09  Cibator: "And he smiled a kind of sickly smile,
and curled up on the floor,
And the subsequent proceedings interested him no more."

- Bret Harte

As for red herrings: I looked first at Steve O'Neill (who would seem to have had little to grin about, ill or otherwise), then at Dmitry Grin - but could find no connection between the two.

Dec-16-09  goldfarbdj: I looked at Anatoly Lein (I thought that "one ill grin" might be an anagram of the player names) and then at Zsuzsa Polgar ("online girl") -- although I gave up at the prospect of searching through every one of her almost 1000 games in the database.
Dec-16-09  Bertorelli: Ne6+ would have been winning one move earlier... the knight on e4 falls and black's attack is over, white is basically a rook up
Dec-16-09  ponaldpuck: Congratulations <tpstar>! I thought it was "one ill grin" = "a sick smile" = "a6 mile" = Karpov vs Miles, 1980. I was very sad when the prize banner did not appear.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: Bah Humbug! (1. e4 e5) No that's too strong (2. f4 exf4), 'cause it is my favorite holiday (3. Nf3 g5)/But all this year's been a busy blur (4. Bc4 Bg7), don't think I have the energy (5. d4 d6)/To add to my already mad rush (6. 0-0 h6), just 'cause it's 'tis the season (7. g3 g4)/The perfect gift for me would be [last book move] completions and connections left from last year (8. Ne1 f3)/Ski shop (9. c3 Nd7), encounter most interesting (10. Na3 Nb6)/Had his number but never the time (11. Bb3), most of '81 passed along those lines [11. Bd3 Nf6 ]/So deck those halls (11 ... Qe7), trim those trees [11 ... Nf6!? 12. Bc2 ], raise up cups of Christmas cheer (12. Nd3 Bd7)/I just need to catch my breath [12 ... Qxe4?? 14. Re1 ], Christmas by myself this year (13. Nf4)/Calendar picture [13. Nc4 Nxc4 14. Bxc4 0-0-0 ], frozen landscape (13 ... h5), chilled this room for 24 days (14. Qd3)/Evergreens [14. Nc4!? Nxc4 15. Bxc4 ], sparkling snow (14 ... h4) [ ], get this winter over with! (15. Nb5)/Flashback to springtime [15. Nc4 hxg3 16. hxg3 Nxc4 17. Qxc4 c6 ], saw him again (15 ... hxg3), would've been good to go for lunch (16. hxg3 c6??)/Couldn't agree when we were both free [16 ... 0-0-0 with excellent chances 17. a4 a5 ], we tried (17. Nc7+ Kd8), we said we'd keep in touch (18. Nxa8 Nf6??)/Didn't of course 'til summertime [18 ... Nxa8 19. Re1 Kc8 =], out to the beach to his boat (19. Nxb6 Nxe4) [ ], could I join him? (20. Nxd7)/No this time it was me [20. Ne6+! and the rest is a matter of technique Bxe6 21. Qxe4 Bxb3 22. Qxe7+ Kxe7 23. axb3 axb6 24. Re1+ ], sunburn in the third degree (20 ... Nxg3) [ ]/Now the calendar's just one page (21. Ne6+?), and of course I am excited [21. Ne5! Bxe5 22. Ne6+ Kc8 23. Bg5 ]/Tonight's the night but I've set my mind (21 ... fxe6) [ ], not to do too much about it (22. Qg6?)/Hardly dashing through the snow [22. Rxf3!? gxf3 23. Qxf3 ] 'cause I bundled up too tight (22 ... Rh2)/Last minute have-to-do's ("a sickly sort of smile" ;>D), a few cards (23. Rxf3 gxf3), a few calls ("He has nothing better")/'Cause it's RSVP (24. Kxh2??), no thanks [24. Qxg3 Rg2+ 25. Qxg2 fxg2 26. Nb8 ], no party lights (24 ... Qh4+)/It's Christmas Eve (25. Kg1 Qh1+), gonna relax (26. Kf2 Qg2+), turned down all of my invites (27. Ke3 Nf1+)/Last fall I had a night to myself (Discovery), same guy called - Halloween party (28. Kf4 Qxg6)/Waited all night for him to show (29. Kxf3 Nh2+), this time his car wouldn't go (30. Kf2 Kxd7)/Forget it it's cold it's getting late (31. Bf4 Qf5), trudge on home to celebrate (32. Kg3 Qg4+)/In a quiet way unwind (33. Kxh2 Qxf4+), Christmas by myself this time (0-1) - The Waitresses + Fritz 7, "Christmas Wrapping"

This one can be found in the excellent Game Collection: The Game Of The Year (1851 - ) which I raided several times for the Pun Contest. Blackburne's brilliancy is bold but ultimately unsound as the Interference move 20. Ne6+! works better than the capture 20. Nxd7, then 21. Ne5! and 24. Qxg3 are other engine improvements. Still the conception is stunning, and the anecdote is telling.

<Lein> Yes, I searched his games looking for "Loring" or "Grolin" for the anagram to work. We met once = A Lein vs T Palmer, 2004

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: There is even a player called Grin. But I was looking at Unzicker (one sick -lol) and whether him v Miles or a Green or Groen or if any of his losses (or wins) with the Grunfeld..other players with names relating to sneering or smiling (Chigorin has "grin" in it) or grinning or rictus and soon but also I noted by chance that Tiger Hillarp Perrsson's name has most of the phrase it except "one" so I went to a lot of his games but by that time I was too late up - I think thought it might be some one who only had one game v him...

How did they find that game from "one sickly smile"? How did they know that was in the notes?

(I didn't see that clue but it probably wouldn't have helped me)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Anyway it was a good game. I suppose if Kasparov or Fischer (or other major GMs) had played the Kings Gambit a lot we would all be playing it instead of the Najdorf etc
Dec-18-09  belgradegambit: Richard: I felt sure "a sick smile" referred to Karpov vs Miles, 1980 ( a6 miles).
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: This was an off-hand game according to the book by Wade. The game from the Dundee Congress 1867 is

G Neumann vs Blackburne, 1867

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Tabanus,

A second source 'The History of the Dundee Chess Club' confirms this was an off hand game.

It was during the 1867 Congress that Neumann challenged Blackburne for a sovereign a game and they met in the Dundee Chess Club.

A report from 'The Observer' (no date given.) carries the story adding "Mr Blackburne had dined remarkably well." (he was drunk!). Steinitz was one of the spectators.

In his notes Blackburne is having a joke aimed at the editor of the Chess World who after Blackburne played 17...c6

click for larger view


"The editor of the Chess World says: "A daring move, the main object of which is to prevent White establishing a Knight on d5 and for this Black sacrifices Rook for Knight".

The book says " Sauce Hollandaise - Dutch courage induced by the dinner."

And has Blackburne admitting it was a error and if it had been a tournament game he would have resigned and adding "But not even Morphy could have beaten him that night."

Blackburne practically admits this with his note after move 22.

"I candidly confess that it was not foreseen when I played c6."

The ' sickly sort of smile'.

After move 22 The books note: reads.

"Biff a 'l',Anglaise. When Neumann realised it's full flavour a pale, wan smile, says J.H.B. began to steal across his face."

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