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Johannes Zukertort vs Joseph Henry Blackburne
Blackburne - Zukertort (1881), London ENG, rd 9, Jul-16
Indian Game: Yusupov-Rubinstein System (A46)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-07-13  optimal play: This was the ninth game of the match between Blackburne and Zukertort played at London in 1881

After round 9 the match score stood at:-

½ ½ 1 1 1 0 1 ½ 1 [+5 =3 -1] (6 ½ / 9) Zukertort
½ ½ 0 0 0 1 0 ½ 0 [+1 =3 -5] (2 ½ / 9) Blackburne

With the victor to be determined by the first player to seven wins (draws not counting) this game saw Zukertort increase his lead over Blackburne which now stood at 5 wins to 1 win.

Feb-07-13  optimal play: <The ninth game of the match, which was due to be played on Thursday last, was postponed till to-day [ie 16th July], when the meeting will take place at Simpson’s. The adjournment was this time made at the instance [sic] of Mr Zukertort, and Mr Blackburne in his turn agreed that it should not count as one of the exception days to which each combatant is entitled. We are glad to note the good feeling which exists between the two players, as shown by such mutual consideration.>

<The Field, London, 1881.07.16>

Feb-07-13  optimal play: <<THE ninth game played at Simpson’s on Saturday, the 16th inst., was opened by Zukertort with his favourite irregular Kt to K B 3.

We have already commented on this move, when it occurred in some of the games of last year’s match between Zukertort and Rosenthal. It is an ordinary introduction to the Q P opening, unless Black should be induced to answer Kt to Q B 3, in which case White would gain the advantage by replying P to Q 4.

As was to be expected, the game resolved itself into a close one, Blackburne adopting K P 1, followed by the Q fianchetto for the defence, without advancing the Q P until he had castled. We believe that this might have been turned to his disadvantage if Zukertort, on the seventh move, had pushed the P to Q 5. But White adopted the usual developments, and proceeded also with the Q fianchetto after castling.

The preliminary manœuvring left no perceptible difference of the respective positions in favour of either side, excepting that White’s K R was better posted than Black’s.

The first attack of a real character was instituted by Blackburne, who brought Q and B to bear on the adverse only once defended Q R P. But, instead of preserving his K B, he injudiciously allowed its exchange for a Kt on the fourteenth move, and his game seemed then to become badly cramped by the entrance of the adverse Kt at K 5.

However, only two moves later on, he was not alone released, owing to a feeble exchange of knights adopted by Zukertort, but he would have even obtained the better game if he had retaken in the more advantageous way with the Q, instead of with the Kt.

Zukertort then pressed for an exchange of queens, though we believe he might have made more of his game by bringing his R up for the attack on the K side, viá K R 3.

The exchange of queens having been effected, Blackburne simplified the game still more by a manœuvre with his Q Kt P, whereby he god [sic] rid of both adverse centre pawns, and forced the exchange of rooks, his opponent, however, retaining, in conjunction with two bishops, a passed Q R P, which threatened to become formidable after the exchange of all the pieces.

Blackburne directed his efforts to freeing his K P for attacking purposes, and he certainly misjudged his position strongly if he tried to reserve for himself the option of playing to win, as appears to have been the case, for he seemed to be reluctant to allow his Kt to be exchanged and to remain with bishops of opposite colours, with a clear draw.

Especially his retreat of the Kt on the 36th move lost him most valuable time, and he had afterwards a narrow escape from a forced lost game, which Zukertort could have obtained on the 47th move by attacking the Kt at Kt 6 with the B, making room for the entrance of his K at B 5, which would have soon enabled him to oppose his White B at Q B 6, with an easy won game.

Zukertort, having instead retreated his K to Q 4, gave Blackburne breathing time, and again he could have made his defence good on the 50th move by opposing the K at K 4, so as to threaten to drive the adverse K right back with the ch at Q 4.

Again, a little later on, he had an excellent prospect of relieving himself by advancing his R P when attacked, instead of the Kt P.

His having fixed the pawns on the K side on white squares, gave Zukertort an opportunity of executing one of his fine manœuvres with the B, whereby he ultimately forced the gain of the K R P.

But, even after this, Black’s game was still defensible, if he had pursued the plan of endeavouring to sacrifice his Kt and a P on the K side for the two adverse pawns on the same wing.

But at this critical stage Blackburne, apparently under pressure of time limit, committed a gross error of judgment which proved fatal.

Instead of allowing the P to be taken by the B, and trying to effect an entrance with his Kt at B 6, viá Kt 4, he advanced the R P, thus allowing his opponent an additional passed P on the other wing.

The sally of his Kt at B 5, which he had prepared at the cost of a valuable P, proved utterly useless for defensive purposes, and, with a few powerful and well-directed manœuvres of his two bishops, Zukertort secured the advance and ultimate queening of the K R P, whereupon Blackburne resigned.

Duration, seven hours.>

The Field, London, 1881.07.23>

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