Tag Archives: Biographies

Death Anniversary for IM Imre König (09-ii-1901 09-ix-1992)

Death Anniversary for IM Imre König (09-ii-1901 09-ix-1992)

From The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match by E.Klein and W.Winter :

“Born in 1901 in Hungary when it still belonged to the old pre-World War I Austria, spent most of his life in Vienna, where he became a promising player at an early age. After World War I and the various geographical adjustments in the map of Europe, he became Yugoslav by nationality and represented that country three times in international team tournaments.

He has competed in a great number of international tournaments, some of them in this country, where he has lived since 1938. He won the Premier Reserves at Hastings, 1938, in a strong international field, finished fourth and fifth with the late Landau at Bournemouth, 1939, and shared first and second prizes with Milner-Barry in the National Chess Centre tournament, 1939. His last performance was in the London International Tournament, 1946, where he shared fourth, fifth and sixth places with Sir George Thomas and Gerald Abrahams. He is now a professional player.

König’s special strength lies in the openings, of which he has a deep knowledge.”

Imre König
Imre König

From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :

“International Master (1951). Born in Kula, Hungary (now Serbia). König became a Yugoslav citizen when the territory in which he lived was ceded to Yugoslavia after the First World War. In 1938 he emigrated to England and became a naturalised British subject in 1949. He found that the English climate affected his health and in 1953 went to live in the USA.

König learnt to play chess when he was 10. In 1920, while studying at Vienna University, he met Spielmann, Tartakover and Réti, and became became interested in the hypermodern school of chess, which they represented.

He played for Yugoslavia in the chess Olympiads of 1931 and 1935 and came 2nd in the Yugoslav national tournament of 1922. His results in international tournaments include =4th at Bournemouth 1939; =4th at London 1946 and 2nd at Hastings 1948-49. These results do not do justice to his strength as a player. He was handicapped by a poor temperament for tournament chess, which prevented him from achieving greater success in the international field.

A chess professional, König was a first-class teacher of the game (Anne was a student of his), as well as being a leading theoretician. He is author of The Queen’s Indian Defence (Pitman, 1947) and Chess from Morphy to Botvinnik (Bell, 1951).”

From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977) by Harry Golombek :

“An international master since 1951, born at Gyula in Austro-Hungary. After the first world war König became a Yugoslav citizen and represented that country in the Olympiads of 1931 and 1935. He emigrated to England in 1938 and was naturalised in 1949. Since 1953 he has resided in the USA. Tournament results include 2nd prize at Hastings 1948/9. His publications include a monograph on the Queen’s Indian Defence, London 1947, and a longer work, Chess from Morphy to Botvinnik, London, 1951 ”

Hooper & Whyld are silent on König for some strange reason.

From Wikipedia :

“Imre König (Koenig) aka Mirko Kenig (Sept 2, 1901, Gyula, Hungary – 1992, Santa Monica, California) was a Hungarian chess master.

He was born in Gyula, Hungary, and also lived in Austria, England and the USA during the troubled times between the two world wars.

In 1921, he took 2nd in Celje. In 1920s König played in several tournaments in Vienna; he was 3rd in 1921, 14th in 1922 (Akiba Rubinstein won), 3rd-4th in 1925, 4-5th in 1926 (Rudolf Spielmann won), and 3rd-5th in 1926. He took 12th in Rogaška Slatina (Rohitsch-Sauerbrunn) in 1929. The event was won by Rubinstein. In 1929/30, he took 7th in Vienna (Hans Kmoch and Spielmann won). In 1931, he took 4th in Vienna (Albert Becker won). In 1936, he tied for 6-7th in Novi Sad (Vasja Pirc won). In 1937, he tied for 2nd-4th in Belgrade (Vasilije Tomović won).

Mirko Kenig represented Yugoslavia in the 4th Chess Olympiad at Prague 1931 (+5 –1 =2), the 6th Chess Olympiad at Warsaw 1935 (+5 –2 =8),[2] and in 3rd unofficial Chess Olympiad at Munich 1936 (+7 –4 =7).”

“In 1938, Imre König emigrated to England. In 1939, he tied for 4-5th in Bournemouth (Max Euwe won), and shared 1st with Philip Stuart Milner-Barry in Hampstead. In 1946, he took 4th in London. In 1948/49, he took 2nd, behind Nicolas Rossolimo, in the Hastings International Chess Congress.

In 1949, he became a naturalized British citizen. However, in 1953 he moved to the United States.

König was awarded the International Master title in 1951.”

Queen's Indian Defence, König, Pitman, 1947
Queen’s Indian Defence, König, Pitman, 1947
Chess from Morphy to Botwinnik by Imre König
Chess from Morphy to Botwinnik by Imre König
The Right Way to Play Chess
The Right Way to Play Chess
Imre König by John Donaldson
Imre König by John Donaldson

Birthday of IM Sam Collins (05-ix-1982)

Birthday of IM Sam Collins (05-ix-1982)

Samuel E Collins was born on Sunday, September 5th, 1982 in Dublin, Republic of Ireland.

He attended Gonzaga College, Ranelagh, Dublin (founded in 1950) and famously very active at chess.

Sam became a FIDE Master in 2003 and an International Master in 2004 and holds two GM norms.

His peak FIDE rating was 2495 in August 2014 at the age of 32.

According to chessgames.com :

“Collins won the Irish Championship twice, in 2002 and 2014, and the Japanese Championship in 2009.”

According to The Tarrasch Defence, move by move :

“Sam Collins is an International Master with two Grandmaster norms, and a former Irish and Japanese Champion, He has represented Ireland at seven Olympiads, winning an individual gold medal at Bled 2002. He has a wealth of teaching and writing experience, and has produced many books, DVDs and magazine articles on chess.”

According to An Opening Repertoire for White :

“Sam Collins is a chess writer who regularly contributes to Chess, British Chess Magazine, Chess Mail and Chess Today. He is a former Irish Champion and Olympic gold medal winner.”

Crosstable for Dublin City, 2007
Crosstable for Dublin City, 2007
Crosstable from Budapest First Saturday GM Tournament 2008
Crosstable from Budapest First Saturday GM Tournament 2008
The Irish Mail on Sunday, February 8th 2015
The Irish Mail on Sunday, February 8th 2015

With the white pieces Sam essays 1.e4 and prefers a main line Ruy Lopez when possible along with open Sicilians.

As the second players Sam enjoys the black side of a main line Ruy Lopez and main line Slavs.

Firstly an aperitif :

and then the main course :

Here is his Wikipedia entry

IM Sam Collins at the fourth 4NCL weekend in 2012
IM Sam Collins at the fourth 4NCL weekend in 2012

Here is Sam talking about his Alapin Sicilian DVD from GingerGM

An attacking repertoire for White by Sam Collins, Batsford, 2005.
An attacking repertoire for White by Sam Collins, Batsford, 2005.
Chess explained: The c3 Sicilian by Sam Collins, Gambit Publications, 2007.
Chess explained: The c3 Sicilian by Sam Collins, Gambit Publications, 2007.
The French Advance
The French Advance
The King's Indian Defence, move by move
The King’s Indian Defence, move by move
Karpov, move by move
Karpov, move by move
Understanding the Chess Openings
Understanding the Chess Openings
A Simple Chess Opening Repertoire for White
A Simple Chess Opening Repertoire for White
Know the Terrain Vol. 6
Know the Terrain Vol. 6
Gambit Busters, 2002
Gambit Busters, 2002
The Greatest Ever Chess Strategies
The Greatest Ever Chess Strategies

Birthday of IM Joseph McPhillips (04-ix-1997)

BCN says Happy Birthday to IM Joseph McPhillips (04-ix-1997)

Joe became a FIDE Master in 2015 and an International Master in 2018.

His peak FIDE rating is 2434 as at August 2019 and we predict it will increase.

FIDE rating profile of IM Joseph McPhillips
FIDE rating profile of IM Joseph McPhillips

In Joseph won outright the Kecskemet IM Tournament :

Kecskemet 2015 IM Tournament
Kecskemet 2015 IM Tournament

In 2016 Joseph won the Delancey UK Chess Challenge Terafinal to become a “Strat”* for the first time.

*Only Mike Basman knows what this means!

IM Joseph McPhillips, UKCC Terafinal 2016 Winner, courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Joseph McPhillips, UKCC Terafinal 2016 Winner, courtesy of John Upham Photography

Joseph plays for Bolton and for Wood Green in the Four Nations Chess League.

Joseph won outright the Budapest First Sunday IM tournament in 2018 :

Crosstable for Budapest First Sunday IM 2018
Crosstable for Budapest First Sunday IM 2018

With the white pieces Joseph prefers a main line Ruy Lopez and the Open Sicilian and he has recently started dabbling with 1.d4

As the second player Joseph employs the Classical French and the Queen’s Indian Defences.

IM Joseph McPhillips, UKCC Terafinal 2014, courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Joseph McPhillips, UKCC Terafinal 2014, courtesy of John Upham Photography

Birthday of GM Michael Stean (04-ix-1953)

We send best wishes to GM Michael Stean on his birthday,

Michael Francis Stean was born Michael Francis Stein on Friday, September 4th, 1953 in Pancras, London. His mother’s maiden name was Feldman. Michael has a brother, Howard.

Michael Stean
Michael Stean

He attended Latymer Upper School and Cambridge University.

His early chess days were spent at Richmond Junior Chess Club.

He became an International Master in 1975 and England’s third (OTB) Grandmaster in 1977 winning £2,500 from the Jim Slater Foundation.

His peak FIDE rating was 2540 in January 1979.

His mother (Jean) presented a trophy to the Marlow Congress (now the Berks and Bucks Congress) which became the Mrs. Jean Stean Cup.

Tony Miles and Michael Stean at the FIDE Zonal in Amsterdam, 1978. (Source: http://gahetna.nl)
Tony Miles and Michael Stean at the FIDE Zonal in Amsterdam, 1978. (Source: http://gahetna.nl)

According to British Chess (Pergamon, 1983) by Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson :

“Stean was educated at Cambridge University, He was equal first in the British Championship, Clacton, 1974, although only 4th in the playoff. He has been an important member of Korchnoi’s team for the last 5 years, and this perhaps has been responsible more than anything for the rounding out and maturing of his style from the sharp tactical play of the early 1970s to the solid positional GM (especially with the White pieces) of today.

Korchnoi, Stean and Keene try out matching vests and T-shirts from The University of Sussex sports centre, Falmer, East Sussex. It is likely that the yellow one was only worn for this press photo shoot.
Korchnoi, Stean and Keene try out matching vests and T-shirts from The University of Sussex sports centre, Falmer, East Sussex. It is likely that the yellow one was only worn for this press photo shoot.

Stean is a fine author; Simple Chess and the Sicilian Najdorf are both excellent books.

Michael Stean at the 1977 Lord John Cup
Michael Stean at the 1977 Lord John Cup

Temperamentally he is generally pleasant, good humoured and self confident, although he suffers from intermittent poor health which might help to explain his at times erratic results.”

According to Chessgames.com :

“Michael Francis Stean was born on the 4th of September 1953 in London, England. He finished 3rd at the 1973 World Junior Chess Championships behind Alexander Beliavsky and Tony Miles. Awarded the IM title in 1975 and the GM title in 1977 (The third Englishman to attain the title after Miles and Keene).

He finished 1st= in the 1974 British Championship but lost the play-off. He played on 5 English Olympiad teams from 1974 – 1983 and has won 1st prizes at Vrsac 1979, Smederevska Palanka 1980 and Beer Sheba 1982.

A specialist in Opening Theory he served as one of Viktor Korchnoi’s seconds in the 1977 – 1981 period. He is the author of Simple Chess, an introduction to chess strategy.”

Mchael Stean, Hastings 1972-1973. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume 93, Number 2, page 53
Mchael Stean, Hastings 1972-1973. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume 93, Number 2, page 53
The Robert Silk Fellowship Tournament, Canterbury, 1973. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume 93, Number 5, page 192
The Robert Silk Fellowship Tournament, Canterbury, 1973. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume 93, Number 5, page 192
Post-banquet photograph - left to right : Harry Golombek, Andras Adorjan, Danny Wright, Brian Eley, Michael Stean, D. Silk, Robert Silk, AK Henderson. The Robert Silk Fellowship Tournament, Canterbury, 1973. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume 93, Number 5, page 192
Post-banquet photograph – left to right : Harry Golombek, Andras Adorjan, Danny Wright, Brian Eley, Michael Stean, D. Silk, Robert Silk, AK Henderson. The Robert Silk Fellowship Tournament, Canterbury, 1973. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume 93, Number 5, page 192

Harry Golombek wrote this about Michael in a 1980 Dataday chess diary :

“The fact that he has sprung up into second place among English players as regards Elo ratings demonstrates the considerable advance Michael Stean has made in the course of a year.

Korchnoi vs Stean at the Philips & Drew Masters of 1980. The game was drawn in 19 moves.
Korchnoi vs Stean at the Philips & Drew Masters of 1980. The game was drawn in 19 moves.

In the 1978 diary I wrote that it would not be long before he gained the grandmaster title since he already possessed one norm of the title. The forecast proved to be correct as he duly acquired the title a few months after I wrote the prophecy.

He had though to take two more bites at the cherry before he managed to gain the required norms since the tournaments in which he played were not long events. They were Montilla in August 1977 where he came third below Gligoric and Kavalek and the Lord John Cup Tournament in London in September 1977 where he was equal 2nd with Quinteros and Mestel, first place being occupied by the Czechoslovak grandmaster, Hort.

Jan Timman plays Michael Stean at the 1978 Amsterdam FIDE Zonal. The Dutch GM won in 39 moves.
Jan Timman plays Michael Stean at the 1978 Amsterdam FIDE Zonal. The Dutch GM won in 39 moves.

Before that he had assisted Keene in seconding Korchnoi in his candidates match versus Polugayevsky and had done this to such effect that Korchnoi asked him and Keene to act as his seconds at his final match in the Candidates at Belgrade and later on still at the World Championship match against Karpov in the Philippines.

Nigel Short, Lubomir Kavalek and Michael Stean
Nigel Short, Lubomir Kavalek and Michael Stean

He also played successfully in Yugoslavia in 1977 (equal 2nd at Virovitica and equal 2nd at Bar). In 1978 he was 3rd at Beersheba below Korchnoi but head of Keene. Five points out of nine at the very strong Swiss System tournament at Lone Pine was followed by an excellent equal 4th with Miles at the tournament at Las Palmas. He has shown that he not only possesses the title of grandmaster but also plays like one.

Michael Stean (far right) at an unknown event
Michael Stean (far right) at an unknown event

A good example in the following game (Stean-Sax) against one of the joint first prize winners at the Las Palmas event. It was awarded the prize for the best game :”

From The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 1984) by Hooper & Whyld :

“English player, International Grandmaster (1977). At Nice 1974, in the first of his several Olympiads, he won the brilliancy prize for his game against
Browne.

Since then he has had several good results: Montilia 1976, equal second with Kavalek and Ricardo Calvo (1943— ) after Karpov; Montilia 1977, third (-1-3 = 6)after Gligoric and Kavalek ahead of R. Byrne, Taimanov, and Andersson; London 1977. second (+4=4—1) equal with Mestel and Quinteros after Hort ; Vrsac 1979, first (+ 8=5—1); Smederevska Palanka 1980, first (+7-6); Beersheba 1982, first, Stean was one of Korchnoi’s seconds in the world championship cycles of 1977-8 and 1980-1, and the two became close friends.

In particular Stean provided help with the openings, a subject on which he specialises. He published a book on the Najdorf variation of the Sicilian defence in 1976, and Simple Chess, a guide to the understanding of positional ideas, in 1978.”

GM Michael Stean
GM Michael Stean

From Wikipedia :

“Michael Francis Stean (born 4 September 1953) is an English chess grandmaster, an author of chess books and a tax accountant.

Michael Stean chats with David Levy at the London Chess Classic
Michael Stean chats with David Levy at the London Chess Classic

The game below (Stean-Browne) was the first winner of the World Brilliancy Prize established in 1974 by Isador Samuel Turover. The value of the prize was $1,000.”

See Michael Stean’s Wikipedia entry for more

Video Chess Event (See caption below)
Video Chess Event (See caption below)
Video Chess Caption
Video Chess Caption

In 1983 at the height of his powers Michael left the chess work and became a tax accountant. He is now a senior partner at RSM UK.

Mchael Stean, tax accountant
Mchael Stean, tax accountant
Michael Francis Stean
Michael Francis Stean
Simple Chess by Michael Stean
Simple Chess by Michael Stean
Sicilian Najdorf by Michael Stean
Sicilian Najdorf by Michael Stean
Simple Chess by Michael Stean
Simple Chess by Michael Stean

Birthday of GM Stephen Gordon (04-ix-1986)

We wish Stephen Gordon all the best on his birthday, this day (September 4th) in 1986.

Stephen John Gordon was born on Thursday, September 4th 1986 in Oldham, Lancashire where he has lived since.

He attended The Blue Coat School in Oldham

He became a FIDE Master in 2004, an International Master in 2006 and a Grandmaster in 2009.

In 2012 he shared first place with Gawain Jones in the British Championships in North Shields.

2012 British Championships part crosstable
2012 British Championships part crosstable

According to Felice his peak FIDE rating was 2556 in September 2012 at the age of 26.

Crosstable from the 2013 Budapest First Saturday GM Tournament
Crosstable from the 2013 Budapest First Saturday GM Tournament

Stephen plays for 3Cs in the Manchester Chess League and for Wood Green in the London League and for 4NCL 3Cs in the Four Nations Chess League.

Stephen Gordon at the final 4NCL weekend in 2014. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Stephen Gordon at the final 4NCL weekend in 2014. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

With the White pieces Stephen almost always plays 1.d4 aiming for a Queen’s Gambit and other main lines.

As the second player, Stephen plays the Sicilian Najdorf and the Nimzo-Indian Defence.

From Wikipedia :

“Stephen J. Gordon (born 4 September 1986) is an English chess grandmaster.

In September 2004 he took a break from his A-level studies at The Blue Coat School, Oldham to compete in the thirteenth Monarch Assurance Isle of Man International.

In 2005, while still a FIDE Master, he finished 6th in the British Championships ahead of a Grandmaster and several International Masters.

At the EU Individual Open Chess Championship held at Liverpool in 2006, he led the tournament after eight rounds and finished a very creditable (joint) second, a half point behind winner Nigel Short and level with Luke McShane among others.

Probably his best result to date however, was second place in the 2007 British Championship, narrowly losing his share of the lead in the final round. In previous rounds, he defeated both tournament victor Jacob Aagaard and previous champion Jonathan Rowson.

By 2008, his rating had reached grandmaster level, although the title itself had not yet been secured. At the British Championship in Liverpool, he almost repeated his performance of the previous year, by taking a share of third place. He was the British under-21 Champion each consecutive year between 2005 and 2008. He became a grandmaster on 1 August 2009.

He has been one of the co-presenters of the chess podcast The Full English Breakfast since its inaugural show in October 2010.”

Stephen Gordon at The Plough Public House in 2014 for the annual Drunken Knights vs Wood Green London League match. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Stephen Gordon at The Plough Public House in 2014 for the annual Drunken Knights vs Wood Green London League match. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

For more see Wiki Entry for Stephen Gordon

GM Stephen Gordon, courtesy of John Upham Photography
GM Stephen Gordon, courtesy of John Upham Photography

Birthday of IM Ezra G Kirk (02-ix-1996)

BCN wishes Happy Birthday to IM Ezra Kirk (02-ix-1996)

Ezra G Kirk was born on Monday, September 2nd 1996 in France.

Ezra Kirk, Sautron, 2007, Courtesy of Dominique Primel / Chessbase
Ezra Kirk, Sautron, 2007, Courtesy of Dominique Primel / Chessbase

Ezra attended Varndean College, Brighton and then the University of Bath to read Natural Sciences and is currently a Data Product Consultant at the Kubrick Group.

He edits chess books written by non-English speaking authors

Ezra became a FIDE Master in 2013 and an International Master in 2018

His peak rating is likely to be in the future but currently is 2445 in December 2018 aged 22.

Ezra plays for 4NCL Cheddleton in the Four Nations Chess League.

IM Ezra Kirk, Tours, 2020, Courtesy of Dominique Primel / Chessbase
IM Ezra Kirk, Tours, 2020, Courtesy of Dominique Primel / Chessbase

Here is one of Ezra’s best wins :

IM Ezra Kirk, Hastings 2012-2013, courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Ezra Kirk, Hastings 2012-2013, courtesy of John Upham Photography

Death Anniversary of Joseph Henry Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924)

Death Anniversary of Joseph Henry Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924)

The following information was obtained via ancestry.co.uk :

Joseph Henry Blackburne was born on Friday, December 10th, 1841 in Chorlton, Manchester. His father was Joseph Blackburn (aged 23) and his mother was Ann Pritchard (aged 24). He had eight sons and five daughters.

His brother Frederick Pritchard Blackburn died on 11 October 1847 in Lancashire, Lancashire, when Joseph Henry was 5 years old.

His sister Clara was born on 4 November 1847 in Street, Lancashire, when Joseph Henry was 5 years old.

His half-sister Clara was born in 1848 in Manchester, Lancashire, when Joseph Henry was 7 years old.

His mother Ann passed away on 26 November 1857 in Manchester, Lancashire, at the age of 40.

His half-brother William Thomas was born on 17 June 1865 when Joseph Henry was 23 years old.

Joseph Henry Blackburne married Eleanor Driscoll on 10 December 1865 when he was 24 years old.

Joseph Henry Blackburne married Beatrice Lapham on 3 October 1876 when he was 34 years old.

His wife Beatrice passed away in January 1880 in St Olave Southwark, London, at the age of 26. They had been married 3 years.

Joseph Henry Blackburne married Mary Jane FOX in St Olave Southwark, London, on 16 December 1880 when he was 39 years old.

Joseph Henry Blackburne lived in Everton, Lancashire, in 1891.

According to chessgames.com :

“Joseph Henry Blackburne was born in Chorlton, Manchester. He came to be known as “The Black Death”. He enjoyed a great deal of success giving blindfold and simultaneous exhibitions. Tournament highlights include first place with Wilhelm Steinitz at Vienna 1873, first at London 1876, and first at Berlin 1881 ahead of Johannes Zukertort. In matchplay he lost twice to Steinitz and once to Emanuel Lasker. He fared a little better with Zukertort (Blackburne – Zukertort (1881)) and Isidor Gunsberg, by splitting a pair of matches, and defeating Francis Joseph Lee, ( Blackburne – Lee (1890) ). One of the last successes of his career was at the age of 72, when he tied for first place with Fred Dewhirst Yates at the 1914 British Championship.

Joseph Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924)
Joseph Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924)

In his later years, a subscription by British chess players provided an annuity of £100 (approx £4,000 in 2015 value), and a gift of £250 on his 80th birthday.”

In 1923 he suffered a stroke, and the next year he died of a heart attack.”

Joseph Henry Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924)
Joseph Henry Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924)

From The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 1984) by Hooper and Whyld :

“For more than 20 years one of the first six players in the world and for even longer the leading English born player. Draughts was the most popular indoor game in his home town, Manchester; he learned this game as a child and became expert in his youth.

He was about 18 when, inspired by Morphy’s exploits, he learned the moves of chess. In July 1861 he lost all live games of a match against the Manchester chess club champion Edward Pindar, but he improved so rapidly that he defeated Pindar three months later (-1-5=2—1), and in 1862 he became champion of the club ahead of Pindar and
Horwitz. Instructed by Horwitz, Blackburne became one of the leading endgame players of his time; and wishing to emulate the feats of L. Paulsen, who visited the club in November 1861, he developed exceptional skill at blindfold chess. He spent most of the 1860s developing his chess and toying with various occupations. After winning
the British championship, 1868-9, ahead of de vere, he became a full-time professional player.

Blackburne achieved excellent results in many tournaments: Baden-Baden 1870, third equal with Neumann after Anderssen and Steinitz; London 1872, second (+5-2) after Steinitz ahead of Zukertort; Vienna 1873, second to Steinitz after a play-off; Paris 1878, third after Winawer and Zukertort: Wiesbaden 1880, first equal with Englisch and Schwarz; Berlin 1881, first (+13=2 — 1), three points ahead of Zukertort, the second prize winner (Blackburne’s greatest achievement); London 1883, third after Zukertort and Steinitz; Hamburg 1885, second equal with Englisch, Mason, Tarrasch, and Weiss half a point after Gunsberg; Frankfurt 1887, second equal with Weiss after Mackenzie; Manchester 1890, second after Tarrasch; Belfast 1892, first equal with Mason; London 1892, second ( + 6-2) after Lasker; London 1893, first ( + 2=3). He was in the British team in 11 of the Anglo-American cable matches, meeting Pillsbury on first board six times (+2-3 — 1), and he continued to play internationally until he was 72, long enough to meet the pioneer of the hypermodern movement Nimzowitsch, whom he defeated at St Petersburg 1914.

Blackburne had remarkable combinative powers and is remembered for his swingeing king’s side attacks, often well prepared but occasionally consisting of an ingenious swindle that would deceive even the greatest all his contemporaries. The tournament book of Vienna 1873 refers to him as ‘der schrwarze Tod [Black death] der Schachspieler’, a nickname that became popular. His unflappable temperament also earned him the soubriquet “the man with the iron nerves’. Even so, neither his temperament nor his style was suited to set matches, in which he was rarely successful against world-class players. He had other chess talents: a problem composer, he was also a fast solver, allegedly capable of outpacing the great Sam Loyd. Blackburne earned his livelihood by means of simultaneous displays, for this purpose touring Britain twice-yearly, with a few breaks, for more than 50 years.

Chess, circa 1896, J,H,Blackburne, well known chess player, who had toured both on the Continent and America,able to make between 40 to 60 moves when blindfolded by sheer memory  (Photo by Bob Thomas/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)
Chess, circa 1896, J,H,Blackburne, well known chess player, who had toured both on the Continent and America,able to make between 40 to 60 moves when blindfolded by sheer memory (Photo by Bob Thomas/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Before this time such displays were solemn affairs; Lowenthal, who would appear in formal dress and play for several hours in silence, was shocked when Blackburne turned up in ordinary clothes, chatting and making jokes as he played, and refreshing him self with whisky, (Blackburne confessed, however, that when fully absorbed in a game he never noticed whether he was drinking water instead,) Once, walking round the boards, he drained his opponent’s glass, saying when rebuked He left it en prise and I took it en passant’ He played his blindfold displays quickly, and with little sign of the stress that besets most blindfold players. Probably the leading blindfold expert of his time, he challenged Zukertort, a close rival in this field, to a match of ten games, played simultaneously, both players blindfold; but Zukertort declined. Many who knew and liked Blackburne subscribed to a fund which sustained him in his last years.

Image Supplied by a reader of the book 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players' to Tim Harding
Image Supplied by a reader of the book ‘Eminent Victorian Chess Players’ to Tim Harding

P. A. Graham, Mr Blackburne’s Games at Chess (1899) contains 407 games annotated by Blackburne and 28 three-movers composed by him.

Mr Blackburne's Games at Chess by PA Graham
Mr Blackburne’s Games at Chess by PA Graham

A reprint, styled Blackburne*s Chess Games (1979), has a new introduction and two more games.

Here follows a reproduction of an article from British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXX1 (1961), Number 12 (December), page 340-342 written by RN Coles entitled “Early Days of a Great Master” :

British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXX1 (1961), Number  12 (December), page 340
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXX1 (1961), Number 12 (December), page 340
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXX1 (1961), Number  12 (December), page 341
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXX1 (1961), Number 12 (December), page 341

Many juniors and beginners will know the Blackburne Shilling Gambit (or Kostić Gambit) in some circles known as the ‘Oh My God’ :

There are variations named after Blackburne as follows :

The Blackburne Attack in the Four Knights is

and the Blackburne Variation of the Dutch defence is

and a popular line in the Queen’s Gambit

are attributed to Blackburne in the literature.

According to The Encyclopedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977) by Harry Golombek :

“British grandmaster and highly successful tournament player who was one of the most prominent masters of the nineteenth century. He did not learn to play chess until the age of nineteen, but his natural gifts soon brought him into the front rank of British players, and in 1868 he abandoned his business interests and adopted chess as a profession.

Blackburne’s international tournament career spans an impressive fifty-two years from London 1862 to St. Petersburg 1914 – a total of 53 events in which he played 814 games, scoring over 62%. Although he rarely won international events, he generally finished in the top half of the table and his fierce competitive spirit coupled with his great combinative ability earned the pleasant nickname of ‘the Black Death’.

Joseph Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924). Photograph from The Encyclopedia of Chess by Harry Golombek
Joseph Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924). Photograph from The Encyclopedia of Chess by Harry Golombek

His most notable successes were =1st with Steinitz at Vienna 1873 (Blackburne lost the play-off match), 1st at Berlin 1881 ahead of Paulsen, Schallopp, Chigorin, Winawer and Zukertort, and 2nd to Tarrasch at Manchester 1890.

Blackburne won the BCA Championship in 1868 and for many years was ranked as Britain’s foremost player. In 1914 – at the age of 72 – he shared first place at the BCF congress in Chester.

In match play his success was mixed. He defeated Bird in 1888 (+4-1) and Gunsberg in 1881 (+7-4=3) but lost a second match to Gunsberg in 1886 (+2-5=6). He lost to Lasker (+0-6=4) in 1892 and was defeated heavily twice by Steinitz : in 1862/3 (+1-7=2) and in 1876 (+0-7=0), the latter of these matches being for the World Championship.

Blackburne excelled at blindfold play and in simultaneous exhibitions, which provided a major portion of his income. He died in Lewisham, a much respected veteran of eighty-three.”

Joseph Henry Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924)
Joseph Henry Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924)

Edward Winter discusses the Zukertort-Blackburne game of 1883.

Here is an article on chess.com by Bill Wall

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Eminent Victorian Chess Players
Eminent Victorian Chess Players
Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography
Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography
Blackburne : The Black Death in Spades by Bob Long
Blackburne : The Black Death in Spades by Bob Long

Birthday of FM Kevin John O’Connell (28-viii-1949)

BCN wishes happy birthday to FM Kevin O’Connell (28-viii-1949)

Kevin J O'Connell
Kevin J O’Connell

Kevin John O’Connell was born on Sunday, August 28th 1949 in London.

Kevin attended Ilford County High School and The University of Essex following by an MSc in Sports Sciences at The University of Essex.

The Batsford Chess Yearbook
The Batsford Chess Yearbook

According to The Games of Robert J. Fischer :

“Kevin is an Essex county player and bulletin editor”.

Kevin J O'Connell
Kevin J O’Connell

According to How to Play the Sicilian Defence :

“Kevin O’Connell is editor of the FIDE Chess Yearbook, author of many other chess books and chess columnist of London’s Evening News

From the Praxis Bath Zonal Tournament of 1987.  Kevin J O'Connell is fourth from right
From the Praxis Bath Zonal Tournament of 1987. Kevin J O’Connell is fourth from right

Harry Golombek wrote in The Observer Magazine (about The Batsford Chess Yearbook 1975/6) :

“O’Connell has done his work extremely well and I found all the contents interesting”

and Leonard Barden wrote (of the same book) :

“Book of the year…this reviewer admits to consulting it more frequently than any other book on his shelf”

Kevin makes a telephone call
Kevin makes a telephone call

Kevin was coach (they lived in the same road in Suffolk) to GM Nick Pert and IM Richard Pert

Kevin became a FIDE Master in 2006 and his peak rating (according to Felice) was 2360 in July 1993 at the age of 44.

From the Praxis Bath Zonal Tournament of 1987.  Kevin J O'Connell is third from left
From the Praxis Bath Zonal Tournament of 1987. Kevin J O’Connell is third from left

Kevin became a FIDE International Arbiter (IA) in 1998. He is the FIDE Delegate for the Republic of Ireland and is Honorary Chairman and Secretary of the FIDE Chess in Education Commission (EDU). He is also a FIDE Senior Trainer.

Kevin O'Connell at the London Chess Conference, 2016, courtesy of John Upham Photography
Kevin O’Connell at the London Chess Conference, 2016, courtesy of John Upham Photography

Here is his Wikipedia entry

The Games of Robert J. Fischer, Robert Wade and O'Connell, Batsford 1972, 2nd ed. 1972, reprinted 1973, First limp edition 1981, Reprinted 1985, 1981, 1989, Second edition (The Complete Games of Bobby Fischer) 1992
The Games of Robert J. Fischer, Robert Wade and O’Connell, Batsford 1972, 2nd ed. 1972, reprinted 1973, First limp edition 1981, Reprinted 1985, 1981, 1989, Second edition (The Complete Games of Bobby Fischer) 1992
The Batsford Chess Yearbook
The Batsford Chess Yearbook
The Batsford Chess Yearbook 1975/6
The Batsford Chess Yearbook 1975/6
The Complete Games of World Champion Anatoly Karpov
The Complete Games of World Champion Anatoly Karpov
The Complete Games of World Champion Anatoly Karpov
The Complete Games of World Champion Anatoly Karpov
How to Play the Sicilian Defence, Batsford, 1978
How to Play the Sicilian Defence, Batsford, 1978
Oxford Encyclopedia of Chess Games, Volume 1 1485-1866., OUP, 1981
Oxford Encyclopedia of Chess Games, Volume 1 1485-1866., OUP, 1981
Oxford Encyclopedia of Chess Games, OUP, 2009
Oxford Encyclopedia of Chess Games, OUP, 2009