Tag Archives: Remembering

Death Anniversary of WIM Eileen Tranmer (05-v-1910 26-ix-1983)

We remember WIM Eileen Betsy Tranmer who passed away on September 26th, 1983.

Eileen Tranmer
Eileen Tranmer

She was the first English woman to be awarded by FIDE the Woman’s International Master title in 1950.

“From The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match by Klein and Winter :

Miss E. Tranmer was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire in 1910, and learned chess at the age of six. She did not take it up seriously, however, until 1936. Under the tuition of W. Winter she has made notable progress, and her performances include a second prize in the British Correspondence Championship 1944, as well as first prize in one of the subsidiary tournaments at Hastings, 1945.

By profession Miss Tranmer is a musician and has played principal clarinet in the Scottish and Sadler’s Wells Orchestras.”

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CIII (103, 1983), Number 11 (November), page 482-83 (presumably written by Bernard Cafferty) :

“Eileen Tranmer died in hospital at Ticehurst on September 26th after a long illness. Born in Scarborough, May 5th 1910, she was a professional clarinet player and played in a number of prominent British orchestras till forced to retire by deafness.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANL/Shutterstock (3880870a) Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women's Chess Champion Pictured Here Playing A Clarinet In The Orchestra While Appearing At The Theatre Royal Glasgow.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANL/Shutterstock (3880870a)
Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women’s Chess Champion Pictured Here Playing A Clarinet In The Orchestra While Appearing At The Theatre Royal Glasgow.

One of the leading British players in the two decades after the war, Eileen won the British Ladies Championship in 1947, 1949 (with a 100% score), 1953 and 1961, and played in the British Championship at Buxton, 1950. Her international record was sparse, as was the case with nearly all English players of that period. Nevertheless, she made her mark in the 1949-50 first post-war Women’s World Championship where she finished 5-7th in a field of 16, beating Bykova, again, and finished 7th in the field of 16.

37th Hastings International Chess Congress, 1962. USA Ladies champion Lisa Lane (L) playing against British Champion Eileen Tranmer
37th Hastings International Chess Congress, 1962. USA Ladies champion Lisa Lane (L) playing against British Champion Eileen Tranmer

We are grateful to WCM Dinah Norman for sending us these memories :

“Eileen Tranmer was one of the best English chess lady players of her generation.

I only played her once at Oxford in an International Ladies Tournament held between 24 July and 1 August 1971. Eileen totally outplayed me and I lost the game.

Eileen was a member of Acton Chess Club where there were three active lady players at that time. They were Jean Rogers, Olive Chataway and Eileen. Eileen lived in Acton then.

Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women's Chess Champion.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANL/Shutterstock (3880957a)
Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women’s Chess Champion.
Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women’s Chess Champion.

Eileen was a professional musician and had to stop playing when she became deaf which was dreadful for her.

In 1969 Eileen, Rowena Bruce and I were selected to play in the Ladies Chess Olympiad Team in Lublin, Poland. Sadly Eileen was taken ill just before the event so Rowena and I had to play all 13 rounds without a break. I was on Board 1 and at the end Rowena and I were exhausted and I had to withdraw from a tournament in the Czech Republic without playing a game. The food in Poland was awful so we said never again!

 

Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women's Champion Chess Player Pictured Playing Some Of The Glasgow Ladies Chess Club At The Green's Playhouse Cafe Glasgow.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANL/Shutterstock (3880958a)
Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women’s Champion Chess Player Pictured Playing Some Of The Glasgow Ladies Chess Club At The Green’s Playhouse Cafe Glasgow.
Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women’s Champion Chess Player Pictured Playing Some Of The Glasgow Ladies Chess Club At The Green’s Playhouse Cafe Glasgow.

Eileen was very friendly with Harry Golombek. The expectation among the lady chess players was that they would get married but she never did. Harry did not drive and Eileen was very kind driving Harry and his elderly mother around.

Very sadly Eileen’s brother was killed in a car crash and after that Eileen suffered mental problems. Eileen lived near John and Jean Rogers and John said Eileen would turn up at their home in the middle of the night wanting to play chess.

At Hastings 1959-1960 : Yugoslavia's red-haired Milanka Lazarevic and Britain's Eileen Tranmer ran away with the Premier Reserves (afternoon event).
At Hastings 1959-1960 : Yugoslavia’s red-haired Milanka Lazarevic and Britain’s Eileen Tranmer ran away with the Premier Reserves (afternoon event).

The last time I saw Eileen was at Paignton. Her friend Olive Chataway brought her to Paignton and Eileen played in the bottom tournament and did badly. Eileen did not recognise myself or Rowena which was very sad.

 

Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANL/Shutterstock (4745287a) Miss Eileen Tranmer 43-year-old British Women's Chess Champion. Box 556. Miss Eileen Tranmer 43-year-old British Women's Chess Champion. Box 556.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANL/Shutterstock (4745287a)
Miss Eileen Tranmer 43-year-old British Women’s Chess Champion. Box 556.
Miss Eileen Tranmer 43-year-old British Women’s Chess Champion. Box 556.

Eileen later left Acton and moved to Tring. Eileen was a pleasant and modest person and was well liked. She had a good sense of humour.”

From the obituary in The Times of London we learn that her last few years were over-shadowed by an illness that preyed on her mind.

We take the following game from the August 1944 issue of BCM. The game was played in the BCCA Championship, and curiously enough there was an enquiry about that event to the BCF only a short while ago – a Georgian journalist wishes to quote that wartime performance as an early example of success by a woman in male chess company! ”

Gerald Abrahams in Not only Chess, wrote about Eileen (Chapter 18 : What Achilles Saw Among Women) as follows :

“To revert to the British Ladies, they were joined in the late 1930s by a very able pupil of Miss Menchik, the Yorkshire Clarinettist Eileen Tranmer; a woman whose chess I have seen to express some admirable qualities of mind and character. I had the privilege of watching her is Moscow in 1949-50, when, handicapped by influenza of a particularly virulent kind – what the Russians call “grippe” – she won some five or six consecutive games, to finish in the prize list of the new official Women’s World Championship. There had been two championships before, which Vera has won easily. Since Vera had unhappily perished in the Blitz, they looked at Moscow for her successor.”

Here is her Wikipedia entry

WIM Eileen Betsy Tranmer & WIM Rowena Mary Bruce at the 1946 Anglo-Soviet Radio Match
WIM Eileen Betsy Tranmer & WIM Rowena Mary Bruce at the 1946 Anglo-Soviet Radio Match

Remembering FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009)

FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009) Source : BCM, 2009, October
FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009). Source : BCM, 2009, October

John Eric Littlewood was born in Sheffield on Monday, May 25th 1931. His mother’s maiden name was Wheeldon. He last resided in the WN8 postal area of Skelmersdale, West Lancashire.

He became a FIDE Master in 1989 at the age of 58. According to Felice (and ChessBase) his peak FIDE rating was 2395 in January 1980. However, it is certain that it would have been higher than that, in the 1960s and 1970s : more likely 2450 or possibly higher.

John, Jenny and Paul Littlewood, circa 1962. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood.
John, Jenny and Paul Littlewood, circa 1962. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood.

He coached his son Paul who became British Champion in 1981. His brother Norman was also a very strong player.

John and Paul on Skegness beach circa 1958. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood. George and Ringo are out of shot !
John and Paul on Skegness beach circa 1958. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood. George and Ringo are out of shot !

From “Chess Coaching” :

John Littlewood is a National Coach and the Director of Junior Chess to the British Chess Federation. He is a FIDE Master with national and international playing experience, and is an established chess writer, translator and journalist.

03-01-1962 37th Hastings International Chess Congress, 1962. World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik (R) playing against John Littlewood of England
03-01-1962 37th Hastings International Chess Congress, 1962. World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik (R) playing against John Littlewood of England

From “Learn Chess 2

“A British Master, formerly Northern Counties Champion and currently (1984) a National Coach for the British Chess Federation. John Littlewood has played for England in several international tournaments, including two Olympiads”

John Littlewood giving a simultaneous display
John Littlewood giving a simultaneous display

John wrote the “Test Your Chess” column in British Chess Magazine under the editorship of Murray Chandler

John Was Northern Counties Chess Union (NCCU) Champion in 1971, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981 : a record seven times !

John with chess friends
John with chess friends

John won the Appleby-Frodingham Chess Club tournament in 1962 with 3.5/5 :

Appleby-Frodingham Tournament of 1962 crosstable
Appleby-Frodingham Tournament of 1962 crosstable

and then, in the same year came 3= in the British Championships with 7.5/11 :

Truncated crosstable from the 1962 British Championship in Whitby
Truncated crosstable from the 1962 British Championship in Whitby

and in 1969 in Rhyl John was unfortunate not to share the title with Dr. Jonathan Penrose after losing to Frank Parr in the final round :

Truncated crosstable of the British Championships of Rhyl 1969
Truncated crosstable of the British Championships of Rhyl 1969
John Littlewood at Hastings 1963-4. Still taken from Pathe news reel footage
John Littlewood at Hastings 1963-4. Still taken from Pathe news reel footage
John Littlewood playing Wolfgang Unzicker in round one of the 1969-70 Hastings International Congress
John Littlewood playing Wolfgang Unzicker in round one of the 1969-70 Hastings International Congress

John won the Southport Open in 1972 and the picture below was taken shortly afterwards :

John and family following winning the 1972 Southport Open. See the BCM article below for a full caption
John and family following winning the 1972 Southport Open. See the BCM article below for a full caption

John won the Chorley tournament of 1977 with 7/9

Chorley 1977 tournament crosstable
Chorley 1977 tournament crosstable

JEL won the British Chess Federation’s President’s Award in 2000.

FM John Littlewood at 4NCL courtesy of Helen Milligan
FM John Littlewood at 4NCL courtesy of Helen Milligan

In 2006 John won the BCF Veterans / Seniors title for the first time repeating the feat in 2008 sharing with George Dickson.

With the White pieces John almost exclusively played 1.e4 favouring the Wormald Attack, Open Sicilians and the Rossolimo variation.

As the second player John played the Closed Ruy Lopez, the Sicilian Dragon and the Grünfeld defence.

In the following video IM Andrew Martin discusses the game Bisguier – Littlewood, 1962.

Rather than reinventing an already round wheel we reproduce the following ten page tribute in the October 2009 issue of British Chess Magazine. The tribute is by John Saunders :

British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 536
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 536
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 537
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 537
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 538
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 538
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 539
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 539
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 540
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 540
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 541
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 541
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 542
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 542
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 543
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 543
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 544
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 544
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 545
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 545

A rather detailed article from Tartajubow on Chess II

Here is how news of his passing was received on the English Chess Forum

Here is an obituary from Leonard Barden in The Guardian

Here is an obituary published in The Times of London

Farewell to John Littlewood : The Lincolnshire Poacher

and, finally a history of JEL from the Yorkshire Chess Archives

FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009)
FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009)

Here is John’s Wikipedia entry

How to Play the Middle Game in Chess by John Littlewood, Collins, 1974
How to Play the Middle Game in Chess by John Littlewood, Collins, 1974
Chess Coaching by John Littlewood, The Crowood Press, 1991
Chess Coaching by John Littlewood, The Crowood Press, 1991
Learn Chess by Edward Penn and John Littlewood, Pitman House, 1980
Learn Chess by Edward Penn and John Littlewood, Pitman House, 1980
Learn Chess : Teacher's Book,  by Edward Penn & John Littlewood, Pitman House, 1980
Learn Chess : Teacher’s Book, by Edward Penn & John Littlewood, Pitman House, 1980
Learn Chess 2 by John Littlewood, Adam & Charles Black, 1984
Learn Chess 2 by John Littlewood, Adam & Charles Black, 1984
FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009)
FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009)

Remembering IM Imre (Mirko) König (2-ix-1901 9-ix-1992)

IM Imre (Mirko) König (2-ix-1901 9-ix-1992). Source : The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match
IM Imre (Mirko) König (2-ix-1901 9-ix-1992). Source : The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match

We remember IM Imre (Mirko) König on the anniversary of his death, this day (September 9th) in 1992.

His “obituary” in British Chess Magazine, Volume 112 (1992), Number 11 (November), page 542 was disappointingly brief :

“RIP Imre König : The great veteran died on 9 September at his home in California. Our last link with the Hypermoderns is broken – he associated with Réti in the 1920s.” There was no detailed follow-up as you might expect.  Can you imagine Brian Reilly publishing this?

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.

Imre Konig at the Mechanics’ Institute in the 1950s (Photo: Mechanics’ Chess Club Archives)
Imre Konig at the Mechanics’ Institute in the 1950s (Photo: Mechanics’ Chess Club Archives)

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.

IM Imre (Mirko) König (2-ix-1901 9-ix-1992)
IM Imre (Mirko) König (2-ix-1901 9-ix-1992)

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.

IM Imre (Mirko) König (2-ix-1901 9-ix-1992)
IM Imre (Mirko) König (2-ix-1901 9-ix-1992)

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
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

Remembering Dr. Paul List (09-ix-1887 09-ix-1954)

Dr. Paul M List, winner of the British Lightning Championship event (but not the title) in Ilford, May, 1953
Dr. Paul M List, winner of the British Lightning Championship event (but not the title) in Ilford, May, 1953

Remembering Paul List (09-ix-1887 09-ix-1954)

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

“Paul M List was born in Memel, Lithuania in 1887. After living in Berlin for many years, where he was manager of the bridge and chess rooms in a well-known café-restaurant, he came to this country in 1936.

Paul M List
Paul M List

He has competed in many tournaments, local and international. He, too, failed to get into the prize list in the recent London International Tournament, but he is a resourceful player, particularly in defensive positions.

His best performance was Berlin, 1925 where he came first, ahead of Richter. Since he came to this country he has become an art dealer, but chess is still one of his foremost activities.”

Scene at London. From left to right - Seated : Fairhurst, List and Winter in play. Standing König and Sir George Thomas
Scene at London. From left to right – Seated : Fairhurst, List and Winter in play. Standing König and Sir George Thomas

Here is an article by Matthew Sadler on the 1953 British Lightning Championship event won by List (but not the title)

Dr. Paul List (09-ix-1887 09-ix-1954). Source : The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match.
Dr. Paul List (09-ix-1887 09-ix-1954). Source : The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match.

Here is his (surprisingly brief) obituary from British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXIV (1954), Number 10 (October), page 324 :

“Dr. Paul List, the British Lightning Championship winner a year ago (though he could not hold the title because he was not a naturalised Briton), died in London at the age of 66. A player of master strength, Dr. List left his native Russia for Germany in the 1920’s, and began on his second exile in 1938 when sought refuge in this country from Germany.”

Item from Kington Times - Saturday 02 June 1951 regarding the visit of Dr. List
Item from Kington Times – Saturday 02 June 1951 regarding the visit of Dr. List

From The Illustrated London News in 1953 (by BH Wood) :

“Sixty-five-year-old Dr. (not of medicine) Paul List, the oldest competitor, who settled in Britain about 1937 and has been thinking of becoming naturalised ever since, finished with a marvellous fifteen-and-a-half points out of a possible eighteen”

Dr. Paul M. List. Source : https://www.kingpinchess.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/They-provided-their-own-heat1.jpg
Dr. Paul M. List. Source : https://www.kingpinchess.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/They-provided-their-own-heat1.jpg

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Death Anniversary of Dr. Paul List (09-ix-1887 09-ix-1954)

Remembering Paul List (09-ix-1887 09-ix-1954)

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

“Paul M List was born in Memel, Lithuania in 1887. After living in Berlin for many years, where he was manager of the bridge and chess rooms in a well-known café-restaurant, he came to this country in 1936.

Paul M List
Paul M List

He has competed in many tournaments, local and international. He, too, failed to get into the prize list in the recent London International Tournament, but he is a resourceful player, particularly in defensive positions.

His best performance was Berlin, 1925 where he came first, ahead of Richter. Since he came to this country he has become an art dealer, but chess is still one of his foremost activities.”

Scene at London. From left to right - Seated : Fairhurst, List and Winter in play. Standing König and Sir George Thomas
Scene at London. From left to right – Seated : Fairhurst, List and Winter in play. Standing König and Sir George Thomas

Here is an article by Matthew Sadler on the 1954 British Lightning Championship won by List

Dr. Paul List (09-ix-1887 09-ix-1954). Source : The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match.
Dr. Paul List (09-ix-1887 09-ix-1954). Source : The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match.

Here is his (surprisingly brief) obituary from British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXIV (1954), Number 10 (October), page 324 :

“Dr. Paul List, the British Lightning Championship winner a year ago (though he could not hold the title because he was not a naturalised Briton), died in London at the age of 66. A player of master strength, Dr. List left his native Russia for Germany in the 1920’s, and began on his second exile in 1938 when sought refuge in this country from Germany.”

Item from Kington Times - Saturday 02 June 1951 regarding the visit of Dr. List
Item from Kington Times – Saturday 02 June 1951 regarding the visit of Dr. List

From The Illustrated London News in 1953 (by BH Wood) :

“Sixty-five-year-old Dr. (not of medicine) Paul List, the oldest competitor, who settled in Britain about 1937 and has been thinking of becoming naturalised ever since, finished with a marvellous fifteen-and-a-half points out of a possible eighteen”

Dr. Paul M. List. Source : https://www.kingpinchess.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/They-provided-their-own-heat1.jpg
Dr. Paul M. List. Source : https://www.kingpinchess.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/They-provided-their-own-heat1.jpg

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Remembering Elijah Williams (07-x-1809 08-ix-1854)

We note today (September 8th) in 1854 marks the passing of Elijah Williams.

We are not aware of a verified image / likeness of Elijah Williams. Possibly the archives of Bristol based newspapers would help?

From The Complete Chess Addict (Faber & Faber, 1987, page 147-8) by Mike Fox and Richard James :

“The most boring games of all time? We turn to the London tournament of 1851, and the interminable encounters between Elijah (The Bristol Sloth) Williams and the deservedly unknown James Mucklow (‘a player from the country’ says the tournament book sniffily).

Elijah introduced the concept of Sitzkrieg into chess : he’d sit there, taking two and a half hours on a single move until his opponent dropped from boredom. The tournament book records games in excess of twenty hours (one was adjourned after a whole day, at the twenty-ninth move). Mucklow (a much worse player) was no swifter, and when they got together it must have been like watching an oil painting. (‘Both players nearly asleep,’ recorded a drowsy secretary midway through one mind-grinding marathon.)

Howard Staunton’s commentary says it all : ‘Each…exhibits the same want of depth and inventive powers in his combinations, and the same tiresome prolixity in manoeuvring his men. It need hardly be said that the games, from first to last, are remarkable only for their unvarying and unexampled dullness”

Here is an excellent article by Neil Blackburn (aka SimaginFan)

From The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 1983) by Hooper and Whyld :

“English player. A native of Bristol, from where he edited one of the earliest newspaper columns (Bath and Cheltenham Gazette, 1840-6), Williams gave up his job as an apothecary in 1844, moved to London, and attempted to earn a living at chess. In the London international tournament of 1851, a knock-out event, Williams defeated Lowenthal in the first round (4-2—1) but lost to Wyvill in the third and penultimate round (+3-4), He was awarded third prize after defeating Staunton (+4=1 — 3), He admired Staunton’s play and like several of his contemporaries adopted the positional style of the English school; but after this match the master never forgave his pupil, Williams played matches against Lowenthal in 1851 (+5 = 4-7), Horwitz in 1852 ( + 5 = 9—3), and Harrwitz in 1852 ( = 3—7),
and he again lost to Harrwitz in 1853.

In 1851 Williams won a handicap match against Staunton, who conceded a three-game start; of the games actually played Williams won four, drew three, and
lost six. When cholera broke out in London he posted a notice on his door offering preventive medication free. Supplies had run out when, feeling unwell, he left home for the last time; seized with violent pain when in the Strand he entered Charing Cross Hospital where he died of the disease two days later, leaving his wife and children destitute.

He wrote two books, Souvenir of the Bristol Chess Club (1846) and Horae Divanianae (1852). He also edited a chess column in The Field from Jan. 1853, when the magazine was founded, until his death.”

Souvenir of the Bristol Chess Club
Souvenir of the Bristol Chess Club

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

“A prominent British master of the mid-nineteenth century who was famed for the slowness of his play at a period when chess clocks for important competitions had not yet come into fashion. Williams was born in Bristol where he practised as an apothecary but soon became so attached to chess (he was president of the Bristol Chess Club and also conducted a chess-column in the Bath and Cheltenham Gazette (from 8 September 1840 to 21 October 1946) that he made the game his profession.

Abandoning Bristol for London where the life of a chess professional was considerably more profitable than in the provinces, he contested a number of matches with varying success; e.g. 1846 v. Kennedy (+4-2=0) and 1852 v. Horwitz (+5-3=9). In three matches v. Harrwitz he met with decisive reverses (a total of +2-17=8) but gained a curious triumph over Staunton in 1851. Although losing on games played by +4-6=3 Williams emerged a technical victor as the result of Staunton’s rash decision to offer starting odds of three games ! This match, however, produced much fine chess.

Williams also participated in the first international tournament at London 1851 where he took third prize behind Anderssen and Wyvill. An analysis of his games from the important events of 1851 reveals that Williams had developed a most sophisticated playing style, employing positional devices which were not to
become current for a further sixty years. While in London in 1852, Williams published a collection of games under the title of Horae Divanianae being a selection of 150 games by leading masters, most of which had been played at Simpson’s Divan. He wrote the chess-column for The Field, from 1853 to 1857.

He died in London at Charing cross Hospital of cholera on 8 September 1854. we emphasize this date since the usual date given is that of I September 1854. But we are indebted to Mr. Kenneth Whyld for the information about the correct date on the death certificate which also states he was forty-four when he died.
Up to now his date of birth was not known and was assumed to have been considerably earlier. (R.D.K.)”

Sunnucks is silent on EW for an unknown reason.

From Wikipedia :

“Elijah Williams (7 October 1809 – 8 September 1854) was an eminent British chess player of the mid-19th century. He was the first president of the Clifton Chess Club, and publisher of a book of games from the Divan Club. His most notable result was at the 1851 London tournament, in which he defeated the celebrated British player Howard Staunton in the play-off for third place.

He was accused by Staunton of taking an average of 2½ hours per move during some matches, a strategy thought to cause opponents to lose their focus on the match. According to Staunton, following a particularly dilatory performance by Williams in the London 1851 tournament, a 20-minute per turn time limit was adopted for standard play the next year. However other sources contradict this viewpoint and indeed it was not uncommon for Staunton to attribute his losses to the intolerable dilatory play of his opponents. Staunton is quoted as remarking while playing against Williams, ‘… Elijah, you’re not just supposed to sit there – you’re supposed to sit there and think!'”

Williams died in London, a victim of the 1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak.”

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

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

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

The following (excerpts of) information were obtained via ancestry.co.uk / findmypast.co.uk:

Joseph Henry Blackburne was born on Friday, December 10th, 1841 in Chorlton, Manchester. His father was Joseph Blackburn (aged 23, a temperance reformer) and his mother was Ann Pritchard (aged 24).

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 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 Edward Winter in Chess Notes JHB lived at the following addresses :

  • 16 Lucey Road, London SE, England (The Chess Amateur, October 1924, page 32 (address in 1879) and the 1881 British census (C.N. 4756)*).
  • 116 Barkworth Road, Camberwell, London, England (1891 British census (C.N. 4756)*).
  • 7 Whitbread Road, Lewisham, London, England (1901 British census (C.N. 4756)*).
  • 45 Sandrock Road, Lewisham, London SE, England (Ranneforths Schach-Kalender, 1915, page 56, and Hastings Chess Club address list, 1922*).

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 (approximately  £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, JH 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, JH 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

The illustrator Julius Hess depicted Blackburne in a New Yorker Staats Zeitung evening edition as sitting at a chesstable and beckoning: “Waitah! A whiskey and limejuice!”

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.

One of Blackburne’s contributions was the suggestion of using chess clocks rather than the archaic hourglasses.

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” :

“The only record of how J. H. Blackburne first, entered the chess world is the one provided by P. Anderson Graham in the introduction to his collection of Blackburne’s games. This has all the ingredients of a romanticized version of the truth-the first casual games in a temperance hotel, then entry to the important Manchester Club and a series of victories over ever stronger opponents until at last Pindar, Champion of the Provinces, comes along, plays the unknown youth and is defeated.

Reference to C. H. Stanley’s column in the Weekly Guardian and Express helps to supply a more accurate version. Young Blackburne’s earliest interest was in problems and he submitted one to the Guardian and Express which appeared in January, 1861, only to be found by several solvers to be cooked, Then silence till May 11th, when the column carries a note:

J. H. B. Problems received with much pleasure…Shall be glad to see you at the Club.”

Here are a couple of published problems. For a complete listing see below.

Manchester Express, 1861

#4. 6+4

The Field, 1893

#3, 7+6

 

Not yet a member, clearly. Nevertheless, he contrived somehow to meet Pindar outside the club and played some games-with him (two scores appear in the Guardian and Express, July 20th), and a set-match of five up was then arranged, still played in private (Guardian and Express, August 3lst), which “was terminated by Mr. Pindar winning a clear victory, the score being Pindar 5, Blackburne 0” (one game was quoted in the July “B.C.M.” and another score can be found in the Guardian and Express, July 27th.

“A second match was agreed upon, level games to entitle either player to the victor’s palm. The result … is calculated positively, to startle the chess world. The first game was scored by Mr. Pindar; of the next seven, Blackburne won five and the two remaining were drawn. ‘At this point Mr. Pindar resigned the match.” (Guardian and Express, September 7th, with the score of a Blackburne win from this match quoted February 1st, 1962.)

Only now does Blackburne appear to have joined the Manchester Club, meeting such players as Stanley himself for the first time (Guardian and Express gives the score of a casual game, November 9th), though Stanley later claimed personally to have discovered the young prodigy.

In November, 1861, Paulsen visited the club and the score survives of a casual game in which he beat Blackburne, who played a Winawer Variation of the French Defence long before Winawer ever came on the-scene (Guardian and Express, December,1861); Paulsen concluded his visit with one of his celebrated ten-board blindfold displays and not unnaturally the young Blackburne eagerly took a board; his defeat is No.25O in his games collection. This so stimulated him that he himself tried blindfold play and by January 20th, 1862, was able to give his first display against four boards, winning them all (Guardian and Express, January 25th, with one of the scores). This he followed with seven games on February 8th,
winning five and losing two. (Guardian and Express, February 8th) and finally ten games on February 8th, winning five, losing two, and drawing three (Guardian and Express,February 15th, which quotes the score of one game in addition to No. 254 in his games).

Inter-club matches were something of a rarity in those days and were regarded as of considerable importance when they occurred; one such was the annual Manchester-Liverpool match and in 1862 Blackburne took part for the first time, being matched against Wellington, another young player of promise who seems to have got no further; as many games were played between opponents as time allowed and these two young men played three, all won by Blackburne. (Guardian and Express, February 22nd, which quotes the score of one game in addition to No. 138 in the collection).

During this spring the rivalry with Pindar was renewed in a third match for the first five wins and after eleven games the score stood at 4 each, with three drawn (Guardian and Express, March 15th, quoting the score of the eleventh game), but I cannot find who won the last game. Since Blackburne was hailed as club champion this season, one must suppose he was the victor.

Such was his first club season. ln June, 1862, he played in the London lnternational Tournament and from then on his chess career was public property.

To conclude, here is the score of the eleventh game of his third match with Pindar, a critical struggle in which his budding mastery appears at the-end. From an inferior opening he struggles into an equal ending but by a rash exchange of Rooks on the 36th move gives Pindar a clear advantage, which could have been held by 41. P-R4. Blackburne seizes on this omission like a real master to switch into a most accurately calculated queen ending.

and here is the original article:

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 (named by Julian Hodgson) 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

Problems of the Black Death by Batgirl

Meson Database of JHBs problems

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Eminent Victorian Chess Players, Tim Harding, McFarland & Co; 1st edition (20 April 2012), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0786465682
Eminent Victorian Chess Players, Tim Harding, McFarland & Co; 1st edition (20 April 2012), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0786465682
Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography, Tim Harding, McFarland & Co; Annotated edition (30 July 2015), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0786474738
Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography, Tim Harding, McFarland & Co; Annotated edition (30 July 2015), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0786474738
Blackburne : The Black Death in Spades by Bob Long
Blackburne : The Black Death in Spades by Bob Long

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

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

The following (excerpts of) information were obtained via ancestry.co.uk / findmypast.co.uk:

Joseph Henry Blackburne was born on Friday, December 10th, 1841 in Chorlton, Manchester. His father was Joseph Blackburn (aged 23, a temperance reformer) 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 Edward Winter in Chess Notes JHB lived at the following addresses :

  • 16 Lucey Road, London SE, England (The Chess Amateur, October 1924, page 32 (address in 1879) and the 1881 British census (C.N. 4756)*).
  • 116 Barkworth Road, Camberwell, London, England (1891 British census (C.N. 4756)*).
  • 7 Whitbread Road, Lewisham, London, England (1901 British census (C.N. 4756)*).
  • 45 Sandrock Road, Lewisham, London SE, England (Ranneforths Schach-Kalender, 1915, page 56, and Hastings Chess Club address list, 1922*).

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 (approximately  £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, JH 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, JH 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

The illustrator Julius Hess depicted Blackburne in a New Yorker Staats Zeitung evening edition as sitting at a chesstable and beckoning: “Waitah! A whiskey and limejuice!”

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.

One of Blackburne’s contributions was the suggestion of using chess clocks rather than the archaic hourglasses.

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” :

“The only record of how J. H. Blackburne first, entered the chess world is the one provided by P. Anderson Graham in the introduction to his collection of Blackburne’s games. This has all the ingredients of a romanticized version of the truth-the first casual games in a temperance hotel, then entry to the important Manchester Club and a series of victories over ever stronger opponents until at last Pindar, Champion of the Provinces, comes along, plays the unknown youth and is defeated.

Reference to C. H. Stanley’s column in the Weekly Guardian and Express helps to supply a more accurate version. Young Blackburne’s earliest interest was in problems and he submitted one to the Guardian and Express which appeared in January, 1861, only to be found by several solvers to be cooked, Then silence till May 11th, when the column carries a note:

J. H. B. Problems received with much pleasure…Shall be glad to see you at the Club.”

Here are a couple of published problems. For a complete listing see below.

Manchester Express, 1861

#4. 6+4

The Field, 1893

#3, 7+6

 

Not yet a member, clearly. Nevertheless, he contrived somehow to meet Pindar outside the club and played some games-with him (two scores appear in the Guardian and Express, July 20th), and a set-match of five up was then arranged, still played in private (Guardian and Express, August 3lst), which “was terminated by Mr. Pindar winning a clear victory, the score being Pindar 5, Blackburne 0” (one game was quoted in the July “B.C.M.” and another score can be found in the Guardian and Express, July 27th.

“A second match was agreed upon, level games to entitle either player to the victor’s palm. The result … is calculated positively, to startle the chess world. The first game was scored by Mr. Pindar; of the next seven, Blackburne won five and the two remaining were drawn. ‘At this point Mr. Pindar resigned the match.” (Guardian and Express, September 7th, with the score of a Blackburne win from this match quoted February 1st, 1962.)

Only now does Blackburne appear to have joined the Manchester Club, meeting such players as Stanley himself for the first time (Guardian and Express gives the score of a casual game, November 9th), though Stanley later claimed personally to have discovered the young prodigy.

In November, 1861, Paulsen visited the club and the score survives of a casual game in which he beat Blackburne, who played a Winawer Variation of the French Defence long before Winawer ever came on the-scene (Guardian and Express, December,1861); Paulsen concluded his visit with one of his celebrated ten-board blindfold displays and not unnaturally the young Blackburne eagerly took a board; his defeat is No.25O in his games collection. This so stimulated him that he himself tried blindfold play and by January 20th, 1862, was able to give his first display against four boards, winning them all (Guardian and Express, January 25th, with one of the scores). This he followed with seven games on February 8th,
winning five and losing two. (Guardian and Express, February 8th) and finally ten games on February 8th, winning five, losing two, and drawing three (Guardian and Express,February 15th, which quotes the score of one game in addition to No. 254 in his games).

Inter-club matches were something of a rarity in those days and were regarded as of considerable importance when they occurred; one such was the annual Manchester-Liverpool match and in 1862 Blackburne took part for the first time, being matched against Wellington, another young player of promise who seems to have got no further; as many games were played between opponents as time allowed and these two young men played three, all won by Blackburne. (Guardian and Express, February 22nd, which quotes the score of one game in addition to No. 138 in the collection).

During this spring the rivalry with Pindar was renewed in a third match for the first five wins and after eleven games the score stood at 4 each, with three drawn (Guardian and Express, March 15th, quoting the score of the eleventh game), but I cannot find who won the last game. Since Blackburne was hailed as club champion this season, one must suppose he was the victor.

Such was his first club season. ln June, 1862, he played in the London lnternational Tournament and from then on his chess career was public property.

To conclude, here is the score of the eleventh game of his third match with Pindar, a critical struggle in which his budding mastery appears at the-end. From an inferior opening he struggles into an equal ending but by a rash exchange of Rooks on the 36th move gives Pindar a clear advantage, which could have been held by 41. P-R4. Blackburne seizes on this omission like a real master to switch into a most accurately calculated queen ending.

and here is the original article:

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 (named by Julian Hodgson) 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

Problems of the Black Death by Batgirl

Meson Database of JHBs problems

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Eminent Victorian Chess Players, Tim Harding, McFarland & Co; 1st edition (20 April 2012), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0786465682
Eminent Victorian Chess Players, Tim Harding, McFarland & Co; 1st edition (20 April 2012), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0786465682
Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography, Tim Harding, McFarland & Co; Annotated edition (30 July 2015), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0786474738
Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography, Tim Harding, McFarland & Co; Annotated edition (30 July 2015), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0786474738
Blackburne : The Black Death in Spades by Bob Long
Blackburne : The Black Death in Spades by Bob Long

Remembering FM Max Fuller (28-i-1945 27-viii-2013)

FM Max Fuller (28-i-1945 27-viii-2013). See full caption in photograph below.
FM Max Fuller (28-i-1945 27-viii-2013). See full caption in photograph below.
September 15th, 1980. Australian Open Chess Champion Max Fuller (35) is currently on a grand chess playing tour of Britain and Europe. He played in the British Championships last month and has included three tournaments in Denmark in his busy schedule. His tour culminates in Malta in December when he plays in his 8th chess Olympiad. Max has been playing chess since he was 13. He lives in Hamilton Avenue, Earlwood, Sydney. In the picture Max is playing in the Benedictine International Chess tournament in Manchester in which he was equal fourth. The Benedictine Championship was won by Britain's number 2 seeded Grandmaster John DM Nunn of Oriel College Oxford. Picture from John Madden (NUJ)
September 15th, 1980. Australian Open Chess Champion Max Fuller (35) is currently on a grand chess playing tour of Britain and Europe. He played in the British Championships last month and has included three tournaments in Denmark in his busy schedule.
His tour culminates in Malta in December when he plays in his 8th chess Olympiad.
Max has been playing chess since he was 13.
He lives in Hamilton Avenue, Earlwood, Sydney.
In the picture Max is playing in the Benedictine International Chess tournament in Manchester in which he was equal fourth.
The Benedictine Championship was won by Britain’s number 2 seeded Grandmaster John DM Nunn of Oriel College Oxford.
Picture from John Madden (NUJ)

BCN Remembers FM Max Fuller (28-i-1945 27-viii-2013)

Tonight two Sydney ***** the N.S.W. Chess Championship at the Chess centre Liverpool St., City. They are Fred E Flatow, 28 of Belmore (left.) and Max Fuller, 21, of Kingsgrove (right). They have been playing for about 10 Hrs up till 6.15 p.m. and had move 121. The match will go on till move 144 at which stage a draw will be declared or until either man wins before then. February 23, 1966. (Photo by Richard John Pinfold/Fairfax Media via Getty Images).
Tonight two Sydney ***** the N.S.W. Chess Championship at the Chess centre Liverpool St., City. They are Fred E Flatow, 28 of Belmore (left.) and Max Fuller, 21, of Kingsgrove (right). They have been playing for about 10 Hrs up till 6.15 p.m. and had move 121. The match will go on till move 144 at which stage a draw will be declared or until either man wins before then. February 23, 1966. (Photo by Richard John Pinfold/Fairfax Media via Getty Images).

Maxwell Leonard Fuller was born on Sunday, January 28th 1945 in Sydney, New South Wales. He was brought up by his mother and, according to Ian Rogers, his step-father with whom he did not get on.

Knight moves: Max Fuller in 1964. He went on to become Australia's No.1 player and toured the world.CREDIT:STUART MACGLADRIE
Knight moves: Max Fuller in 1964. He went on to become Australia’s No.1 player and toured the world.CREDIT:STUART MACGLADRIE

He was Australian Junior Champion in 1962.

He won the New South Wales title in 1965 (and then in 1986 and 1988).

Max came to England in late 1968 to play at Hastings and then chose to settle here. He played for Lewisham chess club. He won the Whitby Open in 1969 (See BCM, Volume LXXXIX, Number 8, page 264).

In the 1970s be played board one for Australia whilst maintaining a FIDE rating of 2450, and, according to chessgames.com : “Fuller finished equal second in the British championship in 1970 and 1975, winner of the Doeberl Cup three times, winner of the Australian Open three times, Joint Australian Champion 1972 with Trevor Hay and competed in nine Olympiads for Australia from 1964-1990. In 1974, he won the 101st Athenaeum Chess Club Jubilee tournament, held in London.”

He became a FIDE Master in 1980

Fuller returned to chess in 2004 after an eight-year absence and finished equal second in the 2004 and 2005 NSW championships.

According to IM Gary Lane : “Max had a heart attack and died on the day he was attending the funeral of his pal Peter Parr”

With the white pieces Max essayed the Ruy Lopez with a penchant for the exchange variation but nonetheless he was flexible and varied.

As the second player against 1.e4 he was versatile with a broad range of defences and likewise facing 1.d4/1.Nf3 he was difficult to prepare for.

According to British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXXIII (2013), Number 9 (September), page 450 :

“From Australia the saddest of news, the passing Maxwell Leonard Fuller (28 i 1945 Sydney – 27 viii 2013 Sydney). FM Max Fuller played in seven BCF Championships, 1969 -80. He later claimed the scalps of Short, Miles and Chandler. He was the most determined player imaginable and had the broadest of opening repertoires. (James Pratt)”

Aleandro Trimboli (10) of Leichhardt plays Mr Max Fuller of Newtown, Australian Open Chess Champion. As part of the Waratah Festival Celebrations the NSW Chess Association is conducting chess games with chess champions playing up to 30 players at once, in Hyde Park. October 17, 1973. (Photo by Golding/Fairfax Media via Getty Images).
Aleandro Trimboli (10) of Leichhardt plays Mr Max Fuller of Newtown, Australian Open Chess Champion. As part of the Waratah Festival Celebrations the NSW Chess Association is conducting chess games with chess champions playing up to 30 players at once, in Hyde Park. October 17, 1973. (Photo by Golding/Fairfax Media via Getty Images).

In this obituary from Ray Keene, Ray very thoughtfully provides a game in which Max loses to Ray.

GM Ian Rogers wrote this detailed obituary

Greg Canfell posted this item

Max Fuller at the Doeberl Cup in 1985. Photo : William Anderson-Smith
Max Fuller at the Doeberl Cup in 1985. Photo : William Anderson-Smith

Here is his Wikipedia article

FM Max Fuller (28-i-1945 27-viii-2013) from around 1992
FM Max Fuller (28-i-1945 27-viii-2013) from around 1992
Sicilian Defence 11 Lines with c3, Max Fuller and Len Pickett, The Chess Player, 1977, ISBN ?
Sicilian Defence 11 Lines with c3, Max Fuller and Len Pickett, The Chess Player, 1977, ISBN ?