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Editor: Dr Tim Harding
  Dr. Tim Harding   J. H. Blackburne     William Steinitz   Correspondence Chess history book   Captain W. D. Evans

Blackburne: more about the book

Blackburne (right) playing James MortimerThis image, found in The Field on 31 December 1910, was not of sufficient quality to reproduce in the book. (Later we obtained the original from the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News of 16 January 1900.)

We use the photograph to introduce this page, which gives any additional information and significant corrections that have come to light or may do so in future. Reviews.

As a result of the ongoing digitisation of newspapers by the British Newspaper Archive, several Blackburne games have been found since the book first went to press. The more interesting of these are presented now on a separate page: More Blackburne Games.

About J. H. Blackburne and the book    Table of contents

Blackburne's brothers and children

Page 7 of the biography revealed that the chess master had an elder brother, Frederic, who lived from 1839 to 1847. Subsequently, thanks to a tip from John Townsend, we discovered that Blackburne also had another, younger brother, John Edward, who died in infancy.

We ordered copies of his birth and death certificates. These showed that J. E. Blackburn [sic] was born on 4 May 1844 at 51 Edge Street, Hulme, Manchester (a new address for the family). He died of "convulsions 16 hours" on 15 June 1846 at 13 Robinson Street, Hulme (an address already known).

As Mr. Townsend points out, this information casts further doubt on Blackburne's claim (made in 1900) that he had learned chess during "his boyhood in Belfast." The window of time when the family could have lived in Belfast instead of Manchester is now virtually non-existent. Blackburne probably referred (with some exaggeration for the benefit of his Irish audience) that he obtained "his first notions" of chess when accompanying his father on business visits to Ireland in the early or mid-1850s.

We also believe that we have discovered more about Blackburne's children but are awaiting certificates from the British General Register Office which should provide confirmation. When we receive these, probably in late October, we shall write about it here.

Some Corrections:

Page 30, Game 36 (Blackburne-Lewis): In the book, Black's 12th move is printed as ...Qc5 but the typeface in the source is not entirely clear and I appear to have misread it. A reader has pointed out that Black probably played 12...Qa5.

Page 56, Game 85 (Robertson-Blackburne): Black's 23rd move (following ChessBase) was with his king's rook not the queen's rook as incorrectly stated in the book, as FM Selim Citak of Turkey has kindly pointed out. So the text should read 23 Bh4 Rhg8 24 Bxf6 Rdf8. The printed primary source (Transactions of the British Chess Association for 1866 and 1867) confirms he is right about this.

Page 73, Game 124 (consultation game): White’s 17th move should be Qc3 not Qc2. White’s 43rd move should be Bb2 not Bc1.

Page 111: The photograph said to be of Henry Bird turned out actually to be of Buckle. It was mis-captioned in P. W. Sergeant's book where we found it, and several other authors have been deceived by this. The picture has been replaced by a genuine photograph of Bird in the reprint.

Page 112, Game 220 (consultation game): The early move order was 6 0-0 d6 7 d4 exd4 not as in the book 6 d4 exd4 7 0-0 d6. Our Steinitz book will have a little more about the Glasgow meeting.

Page 118, Game 227 (5th Steinitz match game): Black’s 32nd move in The Field was unclear and some databases are wrong. We thought it was Rd1, but in fact 32...R2d6 was played. Our Steinitz book will have the verified score.

Page 119, Game 228 (6th Steinitz match game): White’s 65th move was Rbf1 not Rgf1.

Page 238 (RH column, 3 lines up): Blackburne's simul in Liverpool was on Wednesday 3 November, not 6 November.

Pages 256-257, Game 556 (Blackburne-Bird): Black's 59th move was Kh3 not Kh4. Unfortunately we followed ChessBase's Mega Database which had the same mistake. (Thanks to Jason Radley for this correction.)

Page 345, Game 783 (Blackburne-Schiffers): We followed Schallopp’s Hastings 1895 book and many databases with 16 a3, but the English tournament book and two magazines say 16 c3 was played. We now think that was correct.

Page 367: We have been informed that the Berlin 1897 tournament was not in fact one of the German federation series but rather the 70th jubilee tournament of the Berlin club. This was fixed for the reprint.

Page 382, Game 863 (Trenchard-Blackburne): In the note to move 10. FOR 12. Qxb5 READ 12. Bxb5

Edward Winter has pointed out that one game score in the first impression of the book is incomplete, since a Belgian contributor sent him an alternative version of the score from an obscure African newspaper! The score reproduced in Winter's article contains many misprints but the following appears to be the correct record of the game concerned and this is what now appears in the reprint:

Page 460, Game 1069, Blackburne-M. Billecard

Ostend Masters (23), 15 June 1907 · Giuoco Piano (C50)
Teichmann #317 pages 260-261;Chess Notes #7324.

The Manchester Guardian, 17 June, said Blackburne “beat himself by weak opening play against Billecard.” The Frenchman, a pupil of Rosenthal who was then working as a judge near Algiers, annotated the game in the newspaper Illustration Algérienne, Tunisienne et Marocaine, 27 July and 3 August 1907 (reprinted in Winter’s Chess Notes).

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. d3 Nf6 4. Nf3 Bc5 5. Be3 Bb6 6. Nc3 d6 7. 0–0 Bg4 Castling was premature because this pin is unpleasant. 8. Bb5 0–0 9. h3 Bh5 10. Kh2 Nd4 11. Bxd4 exd4 12. Ne2 c6 13. Ba4 Bxf3 14. gxf3 Nh5 15. Rg1 Qh4 16. Qf1 f5! Teichmann (the tournament book) published the next two move pairs in reverse order. 17. Qg2 Rf6 18. Bb3+ Kh8 19. f4 fxe4 20. dxe4 Raf8 21. f5 d5! 22. Qg4 22. f3 d3 or 22. Ng3? Nf4. 22. ... Qxf2+ 23. Rg2 Bc7+ 24. Kh1 Qe3! 25. Rf1 25. Qxh5 Rh6. 25. ... dxe4 26. Nxd4 Ng3+ 27. Rxg3 Qxg3 28. Qxg3 Bxg3 The game ends here in the book because Teichmann printed no further moves. 29. Kg2 Be5 30. Ne6 Re8 31. Ng5 g6 32. Be6 gxf5 33. Nf7+ Kg7 34. Nxe5 Rexe6 35. Nc4 f4 36. a4 b5 37. axb5 cxb5 38. Na3 a6 39. c3 f3+ 40. Kh1 e3 0–1.

Page 477, Game 1118, S. F. Smith-Blackburne, British Championship 1910. We have a correction to Black’s 18th move. There was a conflict of sources which could only be resolved in the reprint.
18. a4 Rfd8 Some newspapers, B.C.M., and ChessBase have 18. ... Re8 but an explicit correction appeared in the Yorkshire Post on 23 August 1907.

Page 488, Game 1148, Gans-Blackburne. This game (the second round of the Anglo-Dutch match) was played on Monday 13 April 1914, not Sunday 12th, as Jason Radley has pointed out. The Falkirk Herald of 22 April reported that at the dinner hosted by the Dutch Chess Association after the event, there was a special toast to the "Veteran J. H. Blackburne" who had been elected an Honorary Member of The Hague chess club almost forty years previously.

Page 531 (LH column, near top): The correct date of Blackburne's blindfold simul in Manchester was 30 October (not September).

The reprint also incorporates a few minor corrections (mostly small typos).