13 April 2016

Game of the Week

Blackburne -- Gifford 1874

Most of my students this week are seeing this game, which features a clever queen sacrifice to weave a mating net. Advanced students may also see more variations. Students are asked to try to find several key moves along the way.

Blackburne,Joseph -- Gifford,Henry [C44]
The Hague, 1874

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.Ng5 Nh6 6.Qh5

6.Nxf7 Nxf7 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxc5 d5 with the initiative for Black

See also Meek -- Morphy 1855 with 9...d6. Revisiting this game sent me to Tartakower and DuMont, 500 Master Games of Chess and there I found Blackburne -- Gifford.

6...Qe7 7.f4

Black to move


"Assigning to his king a rather storm-swept domicile" (Tartakower and DuMont, 170). The authors recommend 7...d6 as preparation to castle queenside.

8.0–0 d6 9.f5 d3+ 10.Kh1 dxc2 11.Nc3 Ne5 12.Nd5 Qd8

White to move


The final assault begins with an error. 13.Nf3 is the only move that retains an advantage. The idea of Nf3 is to then play Bxh6, destroying Black's pawn shield.

13... Ng6??

13...Bg4 14.Qh4 Ng6 15.Qg3 and Black is no worse.

14.fxg7 Kxg7

14...Be3 15.Qxh6 Bxg5 16.Bxg5+-.

White to move

15.Qxh6+! Kxh6 16.Ne6+ Kh5

16...Nf4 is the only move that holds off checkmate 17.Rxf4 fxe6 18.Rxf8+ Kg7 19.Rxd8+-.


17.Rf5+ Kg4 18.Be2+ Kh4 19.Rh5#.

17...Kh4 18.Rf4+ Nxf4 19.g3+ Kh3 20.Ndxf4# 1–0

Understanding the errors by both players as well as the unstoppable king hunt should benefit young players.

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