Blackburne and the endgame

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
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Gerard Killoran
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Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Gerard Killoran » Wed May 16, 2018 11:05 am

Here's an odd admission from the great man...

Cheltenham Examiner - Wednesday 01 November 1905 p.6.jpg
Cheltenham Examiner - Wednesday 01 November 1905 p.6.jpg (44.07 KiB) Viewed 888 times
I wonder how many chess players have gone through their whole career without having to play this ending. (Is there a database search to find out?)

I nearly had it once - but made sure my opponent couldn't sacrifice his last piece for my last pawn.

Nick Burrows
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Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Nick Burrows » Wed May 16, 2018 11:54 am

Even if a specific ending never occurs in practice, by learning such endings do we not attain an understanding of piece harmonisation and cooperation that informs all parts of our game?

Thomas Rendle
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Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Thomas Rendle » Wed May 16, 2018 12:13 pm

If you're a tilted player you should learn it to avoid the embarrassment factor associated with failing to win it! After all what are the first two things that come to mind when you think of Anna Ushenina?

Thomas Rendle
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Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Thomas Rendle » Wed May 16, 2018 12:15 pm

On a more serious notes it's not that unusual for the possibility to come up during the game, and it's nice to not have to worry about it!

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Wed May 16, 2018 1:22 pm

"If you're a tilted player you should learn it to avoid the embarrassment factor associated with failing to win it! "

Hope you're back upright!

I had the ending in a QP finish and managed to amaze my team-mates by winning it in 3 minutes, partly as my opponent fouled it up.

David Robertson
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Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by David Robertson » Wed May 16, 2018 2:03 pm

Gerard Killoran wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 11:05 am
I wonder how many chess players have gone through their whole career without having to play this ending
How many? The overwhelming majority, I'd think.

We had this discussion a few years back. It arose in the context of Mike Truran teaching his then young son (Joe?) to solve the ending in a couple of minutes or so. Very impressive, I replied; but what's the point - he'll never meet it. Discussion followed similar lines to here (virtues of learning piece co-ordination and so forth) until someone turned up the statistic that you'd meet this position just once in 5000 games. That invited me to do some simple sums: assume an extreme (amateur) playing career of 60 continuous years of 50 games/year: making 3000 lifetime games, tops, then you're well within the range of never meeting it, or a 50-50 chance of just once. The vast majority of us struggle with 30 games/year over a shorter playing career.

So I looked at Blackburne's claim of 70,000 games with incredulity. Was he getting carried away by the numbers? Did he really play c. 1200 games/year, every year for 60 years. Or does he mean games + skittles? In any event, if a rate of 1 : 5000 is robust, Blackburne must have been unusually lucky to have missed the ending. In 60 years, I've never met it - though provoked by Nigel Short over dinner a decade back, I solved it 'blindfold'

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Wed May 16, 2018 2:23 pm

Blackburne played lots of simuls, didn't he? Those must have added up a fair bit over the years.
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

Nick Burrows
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Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Nick Burrows » Wed May 16, 2018 3:14 pm

Wikipedia says "It is estimated that Blackburne played 100,000 games in his career, more than any other professional chess-player."

Richard Bates
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Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Richard Bates » Wed May 16, 2018 7:14 pm

David Robertson wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 2:03 pm
Gerard Killoran wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 11:05 am
I wonder how many chess players have gone through their whole career without having to play this ending
How many? The overwhelming majority, I'd think.

We had this discussion a few years back. It arose in the context of Mike Truran teaching his then young son (Joe?) to solve the ending in a couple of minutes or so. Very impressive, I replied; but what's the point - he'll never meet it. Discussion followed similar lines to here (virtues of learning piece co-ordination and so forth) until someone turned up the statistic that you'd meet this position just once in 5000 games. That invited me to do some simple sums: assume an extreme (amateur) playing career of 60 continuous years of 50 games/year: making 3000 lifetime games, tops, then you're well within the range of never meeting it, or a 50-50 chance of just once. The vast majority of us struggle with 30 games/year over a shorter playing career.
Reckon there’s possibly a distinction to be drawn between having the ending, and being forced into the ending. I reckon i’ve probably had it several times in various forms of chess, but on most occasions I imagine I could have avoided it if pushed. But as i’m happy to do it, even when very short of time, what’s the need?

David Robertson
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Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by David Robertson » Wed May 16, 2018 8:20 pm

Richard Bates wrote:
Wed May 16, 2018 7:14 pm
Reckon there’s possibly a distinction to be drawn between having the ending, and being forced into the ending
Good point, which renders Blackburne's claim - that he'd never met the ending in 70,000-80,000 games - pretty valueless because, unable to win it, he'd have been easily good enough to avoid the ending, even against an exceptional opponent

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu May 17, 2018 6:22 am

"Good point, which renders Blackburne's claim - that he'd never met the ending in 70,000-80,000 games - pretty valueless because, unable to win it, he'd have been easily good enough to avoid the ending, even against an exceptional opponent"

Yes - he was a strong player and the general standard was lower, so there were not as many really long close games. He might well have been good enough to work it out if had reached the position!

Nick Grey
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Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Nick Grey » Thu May 17, 2018 1:15 pm

I think he would have been more than good enough to work it out. In my short chess career (45 years) I have reached this ending twice. Once with a lone king when I drew (my opponent had 15 minutes in a tournament to win) and once when I won (most of the moves on a 30 second increment). Most of which I worked out at the board. I then took a half point bye as the game and the one before wore me out.

Roland Kensdale
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Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Roland Kensdale » Thu May 17, 2018 3:27 pm

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_e ... precht2001

Müller & Lamprecht 2001 based on Chessbase Mega Database 2001 with 1,687,182 games.

This says bishop & knight v king occurs in .02% of games (think there may have been pawns present additionally - probably accompanying the king!).

.02% of 70000 is 1400!

Alex McFarlane
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Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Alex McFarlane » Thu May 17, 2018 3:45 pm

Roland Kensdale wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 3:27 pm
.02% of 70000 is 1400!

????????
14 surely!

Roland Kensdale
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Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Roland Kensdale » Thu May 17, 2018 4:12 pm

Sorry - zeros blindness

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