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

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

Post by John Upham » Tue Sep 01, 2020 10:07 am

A small tribute to Joseph Henry Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924)

https://britishchessnews.com/2020/09/01 ... 1-ix-1924/
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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Remembering Joseph Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924)

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Tue Sep 01, 2020 1:23 pm

A true giant of the game, in every sense.
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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Remembering Joseph Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924)

Post by Gerard Killoran » Wed Sep 09, 2020 5:38 pm

An interview where Morphy is misrepresented as a Russian and Aldolf Anderssen becomes 'Handisen'. The latter might reveal how Blackburne pronounced the name.

From The Wolverhampton Express and Star - Friday 01 November 1889 p.4

THE ENGLISH CHAMPION CHESS PLAYER AT DUDLEY. MR. BLACKBURNE INTERVIEWED.

On Thursday evening Mr. J. H. Blackburne, the great English chess player, fulfilled an engagement for an exhibition of his skill to the members of the Dudley Chess Club, at the Dudley Mechanics' Institute. Our representative found Mr. Blackburne at the house of Mr. Dawson, in Bourne-street. The champion was sitting in front of a cosy fire smoking a full-flavoured cigar and sipping a glass of port, while he perused the advance sheet of a Midland weekly newspaper, containing a long account of his professional career. Mr. Blackburne is a tall, well-favoured Anglo-Saxon, with a short beard of transatlantic trim, is of thorough cosmopolitan address, suave and courteous, and self-possessed, even in the presence of a nineteenth century interviewer.

I was seventeen, he said, when I first turned my attention to chess playing. I was then living in Manchester, where I was born. I had read in the papers in 1857-8 of the wonderful doings in Birmingham of Paul Morphy, the Russian, and thought I would like to learn the game. So I bought a book on the subject and learned the rules; but for some time I experienced the difficulty of having no one to play with, the game not being so commonly known then as it is now. No one had any idea I was a special player until 1861. that year Louis Paulsen came to Manchester and gave an exhibition of blindfold playing. I thought 1 could do the same thing, and about a month afterwards I played three simultaneous games blindfold and was successful. The following week I managed seven games, a week later I did ten, a month afterwards twelve, and still later I succeeded in taking on fifteen. I proposed to play forty in 1870, but this never came off through of lack of players. My success made me adopt the game as a profession.

What champions have you played against?

I have played with Steinitz, Zukertort. Paulsen, and Handisen.

And beaten them?

In tournaments, yes. In single combat I beaten Handisen and Zukertort, and nearly all the old champions. At the last tournament, however, at New York, I only came in fourth. It was then I lost the championship, and there is practically no champion now. Weiss, a Viennese, and Tschgorin, a Russian. tied for the championship, Gunsberg, a Hungarian, was third, and I was fourth.

I never practice as a training. Chess is purely a mental game, and my training is not to look at a chess board, but to go away into the country, where 1 take long walks and think as little about the game as possible. It is utterly unlike billiards or football. or other games where the eye and the muscles have to be in training. I never think of the game until I sit down, and when I have finished I forget all about it unless I am asked for details, when of course I can recollect the moves, say for a newspaper. Of course my I profession causes me to play thousands of games in the course of a year, and it would make my brain turn to try to remember them all. I travel all over the country giving exhibitions such as I am engaged to give tonight. I have just come in from Banbury now, where I found the town in the throes of a municipal election, all the members of the Council coming out in consequence of the extension of the borough.

Here the conversation drifted to matters outside the chess world.

Mr. Blackburne played simultaneously 29 of the best players of the Dudley Chess Club in the Public Hall of the Mechanics' Institute. He did not play blindfolded, and the play continued for about four hours. He complimented several of the layers upon their skill, but left the hall with his invincibility unimpaired. His moves were made with astonishing rapidity, and several of his opponents were easily bowled over, while others left the field With the game unfinished on account of the lateness of hour.

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

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Wed Sep 09, 2020 9:31 pm

"Mr. Blackburne is a tall, well-favoured Anglo-Saxon, with a short beard of transatlantic trim, is of thorough cosmopolitan address, suave and courteous, and self-possessed, even in the presence of a nineteenth century interviewer."

A nice description - nowadays the newspapers would say that X (someone you've never heard of) "flaunts her curves in THAT dress."

(I know JHB wasn't flaunting his curves, but you know what I mean.)

Journalism has not advanced (notwithstanding the spelling errors in the names).

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

Post by John McKenna » Wed Sep 09, 2020 10:08 pm

And for those who don't read - Keeping Up with the Kardashians has been pulled. They're rich enough to not need it and Kanye was last seen in the Trump camp.
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

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

Post by Tim Harding » Thu Sep 10, 2020 4:27 pm

Thanks, Gerard, a nice interview to add to my collection.
I agree that "Handisen" could be a clue to Blackburne's pronunciation but it could also be down to the reporter's poor hearing/bad note-taking. Always in such cases in the 19th century there can be problems arising from the writer's handwriting not being read accurately by the typesetter,

One thing that makes me doubt the reporter is that I very much doubt Blackburne would have said Morphy was a Russian.
If the journalist was a chess player you would expect him to get those things right even if Blackburne didn't.

Blackburne's claim in that interview that he played 15 blindfold is very doubtful and I never saw him make it elsewhere. Twelve is correct although I think that until my biography he wasn't given credit for what was then a world record. Maybe the reporter misunderstood a reference to Zukertort.
Tim Harding
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Author of 'Steinitz in London,' British Chess Literature to 1914', 'Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'
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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Remembering Joseph Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924)

Post by Gerard Killoran » Thu Sep 10, 2020 4:57 pm

Thanks Tim.

First, apologies for the odd typo. I tried to correct the OCR text but the odd '1' for capital 'i' was overlooked.

Second, I think it's odd how the reporter could get the spelling of 'Tschgorin' correct, but have mistaken 'Handisen' for 'Anderssen'. Could it be possible he asked JHB to spell the former but trusted his ear for the latter?

Lastly, if he never played 15 blindfold, can his story about the aborted attempt at 40 be believed?

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

Post by Nick Ivell » Thu Sep 10, 2020 6:17 pm

I have a wonderful book on Blackburne. Title: Mr Blackburne's Games at Chess.

The title dates it, and indeed it was published in 1899. It's the oldest book in my (not especially distinguished) collection.

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John Clarke
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Re: Remembering Joseph Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924)

Post by John Clarke » Thu Sep 10, 2020 11:22 pm

Tim Harding wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 4:27 pm
Always in such cases in the 19th century there can be problems arising from the writer's handwriting not being read accurately by the typesetter.
Not just the nineteenth century. Publishers of one book I was associated with in NZ managed to print the name of one of the country's best-known chess players as "Liade"!! Needless to say, the authors had not been given any proofs to correct.
"The chess-board is the world ..... the player on the other side is hidden from us ..... he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance."
(He doesn't let you resign and start again, either.)

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John Saunders
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Re: Remembering Joseph Blackburne (10-xii-1841 01-ix-1924)

Post by John Saunders » Fri Sep 11, 2020 1:23 am

Gerard Killoran wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 4:57 pm

First, apologies for the odd typo. I tried to correct the OCR text but the odd '1' for capital 'i' was overlooked.
I'm glad it's not just me that struggles with OCR software. The other day it rendered a reference to a game between two of the most distinguished Victorian players as Blackbume-Bum. If anything of the sort should ever get past my pre-publication eye check and turn up on BritBase, please let me know, privately.
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