Blackburne and the endgame

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
David Robertson
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Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:24 pm

Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by David Robertson » Thu May 17, 2018 5:30 pm

Roland Kensdale wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 3:27 pm ... 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!
Well, I haven't been able to validate 0.02% from the above link (for which, thanks). Perhaps I skimmed too rapidly. But scrolling down to their specific link on the ending: ... _checkmate

...they cite themselves in the footnote, saying "(the ending) occurs in practice approximately only once in every 6,000 games". Of course, 1 : 5000 is exactly 0.02%. Moreover, its rarity leads it to be ignored in many key reference works. Worth a read

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Gerard Killoran » Thu May 17, 2018 7:11 pm

Here's the ending where I managed to avoid embarrassing myself...

Tim Harding
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Location: Dublin, Ireland

Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Tim Harding » Fri May 18, 2018 11:21 am

Leonard Barden suggested I comment on some of the above.

1) It is impossible to estimate with any accuracy how many chess games (including skittles and simuls) that Blackburne played in his long career; the figure of 70-80K quoted above is substantially higher than the figure in the introduction to his 1899 book. There his editor thought that Blackburne's estimate of 50K was too low. The Wikipedia 100K may well be too high. My Blackburne database at present has just under 2500 games but of course the vast majority of his casual and simul games were never published.

2) To say Blackburne was "unable" to win the elementary B+N mate is absurd; I have no doubt he would have been well able to do it quite fast had it arisen, maybe even blindfold.

3) I also have never had to play B+N v bare K with either colour in over 55 years of competitive chess; I don't even recall getting it in blitz.

4) On the other hand I have seen it won very quickly and efficiently by others on a couple of occasions, and also see that in the 2012 World Seniors Championship a well-known Scottish correspondence master failed to win this despite having a 30-second increment.

5) Blackburne was one of the very best endgame players of the 19th century but he demonstrated this mostly in quite complex endgames. Sometimes he had to play out more elementary endings, e.g. the way he tricked Von Minckwitz at Baden-Baden in a R ending with g- and h-pawns against g-pawn. At the critical moment (move 74) he offered a rook exchange and Minckwitz believed him. White could have exchanged or moved his R to any other square on the a-file than the one he actually chose. (This is not analysed in my Blackburne book but can easily be checked by tablebase.)

Or his win at the age of 63 against Marshall at Ostend 1905 where he found the unique winning move at move 64 in a R+P v R ending.

Blackburne's endings against Weiss are well worth study (at New York 1889 they each won a classic against the other) but the king and pawn ending against Teichmann (Berlin 1897) is my absolute favourite. The wrong position is analysed in Fine's Basic Chess Endings and several other places, as I point out in my Blackburne book.
Tim Harding
Historian and Kibitzer

Author of 'British Chess Literature to 1914', Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'

Gordon Cadden
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Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:57 pm

Re: Blackburne and the endgame

Post by Gordon Cadden » Fri May 18, 2018 8:22 pm

Remember watching a Rapid Play game at Chess & Bridge on the Euston Road, in the 1990's. Aaron Summerscale was playing Darshan Kumeran.
Both players were short on time, with Kumeran left with around two minutes. Summerscale deliberately swopped off all his pieces, leaving Kumeran with a B+N. It was truly astonishing to witness, but Kumeran mated his opponent, with seconds to spare.

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