Blackburne in Lancashire.

BlackburneJoseph Henry Blackburne (1841-1924) only learned chess at 18 but became one of the most successful players in England, famous for his tactical play and talent for blindfold chess.

The following games take place between Blackburne and a player called John Lord who was now playing his chess in Lancashire. The games and italicized comments have been supplied by the Lancashire County Chess captain (and former coach to the young Nigel Short) Mike Conroy.

Blackburne got leave from a London tournament to fulfil prior engagement in
the Rossendale area of Lancashire. On June 15 he played a 30 board simul
against local players at Waterford Grammar School. He scored +28 =1 -1. On
June 16 he played an eight board blindfold simul. He scored +7 -1.

17 and 18 Nov, 1893 ordinary simul and blindfold simul at Rossendale CC,

25 years earlier Lord had won a tournament game against Blackburne.

Finally, another game between Lord and Blackburne, found on

Nakamura beats Bareev in 11 moves as Black!

An interesting miniature occurred at the Millionaire Chess tournament recently. The game was a rapid tiebreak between Evgeny Bareev (2669) and Hikaru Nakamura (2812).

The position shown was reached after Bareev tried to capitalize on the undefended h5 Knight with the ill-fated 8.Ne5?


Nakamura promptly took the Knight 8…Nxe5 but after 9.Qxh5 (9.dxe5? Qb4+ 10.Nd2 Qxh4) 9…Ng4! White’s Queen found herself embarrassingly short of squares.

The game continued 10.Bg3? (10.Bd3 was required to meet any …g6 ideas with Bxg6) 10…g6 11.Qh4 Bg7, Bareev had to resign.

The simple threat of 12…Bf6 13.Qh3 Nxe3 trapping the Queen was too much.

Matthew Webb wins Blackpool Open 2015

The Blackpool Chess Congress is one of the biggest open tournaments in England and is always very popular due to its plush environment and above average prize money.

This year the Open section was jointly won by GM Keith Arkell – who is the current European Senior Chess Champion (>50) and has won Blackpool twice before – and Matthew Webb, both scoring 4.5/5.

Matthew Webb has made very impressive progress recently, going from around 170 grade (about 1975 Elo) to 230 (~2425) in a few years. This kind of rating leap is normally associated with promising youngsters but Matthew made this jump in his late 20s. He has detailed what he did to improve in a blog post on the Yorkshire Chess website here and I strongly recommend reading it to all players serious about improving.

During the tournament, Matthew beat a GM, drew with another (fellow winner Keith Arkell) and won his other 3 games. Here is his final round game which features some crisp calculation to mate a very strong player in 25 moves.

The King’s Gambit, Part 2: Spassky – Bronstein


The King’s Gambit
Game 2: Spassky – Bronstein, 1960.

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d5 4.exd5 Bd6

4…Nf6 is another idea. Instead of trying to hold onto the f4 pawn, Black attacks White’s centre and develops quickly.

5.Nc3 Nxd5 6.Nxd5 Qxd5 7.d4 Be7

(7…Bd6? 8.c4! Qe4+ 9.Kf2 Bf5 stopping Bd3 10.c5 Be7 11.Bb5+ c6 12.Bc4 Be6? (12…Bg4 is much better when 13.Re1 Bxf3 14.Qd2 Qf5 15.gxf3 still gives White the edge.) 13.Re1 Qg6 14.Bxe6 fxe6 15.Qb3 is winning for White (Schlechter – Mieses, 1903).)


  1. Qb3, Schlechter – Mieses, 1903


8.Be2 (8.c4 Qe4+ 9.Kf2 Bf5 and there’s no c5 with gain of time with the Bishop on e7.)

 8…g5 9.0-0 allows White to start an attack.


SpBr2_97Position after 4…Bd6


By protecting f4 with this Bishop, Black doesn’t have to weaken his Kingside with …g5.


5.Nc3 Ne7 6.d4 0-0 7.Bd3 Nd7 8.0-0 [The Greek Gift sac 8.Bxh7+ isn’t a real threat here as 8…Kxh7 9.Ng5+ Kg8 10.Qh5 Nf6 defends h7.]


8…h6 Unnecessary, Black can just play Nf6. [8…f5? 9.Ng5 Nf6 10.Bc4]


9.Ne4! Now Nf6 can’t be played without the tripling pawns and opening the King position but if Black can take on d5 he’ll be able to move a Knight to f6, right?


9…Nxd5 10.c4! Ne3 This is best.

SpBr2_99Position after 10…Ne3

[10…N5f6 11.Nxd6 cxd6 12.Bxf4 gives White the Bishop pair and space and Black the weak d6 pawn 12…d5 13.c5]


11.Bxe3 fxe3 12.c5!

This stops Black from playing …c5 and pushes the Bishop back, restricting the Queen. [12.Nxd6 cxd6 13.Bc2 Re8 14.Qd3 Nf6 15.Rae1 Qa5! causes havoc on the Queenside.


SpBr2_100Analysis: 15…Qa5


16.a3 b5 17.cxb5 Bd7 18.a4 a6 19.bxa6! Qxa6 20.Qxa6 Rxa6 21.b3 Rc6 22.Bd1 Rc3 followed by Ne4]




12…Be7 13.Bc2 Re8 [13…Nf6 14.Nxf6+ Bxf6 15.Qd3 g6 16.Bb3 Bf5 17.Qxe3]


14.Qd3 e2

SpBr2_101Position after 14…e2

to gain time by deflecting the Queen although White could just play Rfe1 or, better, Rf2 keeping his Rook on the semi-open f-file.






SpBr2_102Position after 15. Nd6!!

“One of the deepest sacrifices this side of The Evergreen Game” – Soltis.

What is this? Spassky puts his Knight where it can be captured by either of 2 pieces and leaves his Rook threatened by capture, with promotion and check! What must have gone through Bronstein’s head when he saw this? Ok, let’s look at Black’s options.

We’ll start with 15…exf1Q+ even though Bronstein didn’t. 16.Rxf1 Now White has a threat of mate in 2 with Qh7+ and Qh8.


  1. a) ..cxd6?? 17. Qh7+ Kf8 18. Qh8#


  1. b) ..g6 17.Nxf7! Kxf7 else the Queen is lost (17…Ne5?! 18.N3xe5 still the Queen has nowhere to go as Qd5 is met by Qxg6+ 18…Bf5 19.Rxf5 Qd5 (19…Qc8 20.Nxh6+ Kh8 21.Rf7 mates.) 20.Bb3)


18.Qxg6+ Kf8 19.Qxh6+ Kg8 20.Bb3#


  1. c) ..Bxd6 17.Qh7+ Kf8

SpBr2_103Analysis: 17…Kf8


and now we must choose between Qh8+ and cxd6. By checking with the Queen first, we can capture the Bishop with check but our Queen will be under attack from the Re8, gaining Black some time. If we capture the Bishop first, we are threatening Qh8#. Let’s have a look at the lines:


c1) 18.Qh8+ Ke7 19.cxd6+  cxd6 20.Re1+ Ne5 (20…Kf6 21.Rxe8) 21.Qxg7 Rg8 22.Qxh6 Be6 23.dxe5 dxe5 24.Qh4+ (24.Ng5? Qd4+ 25.Kh1 Qf2 26.Rc1 Rac8) 24…Kf8 25.Qh6+ Rg7 26.Qh8+ Rg8 27.Qh6+ White has a perpetual.

Or if 19…Kxd6 20.Qxg7 Rg8 21.Qxh6+ Qf6

White is a Rook down, can he get at Black’s King enough to mate or give perpetual? Black has difficulties of his own, with his Ra8 and Bc8 out of the game. The King is in between 2 open files which the Rook can be brought to and White can control the squares around the King with his Bishop and Knight. Still, White has to make threats without allowing exchanges.

Here is a possible line: 22.Qe3 Qg7 23.g3 c6 24.Qf4+ Ke7 25.Bb3 a5 (to bring the Rook into play with a4 and Ra5) 26.Re1+ Kd8 (26…Kf8?? 27.Qd6#) 27.Bxf7 Rf8 28.Ng5 Qf6 29.Ne6+ Ke7 30.Ng5+) again with perpetual.

c2) 18. cxd6 With this move, we give Black less defensive options and an extra chance to go wrong. If he plays 18…cxd6 then 19. Qh8+ Ke7 is the same as c1.

However, if he tries to prevent the mate with 18…Nf6? he loses to 19.Qh8+ Ng8 20.Ne5

(20.Bh7? Qxd6 lets Black off the hook)

 20…f6 21.Bh7 Be6 (Now, 21…Qxd6 fails to 22.Qxg8+ Ke7 23.Qxg7+ Kd8 (23…Ke6 24.Qf7#) 24.Nf7+)


SpBr2_104Analysis: 22. d7!


22…Re7? 23.Bxg8 Bxg8 24.Rxf6+! gxf6 25.Qxf6+ Bf7 26.Ng6+ Kg8 27.Qh8#


Black doesn’t have better than 22…Bxa2 23.dxe8Q+ Qxe8 24.Bxg8 Bxg8 25.Rxf6+! gxf6 26.Qxf6+ Qf7 (26…Bf7 27.Ng6+ mates.) where White has material superiority and an easily won position.

When playing 15.Nd6!! Spassky must have seen plenty of ways in which he could win and believed, with the King’s defences smashed, he would have been able to bail out with a perpetual check if necessary. From Bronstein’s perspective, he would have been able to see the great danger and so looked for a different defence. Not many players would have dared expose their King to such an attack.

Garry Kasparov gave this move a !? as, objectively, it’s not the strongest – it only draws. However, the concept is brilliant!

15…Nf8 There is logic behind this move, defend against the mate and leave White with 2 pieces en prise. Over to you, Boris!

16.Nxf7! Having had both his Knight and Rook sacrifice turned down, Spassky offers them again, taking a part of the King’s defence away at the same time.

16…exf1Q+ 17.Rxf1


SpBr2_105Position after 17. Rxf1


Of course recapturing with the Rook – it will attack along the f-file. Now White threatens the Queen so Black can either give up material, capture the Knight or move the Queen.



17…Qd5 is the best move, although you can understand Black not liking the look of 18.Bb3 Qxb3 19.axb3 (not 19.Qxb3 Be6) 19…Kxf7 20.Qc4+ Kg6 (20…Be6 21.Ng5+) 21.Qg8! (threatening Ne5+ Kh5, Qf7+) 21…Bf6 22.Nh4+! Bxh4 (22…Kh5 23.Qd5+ Kxh4 24.Rf4+ Bg4 25.g3+ Kh3 26.Qg2#) 23.Qf7+ Kh7 24.Qxe8 Ng6 25.Rf7

SpBr2_109Analysis: 25. Rf7


and Black will lose more material. 25…b6? (25…Bf6 26.Rxf6 gxf6 27.Qf7+) 26.Qc6)


Or, 18. Bb3 Qh5 19.Nxh6+ Kh8 20.Nf7+ Kg8 21.Nd8+! Kh8 22.Ne5!


SpBr2_108Analysis: 22. Ne5!


White has setup a windmill attack coupled with mating threats on g8.


22…Rxd8 (22…g6 23.Qc4! Qh7 24.Nef7+) 23.Nf7+ Kg8 24.Nxd8+ Kh8 25.Rxf8+ Bxf8 26.Qc4 Kh7 27.Qg8+ Kh6 28.Qxf8.

17…Qd7 allows the other Knight in with tempo, simultaneously opening the file for the Rook.

18.N3e5 Qe6 19.Bb3 Qa6 20.Nxh6+ Kh8 21.Nef7#

17…Kxf7 18.Ng5+ double-check, the King must move. 18…Kg8 19.Bb3+ Kh8 (19…Be6 20.Bxe6+ only slows things by one move.) 20.Rxf8+ and mate on h7 next.

18.Qxf5 Qd7 With Black’s pieces poorly positioned, Spassky isn’t about to give him any breathing space, he maintains the pressure.

19.Qf4 Bf6 20.N3e5


SpBr2_106Position after 20. N3e5


20…Qe7 20…Bxe5 21.Nxe5 Rxe5


(21…Qe7 22.Qe4! with the idea 22…—23.Rxf8+ Kxf8 else Qh7# 24.Ng6+)


22.dxe5 Re8 is best, with White much better.


21.Bb3 Bxe5 22.Nxe5+ Kh7

On 22…Ne6 23.Qe4! again wins. Black cannot move his King out of the pin and White will win the Knight after 23…Rf8 (23…c6 24.Ng6 Qd7 25.Nf8! Rxf8 26.Bxe6+) 24.Rxf8+ Rxf8 25.Ng6

23.Qe4+ and Bronstein resigned.

SpBr2_107Final Position


If  23…g6 24.Rxf8 Rxf8 25.Qxg6+ Kh8 26.Qxh6+ Qh7 27.Ng6#


And 23…Kh8 24.Rxf8+ Rxf8 25.Ng6+ Kh7 26.Nxf8+! Kh8 27.Qh7#


The King’s Gambit Part 1: Spassky – Fischer 1960

(This is a lesson from the Chess Mastery Course, add your email in the box to the right to get future lessons! Also, you can download this lesson as a pdf from the downloads page).

The King’s Gambit
Game 1: Spassky – Fischer, 1960

This famous game (featured in Fischer’s “My 60 Memorable Games”, from which some of the analysis and Fischer’s comments are taken) saw a great clash between the two future rivals. Fischer played 1…e5 instead of his usual 1…c5 and Spassky unleashes the King’s Gambit!
Perhaps insulted by this, Fischer plays a long line of very strong moves to hold onto his material advantage, keeping tension where other players may have looked to calm the position. It is testament to the potential danger of this opening that a couple of hard-to-spot mistakes by Black lead to an impressive win for Spassky. It was this game that led Fischer to publish his famous “Bust to the King’s Gambit” with 3…d6.

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5

SpFi_110This move was often played in the romantic era when the King’s Gambit was one of the most popular openings. Black protects the f-pawn and has the option of playing g4, chasing the Knight around the board. However, Black weakens his own Kingside by doing this.

4.h4 g4 White challenges the pawn and it advances. Both sides have to take care not to get into trouble on this side of the board.


With a double-attack on the g4 pawn. Black has a few reasonable-looking moves.

a) Securing the pawn with 5…h5? allows White to develop with tempo 6.Bc4 Nh6

(or 6…Rh7 7.d4 d6 8.Nd3 f3 9.gxf3 Be7 10.Be3 Bxh4+ 11.Kd2 Bg5 12.f4 Bh6 13.Nc3 “White has more than enough compensation for the pawn. This is vintage analysis” – Fischer)

7.d4 d6 8.Nd3 the f-pawn is going to fall and White will have an excellent attack along the f-file. With all Black’s Qside pieces still at home, it will be difficult for his King to get to safety.

b) 5…Nc6 is tricky as 6.Nxc6 dxc6 7.d4 Nf6 8.e5 (8.Nc3 Bb4) 8…Nh5 makes it difficult for White to regain the pawn and his development is impeded by the f and g-pawns.

b2) 6.Nxg4 d5 7.exd5 Qe7+ 8.Be2 (8.Qe2?? Bxg4 9.Qxe7+ Ncxe7) 8…Nd4 (8…Bxg4 9.dxc6) 9.Nf2 Bf5 10.d3 0-0-0 11.Nc3 and Black has all the pressure.

b3) 6.d4! is the recommended move as 6…Nxe5 7.dxe5 d6 8.Bxf4 Qe7 9.exd6 Qxe4+ 10.Qe2 Qxe2+ 11.Bxe2 Bxd6 12.Bxd6 cxd6 13.Nc3 gives White the advantage. He has a lead in development which can be used to pressure the weaknesses in Black’s position such as the d6 pawn (which is necessary, White is still a pawn down).
Play could continue 13…Be6 14.0-0-0 0-0-0 15.Nb5 winning the pawn back. Moves such as Rd4 and Rhf1 could follow, targeting the pawns, and moving the Knight back to d4 will take away their defender, the Bishop on e6.

c) 5…Be7 is another idea. What to do about Bxh4+?
6.Bc4!? counter-attack! 6…Bxh4+ 7.Kf1 d5 allowing the Bc8 to protect g4
(7…Nh6 8.Nxg4 Nxg4 9.Qxg4 d5 (9…Bg5 10.Qf5! with threats such as 10…d5? 11.Qe5+; 9…Bf6 10.Rxh7!)
10.Bb5+ c6 11.Qxh4 Qxh4 12.Rxh4 cxb5 13.exd5 and White is going to be up material.)

8.Bxd5 Nh6 9.d4 Bg5 10.Nc3 c6 11.Bb3 f6 12.Nd3 Qxd4 13.Bxf4 Bxf4 14.Nxf4 Qxd1+ 15.Rxd1 Nf7 16.Ng6 Rg8 17.Rxh7 is winning (analysis by Bilguier 1880).

5…Nf6 6.d4 White disdains to take on g4 or protect e4, preferring to open up the line for his Queen’s Bishop.

6…d6 7.Nd3 Nxe4 8.Bxf4 Bg7 how to protect the d4 pawn?

9.Nc3!? develop with a counter-attack! Fischer does not like this move, saying White now has no compensation for the pawn. He gives the line 9.c3 Qe7 10.Qe2 Bf5 as preferable because “White maintains a grip on f4”.

9…Nxc3 10.bxc3 c5

Brave play. A lot of players would have gone for a developing move or getting their King off the open file (Keres preferred 0-0) but Fischer goes straight after the weaker points in White’s position.

11.Be2 like a true King’s Gambit player, Spassky’s main interest is getting his pieces into play. [11.Qe2+ Be6 12.d5? Bxc3+ – Fischer.]

11…cxd4 12.0-0 Nc6 

SpFi_113An interesting choice. In no rush to castle, Fischer gets some control over d4 and e5 as well giving himself the option of recapturing the Bc8 with the Rook in future. There is no hurry to capture on c3 as White can’t take on d4 yet.

Other options:

a) 12…h5? 13.Bg5 f6 (if 13…Qc7 14.Nf4 eyes d5 14…Qc5 15.Kh1 Nc6 16.Bd3 and Black’s King is looking exposed 16…0-0 isn’t possible because of 17.Nxh5) 14.Bc1 followed by Nf4 “Black’s Kingside is all messed up” – Fischer.

b) 12…Qxh4 13.g3 and where does the Black Queen go to? It would be uncomfortable on either the e- or f-files. (13.Bxd6?? g3) 13…Qd8 14.Bxg4 0-0 15.Bxc8 Qxc8 16.Bxd6 Rd8 17.Be5 Black is ok after 17…Nc6 but Fischer is not interested in allowing Spassky equality. He is a pawn up and playing for the win. To do this, he gives Spassky plenty of play too.

13.Bxg4 0-0

13…Qxh4 is too dangerous now 14.Re1+ Ne7 (14…Kf8 15.Bxd6+ Kg8 16.Bxc8 Rxc8 17.Qf3) 15.Bxc8 Rxc8 16.Bxd6 Bf8 17.Qf3 dxc3 18.Qxb7

13…Bxg4 14.Qxg4 0-0?? 15.Bh6

13…Bd7 14.Bg5 f6 (14…Qb6 15.Bxd7+ Kxd7 16.Rxf7+) 15.Bh5+

SpFi_11414.Bxc8 Rxc8 15.Qg4 f5! 

This denies White a square on the g-file as well as giving the Rf8 more scope (for instance, Rf6-g6 becomes possible).

The Black Queen can also shelter behind this pawn if required.

15…Qf6 16.Bg5 Qg6 17.h5 f5 18.Qh4 Qf7


15…Ne7 16.Bg5 Kh8 17.Rae1 Rc7 18.Qe2 f6

16.Qg3 dxc3 Black is two pawns up, White needs to show something.

17.Rae1 17.Bxd6 Rf6 18.Bf4 Rg6 and White’s Queen is much less of an attacking threat.

17…Kh8 unpinning the Bg7 and making space for the Rook

17…Re8 18.h5 taking away g6 from Black as well as threatening h6 (18.Rxe8+ Qxe8 19.Re1 Qg6 just leaves Black up a pawn, White’s attack is coming to a close.) 18…Kh8 19.Bxd6 Bd4+ 20.Kh1 Qf6 (20…Rg8 21.Qh2 (21.Ne5!? is interesting but Black comes out on top after 21…Rxg3 22.Nf7+ Kg7 23.Nxd8 Rg4 24.Ne6+ Kf6) 21…Qf6)

Ananlysis 24...Kf6

Ananlysis 24…Kf6

18.Kh1 to stop any ideas of Rg8 and Bd4+ winning the Queen

“More accurate is 18.Bxd6 Rf6 (18…Rg8 19.Ne5!) 19.Be5 Nxe5 20.Nxe5 with a little play left for White” – Fischer. 

18…Rg8 [18…d5 19.Nc5]


19.Bxd6 Bf8!

SpFi_116“The key!” – Fischer

The more obvious 19…Bf6 leads to 20.Qf4 Rg4 21.Qxf5 Rxh4+ 22.Bh2 Bg7

19…Bd4 20.Qh2 (20.Qf4 Rg4) 20…Rg4 21.Be5+! “to prevent Black from doubling Rooks on the g-file. 21…Kg8 (not 21…Bxe5 22.Nxe5 Rxh4? 23.Nf7+) 22.Bg3 holds for White.” – Fischer

20.Be5+ Nxe5 21.Qxe5+ Rg7! 

SpFi_117Keeping control of the g-file, making it tough for White to hold onto the h-pawn.


22.Qf4 Rg4; 22.Rf4? Bd6; 22.g3 Bd6; 22.Qxf5 Qxh4+ 23.Kg1 Qg4 forces the Queens off as 24.Qf2 Be7 with the idea of Bh4.


22…Bd6 23.Qe4 Re7 24.Qd4+ Rg7 (24…Kg8 25.Rg5+ Kf7 26.Qd5+ Ke8) 25.Rd5 Rc6 26.Nb4

SpFi_11823.Kg1 (diagram)


 23…Qg3! 24.Qxg3 (24.Qe2 Bd6! threatening 25.– Qh2+ 26.Kf1 Qh1+ 27.Kf2 Rxg2+) 24…Rxg3 threatening Rxd3 and c2 is best, as pointed out by Spassky after the game.

24.Rf2 Be7 25.Re4 Qg5?

 Black could have taken a draw with 25…Qd1+ 26.Re1 (26.Rf1 Qxc2 27.Rg4 Rcg8) 26…Qg4 27.Re4 Qd1+ 28.Kh2 Rc6 29.Qb8+ Rg8 30.Qe5+ Rg7

26.Qd4! it’s getting tough for Black to find a good move with his Rg7 pinned, Bishop en prise and Queen without many safe squares.

26…Rf8? concerned about Ne5, Black makes the final mistake.

26…Rd8 27.Qxc3= (27.Qxa7 Rxd3 28.cxd3 Bc5 29.Re8+ Rg8 30.Rxg8+ Kxg8 31.Qb8+ Kg7 32.Qxb7+ Kh6 is a draw) ;

26…Bc5 27.Nxc5 Qxc5 (27…Rxc5 28.Rf8#) 28.Re8+

SpFi_11927.Re5! Winning material.







SpFi_12027.Ne5? Rxf2 28.Qxf2 Bc5! – Fischer






27…Rd8  27…Qg6 28.Rxe7; 27…Qh4 28.Rxf8+; 27…Bf6 28.Qd6!

28.Qe4 [28.Qxc3 Bf6]

SpFi_12128…Qh4 29.Rf4

Black resigns. If Qg3 then Rxe7.

 Some great defence from Fischer but the space controlled by White’s forces made it easy to slip up.

Note the control of the open e- and f-files by White’s Rooks, the same files that began to be opened by the first two moves of the game.

Carlsen – Anand, World Championship 2014, all games.



Millionaire Chess, Wesley So’s $100k Victory! All games.



Magnus Carlsen’s 3002 Performance, Nanjing 2009, all games



Kasparov – Karpov, World Championship 1986, all games


Bobby Fischer – Boris Spassky, The Rematch, 1992