Chess Archaeology HomeChess is a scientific game and its literature ought to be placed on the basis of the strictest truthfulness, which is the foundation of all scientific research.W. Steinitz

1876 Blackburne-Steinitz
London Match
Researched by Nick Pope

17 February 1876—2 March 1876
Format: The winner of the first seven games to be declared the victor, draws not counting.
Time Control: 30 moves in 2 hours and then 15 moves every 1 hour.
Purse: 120 (60 a side).

Match Between Messrs Blackburne And Steinitz.

The preliminaries of this match have been settled, and the contest will commence on Thursday, the 17 inst., at the rooms of the West-end Chess Club, 8, New Coventry-street, W., where all the games will be played three times a week, namely, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The first winner of seven games, exclusive of draws, is to be declared victor. We shall publish the detailed conditions in our next number.
London Field, 1876.02.05

Conditions Of The Match Between Messrs Blackburne And Steinitz.

Messrs Blackburne and Steinitz have agreed to play a chess match on the following conditions:

(1) The stakes in the match shall be £60 a side, and either player who first scores seven games, exclusive of draws, shall be declared the victor, and be entitled to receive the stakes of both sides.

(2) Each player shall deposit his stake of £60 with Mr. J. H. Walsh, the chief editor of The Field newspaper, at least one day previous to the commencement of the match.

(3) The rooms of the West-end Chess Club, No. 8, New Coventry-street, W., shall be the place of meeting throughout the contest for the purpose of play. The first game shall commence on Thursday, the 17th inst., at 2 p.m., and play shall proceed on every subsequent Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday, at the same time, until the conclusion of the match. After four hours’ play either party may claim an adjournment for an hour. After eight hours’ play the game shall be adjourned to the next day, Sundays excepted.

(4) Each player shall be allowed two hours for making his first series of thirty moves, and an hour for every subsequent fifteen moves, and the time gained in each series of moves shall be counted to the credit of the next series. This time limit shall be regulated by sandglasses, and either player exceeding it by five minutes shall forfeit the game.

(5) The sandglass of a player who does not appear within half an hour of the time appointed for the commencement of a new game, or punctually in order to continue an adjourned game, shall be set running by the opponent, and the time thus wasted shall be counted as consumed by the absent player, who shall forfeit the game if his time limit is exceeded.

(6) The games shall be played in accordance with the laws of the British Chess Association, with the exception that if either player repeat the same move or series of moves six times in succession, the opponent may claim a drawn game.

London Field, 1876.02.12

The Match between Messrs Blackburne and Steinitz.—It has been agreed by Messrs Blackburne and Steinitz that their right of publication of the games shall be consigned to The Field exclusively, and that the annotations appended to the games shall be signed by both players before publication.
London Field, 1876.02.12

Game 1: Thursday, February 17, 1876.

Match Between Messrs Blackburne And Steinitz.

According to announcement, the first game in this momentous contest commenced on Thursday, the 17th, at the West-end Chess Club. After some preparations, play commenced at half-past two o’clock; the toss for the first move having fallen in favour of Mr. Steinitz. An alteration in the conditions as published in our last number was agreed upon by the two combatants, to the effect that the time limit should be regulated by alarum [sic] time-pieces instead of sand glasses.
London Field, 1876.02.19

Date: 1876.02.17
Site: ENG London (West-End Chess Club)
Event: Match, Game 1
White: Steinitz,W
Black: Blackburne,JH
Opening: [C77] Spanish
Annotators: Blackburne & Steinitz
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d3
Anderssen first adopted this move in his match against Morphy, which at the time caused a great deal of animadversion amongst theorists, who were inclined towards advocating a more energetic attack than the nature of the opening apparently can bear. But we believe that the great German master showed a true appreciation of the spirit of this opening, which requires a treatment similar to that of the close game, namely, a steadfast gradual development, content with the small advantage of the first move.
Morphy played here invariably 5...b5, followed by 6...Bc5; the move in the text was first brought into practice by Paulsen, and was afterwards accepted as the standard defense, which in the majority of games hitherto played has proven successful.
Anderssen prefers here 6.Bxc6+, and then directs his attention to retaining both his knights, and preventing the adversary from dissolving his doubled pawn. White persues here a different, and in the present position novel, policy, and makes preparation for retaining his light-square bishop, and resting his game upon confining the opponent’s dark-square bishop. Whether this plan is an amelioration of Anderssen’s line of attack can only be proved by repeated practical trials.
Against Anderssen’s form of attack in this début it is more usual to open an outlet for the bishop by 6...g6. Black prefers to get his king into safety as soon as possible, and therefore at once makes room to enable him to castle.
Not so much for defensive purposes as with the view of subsequently fortifying an attack by pawn to g4 against the opponent’s kingside, after the latter has castled.
7...0-0 8.Qe2 Ne8 9.g4 b5 10.Bc2 Bb7 11.Nbd2 Qd7 12.Nf1
This peculiar way of bringing the knight over to the kingside was much favored by Morphy in similar situations, and was also adopted by Blackburne in the tie match against Steintiz in the Vienna tournament. But both those players had elected that course after having previously brought out thier c1-bishop, while here White seemed to have time for this maneuver, even at the cost of remporarily blocking out his dark-square bishop.
12...Nd8 13.Ne3 Ne6 14.Nf5 g6
For pure defensive purposes it would have been feasible to retreat the bishop to d8; but Blackburne thinks that after the exchange, and since his adversary was compelled to castle on the queenside, the chances of an attack were at least equally balanced for both sides.
15.Nxe7+ Qxe7 16.Be3 N8g7 17.0-0-0 c5 18.d4 exd4 19.cxd4 c4
Blackburne poined out that 19...d5 would have been much stronger at this juncture, and there can be no doubt that this move would have much improved his game. White’s best answer then would have been 20.e5 (for if 20.exd5 instead, Black would rejoin 20...Nf4, with an excellent game). Most likely the game would have proceeded thus: 19...d5 20.e5 c4 21.h4 and now, whether Black advanced 21...f5 or 21...h5, White retained still some considerable attack; in the former by 22.exf5, followed by 23.Ne5, and in the latter case by the answer of 23.Ng5, followed soon by pawn to f4. But, nevertheless, Black had a better chance then of repelling the onslaught, and certainly if he once got out of the attack, even at the expense of sacrificing a piece eventually, his fine array of well-supported pawns on the queen’s wing would have been most formidable.
20.d5 Nc7 21.Qd2
A move necessary for defensive purposes, but also threatening. Before moving the queen, White could not utilize his dark-square bishop without subjecting his d-pawn to capture. Now White menaces a break in with the queen, either at a5 or h6, after removing the bishop, as actually occurred.
21...a5 22.Bd4 f6 23.Qh6 b4 24.g5 f5
Perhaps 24...Nge8, with the intention of offering the exchange of queens at g7, would have augmented Black’s prospects of prolonging the fight; but, even if he succeeded in effecting the exchange, White’s pawns and pieces were better situated for the endgame.
25.Bf6 Qf7
The sacrifice of the rook for the bishop would not have mended matters, on account of the impending 27.Ng5, after capturing the rook. Nor would 25...Qd7 have been any better, e.g.: 25...Qd7 26.exf5 Nxf5 (if 26...gxf5 instead, White would proceed with 27.g6 at once) 27.Bxf5 gxf5 28.g6 Rxf6 29.gxh7+, and wins; for if 29...Kf7 30.Ng5+ would be a destructive rejoinder.
26.exf5 gxf5 27.g6
Decisive (for, if 27...hxg6, White replies 28.Ng5), though rather plain in comparision with the fine variation which might have arisen in answer to 27.Nh4, which would probably have led to a still more elegant conclusion, e.g.: 27.Nh4 Nxd5 28.Rxd5 Bxd5 29.Nxf5 Nxf5 (best) 30.Bxf5, threatening pawn to g6, and must win, for Black dare not take the rook on account of the answer 31.Be6.
27...Qxg6 28.Bxg7 Qxh6+ 29.Bxh6 Rf6
There was little to be done; but certainly, if Black wished to proceed further, 29...Rf7 presented greater chances of prolonging resistance; but, as our readers may observe, both players were just at this stage on the point of completing the fixed time limit, and their movements bear the appearance of being hurried.
30.Rhg1+ Rg6 31.Bxf5 Kf7 32.Bxg6+ hxg6 33.Ng5+ Kg8 34.Rge1 1-0
White threatens, accordingly to circumstances, either 35.Re6 or 35.Re7, after which the defense must soon collapse.
London Field, 1876.02.19

Game 2: Saturday, February 19, 1876.

Messrs Blackburne And Steinitz’s Match.

The second game, played on Saturday, the 19th inst., commenced, by mutual consent, at three o’clock, and it has been agreed by both players to alter the rule respecting the hour for the beginning of the match games, to the effect that the games played on Tuesdays and Saturdays shall commence at three o’clock p.m., and the one due on Thursday at two p.m. A large number of visitors, including Lord Walden, Mr Cochrane, and Mr Strode, attended to witness the contest, which on that day was accompanied by unusually stirring incidents. Blackburne opened with the variation of the Scotch Gambit which had been adopted by the Viennese in one of the games of the memorable match by telegraph and correspondence between London and Vienna. The defence then adopted by the London council wins a P. for the second player, whose king has, however, to abandon the privilege of castling in consequence, and to remain confined for a long time in an extremely perilous-looking position, while his pieces on the Q side are also shut up, an cannot be brought into play for some time. Though it has been demonstrated by the success of the London council that the P was worth all the trouble of a protracted defence in a correspondence game, where several days could be taken for the consideration of one move, and though the theoretical soundness of this defence has been advocated in our columns and by other authorities, this line of play is shunned by many practitioners as too difficult, especially in match games over the board wherein a time limit is adopted, which must of necessity be much shorter than the time allowances for correspondence games.

Steinitz, who nevertheless adopted the same defence, wasted a great deal of time in the opening, and apparently hesitated in order to endeavour to vary the recognised line of play, as is his wont to do in match games; but he ultimately followed move by move the precepts of the so-called Vienna game, and the first deviation from that established form of play came from the leader of the attack. On the 9th move, Blackburne introduced the alteration of 9. Q takes B, instead of Kt takes B, as played by Vienna. The game became more especially exciting when the second player exhausted his first hour on the 13th move, and, having an exceedingly difficult game to fight, was therefore still more likely to get into trouble with the time allowance in the second hour, when, according to the stipulations, he might have to forfeit, unless he succeeded in raising the average speed of his moves, which seemed doubtful, as his position was very critical. He, however, managed to keep afloat up to the 20th move, when he ventured upon a sortie, attacking the opponent’s K Kt with his Q KtP, which some experts in the room considered questionable; and so it seems, unless our note to Black’s 22nd move should prove a redeeming feature of this defence. Blackburne, without stopping to defend the Kt, began a vehement attack in his usual vigorous and brilliant style, and certainly, if he consistently followed it up, would have obtained a winning position on the 24th move. He no doubt conceived at the time some of the beautiful variations which we give on that move below, for he showed them to the bystanders immediately after the game was finished; but he had no time left to make sure of them, and, seeing a mode of play which recovered his P, though it seemed to relax the attack, he preferred the latter as the less hazardous. On Mr Blackburne’s 29th move the alarum [sic] bell of his clock rang, to show that he could only rely upon the stipulated five minutes’ grace for his next two moves, and thus it happened that he did not elect the much stronger 29. QR takes B, which would have soon won a P. The adjournment for an hour took place on Black’s 30th move, and after resuming play Steinitz made two more moves, and then offered a draw. For reasons stated below, and probably also being annoyed at having let the opponent slip, Mr Blackburne rejected the offer, though the positions were quite equal. But in trying to win Blackburne had to deploy one of his rooks, and subjected his queen to the attack of the two combined hostile rooks. When the opponent took up the offensive, Blackburne had an extremely difficult game to defend, and was also getting short of time. A feeble move on his part, made under those circumstances, enabled Steinitz to win a P and exchange both rooks, after which it came to an extremely difficult ending game as both parties has still their queens on the board. By cautious advance Steinitz managed, however, to secure an easily winning position on the 58th move.
London Field, 1876.02.26

Date: 1876.02.19
Site: ENG London (West-End Chess Club)
Event: Match, Game 2
White: Blackburne,JH
Black: Steinitz,W
Opening: [C45] Scotch
Annotators: Blackburne & Steinitz
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Qh4 5.Nb5 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Qxe4+ 7.Be2 Kd8 8.0-0 Bxd2 9.Qxd2
In the match between London and Vienna, the latter retook the bishop with the knight. The course here adopted does not seem to afford greater facilities for the defense, and has, perhaps, the advantage for match play that it has not received such an exhaustive analysis as the line of play pursued in the above mentioned game.
In the altered position this appears better than the mode of development for this knight advocated by Messrs Potter and Steinitz in their analysis of the above quoted game, namely 9...Nh6 (see The Field, April 18, 1874). The chief reason given by those two examiners was the weakness of Black’s f-pawn, which might more specially compromise the defense, since the first player had, in a great many variations, fine opportunities of attacking that weak point with one of his knights; but in the present position, after the queen in place of the knight has retaken the bishop, such a contingency was too remote to be taken into serious consideration, and it was probably the best course to defend at once the point at d5 against any future occupation from either of the adversary’s knights.
10.N1c3 Qe5 11.Rfe1 a6 12.Na3 Qd4
12...b5, blocking out the opponent’s a-knight, was tempting, but would have been thoroughly unsound, e.g., 12...b5 13.Bf3 Qc5 (best) 14.b4 Qb6 (best) 15.Qg5 Rg8 16.Nd5 and wins.
13.Qg5 Rg8 [?:??-1:00] 14.Rad1 h6
An important move, not alone to prevent the hostile queen from establishing herself at any of the strong posts on the kingside, but also to enable Black to bring his own queen into greater security by constantly offering the exchange of queens.
15.Qg3 Qe5 16.Qh4 Qg5 17.Qc4 [1:00-?:??] 17...Ne5 18.Qb4
White would have gained nothing by attacking the knight and the queen, by 14.f4, though the knight might have been temporarily put out of play. For instance, 18.f4 Nxc4 19.fxg5 Nxa3 20.gxf6 Nxc2 21.Bd3 Nxe1 22.Bh7 Re8 23.fxg7 Nd3 and Black is out of danger; for if the bishop takes the knight, he replies 24...Rg8, which recovers the most dangerous pawn.
Black’s last two moves were made under the pressure of time limit, and under the impression that he could advance the pawn to b5 if the opponent retreated the queen to b3; but it appears that after White’s next answer this expedient could not be adopted, e.g., 19.Qb3 b5 20.Bf3 Bb7 21.Qxf7 Ne5 22.Rxe5 Qxe5 23.Bxb7 Rb8 24.Bc6, etc.
19.Qb3 Rf8 20.Nc4 b5
This move is weak, and gives the opponent an excellent opportunity for displaying his power of brilliant resource. 20...Qc5 was the correct play.
21.Bf3 Bb7
Had Black captured the knight, the adversary would have recovered the piece at once by 22.Qa3, attacking the rook, followed by 23.Bxc6.
22.Nd5 Rb8
Probably 22...Kc8 would have been the much safer line of play. The move in the text subjects Black to a most vehement attack, from which he ought hardly to have escaped.
23.Qa3 Rg8 24.Ne5
At this extremely critical juncture, Blackburne, who had conducted the attack in an excellent manner, was unfortunately very hard pressed for time so much that he had ultimately, on the 29th move, to take advantage of the five minutes’ grace accorded by the conditions, and he was unable to work out in all its details the very fine combination he afterwards pointed out, and which, though apparently hazardous, was, so far as our examination goes, quite sound in all variations. He ought to have played here 24.Re5, and the game might have gone on thus: 24.Re5 Nxe5 (or 24...Qh4 25.Nxf6 Qxf6 [or 25...gxf6 26.Re4 Qh3 (best) 27.Bg4, and wins] 26.Red5 bxc4 27.Rxd7+ Ke8 [if 27...Kc8 28.Bg4 follows] 28.Rxc7, and ought to win) 25.Qe7+ Kc8 26.Ndb6+ cxb6 27.Nxb6+ Kc7 28.Qd6+ Kd8 29.Qxb8+ Bc8 30.Bb7 (better than 30.Qxc8+, which would only draw the game), and wins.
24...Nxe5 25.Qe7+ Kc8 26.Rxe5 Nxd5 27.Qxf7 Qd8 28.Bxd5 Bxd5 29.Rexd5 [2:00-?:??]
No doubt is would have much improved White’s position if he had here retaken with the other rook, and reserved the e-rook to occupy e7.
29...d6 30.R5d3 Qe8
At this stage the game was adjourned, and was resumed after an hour’s interval.
31.Qd5 Rf8 [?:??-2:00] 32.Qd4 Rf6
Here Steinitz proposed a draw, and Blackburne admits that the offer was a fair one, as the position and forces were quite even; but Blackburne in refusing the offer, relied chiefly upon the circumstances that his opponent had exhausted about seventeen minutes of his third hour over the last two moves, and he trusted the chance of inveigling Black into such complications as would necessitate his consuming more time than the limit would allow, or cause him to make some ill-considered move of which advantage could be taken.
33.Re3 Qc6 34.Rde1
34.Qa7 would have been of no use, for Black would have replied 34...Qb6, and, if White checked with the rook, the Black king would move to d7, and White could not then take the rook with the queen, on account of the impending mate, commencing with 36...Qxf2+, followed by the sacrifice of the queen at f1.
34...Kb7 35.Rc3 Qd7
Black might also with safety here have played 35...Re8, but the move in the text gave him more aggressive chances.
36.Rce3 Rbf8 37.f3 R8f7 38.Re8 Qc6 39.c3 Rf5 40.R8e7 Rd5 41.Qh4 [3:00-?:??]
White could not well sacrifice the queen for two rooks by playing 41.Rxf7 for Black would win at least two pawns on the queenside by 42...Qd5, after capturing the queen and the opponent’s retaking the rook with the pawn. Nevertheless 41.Qf2 was better than the move in the text.
41...Qc5+ 42.Kf1 g5 43.Qe4
Again 43.Qf2 was preferable, but Blackburne had here to fight against the difficulty of making all his moves up to the 45th within the five minutes grace allowed to him, he having already exhausted his limit on the 41st move.
43...Rxe7 44.Qxe7 Rd2 45.Re2 Rd1+ 46.Re1 Qc4+ 47.Qe2 Rxe1+ 48.Kxe1 Qxa2 49.Qe4+ d5 50.Qc2 Qc4 51.Qd2
In answer to 51.b4, Black would have advanced 51...a5, and upon the opponent taking it, he had time to recover it by 52...Ka6.
51...a5 52.g3 b4 53.f4 gxf4 54.gxf4 bxc3 55.bxc3 a4 56.Kd1 a3 57.Kc1 Kc6 58.Kb1
He had nothing else; had he advanced 58.f5, Black would have replied 58...Qf1+, followed accordingly either by the exchange of queens, or the immediate advance of the a-pawn.
Now White’s king and queen are altogether confined, and Black can bring his king round so as to exchange queens, and to capture the f-pawn at the proper moment, as was actually done.
59.Ka1 Kd6 60.Qc1 Ke7 61.Qd2 Kf7 62.Qc1 c5 63.Qd2 Kf6 64.Qc1 Kf5 65.Qd2 Qb2+ 66.Qxb2 axb2+ 67.Kxb2 Kxf4 0-1
London Field, 1876.02.26

Game 3: Tuesday, February 22, 1876.

The third game, played on Tuesday, was opened by Steinitz with the Allgaier Kieseritzky Gambit, which the theorists thought completely demolished by Paulsen’s defence. It was at once surmised that Steinitz would not have adopted this attack unless he had some novelty in store. And so it was; for he sacrificed another pawn on the twelfth move by bringing the Q Kt to B 3, which led to the exchange of queens, and the recovery of the lost pawn, with, as Steinitz thinks, an even position. His opponent and Mr Zukertort opine, however, that Black has the best of the game, and future analysis and practice must decide between the conflicting views. The ending was carefully played on both sides, and seemed to lead to a drawn position. But on the 25th move Blackburne, by a fine coup, which took the opponent by surprise, won a P; and two moves later on he might have won the exchange, but missed his opportunity, owing to being pressed for time. Steinitz, who had managed to keep time in hand, adopted the usual policy under the circumstances, namely, to make the game as difficult as possible for the opponent who was pushed for time - even at the expense of correctness, and at some risk. By this means he succeeded in pretty nearly equalising the game, though he was still a P behind at the time of the adjournment on the 31st move. After the adjournment only three moves had been made on each side, when Blackburne made an oversight which cost him two pawns, and gave his opponent an easy victory in the end game.
London Field, 1876.02.26

Date: 1876.02.22
Site: ENG London (West-End Chess Club)
Event: Match, Game 3
White: Steinitz,W
Black: Blackburne,JH
Opening: [C39] King's Gambit Accepted
Annotators: Blackburne & Steinitz
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.h4 g4 5.Ne5 Nf6 6.Bc4 d5 7.exd5 Bg7 8.d4 0-0 9.Bxf4 Nxd5 10.Bxd5 Qxd5 11.0-0 c5 12.Nc3
Obvious as this move seems, it has not received any analytical attention, and we believe that this is the first occasion of it having been introduced into practice in an important match game. White must recover the pawn he now offers, and the position afterwards is about even; but Blackburne and Zukertort are of the opinion that the retention of the two bishops gives the second player the superior game, though his pawns on the queenside are separated.
12...Qxd4+ 13.Qxd4 cxd4 14.Nd5 Nc6 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.Ne7+ Kh8 17.Nxc6 Bb7 18.Ne5 Rac8 19.Rf2 Be4 [?:??-1:00] 20.Rd1 [1:00-?:??] 20...f5 21.Nd3
White could not well venture upon taking the d-pawn, for it would have involved the loss of the exchange, e.g.: 21.Rxd4 Rce8 22.Ra4 Bxe5 23.Rxe4 fxe4 24.Bxe5+ Kg8, and ought to win.
21...Rfe8 22.Re2 Kg8 23.Ne1 Kf7 24.Bg3 Re6
The initiation of a finely conceived scheme, altogether overlooked by the adversary.
25.Bf2 Bxc2
White ought on the previous move to have played 25.Kf1, which would have frustrated this neat design. As it stands, if White take the bishop with the rook, Black would answer 26...Rxe1+, etc.
26.Rxe6 Bxd1 27.Rd6 Ke7
Fortunately for Steinitz, his opponent was at this point short of time, or else the latter could not have failed to see that he could win the exchange by 27...Be5, threatening 28...g3. White had then no better reply than 28.Rxd4, and he would have had very hard work afterwards to draw the game, even if he found time to strengthen his position by pawn to g3.
28.Ra6 Rc7 29.Kf1 Rd7 [?:??-2:00] 30.Ra3 [2:00-?:??] 30...Ke6 31.Nd3 Bf8 32.Ra5
Preventing the adversary’s king from crossing, and better than checking at a6, which would only have had the effect of drawing the king up to the support of his passed d-pawn; for Black could have safely answered 32...Kd5, followed by 33...Ke4 if the knight checked at f4, and White would then have found it of no avail to protect the knight by 34.Bg3, threatening mate with the rook, since Black could provide an escape by 34...d3, which also cleared the road to his own victory.
32...Bc2 33.Ke2 Kf6
Black played this with the anticipation that White would answer 34.Kd2, whereupon he would capture the knight, followed by 35...Kg6, which would have given him a good game.
White failed here to take the promptest advantage of the opponent’s error. He might have taken the a-pawn with the rook at once, but still the move adopted, drove the king back, forced the gain of a pawn, and secured at least a draw.
A grave error, for it loses two pawns at once. He ought to have 34...Ke7; but even in that case his game was not comfortable, and he must have lost the a-pawn by the answer of 35.Nc5, without being able to make any impression with his passed d-pawn, which could easily be stopped.
35.Rxa7 Rxa7 36.Bxd4+ Kf7 37.Bxa7 Bd6 38.Be3 Ke6 39.Kd2 Bxd3 40.Kxd3 Kd5 41.a4 f4 42.Bf2 g3 43.Bg1 Bb4 44.Ke2 Ba5 45.Kf3 Kc4 46.Kxf4 Bc7+ 47.Kg5 Bd8+ 48.Kg4 Bc7 49.Be3 Be5 50.a5 Kb5 51.b4 Bd6 52.Bc5 Be5 53.Kf5 Bc3 54.h5 Ka6 [?:??-3:00] 55.Ke6 (...), 1-0
And after some more moves Black resigned. Duration 7 hours.
London Field, 1876.02.26

Game 4: Thursday, February 24, 1876.

The fourth game was played on Thursday. Blackburne, who had the first move, repeated the same attack of the Scotch gambit which he had tried on the previous occasion. Steinitz this time, in the ninth move, adopted the defence of P to Q R 3, at once followed suit by Q to K 4 (on the Q Kt attacking the Q), and afterwards P to Q Kt 4, which shuts out the K Kt from action. Blackburne developed his forces rapidly, regardless of the loss of the piece threatened by Black advancing the P to Q Kt 5, to which he had at any time a fine answer by Kt to Q 5. Steinitz kept himself strictly on the defensive, brought his Q R out of the range of the hostile B, and developed at last the Q B by P to Q 3, followed by B to Q 2, as he had nothing to fear from the hostile Q B P. Thus he stood resisting the attack which the opponent, who was a P behind, was bound to pursue energetically. The storm was at last on the 18th, commenced by Blackburne, who adopted a ruse de guerre which has been often successfully tried by Anderssen, namely, of sacrificing a piece in order to complicate the position at a point when his opponent was hard up for sufficient time to reflect upon his moves. Steinitz hit upon a safe defence, which soon reduced matters to simplicity, and perceiving an opportunity of offering the exchange of queens of the 26th move, which the adversary was obliged to accept, unless he was willing to submit to a harassing attack with a piece behind. After that exchange, Black remained with a clear piece ahead, and even a weak move made in a hurry could not much hurt his prospects of winning. Having recovered time and breath on the 30th move, Steinitz proceeded after an hour’s adjournment to force the gain of pawns, and the exchange of one of the rooks, and the superiority of his forces soon proved too much for Blackburne’s clever and obstinate resistance.
London Field, 1876.02.26

Date: 1876.02.24
Site: ENG London (West-End Chess Club)
Event: Match, Game 4
White: Blackburne,JH
Black: Steinitz,W
Opening: [C45] Scotch
Annotators: Blackburne & Steinitz
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Qh4 5.Nb5 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Qxe4+ 7.Be2 Kd8 8.0-0 Bxd2 9.Qxd2 a6
This is superior to 9...Nf6, adopted by Steinitz at this point in the second game of the match. It has the effect of blocking the king’s knight for some time.
10.N5c3 Qe5 11.Na3 b5
Best at once, but not so much with the view of attacking the two pieces as with the object of paralysing the action of one of the knights.
12.Bf3 Nge7 13.Rad1 Qf5
It may be observed, that on this and the previous moves Black had to avoid the temptation of forking the two knights by ...b4, as on each occasion White could have obtained a winning attack by the reply of Nd5.
14.Rfe1 Rb8 [?:??-1:00] 15.Qe2
This was a loss of time; he ought to have played 15.Qe3 at once.
15...d6 16.Ne4 [1:00-?:??] 16...Bd7 17.Qe3 f6 18.g4 Qg6 19.Nxd6
In match games regulated by time limit the expedient is often adopted, to try to confuse the opponent when he is short of time, by raising complications even at great hazard. The present incorrect, strictly speaking, sacrifice belongs to that category. The defense was extremely ticklish, and, as Steinitz had nearly exhausted his second hour, the chances were in favor of his not hitting always upon the right move in the course of the vehement attack to which the sacrifice gave rise.
19...cxd6 20.Rxd6 Kc7 21.Bxc6
This exchange gave the most chances of continuing the pressure of a violent onslaught. Had he played the 21.Qf4, Black might have replied 21...Ne5; for if 22.Rxe5, the pawn would retake, attacking the queen. Blackburne informs us that at the time he sacrificed the knight he contemplated at this point to move 21.Qc5, and, upon the opponent answering 21...Qg5, to leave the queen en prise, and take the e-knight with the rook, e.g: 21.Qc5 Qg5 22.Rxe7 Qxc5 23.Rexd7+ Kb6 24.Rxc6+ Qxc6 25.Bxc6 Kxc6 26.Rxg7; but he overlooked that at this stage Black could force the exchange of rooks, with a winning position, by playing either rook to g8.
21...Nxc6 22.Qg3 Kc8
He could not capture the g-pawn with the queen, on account of the reply 23.Rxd7+, winning the queen.
23.Red1 Rb7 24.Qg2 Nb8
Better than 24...Ne5, which would have been of little use for aggressive purposes, while now the knight affords additional protection to Black’s much-exposed right wing.
25.R1d4 h5 26.Qd5 Qg5 27.Qxg5 fxg5 28.Rg6 Bxg4 29.Rxg5 Re8 30.Kg2 [2:00-?:??] 30...Rf7 31.h3 Bd7 [?:??-2:00] 32.Kg3 Re2 33.Rxh5 Rexf2 34.Rc5+ Nc6 35.Rd3 Kc7 36.Nb1 Kb6 37.Rcd5 Nb8 38.Nd2
White might have here won the exchange, but it would have simplified the position too much, e.g.: 38.Rxd7 Nxd7 39.Rxd7 Rxd7 40.Kxf2 Rd1 41.Nc3 Rd2+, winning easily.
38...Bc6 39.Ne4
Best. Had he moved the rook at once, the answer of 39...Rg2+, would have been deadly.
39...Re2 40.Nc3 Rxc2 41.Rd2 Rxc3+ 42.bxc3 Bxd5 43.Rxd5 Rc7 44.Rd3 Nc6 45.Kf4 Rf7+ 46.Ke4 [3:00-?:??] 46...Rf2 47.a3 Ra2 48.c4 bxc4 49.Rg3 Rd2 50.Rxg7 Rd4+ 51.Kf5 c3 0-1
There is no means of stopping the pawn now, excepting at the cost of a clear rook. If 52.Rg2, the answer is 52...Rd2; and if 53.Rg1 or 53.Rg3, with the intention of afterwards stopping the pawn accordingly, either by 54.Rc1 or 54.Rc3, Black may still advance the pawn to c2, followed by 54...Rd1, for the rook will be lost after taking the pawn by 55...Nd4+.
London Field, 1876.02.26

Game 5: Saturday, February 26, 1876.

Saturday’s game was opened by Steinitz with the Vienna opening. Blackburne defended on the second move by K Kt to B 3, and then on the fourth move introduced the novelty of K B to Q Kt 5, followed by the sacrifice of the K Kt, which gave him a fearful counter-attack. Steinitz, being thus early put on the defensive, conducted his game on the principle which prevails in the gambit named after him, namely, of marching out with his king to the front as far as possible, and then to endeavour to exchange queens, when, having brought his king towards the middle of the board, and therefore more favourably placed for the end game. Mr Blackburne, by a fine manoeuvre, took the first opportunity of driving the hostile king back, and then offered to exchange queens, which offer, if accepted, would have probably led to a draw. Steinitz immediately changed tactics, refused the exchange, and entered for a hard tussle of the middle game. Blackburne soon gave up a pawn in order to free his game a little, and after that Steinitz slowly gained ground, until it came to a general break-up of Black’s game on the 26th move, whereby Steinitz gained two pawns, and had afterwards easy work to win the game.
London Field, 1876.03.04

Date: 1876.02.26
Site: ENG London (West-End Chess Club)
Event: Match, Game 5
White: Steinitz,W
Black: Blackburne,JH
Opening: [C29] Vienna
Annotators: Blackburne & Steinitz
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 d5 4.d3 Bb4
This rarely adopted variation transfers to the second player the attack, which is, however, a short-lived one if properly defended.
5.fxe5 Nxe4
This sacrifice of the knight is a novel introduction. 5...d4 is generally preferred at this point, and is usually continued thus: 5...d4 6.exf6 dxc3 7.b3 Qxf6 8.Nf3 Bg4 9.Be2 Nc6 etc., and most practitioners pronounce the game even.
6.dxe4 Qh4+ 7.Ke2 Bxc3 8.bxc3 Bg4+ 9.Nf3 dxe4 10.Qd4
The saving clause which redeems White’s game, and leaves the opponent no option but to lose a move with the only piece he has got in play besides his queen.
Black would have lost a piece if he had taken the knight with the pawn checking, for White would have simply retaken with the pawn, and Black would have been compelled to sacrifice the pinned bishop for the adverse f-pawn, and then White’s king would have easily reached a safe goal after a few checks from the opponent.
A number of ingenious traps were laid for White by Black’s last move. Had he now moved 11.Kd2, the reply would have been 11...Qg4; and if White attacked the queen by 12.h3, Black would have checked with the queen at f4, followed by 13...Qg3+, if 13.Ke1 or, in the other alternative, if 13.Kd1, he would have won, by 13...exf3, followed by 14...fxg2+, in answer to 14.Bxf4 etc. Again, if White now moved 11.Kd1 at once, Black might have sacrificed the queen by 11...exf3; for, if 12.Qxh4 in reply, he could also proceed to leave the bishop en prise by 12...fxg2+, winning the rook and making a new queen.
11...Bxf3 12.Bb5+
The only move to prevent an immediate draw, which Black would have obtained by checking backwards and forwards with the queen at e1 and h4, if White had captured the bishop at once with the pawn. White wished to avoid that contingency, relying upon his king getting into the middle of the board, ready to support the pawns of both wings, if he succeeded in exchanging queens, which would be more favorable to him in the endgame.
12...c6 13.gxf3 cxb5 14.Qxe4 Qh6+
Much superior to exchanging queens at once, whereupon White would have retaken with the king. White’s king is now driven more to the rear and the exchange can be afforded more conveniently on the next move. If White in reply move 15.f4, Black would obtain a good game by 15...Nc6.
15.Kf2 [1:00-?:??] 15...Qc6 16.Qd4 Na6
Black chose this mode of development for the knight with the object of getting rid of the hostile bishop as early as possible. 16...Nd7 would have led to various complications of a character which must have made Black’s game exceedingly difficult, for White would have replied 17.Rg1 attacking the g-pawn, which could not be defended by 17...g6 or 17...0-0, on account of the rejoinder 18.e6.
17.Ba3 b4 [?:??-1:00]
Black could not afford to allow the bishop to be planted at d6, and the sacrifice of the pawn was quite judicious under the circumstances that White’s material advantage consisted afterwards in a doubled pawn.
18.Bxb4 Nxb4 19.Qxb4 Rc8 20.Rab1 b6
Taking the c-pawn would have led to an exchange disadvantageous to Black, e.g.: 20...Qxc3 21.Qxc3 Rxc3 22.Rxb7 Rxc2+ 23.Ke3, and wins the a-pawn.
21.Rb3 Rd8 22.Re1 Rd5 23.Re4 Qh6
The counter attack looked promising at first sight; but 23...Rc5, with the object of castling, was in reality safer play. White’s best reply was then to challenge the exchange of queens by 24.Qa4, and he would have still retained the best of the game, but his chances of winning must have been considerably diminished in that case.
24.h4 g5
“A desperate sortie, which involves the exposure of the K to a strong attack by White’s forcible reply. Q to B 8 offered better chances of recovering ground, though White would even then have kept the attack in hand by Q to R 4, ch. followed either by Q takes R P, or by R to Kt 4, according to Black’s reply.”
25.e6 fxe6
Black had nothing better, for White threatened an extremely harassing check at a4.
26.Qa4+ Ke7
Again the only move. Had he interposed the rook, White would have won as follows, supposing-26...Rd7 27.Rd4 Qg7 28.Rxb6 axb6 29.Qa8+ Ke7 30.Rxd7+ Kf6 (best; for if 30...Kxd7, White wins the queen by 31.Qa7+) 31.hxg5+, and wins; for if 31...Kf5, White would reply 32.Qe4+.
27.Qxa7+ Rd7 28.Qxb6 Rc8 [?:??-2:00] 29.Qe3 Kf7 30.Rb5 Rcd8 31.Rxg5 Rd2+ 32.Kg3 R2d6 33.Rf4+ [2:00-?:??]
Pope: The following note leads me to suspect that Black’s 32nd move is actually 32...Rd1 (R-Q8 vs R-Q3 in descriptive). If this is the case then the note dealing with the exchange of two rooks for queen begins to make sense (R to B 4, ch. being Rf5+ so the pawn can capture on f5!.
“Here White missed the shortest way of winning the game right off. He ought to have doubled the rooks by moving the same rook to K Kt 4, threatening Q to B 4, ch. followed by R to Kt 7, ch. He might have also won here two rooks for the Q by R to B 4, ch. Black had then nothing better than to capture the R with the P, for if he attempted to support the Q by K to Kt 3, R to B 6, ch. followed. But the latter mode of play left, however, the chances of long protracted and perhaps complicated fight open, and the line of play in the text had therefore the preference of greater simplicity, though it was not as prompt and decisive as our first suggestion.”
33...Ke7 34.Qe5
There was only one answer to this, and that was the one actually made.
34...Rd5 35.Rg7+ Ke8 36.Qf6
36.Qc7 would have been of no use, for Black would have replied with 36...R8d7. The move in text forces the exchange, and leaves Black no game to fight with.
36...Qxf6 37.Rxf6 R8d6 38.Rxh7 Rc5 39.Rg6 Kf8 40.h5 Rdd5 41.Rxe6 Rxh5 42.Rxh5 Rxh5 43.a4 Rc5 44.Re3 Rc4 45.Kf2 Kf7 46.Ke2 Kf6 47.Kd3 Rxa4 48.c4 Ra1 49.c5 Ra4 50.Re4 Ra1 51.Kc4 Ra4+ 52.Kd5 Ra3 53.c6 1-0
London Field, 1876.03.04

Game 6: Tuesday, February 29, 1876.

Tuesday’s game.—Blackburne commenced with the Scotch gambit, in the same way as in the fourth game, and Steinitz defended again by P to Q R 3; Blackburne retreated the K Kt at once to Q R 3 before bringing out the Q Kt. This might appear a measure adopted to prevent the K Kt being blocked out by P to Q Kt 4, as happened in the fourth game, since this expedient would have been unadvisable for Black to adopt at that point, on account of the reply of B to B 3. But Mr Blackburne assures us that his retreating the Kt at once was only a finger-slip, caused by his attention being diverted at the time in consequence of his desire to assist the scorers, who could not follow the players, owing to the rapidity in which the opening moves were played on both sides. Finding he had thus lost time he gave up a second pawn, in order to keep up the attack. On the twenty-second move, Steinitz gave up the exchange, in order to simplify the game; but his opponent, in his turn, elected to give up a piece for the very opposite purpose. On Black’s 31st move the game was adjourned, and Steinitz, whose turn it was to play, had in accordance with custom, to write down his move, and to hand it over to the secretary in a closed envelope. Just at that time the alarum bell of his clock gave the sign of his having completed the second hour, and, being under the impression that it was his 30th move, he hurriedly put his move down, which subjected him to a tremendous attack after the adjournment. Ultimately, however, he succeeded in exchanging queens, remaining with a rook behind for six pawns, three of which were bound to fall; but, having his king near to support the other three pawns, he succeeded in a difficult and long ending to force the game.
London Field, 1876.03.04

Date: 1876.02.29
Site: ENG London (West-End Chess Club)
Event: Match, Game 6
White: Blackburne,JH
Black: Steinitz,W
Opening: [C45] Scotch
Annotators: Blackburne & Steinitz
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Qh4 5.Nb5 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Qxe4+ 7.Be2 Kd8 8.0-0 Bxd2 9.Qxd2 a6 10.N5a3
At first sight this seems a feasible attempt to prevent the maneuver successfully adopted by Steinitz in the fourth game of the match, namely to shut out the king’s knight by 10...b5. This object is certainly now attained; for in answer to 10...b5, White would obtain a strong attack by 11.Bf3 followed by 12.c4 upon the adverse queen retreating to g6, e.g.: 10...b5 11.Bf3 Qg6 (best) 12.c4 b4 13.Nc2 a5 14.a3, with an excellent game. Blackburne assures us, however, that his retreating the knight at once was a simple slip. He contemplated playing the same attack as in the fourth game, placing reliance upon a slow attack, to be fortified later on by bringing the a-knight to the succour, which, as he thinks, would be extricated by pawn to c4, or pawn to c3, after removing the b-knight. Black’s following answer is plain, and it is made chiefly with the purpose of getting the queen on the a1-h8 diagonal, where she is better placed for defensive purposes, and out of the reach of the hostile rooks and minor pieces.
10...Qd4 11.Qg5+
The immediate retreat of the queen to c1, though rather humble in an attacking game if this sort, would have been sounder play, for it might have afforded the f-rook an opportunity of occupying the d-file without loss of time, if Black in answer developed his g-knight. In that case it would not have been advantageous for Black to advance pawn to b5 so long as the c-pawn was available for an attack by pawn to c4.
11...Qf6 12.Qd2
In our opinion White places here more faith in the chances of an error on the part of the adversary than in the requirements of the position for relinquishing the attack and adopting a temporary patient defense. Blackburne maintains, however, that the sacrifice of the second pawn was quite legitimate, since it enabled him to gain the point at a3 with his queen, for the purpose of delaying the advance of the hostile d-pawn.
12...Qxb2 13.Nc4 Qd4
Black would have gained two rooks for the queen even if he had taken the rook, and the opponent had shut out the queen by 14.Nc3; but his position would then have become extremely difficult to defend, and, besides, he could in the present situation be well satisfied with the surplus of two pawns.
14.Qc1 Nge7
Had Black now taken the rook, the opponent would have replied 15.Qa3, threatening mate, and must have afterwards won the queen by 16.Nc3.
15.Nbd2 d6 16.Rd1 Be6 17.Qa3 Nd5 18.Nb3 Qc3 [1:00-?:??] 19.Bf1
19.Kh1 was preferable. Black’s d-knight could not then attack by 19...Nf4, on account of the winning reply, 20.Nxd6; and if Black proceeded in the same way as the text, namely by 19...Ndb4, it must have saved at least a move for White that his king would have been already in the corner. See Black’s 24th move.
19...Ndb4 20.Ne3 Re8 [?:??-1:00] 21.Rd2
In this kind of position the attack must be proceeded with any hazard, and, though Black had well protected his most vulnerable point, the d-pawn, the assualt could only be directed against that spot. With two pawns behind already, White could only hope to confuse the opponent, who was pressed for time, and had a difficult game to defend.
21...Bxb3 22.Rad1 Rxe3
The sacrifice makes matters more smooth and clear for the defense, and forces the opponent to give up a piece and two pawns, or to submit to a ruinous exchange of queens, which would have left Black with an extremely easy position in the ending game, and with the overwhelming superiority of four pawns and a knight against the rook. Had he taken the c-pawn at once with the knight, he would have obviously lost a piece without releasing his position, for White would have simply retaken 23.Nxc2.
23.fxe3 Nxc2 24.Qc1 Qxe3+ 25.Kh1 Ba4 26.Bc4 N2d4
By a singular infatuation, Steinitz greedily plays here, and subsequently, for preserving the piece, totally contrary to his own principle, which usually aims at a simplification of the game. He ought to have moved 26...Kd7, liberating the rook, and winning must have become an easy matter; for White could not gain the piece without exchanging queens, and then there was nothing left to counteract the march of Black’s pawns.
27.Re1 Qf4 28.Rf1 Qh6 29.Qb2 [2:00-?:??] 29...Qe3 30.Bxf7
Better than taking with the rook; for Black would have answered 30...Ne5, since he could safely move the king to e7 if White then proceeded with 31.Rf8+.
30...Bb5 31.Rfd1 (Adjourned) 31...Nf5 (Sealed) [?:??-2:00] 32.a4
We explained in our last number how Black’s error on the previous move, when the game was adjourned, arose. The latter ought to have played the king to d7 or to e7, and there would have been no more complication to give White a chance of a mistake. But it is only due to Blackburne to state that, with inferior forces, he had skillfully managed to perplex the opponent with the most puzzling moves, while the latter was pressed for time; and White’s clever maneuver at this juncture was also one which could not be easily foreseen.
Black could not capture the a-pawn without resigning his best chance of winning and being content with a probable draw. For instance: 32...Bxa4 33.Re2 Qh6 34.Re6 Qh4 35.Qxb7 Rb8 36.Re8+ Kd7 37.Rxb8 Nxb8 38.Qxb8, and Black cannot take the other rook, and he can only check with the knight at g3 and e2; for White would certainly avoid coming out to f1 on account of the reply ...Qf4+, etc. Giving up a clear piece by 32...Ncd4 might have been, however, even better than the move in the text; for if 33.axb5, Black, by 32...axb5, opening the a-file, would have had more than enough for the exchange he lost. Black’s knight would then have been quite safe at d4, though White had three pieces on it, for the latter dared not capture it on account of the mate threatened either with the queen at e1, or with the rook at a1 after exchanging queens. Nor could White get rid of the other knight by 34.g4, on account of the reply 34...Qf3+.
33.axb5 Nxf7 34.Re2 Qh6 35.Qb3 axb5 36.g4 Nd4
One piece was lost and this way of giving it up was no doubt better than going in for winning another pawn by 36...Qf6. Black would have had no time to take that pawn, since White threatened to win by doubling the rooks on the e-file.
37.Rxd4 Ra1+ 38.Kg2 Qf6 39.Rde4
39.Qxb5, though it threatened a mate, would have been disastrous, for Black would have answered 39...Qf1+, followed by 40...Ra3+. If White then interposed 41.Rd3, Black would capture 41...Qxe2, the other rook remaining pinned.
39...Ne5 40.Rf2 Qg6 41.Ref4 c6 42.Qe3
This fine move cuts off the retreat of Black’s king, and keeps the latter’s queen also fixed. It will be seen that later on Black’s queen could neither move to e6, or to e8, or b1, on account of White’s check with the rook at f7.
42...Kc7 43.h3 h5 44.Rf5 hxg4 45.Rg5 [3:00-?:??] 45...gxh3+ 46.Kh2 Ra3
Had he checked with the knight at g4, White would have taken off the knight with the rook, and then at least have drawn the game by checking backwards and forwards with the other rook at f7 and f8. White’s ingenious reply enables him to come out with a rook ahead, but the best experts declare that Black’s pawns must win by force afterwards.
47.Qxe5 dxe5 48.Rxg6 b4 [?:??-3:00] 49.Rb2
Had he played 49.Re2, Black would have protected the e-pawn by 49...Ra5, followed, according to circumstances, either by rook to b5 or d5, which would have enabled Black to lead his combined pawns to victory, supported by the king.
49...c5 50.Rf2 Rd3
Necessary to keep up communication between Black's king and his passed pawns. White threatened to check with the rook at f7, followed by the other rook taking the g-pawn, attacking the b-pawn doubly.
51.Rc2 b6 52.Re6 b3 53.Rb2 c4 54.Rxe5 Kc6 55.Rg5 Rd5 56.Rxg7 Kc5 57.Kxh3 Kb4 58.Rb1 b5 59.Rg4 [4:00-?:??] 59...Rd2
White's king being cut off, and Black's king having crossed the front to support his pawns, the cautious advance of the latter must win easily and surely.
60.Rg5 b2 61.Kg3 c3 62.Kf3 Kc4 63.Rgg1 Kb3 64.Ke3 Rd8 65.Rgf1 c2 66.Ke2 Ka2 0-1
London Field, 1876.03.04 & 1876.03.11

Game 7: Thursday, March 2, 1876.

The final game, played on Thursday, was opened by Steinitz again with the Vienna debut. Blackburne defended in Anderssen’s favorite way, whereupon Steinitz at once blocked out the Q B by P to K B 5. The novelty proved a success, since White was able to support the whole battle line of pawns on both wings, with the choice to himself to break in on either side. Blackburne pushed hard, unable to castle, and, having most of his pieces knotted together uselessly on the Q side, forced an opening on the K side in order to relieve himself by exchanging queens. But the position proved unfavourable to him in the ending. Steinitz, having one important open file for the K R, and being able to force another opening for the Q R, soon compelled the opponent to sacrifice two pawns, and then managed to force the game in a pretty finish.
London Field, 1876.03.04

Date: 1876.03.02
Site: ENG London (West-End Chess Club)
Event: Match, Game 7
White: Steinitz,W
Black: Blackburne,JH
Opening: [C30] King’s Gambit Declined
Annotators: Blackburne & Steinitz
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Bc5 3.f4 d6 4.Nf3 Nf6
Safe enough. If White now takes the e-pawn, the game might go on thus: 5.fxe5 dxe5 6.Nxe5 Qd4 7.Nd3 Bb6, etc.
5.Bc4 Nc6 6.d3 a6
This move was played by Anderssen against Blackburne in the Vienna tourney, whereupon the latter also replied 7.a3.
Stronger than 7.a3, and it seems, from the progress of the present game, that the array of White’s pawns on the kingside cannot be broken through.
The answer to either 7...g6 or 7...Na5 would have been 8.a3; for in the former case, if Black proceeded by 8...gxf5, White would reply 9.Bg5, threatening knight to d5, and in the latter case Black could only follow up by taking the bishop, and on the pawn retaking he would have had little prospect of liberating his game on either side.
In order to fortify the attack immediately by pawn to g4, in case Black attempted to castle on the kingside, or to open the game by pawn to g6, as afterwards done.
8...Qe7 9.a3
White, being safe on both wings, makes an opening for his bishop to prevent the opponent exchanging it by knight to a5. He has now also prepared for an attack with his pawns, on either side, wherever the adversary might attempt to castle, while his own king is in perfect security.
9...b5 10.Nd5 Nxd5 11.Bxd5 Bb7 12.b4 Bb6 13.a4 Rb8 [?:??-1:00]14.c3 Nd8 15.Bb3 g6 16.g4 h5 17.Rf1 hxg4 18.hxg4 gxf5 19.gxf5 f6 20.Qe2 [1:00-?:??] 20...Qg7 21.Be3
White threatens now to take possession of the open g-file with both rooks by rook to g1, followed by rook to a2.
21...Bxe3 22.Qxe3 Qh6
22...Rh3 would not have improved Black’s position, for the opponent would have first answered 23.Ke2 before attacking the queen.
23.Qxh6 Rxh6 24.Rg1 d5
24...Rh7 was the only other means to prevent the hostile rook cutting off the king by rook to g7, and then the game might have proceeded thus: 24...Rh7 25.Rg8+ Ke7 26.axb5 axb5 27.Ra7 Nc6 28.Rxb8, winning a piece.
25.exd5 Ke7 26.Kf2
Better now than checking with the rook, whereupon Black might have attacked the rook by 26...Kf8, and White could not then capture the c-pawn on account of the impending rook to h1, check.
26...Nf7 27.Rg7 Rf8 [?:??-2:00]
White threatened pawn to d6, check, winning a piece. Neither pawn takes pawn nor rook to h5 would have been a better resource, for in the former case White could have replied 28.Bc4 without altering the position materially, and in the latter contingency he could move out of all danger by 28.Ke3, followed in answer to 28...Rxf5, by 29.Nh4, threatening check at g6, and winning at least the exchange.
28.axb5 Kd6
The pawn could not be retaken, on account of 29.Ra7, winning easily.
29.bxa6 Ba8 30.a7 Bb7 31.Rxf7 Rxf7 32.Ra6+ Kd7
Had he played 32...Ke7, White would have pushed 33.d6+, followed by 34.Bxf7, etc.
33.Ba4+ Ke7 34.Re6+ Kf8 35.Bc6 Ba8
A last desperate attempt to prolong the game by 36...c6, in case White takes off the bishop at once; but White’s reply leaves no escape.
36.Re8+ Kg7 37.Rxa8 1-0
London Field, 1876.03.04

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