Chess Trap #1: The Blackburne-Shilling Gambit

The Blackburne-Shilling Gambit is one of the more famous chess traps. Legend says that the famous English master Joseph Henry Blackburne played this trap against amatuers in games for money, thus the name. The main variation in the trap leads to a very picturesque smothered mate position:

The trap mainly relies on the hope that your opponent would get greedy and pinch pawns. I, in fact, have used this trap in crucial situations.


I have personally used this opening many times in practice. I have scored victories over people in the 1000s rating range. Although the "gambit" can be declined in multiple ways, it still would give you a solid position.

Please post all of your questions and comments in the notes underneath here. Thank you for reading!


  • 10 months ago


    Very good - I think the idea that this is a trap really applies to 5.Nxf7? ...In the line 5.Bxf7+! Ke7 6.0-0! Qxe5 7. Bxg8 Rxg8 8.c3 Nc6 9.d4 Qf6 10. d5 Ne5 11.f4 Nf7 (Qb6+) 12. e5 Qb6+ (Qa6!?) 13. Kh1 it appears that White is better placed and very similar to gambit lines such as the Cochrane Gambit (Petrov's) Muzio Gambit (King's Gambit) & even the Halloween Variation (Two Knights)  where White sacks a piece (usually) on f7 to gain a big center ... Black has a piece but in this line, the King and pieces are perhaps even more poorly placed than those other variations.  In summary,  White has 2 pawns along with a mobile pawn center plus chances to attack... here 13... Kd8 14. Nd2 (c4!?) 14... Be7 (or Qe3 15. Nf3+/-) 15. Ne4 Rf8!? 16. Qd3 d6 17. e6 Nh6 18. b3 despite Blacks' extra piece White looks to have some advantage - Black's Queen Bishop & Rook are prisoners on c8 and a8 - the Rook could get free via 18... a5 but White will gain some options, for example  19. Be3(!) directly attacks the Queen 19... Qa6 20.c4 +/- and 19.Rb1 puts indirect pressure on Black's Queen... provides a calmer approach but still White is much better

    In the above line we see that Black has a piece but in most cases will have trouble defending and getting untangled...a prepared White could put the sting on Black by accepting on e4 and then play the sac line 5.Bf7! ... declining the gambit used to be the simple way to get an edge and those lines are still very viable options 4. Nxd4 ed 5. c3 d5!? or the immediate 4.c3 Nxf3 5. Qxf3 provide White some advantage... so if Gambit play is not your style then there's 1. Nf3

  • 23 months ago


    Thanks.......Interesting gambit to know.

  • 3 years ago


    Yes. White does have the safer king and stronger center in exchange for the pawn, but if Black can stick it out he/she would be able to get a safe advantage.

  • 3 years ago


    4. Nxe5 is no mistake, it's just dubious. Best play continues: 4. Nxe5 Qg5 5. Bxf7 Ke7 6. O-O! Qxe5 7. Bxg8 Rxg8 8. c3 Nc6 9. d4 Qf6 10. d5 Ne5 11. f4 Nf7 12. e5 Qb6+ 13. Kh1 where Black is better but is likely to have trouble.

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