Black Death Problems

Jul 5, 2012, 5:14 PM |

Most everyone knows of Blackburne's quick assimilation of chess, of his simultaneous exhibitions and of his blindfold skill, but less well known is his talent at both problem solving and problem creating.

Blackburne often incorporated this talent into his exhibitions by, while he was blindfolded,  having someone read off the placement of pieces on a two-mover set up, leaving out the placement of Black's King, announcing the solution to the puzzle very quickly.

Possibly because of his findng two-movers so obvious, even in those circumstances, Blackburne. In 1899 Blackburne published his book, "Mr. Blackburne's Games at Chess, selected, annotated and arranged by himself."
It contains 407 games (divided into match, off-hand and blindfold games), 28 problems and a short biographical sketch.The book was edited by P. Anderson Graham who also wrote the introduction. 

Of the 28 problems, 8 are 3-movers and 20 are 4-movers and their dates of creation span his entire chess career up to that time.  They are all clever, and while I've found alternate solutions to the ones I've examned, I haven't found any to be cooked.

Here, I'm presenting four of his problems: two 3-movers and two 4-movers, with some light notes.  While I realize they are numerous lines in each that I haven't commented on, none of those lines seems to improve Black's game.



White to Play and Mate in Three Moves


White to Play and Mate in Four Moves




 One last position -  This positiion isn't a composed problem but a position from an actual game, on of eight games played simultaneously "sans voir."  Blackburne announced mate in 6 from one move after the given position. (Had Black made a different second move, he avoided mate for at least 11 moves.) The mate concieved by Blackburne from the given position is brilliant, especially considering the circumstances and indicative of his problem solving abilities and creativity.