Joseph Blackburne

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Joseph Blackburne. Vanity Fair colour lithograph by 'Ape', 1888.
Joseph Blackburne

Joseph Henry Blackburne (Manchester, 10 December 1841 – London, 1 September 1924), nicknamed 'The Black Death', was the leading British chess Grandmaster during the later part of the 19th century.

Blackburne learned the game at the relatively late age of 18 but quickly became a strong player. He went on to develop a professional chess career that spanned over 50 years. At one point he was the world's second most successful player, with a string of tournament victories behind him. Blackburne especially enjoyed giving simultaneous and blindfold displays around the country. Blackburne also annotated a collection of his own games (explained the moves),[1] and was a chess correspondent for a leading journal until his death.

"For more than 20 years he was one of the first six players in the world, and for even longer the leading English-born player".[2]p42

Blackburne was fond of Scotch whisky, and often drank during a display. He once drank his opponent's glass, and said: "He left it en prise, and I took it en passant!" [3] Much loved, he was supported by subscriptions from his fans in his last years.

References[change | change source]

  1. Graham P.A. (ed) 1899. Mr Blackburne's games at chess. London, reprint 1979.
  2. Hooper D & Whyld K. 1992. The Oxford companion to chess. 2nd ed, Oxford University Press.
  3. en prise = loose, available; en passant = in passing (chess terms).