Joseph Henry Blackburne (a.k.a “The Black Death”), the renowned English chess champion in the late 1800s to early 1900s, gave an interesting interview shortly after his match with German master Curt von Bardeleben in 1895. The content of the interview is given below, along with the annotated first game of their contest which took place from April 25th – May 16th. The match was ultimately an agreed draw with three wins each and three draws, as von Bardeleben had exceeded his allotted time to be in England.
“I know a lot of people who hold the view that chess is an excellent means of training the mind in logic and shrewd calculation, precision, and caution. But I don’t find these qualities reflected in the lives of chess players. They are just as fallible and foolish as other folks who don’t know a rook from a pawn. But even if it were a form of mental discipline, which I doubt, I should still object to it on the ground of its fatal fascination.
Chess is a kind of mental alcohol. It inebriates the man who plays it constantly. He lives in a chess atmosphere, and his dreams are of gambits and the end of games. I have known many an able man ruined by chess. The games has charmed him, and, as a consequence, he has given up everything to the charmer. No, unless a man has supreme self-control, it is better that he should not learn to play chess.
I have never allowed my children to learn it, as I have seen too much of its evil results. Draughts is a better game if you must have a game”.
SOURCE: Hawaiian Star Newspaper July 25th, 1895
GAME SOURCE: British Chess Magazine 1895 (Analysis by James Mason)
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