Excerpt from Chapter 8 of Amos Burn – A Chess Biography by Richard Forster:

Master Tournament, Nottingham 1886

His resounding success at the B.C.A. congress was a key event in Burn's career. With fresh confidence he entered the international master tournament held alongside the congress of the Counties' Chess Association in Nottingham. The event, almost immediately after the London tournament, was less well received. Hoffer, one of the C.C.A.'s most outspoken critics, did not find a good word to say about the tournament.

The whole meeting at Nottingham has been mismanaged. The masters were invited to Nottingham to what they were promised would be a contest between those players who took part in the B.C.A. congress. If such had been the case, two very good tournaments might have been arranged: the one confined to the masters, and the other class I. division I. would have comprised all players, inclusive of Messrs. Skipworth, Rynd, Thorold, and Pollock. As it happened, both contests were failures. When the masters arrived they found that over 17 names were put down for the masters' tournament. Consequently Blackburne, Mackenzie, and Mason withdrew, thus mutilating the chief contest. Mr. Skipworth retired after the second round, under the plea of "physical inability." This plea might have been urged before the commencement of the tournament, and not after losing two games. It was quite unjustifiable on the part of Mr. Skipworth, for the sake of the empty title of "master," to persist in putting his name down as a competitor for one day when he must have known that it would be physically impossible – whatever that may mean – for him to play all through [Chess Monthly, June 1886, p. 289].

As usual, Steinitz' correspondent was more benevolent:

Most of the masters went down from London to Nottingham – some of them walking it in easy stages to recuperate after the London struggle – to take part in the tournament, but on their arrival it was found that so many amateurs had joined that it was feared play would be protracted beyond a reasonable time, and hence Messrs. Mason and Mackenzie did not enter, and Mr. Blackburne, after entering, retired before he had played any games. This left the final entrants 11, viz.: Messrs. Bird, Burn, Gunsberg, Hanham, Pollock, Rynd, Schallopp, Skipworth, Taubenhaus, Thorold and Zukertort, but Mr. Skipworth retired after playing two games, so that the final number of actual players was reduced to ten[1] [ICM, October 1886, p. 295].

Skipworth himself acknowledged certain mistakes:

In connection with the Nottingham congress a masters' tournament was held, though it was entirely a separate affair. It was got up in a hurry, at the last moment, within a week or so of the opening of the meeting, and as a natural consequence there was a good deal of confusion and unpleasant discussion before the masters could settle down to play. Masters were invited and consented to compete before the rules of the competition were thoroughly made known, and, besides that, after the rules were published, the committee were obliged to cancel some of them. I confess that I made a great mistake in consenting on behalf of the Counties' Association to allow, what was in many respects, an important tournament to become a scrambling arrangement in connection with our prospering association. Now the scramble is over, we must look on the bright side of the question, and thank those Nottingham gentlemen who guaranteed the prizes and expenses of the masters' tournament. I hope they will allow us to acknowledge their liberality if we question the direction of their zeal and their powers of organisation. Though there were troubles at the beginning, the tournament has undoubtedly been brought to a successful issue. Many good games were played, and they will be found in the columns of The Field, and elsewhere. I offered the Nottingham committee £5 for the copyright of the masters' games in order to publish them in continuous parts of this book, but they elected to accept an offer for six games, to be purchased by the proprietors of The Field, and they desired to sell the rest piecemeal as occasion arose. An unfortunate decision! [Book of the Counties' Chess Association, p. 58].[2]

Despite the reduced numbers the tournament, with no fewer than eight of the London participants, remained a very strong one. Play was to have begun on the Monday night, but as the stop-clocks did not arrive in time it was decided to postpone the start until the next morning.[3] In the ensuing fierce competition Burn, Gunsberg, Schallopp and Zukertort were the favourites for top honours. Zukertort, though still strong, was not the same player as he had been three years previously, and he suffered defeats against Schallopp and Bird. Gunsberg started well, but two losses in subsequent rounds to Burn and Schallopp put him out of the running for first prize. In the end the tournament turned into a straight race between Burn and Emil Schallopp. Although the German succumbed in their individual encounter from the fourth round, he won all his other games. With Burn ceding draws to Zukertort and Bird, they went into the last round level. The tournament was not decided until almost the last minute of play, when Pollock surprisingly beat Schallopp and helped Burn clinch first prize. Thus, within one month the modest Liverpool master had reached the top of the ladder in two important international tournaments.

Nottingham 1886: International Master Tournament (C.C.A.)

Date
3–9 August 1886.
Site Mechanics' Lecture-hall, Nottingham.
Time-limit 20 moves per hour.
Deposit £3.
Entrance fee £1.
Four prizes £40, £20, £10, £5 (= £75).
Special prizes Entrance fees (£12) distributed among non-prize winners (Gelbfuhs System).
Brilliancy prize (£3 3s.) Taubenhaus–Burn.
Pairings Single round, fixed schedule.

                   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 Burn A. 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 8
2 Schallopp E. 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 7
3 Gunsberg I. 0 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 ½ 6
Zukertort J.H. ½ 0 ½ 0 1 1 1 1 1 6
5 Bird H.E. ½ 0 0 1 1 1 ½ ½ 1 5½
6 Taubenhaus J. 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 4
7 Pollock W.H.K. 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 3
8 Hanham J.M. 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 1 0 ½ 2
Thorold E. 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 1 ½ 2
10 Rynd P. 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 1½
Source Chess Monthly, June 1886 [sic], p. 291.
Notes
Blackburne retired before the first round began.
Skipworth retired after adjourning with Pollock in round one and losing to Schallopp in round two.

(226) Taubenhaus – Burn 0:1
International Tournament (8)
Nottingham 7 August 1886
Giuoco Piano [C54]

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Bc5 4 d3 d6 5 c3 Nf6 6 Be3 Bb6 7 Qe2

"We have frequently commented on the foregoing moves. In this opening Blackburne generally manoeuvres his queen's knight via d2 and f1 to g3 and then brings out his queen at c2 and castles on the queen's side." – Steinitz.

7 ... Ne7 8 Nbd2 Ng6 9 h3

"As usual, waste of time and weakening the king's side, which is all the more inadvisable, as he cannot secure castling on the other wing." – Steinitz.

9 ... c6 10 Bb3 0-0 11 g4?

"Unless he could make sure of his attack, this advance only forebodes disaster on his king's side. Both his side pawns on that wing are weak, and the spot at f4 is left open to invasion by hostile pieces, as will be seen." – Steinitz.

11 d4 and 11 Nf1 are better continuations.Diagram after move 11 from White

(see diagram)

11 ... d5!

"The normal reaction. The demonstration on the wing is answered by the thrust in the centre, which, being well prepared, rapidly gains territory." – Tartakower/du Mont.

12 exd5? Nxd5!

"Black has formed his attack with excellent judgement. By this fine move which menaces the entrance of one of his knights at f4, he forces an exchange which gives him a powerful centre and two bishops against knight and bishop." – Steinitz.

Of course, taking on d5 is a very serious error on White's part. After 12 Bg5 the dangerous pawn sacrifice 12 ... h6! 13 Bxf6 Qxf6 14 exd5 Nf4 might be feared, but castling on the queen's side is certainly far preferable to 12 exd5.

13 Bxd5 cxd5 14 Nf1

"Intimidated by the impending ...d4, White manoeuvres aimlessly instead of seeking to simplify his task by 14 Bxb6 Qxb6 15 Nb3 Nf4 16 Qd2 f6 17 0-0-0, and White's position, though by no means comfortable, could be held." – Tartakower/du Mont.

14 ... d4!

"The central action is already much more powerful than White's thrust on the flank. Naturally 15 cxd4 exd4 would accentuate White's difficulties." – Coles.

15 Bd2 dxc3 16 bxc3 Bd7

"We believe that here 16... Nf4 was the best continuation, quickly ruining White's game. There could follow 17 Bxf4 exf4 18 N1d2 Re8 19 Ne4 f5 20 gxf5 Bxf5 21 Nd2 Ba5 22 Rc1 Rc8, and Black wins, because 23 c4 is answered by 23 ... Bxe4 24 dxe4 Bxd2+, and the queen cannot capture, since she would be lost after 25 ... Rxe4+ and 26... Rd4." – Frankfurter Schachzeitung.

17 Ng3 Bb5!

"All of a very high order, simple as it may appear. By forcing the advance of the adverse c-pawn, the hostile centre also becomes weakened, and Black has therefore a wider option in selecting the object of his attack." – Steinitz.

18 c4 Bc6 19 0-0 f6 20 Nf5 Qd7 21 h4

"Utterly careless: White should at least attempt a defence of the d-pawn with 21 Be3 and 22 Rad1." – Hoffer/Zukertort.

"He had a bad game anyhow, but probably his best plan was 21 Ne1, followed by 22 Be3 if Black answered 21 ... Rad8. Obviously he could not play 21 Be3 at once, on account of the reply 21 ... Bxf3, followed by 22 ... Qxd3. Again, if 21 Rad1 or 21 Rfd1, Black would first drive the rook away by 21 ... Ba4 and then play 22 ... Rad8, winning at least a pawn, for if White then answered 23 Ne1, he comes too late, on account of the reply 23 ... e4. By the move in the text, however, the king's side becomes still further disorganised." – Steinitz.

Steinitz apparently overlooked that after 21 Be3 Bxf3 22 Qxf3 Qxd3? White wins with 23 Qxb7, threatening mate on g7. After 21 ... Rfd8 (Tartakower/du Mont) Black's superiority is undisputed, however.

21 ... Rad8 22 h5 Qxd3!

"Natural enough. The position he obtains would be overwhelming without the pawns superiority [sic] which he gains." – Steinitz.

23 Qxd3 Rxd3 24 hxg6 Bxf3 25 Bb4 Re8 26 gxh7+ Kxh7 27 c5 Bc7 28 Nd6 Rh8!

"In boxing parlance Black now delivers a fine 'one-two.' The first punch is threatened by the rook on h8 looking to a mate on h1 after the king moves, but in fact it is the other rook which is to deliver the knock-out blow, so long as the first threat can detach the white knight from d6. There is no saving clause in 29 Kh2 Kg6+ 30 Kg3 Be2+, winning material." – Coles.

29 Nf7

"Of course there was nothing better, as Black threatened to remove the king, and mate was then unavoidable." – Steinitz.

29 ... Rd4!

"Which forces an elegant and brilliant finish." – Steinitz.Final position

"Black has conducted the game in a very good style. He carries it now to a successful issue by direct assault. Black's play deserves all praise for its soundness and vigour, but it is hardly a specimen of great brilliancy." – Hoffer/Zukertort.

30 Nxh8 Rxg4+ 31 Kh2 e4+ 32 Kh3 g5! White resigned. 

(see diagram)

"If 33 Ng6, Black may proceed with a final, brilliant coup, viz., 33 ... Rh4+ 34 Nxh4 g4 mate." – Hoffer/Zukertort.

For this neat game Burn was awarded the brilliancy prize, donated by F.H. Lewis. By today's standards White's resistance was lamentably weak.

[Irish Sportsman, 14 August 1886] [4]


From Amos Burn: A Chess Biography © 2004 Richard Forster by permission of McFarland, Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640, USA, www.mcfarlandpub.com


[1] "Captain Mackenzie ... found that a visit to Huddersfield which he had previously engaged to make would prevent his playing out the tournament, and Mr. Mason also abstained, while the Rev. J. Owen was transferred to the Amateur Class 1 Division 1 Tournament." (Irish Sportsman, 14 August 1886).
[2] Nottingham tournament book: A.B. Skipworth (ed.), The Book of the Counties' Chess Association, parts 2
3 (Lincoln, 1886 and 1887).
A large proportion of the games have not been preserved. Unfortunately, the same applies to many of Burn's most successful tournaments.
[3] Bradford Observer Budget, 14 August 1886.
[4] Notes by Steinitz in the ICM, October 1886, pp. 313–14; by Tartakower/du Mont in Five Hundred Master Games of Chess (London, 1952), pp. 17–18; by Coles in Amos Burn, pp. 16–17; by the Frankfurter Schachzeitung in the Frankfurter Journal, quoted in the DSZ, December 1886, pp. 357
8; by Hoffer/Zukertort in the Chess Monthly, September 1886, pp. 1516.