Saturday, August 20, 2011

Grob, Bloodgood, Bogart and Chess

All types of people play chess: young and old, male and female, rich and poor, good and bad. The most infamous opponent I have played was Claude Bloodgood. In 1996 APCT announced a thematic tournament with the Grob (1.g4). When I saw Claude Bloodgood had entered, I entered too, especially to play him via correspondence.

Bloodgood was in prison for life; and a few years ago he died. There is no condoning the crimes for which Bloodgood had been convicted. Yet, I found this 72-year-old man to be a very friendly opponent. We carried on a lively discussion from postcard to postcard.

At one point I mentioned to Tom Purser that I was playing Bloodgood. Tom inquired about the famous Humphrey Bogart game via 1.d4 Nf6 2.g4 played against an unknown opponent in New York in 1933. Bloodgood told me that it had been published. Our games ended with three draws and one Bloodgood win. We said our good-byes and I figured I'd never hear from him again. Then there comes this fascinating note about which I wrote an article that originally appeared in Purser's BDG World 77. Bloodgood wrote:

"Dear Tim,
You asked me about the Bogart Poisoned Spike Game some time ago. I mentioned that it had been published. It was originally published in the New York Daily News circa 1935, later in the New York Times.
I first became aware of it when Bogart visited the U.S. Naval Hospital at Camp Pendleton (Calif.) in late 1955. I was playing chess when he and several other Hollywood actors arrived on the ward where I was recovering from a foot surgery. He watched me play for a while and then discovered I was playing for money. He got a great big grin and asked if I'd care to play him for a small wager. The games were blitz (no scores), but he held his own (I think we broke even after 8 games) and gave me a phone number to call him when I could get out of the hospital for a day or so.
When I called, I got someone else, but arrangements were in place and a car was sent for me. I played Bogart (and some others) at beach houses in Santa Monica one time and Van Nuys several times. Bogart took real pride in his chess ability and was a born hustler. I am enclosing two Bogart games (1 against me) which I hope you will find interesting. Same opening line in Bloodgood-Lowmaster also enclosed... Best, Claude"

Bloodgood called this opening the "Maltese Falcon Attack," a cousin of the BDG:
Humphrey Bogart-Claude Bloodgood, Santa Monica 1955
1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 e6 3.e4 fxe4 4.Ng5 d5 5.f3 exf3 6.Qxf3 Nf6 7.Bd3 g6 8.Nxh7 Rxh7 9.Bxg6+ Rf7 10.0-0 Bg7 11.Bg5 Nbd7 (11...Kf8 12.Bxf7 Kxf7 13.Qh5+ Kg8 14.Bxf6 Bxf6 15.Qg6+ Bg7 16.Rf7 1-0. Claude Bloodgood - Robert Lowmaster, Camp McGill, Japan 1956) 12.Nc3 Kf8 13.Bxf7 Kxf7 14.Rae1 c5 15.Nxd5 exd5 16.Qxd5+ Kg6 (16... Kf8 17.Qd6+ Kg8 18.Re7 Ne8 19.Qe6+ Kh8 20.Rxg7 1-0. Humphrey Bogart - NN, Santa Monica 1955) 17.Bxf6 Bxf6 18.Re6 Qh8 19.Qf5+ Kf7 20.d5 Qh4 21.c3 Qg5 22.Qh7+ Qg7 23.R1xf6+ Nxf6 24.Re7+ Kxe7 25.Qxg7+ Kd6 26.Qxf6+ Kxd5 27.Qd8+ 1-0.

Claude Bloodgood was the author of The Tactical Grob. He inspired me to do a project on the Grob myself via ChessCentral. There is much more to write about Bloodgood. Someday I may do that with another of our games. Below is one of our drawn games. The Grob is a fascinating opening. Sometimes I follow Basman's more solid approach. Here I follow Bloodgood's own wild gambit approach. I suggest a few alternatives in the notes to this game.

Sawyer (1960) - Bloodgood (2100), corr APCT 96-Grob-1 (2), 19.07.1996 begins 1.g4 d5 2.Bg2 Bxg4 [2...c6 3.h3 e5] 3.c4 Nf6 [3...c6 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Qb3 Nf6] 4.cxd5 [4.Qb3] 4...Nxd5 [4...c6 5.Qb3 cxd5] 5.Qb3 c6 6.Qxb7 Nd7 [6...Nb6] 7.Bxd5 [7.Nc3] 7...cxd5 8.Qxd5 e6 [8...g6] 9.Qd4 Bf5 10.Nc3 Qa5 11.Nf3 Rc8 12.Qa4 Qc7 13.d3 Bc5 14.0-0 0-0 15.Be3 Nb6 16.Qf4 Bd6 17.Qh4 Be7 18.Qf4 Bd6 19.Qh4 Draw 1/2-1/2

You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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