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Killer Bloodgood

Posted by Paul Anderson on July 8, 2020 at 6:45 PM

Game Of The Week

By Matt Grinberg

 

Claude Frizzel Bloodgood - the name is enough to scare you even before you know about his life.  He was born in 1937 in California, but lived most of his life in Virginia.  There is some suggestion that he may have been playing in chess tournaments as early as the mid 1950's, but the first time he appears on the annual USCF rating list was 1960.  He continued to play for the next two years, reaching a rating of 2043.  During this time he also served as the rating statistician for the Virginia Chess Federation (VCF).

 

But then he headed down the wrong path.  He was convicted on two counts of burglary and one of forgery.   He spent several years in prison.  He got out in 1969, but just nine days after his release he murdered his mother.  He was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death.  Fortunately for Bloodgood, before the sentence had been carried out, the Supreme court ruled in Furman vs. Georgia, 1972, that the death penalty, as then administered, was unconstitutional.   His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in Virginia.

 

This is where his chess life picks up again.   As a recognized Expert, the prison officials were only too happy to have him organize a prison chess program.  He got the prison chess club registered with the USCF and started organizing tournaments in the prison.  He so impressed the prison administration that in 1974 they decided to allow Bloodgood and one of his fellow inmates a furlough to play in a VCF tournament with a guard.  Bloodgood and his fellow inmate disappeared at the earliest opportunity.  They were both recaptured shortly.   This was the first time I heard of him - the whole Virginia chess community was abuzz.


Needless to say, Bloodgood was not allowed another furlough.  However, the prison chess activities continued at least until 1977, when he had a rating of 1873 on the annual list.  After that apparently there were no more USCF events at the prison for a while.

 

Sixteen years go by and suddenly in 1993 Bloodgood reappears on the annual list with a rating of 2386.  What!  How could someone who was already 40 years old in 1977 with a rating of 1873, suddenly become almost a 2400 player in 1993 even though the USCF records show no activity for him between 1977 and 1993?

 

In early 1994, the prison started having USCF rated tournaments again.  USCF records show that over the next 5 years Bloodgood played 3,174 games in 699 prison tournaments.  What!!   Okay, maybe he didn't have anything better to do sitting in prison, but even so that strains credulity.

 

By the end of 1996 Bloodgood's rating had risen to 2712, making him one of the highest rated players in the U.S.A. and eligible to play in the U.S. Championship Tournament. During this same period some of the tournaments in the Powhatan Correctional Center allowed outside players to enter.   According to Virginia players I knew who played Bloodgood, he played more like a 1700 player than a 2700 player.

 

When the USCF realized that they might be obligated to invite an imprisoned convicted murderer to the national championship, they launched an investigation.  It seems likely that Bloodgood, who was familiar with how the rating system worked, had manipulated the system to boost his own rating, not to mention the ratings of several other inmates who also had master ratings at that point.  Bloodgood himself claimed that he had done nothing wrong and the problem was with the way the USCF ran the rating system.  Whatever the case, he was not invited to the U.S. Championship, not that it is likely he would have been allowed to go anyway.

 

Bloodgood died in 2001 still holding a 2639 rating.


USCF Annual Ratings for Claude Bloodgood

1960 - 1798

1961 - 2043

1962 - 1856

1972 - 2089

1977 - 1982

1978 - 1873

1993 - 2386

1994 - 2234

1995 - 2573

1996 - 2712

1997 - 2639

1999 - 2639

 

There are not many of Bloodgood's games that can be found.  The game below is from before Bloodgood's first prison term.   The quality of the game is not particularly good, but it is interesting because of the unusual opening, Grob Opening, and the final combination.

 

Bloodgood, Claude - Evans, B, 1-0

USO Invitational

Norfolk, Virginia, 1961


Grob Opening


1. g4?!

 

The Grob Opening - probably the worst first move White can make.  He leaves the pawn out there undefended.   But the worst thing about it is that White weakens his whole kingside.  Bloodgood apparently played this on his first move as White in every game.   He even wrote a book on the Grob, "The Tactical Grob," which can be found as an e-book online.  There are some points to the Grob.   First, it is likely to take Black out of any opening preparation he has.   Second, due to the threat of g5, it makes it difficult for Black to develop his king knight to its normal square at f6.


1... d5 2. Bg2 c6


[Black could take the g-pawn, but it is risky due to the weakening of the h1-a8 diagonal. This is the other main point of the Grob.  White hopes that Black will take, giving White good attacking chances on the light squares. 2... Bxg4 3. c4 c6 4. cxd5 cxd5 5. Qb3 White has potential threats along both the h1-a8 and a2-g8 diagonals, but he does not have enough for the pawn]


3. g5 e5 4. h4 Bd6 5. d3 Be6 6. e4 Ne7


To here, this is a normal Grob (to the extent that anything about the Grob could be considered "normal").  White's position has been compromised by the kingside pawn moves and Black is ahead in development.   Black is better.


7. Nd2


This move is a novelty.  That does not mean to say it is a bad move.   What it does say is that the Grob is so rarely played that it is easy to find a new move already at move seven.


[The "normal" move is 7. Nc3 but in the following game Black plays simple, straight forward chess and wins easily. 7... Nd7 8. exd5 cxd5 9. Bd2 a6 10. Nge2 Qc7 11. f4 O-O 12. O-O f6 13. Ng3 fxg5 14. hxg5 exf4 15. Qe2 Be5 16. Bxf4 Qb6 17. Be3 d4 18. Na4 Qb4 19. Bf4 Rxf4 20. Rxf4 Ng6 21. Nh5 Qxa4 22. Re4 Bf5 23. Rxe5 Ndxe5 24. Bd5 Kh8 25. Ng3 Bg4 26. Qg2 Qd7 27. Re1 Nh4 0-1, Holick, Manfred – Kranz, Armin (AUT) 2101, Goetzis 1995 It (open)]


7... O-O 8. Bh3 Bxh3 9. Nxh3 f5 10. gxf6 Rxf6


In spite of the opening, play has been reasonable on both sides up to here.  But now things get ugly. 


11. exd5?! 


This has to be bad since it gives up what little center control White has, but it is hard to come up with a good suggestion for him. 


11... Nxd5? 


Black wants to get his knight active, but in the process he gives White a beautiful square for his own knights on e4.


[Better is 11... cxd5 keeping White bottled up.  Black's strong center and better development, plus White's weak kingside, give Black the clearly better position]


12. Ne4 Rf7?


Since "clearly" one of White's knights is going to g5, this is not a good place for the rook.


[12... Rf8 is better]


13. Bg5?


But it wasn't so clear to Bloodgood.


[13. Nhg5 Re7 14. Qh5 g6 15. Qh6 to be followed by h5 gives White a very strong attack]


13... Be7 14. Qg4 Qa5?!


The check is dubious since it takes the queen away from the kingside where it is needed for defense.


[Much better is 14... Qd7 15. Qg3 Bb4 16. c3 Bf8 17. h5 Qf5 18. h6 g6 19. O-O-O Nd7 The chances are about equal]


15. c3?


White returns the favor.


[Since he should have a knight on g5 instead of his bishop, he should play 15. Bd2 which both clears g5 for his knights and gains a tempo off of Black's queen]


15... Bxg5??


Black facilitates a White knight coming to g5 and his position immediately falls apart.


[Houdini gives this spirited line leading to a perpetual check. 15... Na6 16. Rg1 Nc5 17. Nxc5 Bxc5 18. Bh6 Nxc3 19. Qe6 Nd5 20. Kd1 Qa4 21. Kc1 Bf8 22. Ng5 Qf4 23. Kb1 Qxf2 24. Nxf7 Qxg1 In what follows White will never be able to move his king to the second rank because doing so will allow Black to win by playing Qf2+ followed by Qxf7. 25. Bc1 Now White threatens 26. Nh6+ Kh8, 27. Qg8 mate. 25... Nc3! 26. bxc3 Qb6 27. Bb2 Qg1 28. Bc1 Qb6 29. Bb2 Qg1 Draw]


16. Nhxg5 Rf8??


White to move


See the diagram and answer here:

https://cschess.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=206245040


Black is either not familiar with the idea of the smothered mate or he is committing suicide.  White now has a forced mate in five moves.


[The best try is 16... Qc7 17. Nxf7 Qxf7 18. Qc8 Qf8 19. Qxb7 Nb6 20. Rg1 White is an exchange and pawn up and still has a strong attack after he castles queenside and brings his other rook into play]

 

17. Qe6 Kh8 18. Nf7 Kg8


[18... Rxf7 19. Qe8 Rf8 20. Qxf8#]


19. Nh6 Kh8 20. Qg8! Rxg8 21. Nf7#


The finish is nice, but the game as a whole is not what you would expect of a 2700 player.


Killer Bloodgood

https://www.chessvideos.tv/chess-game-replayer.php?id=115602

 

[Event "Norfolk USO Inv."]

[Site "https://cschess.webs.com/"]

[Date "1961.??.??"]

[Round "?"]

[White "Bloodgood, Claude Frizzel"]

[Black "Evans, B ."]

[Result "1-0"]

[ECO "A00"]

[PlyCount "41"]

[EventDate "1961.??.??"]

 

1. g4 d5 2. Bg2 c6 3. g5 e5 4. h4 Bd6 5. d3 Be6 6. e4 Ne7 7. Nd2 O-O 8. Bh3

Bxh3 9. Nxh3 f5 10. gxf6 Rxf6 11. exd5 Nxd5 12. Ne4 Rf7 13. Bg5 Be7 14. Qg4

Qa5+ 15. c3 Bxg5 16. Nhxg5 Rf8 17. Qe6+ Kh8 18. Nf7+ Kg8 19. Nh6+ Kh8 20. Qg8+

Rxg8 21. Nf7# 1-0


This Week In Chess


On July 5th, the Colorado Springs Chess Club held the CSCC Black Hole Rapid Online event (4SS, G/10+10).


https://www.chess.com/tournament/live/cscc-black-hole-rapid-online-1307559


Place CSCC Black Hole (4SS, G/10+10) Score


1 "#1 DFSStar (2172)" 3.5

2 "#2 NM RichardShtivelband (2362)" 3.5

3 "#3 Czechmate1972 (1571)" 3.0

4 "#4 cschessnews (1687)" 2.5

5 "#5 JJ7X (1832)" 2.0

6 "#6 linuxguy1 (1496)" 2.0

7 "#7 bestatcheckers7 (1537)" 2.0

8 "#8 CosmicNovaGalaxy (1347)" 2.0

9 "#9 Navajo36us80917 (1130)" 1.5

10 "#10 KingVed (1460)" 1.0

11 "#11 alaynew (1283)" 1.0

12 "- tanguay1 (734)" 0.0

13 "- Honeybrook (1318)" 0.0

Categories: 2020

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