Mikhail Tchigorin - Harry N. Pillsbury

  International Chess Tournament / Vienna, Austria;  1898. 

This is a game a friend asked me several years ago to look at ... obviously he is a big Pillsbury fan. 

This year I told him I would give him a Christmas present. I did not want to make it a life-time project, but he could pick one game of the great Pillsbury and I would annotate it for him. 

He had been studying Pillsbury for some time, and this was the game that he chose. This was rather surprising, I would have thought he might have chosen virtually any other game - the Halprin game, from the same tournament for example - but he insisted on this game. Now do not get me wrong ... it is a great game of chess. But it is NOT as well known as many of  H.N. Pillsbury's other games. 

I did not annotate this game as deeply as I might have. But none-the-less, it is a really great game of chess. The average student could deeply study this game, and learn a great deal ... both about chess, and about the talents of the great American Master, Harry Nelson Pillsbury. 


The opening is almost crude, especially by the standards of modern opening theory. But before you judge this game too harshly, I ask you to remember the following facts: 
# 1.)  When this game was played, real opening theory was in its infancy. 

# 2.)  Today we have the benefit of nearly two hundred years of accumulated {opening} practice.

# 3.)  We also have the benefits today of dozens of chess books about this player. 

# 4.)  We should not forget the MANY benefits of modern technology. 
          (Computers, communication, rapid information transfer, databases, The Internet, etc.) 

# 5.)  And finally ... please do not forget that this game was played  ... ... ...  
          OVER 100 years ago!

   If you do not understand the many symbols I utilize when annotating a game, ... ... ...  
   HERE  is a fairly detailed explanation. 

 Click  HERE  to see the Java-Script replay page for this game. 

  GM M. Tchigorin (2675) - GM H.N. Pillsbury (2725)  


International Chess Tournament
Vienna, Austria 
(Rd. # 30); 13.07.1898.

[A.J. Goldsby I]


One of Pillsbury's best games. 
(Many of the grandest checkmates remain off the board - hidden in the notes ...  
 or completely unseen.) 

This game was from a double-round -robin event that featured nearly all of the 
greatest Master's of that period in time. 
 (The Kaiser Jubilee Tournament in Vienna, Austria; 1898.)    

Round Thirty (# 30),  July 13th, 1898. 
{The ratings are only rough estimates.} 


1.e4 e5; 2.f4 d5;   
The Falkbeer Counter-Gambit, as an answer to the King's Gambit.  
{J.N. Pope says this game began with the moves: 
 1.f4!?, e5!?; 2.e4!, d5!?}   

3.exd5 e4;  4.Bb5+!?,   
A very old line (of Nimzovich's) ...  no longer in use today.  


     [ Better is: >/=  4.Nc3, "+/="  {Diagram?}  and White is slightly better.   


       One standard opening reference book gives the following line: 
       4.d3! Nf65.Nd2!? exd36.Bxd3 Nxd57.Qf3!? Nc68.a3 Bc5;  
       9.Ne2 0-010.Nb3 Be7; "="  {Diagram?}   
       The book calls this equal ... White might be just a fuzz better here. 

       [ See MCO-14; page # 14; column # 25, and all notes. ]  ]   



This is the best move ... although Black's Q-side Pawns are busted 
up as a consequence. 

Pillsbury also enjoyed games with lots of open lines and a rapid development. 
Considerations such as material and pawn structure carried little weight with 
this American Original. 

     [ Possible was:  4...Nd7!?;   but the text is superior. ]   


5.dxc6 bxc6;   
Causing White to lose a move.  

     [ Possible was: 5...Nxc6!?, "~"  {Diagram?}  with an unclear position. ]   


6.Bc4 Nf6;   
Now White's positional weaknesses are evident, and Black gets a solid 
advantage through simple and quick development.  

But before you are too quick to harshly judge White,  you should consider: 
# 1.)  His position is defensible; 
# 2.)  This game was played OVER one-hundred (100) years ago!! 

Both sides now rush to try and develop their pieces. 
7.d4 Bd6;  8.Ne2 0-0;  9.0-0 c5;  10.d5!?,   {See the diagram, just below.}    
This advance looks natural ... 



  gcg_tchi-pill_vi98-pos1.gif, 62 KB



But the dark squares are weakened as a result.   

     [  Probably better is the move:  >/=  10.Nbc3, "+/="  {Diagram?}     
         and White is just a little better. ]   


10...Nbd7;  11.Bb3!?,    
A very intriguing idea from Tchigorin ... who said in the tournament book that 
he evolved the idea of c4, followed by a "ganging-up" on Black's e-Pawn.  

Pillsbury finds a striking reply.  

     [ After the simple moves:  >/=  11.Nbc3 Nb612.Bb5 Bb7;  
        13.Ng3, "+/="  {Diagram?}    White is at least a little better. ]   


11...c4!!;  (line-opening)  {Diagram?}      
A truly amazing move - the full consequences of this pawn advance 
are not immediately apparent. 

I remember - as a teen-ager ... racking up mates by the score. 
(But these lines were probably a little unsound, and did not stand up 
 to computer analysis.)


     [ Or  11...Re8;  12.c4, "+/="  {Diagram?}      
        and White is just a tiny bit better. ]     


12.Bxc4 Bc5+;  13.Kh1 Nb6;  14.Bb3 Ng4!;   
The most energetic move for Black.   

     [ Interesting was: 14...a5!?  with some pressure.  ]   


This is almost definitely forced. 

Black threatened both ...Nf2+; and the less obvious ...Nxh2! as well.   

     [ Just one possible line was:  </= 15.h3?! Qh4!?; 16.Nec3? Qg3!?; ('?!')     
        The most aggressive, but the simple move of   (>/=)  ...Nf2+;  ... ... ...  
         - winning material - was probably better.  
        17.hxg4? Qh4#    ]   


15...Nxd5;  16.h3?!,   {See the diagram ... just below.}         
This is almost assuredly inferior, but I do not know if anyone has pointed this out. 



   gcg_tchi-pill_vi98-pos2.gif, 63 KB



White looks to be forcing Black back, but he is in for a really bad shock.  

     [ Much better was:  >/= 16.Bxd5, ('!')  16...Qxd5; 17.h3!{Diagram?}      
       This is probably best.  

           ( Also good was: 17.Nbc3, "="  (with almost complete equality). )     

        17...Nf6; "~"  {Diagram?}    and the position is very vague ...   
         hours of analysis failed to reveal who is better. ]     


A brilliant move ... leaving the Knight on g4 hanging. 
It even looks like a blunder to some of my students. 

     [ After the moves:  16...Ngf617.Qg3,  "~"  {Diagram?}    
        Black's initiative appears to have faded. ]   


This could be forced.   

     [ Much worse for White was:  </=  17.hxg4 Nxf118.g5{Diagram?}     
        Practically the only move.  

           ( Not </= 18.Qxf1?? Qh4# )    

        18...Ne3;  "/+"  {Diagram?}   And Black stays an exchange ahead, 
         and White has many weaknesses. ]     


17...Nxe3;  18.Nbc3!,    
White finds the most stubborn defense. 
(Sergeant and Watts also applaud this move.)  

     [ After the moves:  18.Rg1 Rb8!?{Diagram?}     
        Black has many interesting and playable alternatives at this point.   

             ( Very interesting was: 18...Be6!? "=/+" )    

         19.Nbc3 Re820.a3!? Qc7;  "=/+"  {Diagram?}     
       and Black is definitely better - (maybe - "/+") - White's position is 
       very congested, ... and it is unclear how he will unravel this mess. ]    


18...Nxf1; 19.Nxe4 Bb6!?;   
The seemingly correct move, but Black actually may have had 
a better move here.  

Sadly - in one of his greatest games ...  
Pillsbury does not find the best continuation. 


     [ The following is an idea I had when I was just a young puppy, 
        (around 14); but could never convince anyone of the soundness 
        of my idea.  >/= 19...Ne3!!20.Nxc5 Bxh3!!21.gxh3 Qc8!;  
         22.Kh2{Diagram?}    This could be forced.   


           ( Interesting was: 22.Qg3!?,  {Diagram?}  although after ...Qxc5;      
             Black is clearly better here.      

             But of course Black could not play: </= 22.Ne4?? Qxh3+; 23.Kg1 Qg2# )       


        22...Qxc523.Qc3!? Ng4+!24.hxg4 Qf2+25.Kh1 Qxe226.Qg3,   
        26...Qe4+27.Kh2 Qd428.c3!? Qd2+29.Kg1,   {Diagram?}     
        This is nearly forced.   

            ( Or </= 29.Qg2?! Qxf4+; ("-/+") )     

        29...Qxb2;  "/+"  (Maybe "-/+")  {Diagram?}   
        Had the great Pillsbury won this way, I am convinced this would have been 
        one of the greatest games of chess history. ]    



20.Qxf1 Bb7;  21.N2c3 Qh4!?;    
Very aggressive - I liked this move very much as a young lad. 
(I very clearly remember giving it an exclam as a youngster.) 
But now I am not even completely convinced that this is the correct move. 


     [ Black could play:   21...Bxe4; 22.Nxe4 Qd4; "=/+"  {Diagram?}     
        with a solid advantage;   


        or even the move:   21...Qc7; "=/+"  {Diagram?}   
        also looks to be a little better for Pillsbury here. ]    



22.Nd5 Rae8!?;   
I guess it is a matter of taste which Rook move is the best to use at this 
point in this game.  

     [ Also good is:  22...Rad8!?; "=/+" {Diagram?}      
        with a clear edge for Black. ]    


23.Ng5 h6!?;  ('!')   
This looks very attractive ...   

     [ But a good alternative was:  23...Qg3!?;  "=/+"  {Diagram?}      
        with advantage to Black. ("/+") ]    


The great Russian Master continues to defend admirably ... but Pillsbury 
is like a bull-dog when he has a good grip on the position.  
24.Nf3 Qg3;  25.Ne5 Be3;  26.Nd3!?,    
White hangs on to everything.   

     [ Interesting was the line:  26.Nxe3!? Qxh3+27.Kg1 Qxe3+;  
        28.Qf2 Qxf2+29.Kxf2 Rd8;  "=/+"  {Diagram?}      
       but Black is still on top. ]    


26...Re4!?;   {See the diagram, just below.}        
This is most interesting ... and also very aggressive. 
But Black also had other ideas in this position. 



   gcg_tchi-pill_vi98-pos3.gif, 64 KB



White has to be careful here ... he stands on the edge of the precipice, and one 
false move - he plunges to his doom on the rocks below.  

     [ An alternative was: 26...a5!?, "=/+" (Black is still better.)   ]   


Brilliant defense!! Tchigorin allows his King-side Pawns to be broken 
up to alleviate some of the pressure.  

     [ After the continuation:   27.Rd1!? Rfe8!28.Nxe3!? Rxe329.Ne5   
         29...Qxh3+30.Kg1 Bxg2!!31.Bxf7+ Kh8!?32.Qxg2 Rg333.Rd2,   
         33...Rxg2+34.Rxg2 Rd8; "-/+"  {Diagram?}    Black is simply winning. ]     


Pillsbury continues to keep the pressure on his opponent.   
27...Qxf3;  28.gxf3 Ree8;   {See the diagram just below.}      
Black has made progress, yet White's position is much more 
durable than you might think at a casual first glance. 



   gcg_tchi-pill_vi98-pos4.gif, 64 KB



Now by centralizing his Rook, White probably had good chances to draw.  (maybe)  
29.Kg2?!,  (Maybe - '?')   {Diagram?}      
After a long and difficult defense - and running low on time - the great player, 
and the Father of the 'Russian School of Chess,'  finally commits a real error. 

After the move: "Rook-to-the -Queen's-One-square," Pillsbury will probably win, 
but it could take a long, long time. (Re1 also might have been better than the text.) 

     [ Better was:  >/=  29.Rd1!, "~"  {Diagram?}     
        when Black's edge is held to an absolute minimum. ]    


The rest is pretty simple  ...  Pillsbury always had very good technique.  
29...Bd4;  30.c3 Bxd5;  31.Bxd5 Re2+;  32.Kg3 Rd2!;  33.cxd4!?,   
White is sliding downhill, yet it is probably too late to save the game.  

       [ Or  33.Be4 Bb6; "/+"  {Diagram?}  and Black is clearly better. ]   


Now Pillsbury begins to wrap things up. 
 33...Rxd3;  34.Rc1 Rxd4;  35.Rc5 Rd8;  36.Bc4 Rd2;  
 37.b4 g6; 
38.b5 Kg7!;  39.a4 h5!;    
At first glance, this appears to be a completely innocuous advance. 
But watch what happens now. 

     [ Also good was:  39...R8d7;  "=/+" ]   


40.a5, ('!?')    
Understandably, White wishes to try to whip up some counterplay on the 
Queenside. (Before Black whips out the "Executioner's Axe.") 

But now his King suddenly ...  and very unexpectedly ... comes under fire.

     [ The move  >/=  40.h4{Diagram?}   was probably a wise precaution ...  
        but would not have changed the end result. ]   


40...h4+!;   White Resigns.  0 - 1 


     [  It is a forced mate after the following moves: 
        This could be forced.   

            (Even worse was: </=  41.Kg4?! Rg2+; 42.Kxh4 Rh8+; and mates.)      

        This is forced to prevent a mate, but after "Pawn-takes-Rook,"  
         it is obviously time to resign.  

            (</=  42.b6? Rh8+;  43.Rh5 Rxh5#)     

        This is best, and leads to mate.   

            ( Or simply: 42...gxh5; ("-/+") )     

        The rest of the moves make no sense ... 
        until you realize it has turned into a chess problem. 
        (Black to move and mate. Of course, White works to prevent   
         the 2nd player from achieving his goals.) 

        43.Rf5 Kh6!44.Rh5+ gxh545.Be6 fxe646.b6 Rxf4#  ]    


One of Pillsbury's very best games. 

And while Pillsbury's effort versus Halprin carried off  FIRST  Brilliancy Prize, 
this game is deeper and perhaps more brilliant. (IMOHO) 

{Pillsbury tied for first in this event, but lost a tough play-off to the one 
  and only GM Siegbert Tarrasch.}  


   Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I.   
  Copyright () A.J. Goldsby.  Copyright (c) A.J.G;  2003 and 2004.   


   0 - 1   


       For this game, the  HTML code  was initially generated ... by the program,  ChessBase 8.0     

       The  chess diagrams  were generated by the program:  Chess Captor 2.25.      

As close as I could, this game is an exact representation of the original ChessBase document.

I have tried to execute the HTML document as close as I reasonable could to the original CB doc.

My references for this game are the books on Pillsbury by Reinfeld, Sergeant & Watts, and Pope.
 (I also consulted several opening books and chess encyclopedias as well.) 

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   Check out  some more annotated games. (Page 1 of my  "Annotated Games"  on my GC website.) 

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   Visit  my big  "Angel-Fire"  website, and take a look at a few of the  annotated games  that are there.


  I worked on annotating this game for about 2-3 weeks. The formatting took two or three days.

  Final posting on:  Tuesday;  November 25th, 2003.  (Contact me ... about this analysis.)   

   This (web) page was actually created in (early)  November, 2003.   This page was last updated on 05/30/13 

  Copyright (c) (LM) A.J. Goldsby I 

  Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, 2013. All rights reserved.  

(This game was previewed by about 10 people.)