H. Pillsbury - S. Winawer; 
 Budapest, 1896. 

 ( Just click on the arrows below, or click onto the actual moves to replay the game.

  Harry N. Pillsbury (2750) - Szeymon A. Winawer (2700)  

   Budapest, 1896.   

  [A.J.Goldsby I] 

Chernev writes: "Where some Masters strike occasional brilliant notes, Pillsbury ripples off cadenzas." 
( - The great {late} Irving Chernev, in his book:  "The 1000 Best, Short Games of Chess." Game # 775, page # 408.)

For my part, after studying this game, I think it may be one of the most brilliant ever played. It certainly deserves ... 
in my opinion anyway ... to be in the list of:    "The Ten Best and Prettiest Miniatures Ever Played."   - LIFE Master A.J. Goldsby I . 

1. d4 d52. c4 e63. Nc3 c64.e3 Nf65. Nf3 Nbd76. Bd3 Bd67. 0-0 0-08.e4!?

      [ A modern book line runs: 8. Qc2 dxc4; 9. Bxc4 b5; 10. Be2 Bb7
        11. Rd1, ("+/=")
White has a slight pull, but nothing more than is usual 
        for modern tournament praxis. ]  


8...dxe49. Nxe4 Nxe410. Bxe4 Nf611. Bc2!
Chernev notes that: "The position is now exactly the same as Capablanca - Scott; Hastings, 1919." 

      [ Playable is: 11. Bd3!? c5; ("=") ]  


11...h612. Be3 Re813. Qd3 Qc7!?
 Black develops and also prepares the ... Pawn at c6 to c5 pawn break.  
 Not a bad move, but since Black gets into so much trouble ... maybe this move in inaccurate? {A.J.G.}

       [ Maybe some other alternatives for Black are: 13...Qa5!?; 14. Rfe1, ("+/=") 
         13...a5!?; 14. Rfe1, ("+/=") 13...a6!?; 14. Rfe1, ("+/="); 
         White seems to keep the advantage, no matter what Black plays. ]  


14. c5!
Setting up a terrific bind. This also prevents Black from playing his natural freeing move, ...c5. 

      [White could also play: 14. Rfe1!?, ("+/=")]  


14...Bf815. Ne5!
Occupying his outpost. - Pillsbury simply loved to plop a Knight on e5. (Many of Pillsbury's best games feature this move.)

       [15.Rfe1!? ("+/=")]  


"Did he think Pillsbury overlooked this?" - Irving Chernev

Its hard to suggest a better move for Black.

      [ Maybe Black could play: 15...b6!?; but White could play 16. Ng4 or 16. Bf4, 
        with a solid advantage for White. Or 15...g6; 16. b4!, ("+/=") with a tremendous 
        bind on the position. ]  


 White to move. What move would you play here? 
16. Bxh6!!
A brilliant rejoinder, most likely unforeseen by Winawer. 

Chernev only gives this one exclamation point, (And the FIRST move in this game to receive an exclamation mark by Chernev.); but since White had some VERY viable alternative(s), I think it fully deserves two exclams. - LM A.J. Goldsby I

Chernev writes: "Ready to answer 16...PxB; (?) with 17. Q-N3ch, K-B1;  18. N-N6ch, with a discovered attack on the [Black] Queen." 

       [ White could also have played: 16.Nxf7! Qxf7
         (Or 16...Kxf7
; 17. Qg6+ Kg8; 18. dxc5, {"+/-"})  17. dxc5, {"+/="}  
         White has at least a slight advantage. ]

Black tries to complicate.

       [ Or Black could play: 16...gxh6?; 17. Qg3+ Ng4;  
            (Or 17...Kf8??; 18. Ng6+ fxg6
; 19. Qxc7, {"+/-"})
        18. Qxg4+
Kf8; 19. Bh7! Bxd4(Or 19...Bb6; 20. Rae1 Ke7; 21. Qg7, {"+/-"})
        20. Qxd4 f6; 21. Qc5+ Kg7; 22. Qc2 fxe5; 23. Qg6+ Kh8; 24. Qxe8+, with a completely won  game. 

       Or Black could play 16...Bd6!?;  But White would probably be much better after the  simple 17. Bg5. ]  


17. Qxd4 gxh618. Qf4!,  
A very accurate move. 

 Chernev writes: "Attacking the Knight and also renewing the threat against the Queen by 19. Q-N3ch and 20. N-N6ch." 

      [18. Rfe1!? {"+/="}]  


Unfortunately for Black, this looks forced.

19. Qxh6!

Chernev correctly gives this move an exclamation point. White surrounds the Black King. 

      [ 19. Qg3+ Kh8; 20. Rad1, {"+/-"} ]  


19...f6; (Maybe forced?)  
Black is trying to stop the advance of the Hun hordes, but it may already be too late.

      [Chernev gives the variation: 
20. Bh7+ Kh8; 21. Bg6+ Kg8; 22. Qh7+ Kf8; 23. Qxf7#
        The computer checks out another variation: 19...f5!?; 20. Rfe1 Qh7; 21. Qg5+ Qg7
        22. f4
Qxg5; 23. fxg5 Nb4; 24. Bb3 Nd5; 25. h4 Rd8; (Junior 6.0.) 0.76/15  
        Now White can play: 26. g6, {"+/-"}.


20. f4!,  
nchoring the Knight at e5 ... opening the f-file would probably be disastrous for Black, even if he did win a piece. 
---> This move is also [correctly] given an exclam by Chernev. 

   [White could also play: 20. Qh5 Rd8; 21. Ng4, {"+/-"} with a clear advantage.
     Or  20. Qg6+!? Kf8; 21. Nf3, {"+/"} Maybe - "+/-" ]  


Black is doing what he can for his defense. 

      [ Black can also play: 20...fxe5?; 21. Qg6+ Kf8;  
            (Or 21...Kh8?; 22. Qxe8+
,  is a routine win for White.)  22. fxe5+ Ke7; 23. Qg5+!,  
            (Or 23. Rf7+ Kd8; 24. Rxc7, {"+/-"}) 
23...Kd7; 24. Rf7+! Re7; 25. Rxe7+ Nxe7
         26. Rd1+! Nd5; 27. Qg7+! Kd8; 28. Qf8+ Kd7; 29. Rxd5+! cxd5; 30. Ba4+ Qc6
        31. Qd6+! Ke8; 32. Bxc6+, with an easily won position for White. ("+/-"); 
        Black could also play: 20...Qg7!?; 21. Qh5! Rd8; 22. Rf3!, {"+/-"} Maybe - "+/-" ]

21. Ng6!
,  Black RESIGNS1-0.    


[ Probably also winning was: 21.Rf3!?, {"+/"} (Maybe - "+/-") ]  


Chernev, (giving White's 21st move an exclam), then writes: 
 " The Rook is strangely caught. "  He [Chernev] then gives [some, but not all of] the following beautiful variations: (To include the main line.) 

;  Seemingly the most logical. 

 [ Var. # 1.)  21...Rd7; 22. Qh8+ Kf723. Qf8#. - Chernev. 
Var. # 2.)  21...Rf722. Qh8#, - Chernev. 
Var. # 3.)  21...Rh7; 22. Qf8#,  - Chernev.

   For some reason, Chernev does not analyze the following variation:
Var. # 4.) 21...f5!?; 22. Qf8+ Kh723. Rf3! Nxf4
Or Sub-variant # 1.) 23...Qb6+; 24. Kh1 Rg7
   24...Qe3; 25. Rxe3 Nxe3; 26. Nxe7 Nxc2; 27. Qf7+ Kh6; 28. Qg6#
   25. Rh3+ Kxg6; 26. Rg3+ Kh6; 27. Qxg7+ Kh5; 28. Qg5# 
Or Sub-variant # 2.) 23...Rg7; 24. Rg3 Rxg6
  24...Qb6+; 25. Kh1 Bd7; 26. Rh3+! Kxg6; 27. Rg3+ Kh5; 28.Qxg7, {"+/-"}
   25. Rh3+ Rh6; 26. Rxh6#;  
Or Sub-variant # 3.) 23...Kxg6?!; 24. Rg3+ Kh5; 25. Bd1+! Kh4; 26. Rh3#.
   (Returning to the main analysis of Var. # 4.)

   24. Nxf4, {"+/-"}
White is winning easily. {A.J.G.} 

   Var. # 5.)  Chernev also does not analyze:  21...Qb6+; 22. Kh1 Bd7
   23. Qh8+
Kf724. Qh7+ Ke825. Qg8#,  {A.J.G.}


  22. Qh8+ Kf723. Qh7#
  The actual game is only 21 moves in length. (Black Resigned after White's 21st move.) 

  One of the most beautiful games ever played. (It also withstands rigorous computer analysis!!) 

  It is also, in my opinion, a very original game of chess, and it is  not  anticipated by any other game. - LIFE Master A.J. Goldsby I 

 1 - 0 

Many players today feel Winawer was just a fish, not really a good player. Many associate this player with a variation of the French Defense, but know little else about him. Most players I have talked to do NOT think he was even a player of the Master level. This is so widespread  that I take a few lines of space to address this problem. It is worth the time to read this and get to know just a little about the players. 

 Seymon A. Winawer - (1839 - 1920)  This is a Polish-Russian player of Jewish Heritage, (born in Warsaw, Poland; on March 5th, 1838);  that most western players had never even heard of. Players of the tournament of  Paris 1867, felt he had "dropped out of the sky" to share second place with Baron von Kolisch. He was to continually demonstrate - that in his best form - he could beat anybody!  

 He was also an original thinker, anticipating many of Nimzovich's ideas about the center, pawn structure, and piece play. He created many original ideas in the opening! 

"He would be obviously rated in the 2600 to the 2730 rating range (at least!) if he were alive in  the year 2001 and would be ranked in the world's top 15." - LM A.J. Goldsby I

"For the next 15 years Winawer stood among the World's best half-dozen players." 
 - The Oxford Companion To Chess.
(by David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld.)

He won his National Championship at least three times.
At Paris, 1878; he came FIRST (+14, =5, -3) equal with Zukertort; but ahead of Blackburne and Mackenzie. 
At Berlin, 1881; he shared THIRD with M. Tschigorin; after Blackburne and Zukertort. 
At Vienna, 1882; (Maybe the strongest international tournament ever held up until that time.) he achieved his greatest success by coming FIRST. (Tie with Steinitz.)  (+ 22, = 4, - 8) He came in ahead of Blackburne, Mackenzie, and Zukertort - and many others. (Most of the best players of that time were at this tournament.) 
At Nuremburg, 1883; he came in CLEAR FIRST. (+ 13, = 2, - 3) {Ahead of Blackburne.}
At London, 1883; he played (he felt) poorly and came in 9th. He played little tournament chess for nearly a decade after that. But he remained a dangerous player and played more than one 'friendly' match. 
(Defeating many a good player - often giving them odds.)
At Budapest, 1896; (Easily in the top 25 - maybe even the 'Top 5' - of all chess tournaments before 1925.) He tied for 6-7th, with 6.5 points. (Behind 1.) Charousek and 2.) Tchigorin - 8.5; 3.) Pillsbury - 7.5; 4-5.)  Janowski and Schlecter - 7; but came ahead of players like Tarrasch, Albin, Maroczy, and Marco. (and a few others.) 
He withdrew from competitive chess shortly after this and did not play again. 

According to Winawer, he was a businessman first and a chess player second. Too often adventurous in his games, Steinitz said he was possessed of a "kill or cure" type of style. Winawer could also play positionally, as he demonstrated with his use of the  'Wyvill Formation'  against both Neumann and Steinitz at Paris, 1867. Contrary to popular thought, Winawer preferred Knights to Bishops. He would double his opponent's pawns, exchange his Bishops for his opponents' Knights, then play for the endgame.

Winawer was very creative. He originated new ideas almost constantly. (Steinitz felt his need to experiment was one of his weaknesses.) Nearly half a dozen opening variations - not including the French Defense - are linked to this player. This includes several lines in the Queen's Gambit Declined, one in the three Knight's game, and one in the Ruy Lopez. (Spanish Opening.)


Winawer is best remembered among today's chess player's for having originated 
the line in the 
French Defense   that still bears his name. 
 1. e4, e6;  2. d4, d5;  3. Nc3, Bb4!? 

The main line now runs  4. e5!, c5;  5. a3!, Bxc3+;  6. bxc3, Ne7;  (Black can also play 6...Qc7!?)
Now White can choose between a POSITIONAL approach and play 7. Nf3, (or 7. a4!?); or White can choose the more sharp TACTICAL vein of play and go for the move, 7. Qg4!? ('!') This in turn can (but does not have to!) lead to some of the sharpest lines on all of chess. (7...Qc7!? 8. QxNP/g7. These lines are called by various names around the world. Some call them "The French [Winawer] Gambit," or "The French Poisoned Pawn.") 

Probably the best book (for my money, anyway) ever published on these lines was:  "The French Defence, Main  Line Winawer."  The author was John Moles and it was first published in Dallas, Texas (U.S.A.) in 1975. {I believe it had previously been published in Great Britain.} (It was part of the, "Contemporary Chess Openings" series published by Chess Digest. [Ken Smith.] )

(Sources: "The Encyclopedia of Chess," by Anne Sunnucks; "The OXFORD Companion To Chess," by David Hooper & Kenneth Whyld; and "The Batsford Chess Encyclopedia," by Nathan Divinsky.)  {Plus several others.} 


Of course most people know the story of  Harry Nelson Pillsbury.   (1872 - 1906)  He was an American,  (Born in Somerville Massachusetts; on Dec. 5th, 1872.); who was a virtual nobody, (in the chess world) but somehow managed to get an invitation to one of the strongest tournaments ever held. (Hastings, 1895.) Completely surprising everyone (but himself!); he won clear first ahead of all the best players of that time. He then established himself as one of the top five players in the world for nearly a decade after that.  {For a long time, Pillsbury had a plus score against Lasker. (And many other players of the world's elite, although he was to have recurring trouble with Steinitz.)}  He was to win many, many tournaments (both in the U.S. and abroad) and was the reigning U.S. Champion for nearly 15 years. He also won many matches in the U.S. 
(Besting  H.N. Stone, Walbrodt, Steinitz - at odds, and Showalter twice; - among others.)

At New York, 1893; [Manhattan] Pillsbury came in clear first at the "Masters' Chess Tournament." 
(All the best players in America were present. Pillsbury had 7 points, Hodges 6, Showalter 5.5, Albin 5, J. W. Baird 4.5, Halpern 4.5, D.G. Baird 4, Ettlinger & Hanham 3, and Delmar had 2.5.)
[Pillsbury may have won close to a dozen American tournaments. This may be why he was chosen as one of the U.S. representatives at Hastings, 1895.]
At Hastings, 1895; He came on CLEAR FIRST. (Ahead of all the best players of his day.)
At St. Petersburg, 1895-96; he came in 3rd out of four. But he bested both Emanuel Lasker (+2, =3, -1) and Mikhail Tchigorin. (+ 3, = 1, - 2) in their individual matches. (He played poorly against Steinitz.)
At Nuremburg, 1896; he was ill and stared poorly. But he battled his way back to THIRD Place. 
(Shared third with Tarrasch, {+ 10, = 4, - 4}; behind Lasker and Maroczy.) 
At Budapest, 1896; he took THIRD after Tchigorin and Rudolph Charousek. 
In the U.S. Championship, 1897; Pillsbury won CLEAR FIRST. 
At Vienna, 1898; {The "Kaiser Jubilee"  Tournament} (One of the strongest tournaments until that time.) He shared FIRST Place with Tarrasch. 
(+ 24, = 7, - 5) He was ahead of virtually all the strongest players of that time - by a large margin. 
At London, 1899; he took SECOND Place, (+14, =8, -5) behind Lasker and equal with Maroczy and Janowski.
At Paris, 1900; he again placed clear SECOND Place; (+12, =1, -3) after Lasker. 
At Munich, 1900; He took FIRST Place, equal with Maroczy and Schlecter. 
At Buffalo, 1901; (The "American Masters") He took CLEAR FIRST, with a score of 9 wins and 2 draws. 
At Hanover, 1902; he took clear SECOND place, (+ 10, = 4, - 3) after David Janowski. 
At Monte Carlo, 1902; he took SECOND place. (+ 14, = 6, - 4) Geza Maroczy took clear first.
At Monte Carlo, 1903; he took THIRD place, (+ 14, = 9, - 3) after Seigbert Tarrasch and Geza Maroczy. 
At The "Vienna Gambit Tournament," 1903; He took 4th place with a 10-8 score. 
(Tchigorin won ran away with the tournament and won clear first place.) 
At Cambridge Springs, 1904; Pillsbury was ill and did not fare well ... but he did manage a few nice wins.

Chess historian Nathan Divinsky writes: "Pillsbury played in 13 international tournaments and was almost always near the top." Divinsky also notes Pillsbury had favorable lifetime scores against many of the best of his day. Schlechter, (+8, =9, -2); Janowski, (+6, =2, -4); Maroczy, (+4, =7, -3); and level against legends such as Steinitz, (+5, =3, -5); Lasker, (+5, =4, -5); and Tarrasch, (+5, =2, -5). Against many of the leading players of his day, he was only in the red vs. Blackburne and Tchigorin. (But only by a margin of one or two games.) 

Pillsbury took ill and spent months in Bermuda, hoping for a cure. He had a stroke which caused partial paralysis in 1906. He died in his home in Philadelphia on June 17th, 1906. He was only 34.

Pillsbury created constantly in the opening. His additions to theory are probably too numerous to name. The move 4.Bg5 in the Queen's Gambit Declined originated with him, and is still referred to today as the Pillsbury Attack. 
(Most Masters in Europe at that time felt the White Queen's Bishop belonged on the Queenside.) 
He also originated a defense in the Four Knights', the Giuoco, and many others. He was probably the creator and the driving force behind the "Cambridge Springs" variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined. Pillsbury blazed new paths and played variations (Ruy Lopez and Queen's Gambit) that are still played today. 

Pillsbury was best remembered for a prodigious - some would say a photographic - memory (He would memorize long lists of impossible words and could recite them ... days later ... forwards and backwards!) - and his chess  exhibitions. Pillsbury would very often think nothing of playing 20-30 (or more) of the area's best players simultaneously. He became famous worldwide for his BLINDFOLD Exhibitions. He would play 12 strong chess players, 6 strong checker players and engage in a hand of whist. (A card game.) He would do this all simultaneously and without sight of the many boards he was competing on. Yet he would win in record time and usually brilliantly ... often making a 'clean sweep' of things. People who attended these events never forgot them!
(Indeed, they would record them, write newspaper articles about them and even tell their children about them!)

Pillsbury eventually died nearly insane and broke. Many blamed his collapse and breakdown on his excesses in blindfold play. But we now know he contracted a STD shortly after winning Hastings, 1895; and it was this (and NOTHING else!) that caused his rapid physical and mental decay. A tragedy for American chess ... who seemed to have bad luck with its Champions. (Like Morphy before him and Fischer much later.) 

    If you can get it, you should get the definitive book on Pillsbury. It is called, "Harry Nelson Pillsbury,"  [American Chess Champion]. It is by Jaques N. Pope. 1996, Pawn Island Press. 

(Sources: "The Encyclopedia of Chess," by Anne Sunnucks; "The OXFORD Companion To Chess," by David Hooper & Kenneth Whyld; and "The Batsford Chess Encyclopedia," by Nathan Divinsky; "Pillsbury's Chess Career," by Sergeant & Watts; {1923} "Pillsbury's Best Games," by P. Wenman; and "Pillsbury, The Extra-ordinary," by Smith and Soltis.)  {Plus several others.} 


Click  HERE  to get more information on Pillsbury. 


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