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Harry Nelson Pillsbury vs Carl Schlechter
Hastings (1895), Hastings ENG, rd 18, Aug-28
Queen's Gambit Declined: Modern Variation (D50)  ·  0-1


Annotations by Wilhelm Steinitz.      [129 more games annotated by Steinitz]

explore this opening
find similar games 18 more Pillsbury/Schlechter games
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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-10-04  clocked: Here is an interesting justification of white's play:

27.g4!? fxg4 28.Rf6 Qb4 (g3) 29.h5 gxh5 30.a3! Qxb2? 31.Rxf7 Bxf7 32.e6 is crushing

40.Qg3+ was necessary

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: The annotators of his day assumed White's Kside play was insufficient.

Steinitz' withering assessment about 27 g4 ("This rash attack and Black's timid reply"...) was echoed in P.W.Sergeants 'Pillsbury's Chess Career',

<27 g4

"Offering a pawn. If Black accepts, 28 Rf6 follows and h5. But it does not a appear that White can achieve success on this wing, and the Q side superiority of Black remains"...>

But is this really true? Preliminary analysis on Rybka on the line suggested by <clocked> confirms that Black has trouble pursuing his Qside play because of White's persistent threats to break through.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: The first discovery I made with Rybka (not Aquarium 3 but an older version) on deep analysis is that Black's play on the queenside is slow if he takes the offered pawn with 27 g4.

27...fxg4 28 Rf6 Qb4 29 h5 gxh5 30 a3!

Now 30...Qxb2 fails as shown in the first note on this page, so

30...Qe7 31 Kg2

A key moment. White has rebuffed the queen sortie, and has a grip on the Kside, but how can he make Black exchange on f6? This move opens the way for the rook to operate on the h file.

31...Bd7 32 Qxh5 a5 33 Rh1 Be8 34 Qh4 g3 35 Bg6!

click for larger view

A spectacular resource which finally makes Black capture f6.

if now 35...Rxf6 36 exf6 Qxe3 37 f7+ Bxf7 38 Qd8+ Be8 39 Qxe8+ Qxe8 40 Bxe8 with an extra piece and good winning chances for White. 1.57/20

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: What happens after

27...fxg4 28 Rf6

if Black foregoes the queen move Qb4, and plays exclusively with his pawn majority on that wing?

Steinitz and later Sergeant imply that Black has powerful play while White's Kside attack is unreliable.

Surprisingly White breaks through first again.

28...b4 29 Kg1 Bd7 30 h5 gxh5 31 e4

A new wrinkle-White plays for connected passed pawns

31...c3 32 exd5 cxb2 33 Be4 Qe8 34 Rxf7 Rxf7 35 Rxf7 Qxf7 36 e6 2.02/19 Rybka 2.2 on deep analysis

Further analysis proves White has a winning edge.

Jul-23-09  Knight13: 8...Nxd5 is an improvement.

<It was better to make sure of his superiority on the Queen's side by c4 at once.> 12. Bxe4 dxe4 13. b3 shouldn't be that bad for White.

Oct-26-11  knighterrant999: This is one of only three games Pillsbury lost at this tournament. The other two losses came from Chigorin, and Lasker, who finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Oct-26-11  knighterrant999: 4.Bg5!
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: 39...Re4 "Black seizes his opportunity with scientific exactitude." Steinitz

Steinitz relished how Black's queenside majority finally triumphed in this game, but he misses White can still draw with

40 Qg3+ Rg4 41 Qc7

the difference being that White holds onto the e pawn

Oct-26-11  Retireborn: <tamar> Colin Crouch has an interesting discussion of this game in his book of the tournament, but he doesn't mention 40.Qg3+!

I wonder if Steinitz missed it or if he just assumed that the endgame after 40.Qg3+ Rg4 41.Qc7 Qxc7 42.Rxc7+ Kf6 43.Rxc3 Kf5 was winning for looks horrible at first sight, but 44.Rc6 does seem to hold the draw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Retireborn> 39...Qg3+ also seems to draw.

If 39...Rg6 40 Rg8+ Kg8 41 Qxg6+ Kf8 42 Qh6+ and there is no way to evade the checks without giving up the d pawn, or the c pawn.

Much more even game than Steinitz' notes indicate.

Oct-26-11  SChesshevsky: <<tamar: The annotators of his day assumed White's Kside play was insufficient. >>

I think there's some evidence that when black plays the ...c4 for the Qside majority White has the time to whip up a often decisive Kside attack.

Pillsbury- Tarrasch Hastings 1895 was an example. I wonder if that game was played after this one.

Also Botvinnik - Capablanca 1938 where Capablanca played an early ...c4.

Oct-27-11  Retireborn: <tamar> Yes, that looks like a clear draw.

Incidentally Crouch doesn't agree with Steinitz about 27.g4 - he gives it a !? and calls it a good practical try - but he does give 38.e6 a ?, whereas you have shown that it is the best move!

Oct-27-11  Retireborn: <SChesshevsky> Pillsbury-Tarrasch was played in round 2, whereas this game was round 18 and 11.Bb1 was an attempt to improve on 11.Re1 v Tarrasch. The position also came up in Lasker-Janowski in round 6, when Lasker tried 11.dxc5 Nxc5 12.Bb1 and won rather easily!

When Black plays ...c4 in these positions he is releasing pressure on the centre and is committed to inflicting damage on the Q-side before White can overrun him on the K-side. Another example is Miles-Spassky from Montilla 1978. Jon Speelman, annotating that game, calls it "a rather old-fashioned way of playing, but not necessarily bad..."

Oct-28-11  SChesshevsky: <<Retireborn>> Thanks for the info. I had not seen Miles-Spassky 1978 before and it was an incredible game.
Oct-28-11  Retireborn: <SChesshevsky> Glad you liked it! Yes, that was Tony's best game, a fine interweaving of strategy and tactics. And Spassky was still a very formidable opponent in 1978; despite his round 2 loss to Miles he went on to win the Montilla tournament with 6.5/9.
Apr-20-13  Expendable Asset: Try 12. Bf5.

Otherwise, good defensive play by Schlechter.

Apr-20-13  Expendable Asset: I meant 14. Bf5. Sorry.

Also, 11. Re1 is better. 11. Bb1 is too early, if not too committal as well. It is better to leave the option of Bf1 open here.

Dec-14-18  HarryP: Yes, knighterrant999, Pillsbury did lose to the player who finished second and the player who finished third. I wonder how often in chess history a tournament winner lost to the second and third place players. I bet it hasn't happened often.
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