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Wilhelm Steinitz vs Harry Nelson Pillsbury
St. Petersburg (1895/96), St. Petersburg RUE, rd 3, Dec-17
Russian Game: Modern Attack (C43)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-10-04  clocked: 13...Re8
Sep-11-04  Giancarlo: I agree, 13..re8 seems better for Black. followed by Qe7 right?
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: One of the strangest things in chess history is Pillsbury's performance against Steinitz at this St Petersburg tournament. He scored +2 -1 =3 against Lasker, +3 -2 =1 against Chigorin, but he only scored +0 -4 =2 against old Steinitz.
Jul-19-06  Atking: 8. ...0-0!!? is a genius move. 9.QxBb4 is completly wrong as 9. ...Nxf2+ 10.Ke1 NxRh1 11.dxc Re8+ as you noted then 12. ...Qxc7 Black is clearly better. One point of Black's clever 0-0 is revealed after 9.NxNe4 fxNe4 10.dxc Qh4 11.cxNb8=Q Bg4+ (11. ...Qxf2? 12.Qg3! Bg4+ 13.Be2 Qf1+ 14.Qe1!! a la Steinitz) 12.Be2 RaxQb8 13.f3 Rxf3!! 14.h3 Rbf8! 15.gxRf3 exf3 Black wins !!
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Pillsbury played these Petroff's very dynamically at St Petersburg. This game was played December 17, 1895.

He played Lasker December 13, and in both cases had a won game in the opening.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Sergeant mentions Pillsbury should have played 18...h6 but gives no variations.

Some dramatic variations happen if White tries to keep his pieces active- after 18...h6 19 Ne4 Nxh2+! 20 Nxh2 Ng3+ 21 Nxg3 fxg3+ 22 Nf3 Rxf3 with mate in a few.

so White has to try Shredder's suggestion after 18...h6

19 Nh3 Ne3+ 20 Kg1 Bxh3 21 Kxh1 (if 21 gxh3 Qc6!) e2!

click for larger view

Here if 23 Re1 Rxf3 24 gxf3 Qe3 25 Bxe2 Qf2 with the win of a piece.

Jul-20-06  Atking: Thanks Tamar for these details about this incredible battle. I thought ingenuously my analysis quite new in fact, something similar was plaid in Kharus vs D Gurevich USSR 1975... 8. ...0-0!!? seems to refute 8.Ng5!? 9.Qc4+ Kh8 10.dxc Nxf2+ 11.Ke1 Qe7+ 12.KxNf2 Qe1+ 13.Kf3 QxBc1 and even after 14.Qg8+! KxQg8 15.Bc4+ Kh8 16.RxQc1 Nc6 (Ne5+ covers f7) 17.Ke2 g6 Black is clearly a pawn up. For if Ba5 xc7.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Atking> I did a little sleuthing on chessbase; it appears credit for 8...0-0! should go to Jackson Showalter.

[Event "New York m"]
[Site "New York"]
[Date "1895.??.??"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Lipschuetz,Samuel"]
[Black "Showalter,Jackson Whipps"]
[Result "0-1"]
[Eco "C43"]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.e5 Ne4 5.Qe2 Bb4+ 6.Kd1 d5 7.exd6 f5 8.Ng5 0-0 9.Nxe4 fxe4 10.Qc4+ Kh8 11.Qxb4 Bg4+ 12.Be2 Bxe2+ 13.Kxe2 Nc6 14.Qe1 Qxd6 15.Kd1 Rae8 16.b3 e3 17.Ba3 Qf4 18.Bxf8 e2+ 19.Qxe2 Rxe2 20.Kxe2 d3+ 21.Kxd3 Qd4+ 22.Ke2 Qxa1 23.c3 b6 24.Re1 Kg8 25.Ba3 Qxa2+ 26.Kf1 Qxb3 27.h3 Kf7 28.Kg1 a5 29.Kh2 Qa2 30.Kg3 Qd5 31.Bc1 Qd3+ 32.Be3 a4 33.Rc1 Na5 34.Re1 Nc4 0-1

This was a match for the US Championship, and it is probable both Steinitz and Pillsbury knew of it.

Jul-20-06  Runemaster: Thanks for pointing out this wild game, guys. Very enjoyable to play through. Pillsbury really felt the old dog's bite in this tournament.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Pillsbury really felt the old dog's bite in this tournament.> Quite apt.

Reminds me of the quote:

"I may be an old lion," Steinitz remarked defiantly, "but I can still bite someone's hand off if he puts it in my mouth."

I guess the knight on h1 constitutes a hand in the mouth.

Jul-20-06  Runemaster: <tamar> <Iguess the knight on h1 constitutes a hand in the mouth.>

Steinitz eventually nailed it on move 50 after chasing the poor thing all over the board.

Jul-21-06  psmith: <Atking> I couldn't understand your first post until I realized that you had left out the moves 9. Qc4+ Kh8 -- you meant to begin your lines at move 10.
Jul-21-06  psmith: <Atking> So here's a question. In your first line, after 9. Qc4+ Kh8 10. Nxe4 fxe4 what happens if white play 11. Qxb4? (e.g. 11... Nc6 12. Qe1?)
Jul-21-06  psmith: <Tamar> In your variation 19 Nh3 Ne3+ 20 Kg1 Bxh3 21 Kxh1 (if 21 gxh3 Qc6!) e2! etc, you have left out a move -- how did the pawn get to e3 to be able to advance to e2? I think you had in mind: For example, if 19 Nh3 Ne3+ 20 Kg1 Bxh3 21. Bxe3 fxe3 21. Kh1. Is that right?
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <psmith> You are correct. I left out the move 21 Bxe3 fxe3, due to carelessness.

This would have been a sensational game had Pillsbury finished it off with his usual flair.

The next time they met with the same colors, Steinitz varied with 8 dxc7, so Pillsbury did not get to show his improvements. Steinitz vs Pillsbury, 1895 1/2-1/2

Jul-22-06  madlydeeply: two knights in an open position ain't so bad...even in endgames..if they have plenty of squares they can fork and refork etc double back around and protect each other etc.
Jul-03-08  Atking: <psmith: <Atking> So here's a question. In your first line, after 9.Qc4+ Kh8 10.Nxe4 fxe4 what happens if white play 11.Qxb4? (e.g. 11... Nc6 12.Qe1?)> Sorry for the delay <psmith> I'm just reading you notes now. Your previous note is right. Add the sequence 9.Qc4+ Kh8 is obvious and necessary to make sens. I use to think mentally and it's not the first time that I miss the correct move number. My analysis started effectively at move 10 (Not move 9). For your second question I need a cup of coffee.
Jul-03-08  Atking: <psmith> I realized that <tamar> (Thanks for him for this game) almost answered to your question. At first sight Black is piece down for a pawn but all white piece are on first rank (Except the King!) after 11...Bg4+ 12.Be2 BxBe2+ 13.KxBe2 Nc6 14.Qe1 Qd6. Take of one pawn c or f and back 2 pawn d4-e4 are strong as Bc1 So materialistically White is more and less pawn up but with King on the center for a long. With Rs and Q&N still on the board I will prefer Black here.
Apr-21-09  WhiteRook48: 60...Rxg4 61 Rh6+! Kxh6 62 Kxg4
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Had Steinitz played like Steinitz we could have had "Final Fantasy: Episode 1"

11 Qe1 Nxg5 12 dxc7 Qf6

click for larger view

Oct-12-10  Pygeum Lycopene: Maybe an interesting try for black was 22)...Qf2 23)Kh1-Nge3 24)Be3-fe 25)Rd1-e2 26)Rg1-Bc6 27)Qc5-Rf3 28)Nf3-Qf3. my line isn't up to snuff probably but ..Qf2 and ..Nge3 seem a better alternative.
Feb-02-18  Nerwal: A good chunk of this game is a maze and several mistakes are easily explainable (for instance 21... ♘e3! = is extremely complex, and the f3 or ♘g3+ winning sacs at move 15-16 are also tricky to calculate accurately) but the miss of the simple 13... ♖e8+ 14. ♗e2 ♕xc7 -+ makes the game look really sloppy.
Dec-16-18  HarryP: John Owen, in his tournament book, says "Pillsbury might have kept the draw in hand" with 19... Nf6, "but such a move in this position would have been totally out of his character." Later on he says 29... Rc8 "might possibly have kept the draw on the table, but Pillsbury is still looking for a win?"
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