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Harry Nelson Pillsbury vs Francis Joseph Lee
London (1899), London ENG, rd 15, Jun-19
Queen's Gambit Declined: Modern. Knight Defense (D51)  ·  1-0


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Given 4 times; par: 34 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-10-05  EmperorAtahualpa: The position around the 15th move is interesting.

15...Qxg2 looks tempting for Black but in fact results in Black either getting mated or a loss of his queen. If 15...Qxg2, then 16.Qf3! Qxf3 17.Rg1+ Kh8 18.Bg7+ Kg8 19.Bf6+ Qg4 20.Rxg4#

May-01-07  RonB52734: <EA> I just came across a website that refers to this as the "Pittsburgh Trap." Neither that website nor I knows why it has that name.
Jul-27-08  JoergWalter: RonB52734 - Never mind the name. Maybe there is a Pittsburgh in Czechoslovakia - just as it is the home country of the original Budweiser beer. Actually the trap/"emperors analysis" was presented as "the game" in Reti's "Masters of the chessboard" (p 211). Another example how Reti's mistakes are copied ever since.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Three interesting kibitzes on this page. I looked in Hoffer's tournament book to see if it would reveal why this is called the Pittsburgh Trap, but instead Hoffer wrote that Black couldn't play 15...Qxg2 because of 16. Kd2(?). White is still winning after 16....Qxf2+ 17. Kc1, but obviously 16. Qf3 is much stronger, and prettier as well.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: And here is some more on the Pittsburgh Trap. Best explanation seems to be a screw-up by Irving Chernev -- it should have been called the Philadelphia Trap.

Nov-10-08  JoergWalter: Thanks for the comment keypusher. And what is more: the cited game Capablanca-Teichmann shows to me again how well Capablanca knew Pillsbury's games and openings. This is normally not mentioned in the books.
Jul-27-10  sevenseaman: Irrespective of the non-traceability of its origins the name looks apt as Black K is unable to escape from g8. <EmperorAthualpa> thanks you for your 15...Qxg2 comment - an interesting detour. Chess comments unfortunately have a time-warp.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Actually the trap/"emperors analysis" was presented as "the game" in Reti's "Masters of the chessboard" (p 211). Another example how Reti's mistakes are copied ever since.>

<The game> appeared in this 1906 <Los Angeles Herald> article, so it presumably reached Reti in this form via a circuitous route:

Jan-10-16  zanzibar: That's a pretty good catch <MissS>, but is it truly the first corruption of the game score (assuming <CG> is correct)?

And how likely would it be that Reti have would utilized an LA newspaper as his source?

(Lots of subjunctives in that last sentence)

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <And how likely would it be that Reti have would utilized an LA newspaper as his source?>

Unlikely, I would say. By <circuitous route> I meant to imply that the path of transmission was likely to be a twisted one.

Jan-10-16  zanzibar: OK, just checking.

More likely would be two independent corruptions just to demonstrate a nice combo for the student.

Poetic license - known to happen on occasion in chess. Of course I blame Blake!

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A wonderful game by Pillsbury, who never lets Lee recover from his poor sixth move (6...b6?). While Lee's subsequent errors hastened his demise (13...Qd6 would have been much better than Lee's actual 13...Qe4), this does not detract from Pillsbury's forceful refutation of 6...b6.

As EmperorAtahualpa and keypusher discovered years ago, had Lee tried to recover his pawn with 15...Qxb2, he would have been crushed by the wonderful 16. Qf3!! As keypusher has also correctly noted, Hoffer's proposed 16. Kd2 also wins, but is nowhere nearly as efficient and nowhere near as aesthetically pleasing as 16. Qf3!!

The closest thing to an error by Pillsbury in the game was his 16. 0-0 (16. Qf3 was stronger). But Lee failed to seize his hint of a chance and missed 16...c5. After his 16...Kh8, Pillsbury finished him off neatly.

After Lee's 24. Rg6, Pillsbury had numerous ways to finish off his opponent. His actual 25. Rxf6 may not have been the faster (he could have played 25. e4 or 25 Rdc1), but--as we have come to expect--Pillsbury chose the most gorgeous way to close out the game.

Bravo Pillsbury!

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: And Bravo EmperorAthahualpa and keypusher for finding 16. Qf3!!--a move missed in the Tournament Book and the idea I'm sure Pillsbury had in mind for Lee had the latter played 15...Qxg2.

And apologies for the typo in my analysis---I was of course referring to what would have befallen Lee had he played 15...Qxg2 (my 15...Qxb2 was a typo).

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