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Harry Nelson Pillsbury vs Carl Schlechter
London (1899), London ENG, rd 22, Jun-28
Queen's Gambit Declined: Orthodox Defense. Botvinnik Variation (D60)  ·  1-0

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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-18-03  Kenkaku: A fine endgame by Pillsbury, forcing black into zugzwang on move 52.
Sep-19-03  drukenknight: looks like Sch. forget to blockade by 43...Bd7 w/o that blockade, whites K quickly penetrates too far.
Mar-11-04  Kenkaku: <drukenknight> 43...Bd7 loses the a-pawn, and then white can just wait for black to run out of pawn moves and become forced to move his king. Perhaps black can save by moving his bishop at some point, but it looks grim.
Aug-04-13  okiesooner: After 43...Bd7 44. Bxa6, White forces Black to give up his Bishop with 45. Kc5 followed by moving his Bishop to c4, d5, and c6, i.e. 44...Ke6 45. Kc5 h5 46. Bc4+ Ke5 47. Bd5 g4 48. hxg4 hxg4 49. Bc6 Be6 50. d7 Bxd7 51. Bxd7.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: An engrossing battle of ideas between two fine players involving the strengths and weaknesses of Pillsbury's d-pawn, and a wonderful endgame performance by Pillsbury.

After 11. exd4, Pillsbury had an isolated d-pawn. He sought to exploit the space this afforded and Schlechter was seemingly trying to find ways to capitalize on the isolated pawn by blocking it with 12...Nbd5.

Given these competing themes, it was surprising that Schlecter played 14... NxN, allowing Pillsbury bolster the d-pawn (which was not longer isolated) with 15. bxN. It was also, as the Tournament Book correctly notes, surprising to see Schlechter waste time with 13...Re8 followed by 15...Rf8. After this latter move, and with his d-pawn now supported by a pawn at c3, Pillsbury appeared to have a strategically won game after 15...Rf8. After Schlechter weakened his position further with 21...f5, it looked as if Pillbury was on the verge of victory.

But Pillsbury's impatience to push the d-pawn, and what the Tournament Book calls his "preparatory" move to accomplish this, 25. Bb4, was a mistake (25. c5 would have been much better).

But Schlechter, having weathered the storm, mistakenly allowed Pillsbury to swap off both pairs of Rooks playing first 28...RxR+ (instead of 28...Be5) and then 29...Re8 (instead of 29...Be5). After 29...BxR, it looked once again as if Pillsbury had the game in hand.

But Pillsbury erred with the weak 31. Qd1 (instead of 31. Qe3), with a premature pawn push (32. d6 instead of 32. g3), and allowing Schlechter to trade Queens.

The resulting double-bishop endgame after 37. Kf1 was probably savable for Schlechter. But Pillsbury's play from here to the finish was fantastic. He exploited Schlechter's small errors (37...Bd4, 38...Bf8, and most seriously 39...g5) and gave Schlechter no chances.

After the trade of one pair of Bishops and Pillsbury's 43. Kd4, there was no way for Schlechter to stop Pillsbury's d-pawn without ruinous loss of material. As Kenkaku and okiesooner have previously shown on this site, 43...Bd7 would not have worked for Schlechter.

After Pillsbury's 46. d7, Schlechter could have called it a day, though, like Kenkaku, I enjoyed watching Pillsbury's use of zugzwang on move 52, though in truth there were many roads to victory by this point (52. Ke7 would have been just as effective as Pillsbury's 52. Ba2).

This game provides further evidence, if such were truly needed, of how deadly Pillsbury could be in the endgame. As of 1899, probably only Lasker was his equal in this phase of the game.

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