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Harry Nelson Pillsbury
Number of games in database: 505
Years covered: 1890 to 1905
Overall record: +214 -94 =104 (64.6%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      93 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (51) 
    C67 C80 C71 C84 C62
 Orthodox Defense (48) 
    D60 D63 D55 D53 D50
 French Defense (29) 
    C14 C13 C11 C12 C10
 Queen's Gambit Declined (25) 
    D31 D37 D06 D30
 Queen's Pawn Game (20) 
    D00 D05 D02 A40 D04
 Vienna Opening (18) 
    C29 C25 C27 C28 C26
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (53) 
    C67 C65 C60 C79 C88
 Petrov (22) 
    C42 C43
 Queen's Pawn Game (14) 
    D00 D02 D04 A41
 Sicilian (13) 
    B73 B30 B32 B58 B72
 Four Knights (11) 
    C49 C48
 King's Gambit Declined (11) 
    C31 C30 C32
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Pillsbury vs Gunsberg, 1895 1-0
   Pillsbury vs Lasker, 1896 1-0
   Pillsbury vs Tarrasch, 1895 1-0
   Pillsbury vs Lasker, 1904 1-0
   Pillsbury vs Fernandez, 1900 1-0
   Pillsbury vs Maroczy, 1900 1-0
   Pillsbury vs NN, 1899 1-0
   Pillsbury vs G Marco, 1900 1-0
   Pillsbury vs Winawer, 1896 1-0
   Lasker vs Pillsbury, 1895 0-1

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Hastings (1895)
   1st City Chess Club Tournament (1893)
   Buffalo (1901)
   Pillsbury - Showalter (1898)
   Munich (1900)
   Pillsbury - Showalter (1897)
   London (1899)
   Vienna (1898)
   Paris (1900)
   13th DSB Kongress (Hanover) (1902)
   Monte Carlo (1902)
   Nuremberg (1896)
   Budapest (1896)
   Monte Carlo (1903)
   Vienna (1903)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   pillsbury's best games of chess by bengalcat47
   Pillsbury vs World Champions Decisive Games by visayanbraindoctor
   Ideas by LaBourdonnaisdeux
   HNP: "A Genuis Ahead of His Time" by chocobonbon
   Vienna 1898 by suenteus po 147
   Pillsbury, the Extraordinary by StuporMundi
   London 1899 by suenteus po 147
   Pillsbury winning on f5. by nikolaas
   Monte Carlo 1903 by suenteus po 147
   Pillsbury miniatures. by CoryLetain
   Pillsbury - Showalter 1897 match by crawfb5
   Munich 1900 by Phony Benoni
   Selected 19th century games II by atrifix
   bengalcat47's favorite games by bengalcat47

   Janowski vs Steinitz, 1895
   Schlechter vs Lasker, 1895
   Tarrasch vs Chigorin, 1895
   Schiffers vs Chigorin, 1895
   Burn vs Lasker, 1895

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Harry Nelson Pillsbury
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(born Dec-05-1872, died Jun-17-1906, 33 years old) United States of America

[what is this?]
Harry Nelson Pillsbury was born in Somerville, Massachusetts, the Boston Chess Club being not far to the south of town. He learned to play chess at the age of sixteen, when he was encouraged by family to study chess as a distraction after his mother died. Within four years Pillsbury had improved to the point of winning a three-game match from Wilhelm Steinitz in 1892 by the score of 2-1 at the odds of pawn and move. He also scored one of two wins against Steinitz in the World Champion's 20-board simultaneous exhibition. In 1893, he won a close match against John Finan Barry (+5 -4 =1) that earned him entry into his first international tournament in New York as Boston's representative. Although the congress fell through, most likely due to problems in the financial world, the so-called “Impromptu” 1893 tournament was organized in its place. Playing in his first tournament with European masters, Pillsbury barely managed a plus score and finished seventh. Pillsbury returned to New York a few months later and finished clear first in the 1893 New York Masters (sometimes called the “Manhattan Cafe”) tournament ahead of a number of American masters. Pillsbury then moved to New York and began working for the Eden Musee as the operator of Ajeeb (Automaton), a chess- and checkers-playing automaton. He held this job with periodic leaves of absence until 1898 when he moved to Philadelphia and married. In 1894, Pillsbury finished second to Jackson Whipps Showalter in a small tournament in Buffalo (Staats-Zeitung Cup) and had a poor result of =5th in a master's tournament in New York. Nevertheless, he still made a sufficiently good impression for the Brooklyn Chess Club to sponsor his trip to the 1895 chess congress in Hastings.

At Hastings, Pillsbury stunned the chess world by taking clear first in perhaps the greatest tournament of the 19th Century, ahead of a field that included Mikhail Chigorin, Emanuel Lasker, Siegbert Tarrasch, Wilhelm Steinitz, Joseph Henry Blackburne, Amos Burn, Richard Teichmann and others. On the basis of this result, Pillsbury was invited to an elite four-player tournament in St. Petersburg, with Lasker, Steinitz, and Chigorin. Pillsbury was leading by a full game halfway through the tournament (+5 -1 =3), but fell ill during the second half, with catastrophic results (+0 -6 =3). Had Pillsbury managed to win or finish a close second he might well have secured the world championship match that eluded him. Nevertheless, this was the start of a successful tournament career that included 1st at Buffalo 1901, =1st at Vienna 1898 and Munich 1900, 2nd at Paris 1900, Monte Carlo 1902, and Hanover 1902, =2nd at London 1899, 3rd at St. Petersburg 1895-6, Budapest 1896, and Monte Carlo 1903, =3rd at Nuremberg 1896, and 4th at the Vienna Gambit tournament 1903. Pillsbury only seriously faltered at the very end, finishing =8th with a minus score at Cambridge Springs 1904, in his last tournament.

Pillsbury negotiated the final terms of the first Anglo-American cable match with Sir George Newnes, president of the London Chess Club. Sir George donated the Newnes Cup, held by the winning team each year until the next match. Pillsbury played on the first board for the US team in the first eight cable matches (+1 -2 =5). Pillsbury also helped prepare the US House of Representatives team for their 1897 cable match against the House of Commons.

Pillsbury was considered the strongest player in the US. He played two matches for the US championship against Showalter, winning both of the Pillsbury - Showalter (1897) (+10-8=3) and Pillsbury - Showalter (1898) (+7-3=2) matches. However Pillsbury was not especially eager to be named US champion: “I was not seeking the match, and even if I should win I shall leave Showalter in possession of the title; I am not in search of any title but one.” The “one” title was, of course, World Champion. Pillsbury wrote to New York following his success at Hastings that there had been some talk of arranging a title match with Lasker, but, as with so many proposed world championship matches over the years, nothing came of it. Pillsbury's inability to obtain a title match against Lasker was most likely due to Pillsbury's failure to secure enough financial backing to induce Lakser to agree to a match.

Pillsbury was accomplished at blindfold chess and often playing mutiple games blindfolded in his exhibitions. He set an early world record for number of simultaneous blindfold games, playing 20 games at Philadelphia in 1900. He was also a skilled checkers player, and would sometimes include checkers and whist games in his exhibitions. Pillsbury's exhibitions were quite impressive for the day. Jose Raul Capablanca wrote: “The effect of Pillsbury's displays was immediate. They electrified me, and with the consent of my parents I began to visit the Havana Chess Club.”

Pillsbury played a number of consultation games over the years. Such games were sometimes played on off days of tournaments between players with no adjourned games. Pillsbury played with or against masters such as Henry Edward Bird, Blackburne, Chigorin, David Janowski, Lasker, William Ewart Napier, Georg Marco, Frank James Marshall, Carl Schlechter, Showalter, Tarrasch, Teichmann, and others.

While there is general agreement that Pillsbury died of syphilis, it is unknown when he contracted the disease. Syphilis shows great variability in its time course across patients and can easily mimic symptoms of other diseases, so a definitive answer is unlikely. Pillsbury was ill during the second half of the St. Petersburg tournament, which was attributed to influenza at the time. He was also quite ill during the Nuremberg tournament, and, of course, during Cambridge Springs. He suffered two strokes during the last year and a half of his life.

Pillsbury wrote no chess books. He wrote occasional newspaper reports on tournaments and matches and wrote a column for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Although there are few known correspondence games played by Pillsbury, one of the early correspondence chess organizations in the US was named in his honor (Pillsbury National Correspondence Chess Association).

Wikipedia article: Harry Nelson Pillsbury

 page 1 of 21; games 1-25 of 505  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Pillsbury vs F Young  1-020 1890 Offhand gameA02 Bird's Opening
2. Pillsbury vs Burille  0-145 1891 Odds Match vs. Burille, -92B00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
3. Pillsbury vs Burille  1-029 1891 Odds Match vs. Burille, -92C02 French, Advance
4. Pillsbury vs Burille  ½-½70 1891 Odds Match vs. Burille, -92B00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
5. Pillsbury vs Burille  1-053 1891 Odds Match vs. Burille, -92B00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
6. Pillsbury vs Burille 1-035 1891 Odds Match vs. Burille, -92B00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
7. Pillsbury vs Steinitz 0-133 1892 BostonC51 Evans Gambit
8. Steinitz vs Pillsbury 0-130 1892 BostonC30 King's Gambit Declined
9. Pillsbury vs Steinitz  0-136 1892 Odds match (pawn and move)000 Chess variants
10. Pillsbury vs Steinitz  1-031 1892 Odds match (pawn and move)000 Chess variants
11. Pillsbury vs Steinitz 1-066 1892 Odds match (pawn and move)000 Chess variants
12. Steinitz vs Pillsbury 1-037 1892 BostonC51 Evans Gambit
13. E Delmar vs Pillsbury  1-025 1893 4, New YorkC46 Three Knights
14. Pillsbury vs J M Hanham 1-031 1893 1st City Chess Club TournamentD00 Queen's Pawn Game
15. Pillsbury vs Gossip 1-047 1893 1, New YorkC25 Vienna
16. E N Olly vs Pillsbury  0-145 1893 6, New YorkA01 Nimzovich-Larsen Attack
17. W Pollock vs Pillsbury  1-052 1893 11, New YorkC20 King's Pawn Game
18. Pillsbury vs J S Ryan 1-054 1893 3, New YorkB06 Robatsch
19. Pillsbury vs J Young 0-149 1893 SimulC14 French, Classical
20. Lasker vs Pillsbury 1-055 1893 8, New YorkC60 Ruy Lopez
21. Pillsbury vs K A Walbrodt  ½-½64 1893 Pillsbury -- Walbrodt Informal Match ()A07 King's Indian Attack
22. Pillsbury vs E Delmar 1-039 1893 1st City Chess Club TournamentD00 Queen's Pawn Game
23. Showalter vs Pillsbury 0-131 1893 1st City Chess Club TournamentC60 Ruy Lopez
24. Pillsbury vs Taubenhaus 1-030 1893 10, New YorkD00 Queen's Pawn Game
25. J C Halpern vs Pillsbury 0-167 1893 1st City Chess Club TournamentB30 Sicilian
 page 1 of 21; games 1-25 of 505  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Pillsbury wins | Pillsbury loses  

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Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: <zanzibar: <Batgirl has a brunch of interior shots of Manhattan CC, and it looks quite different>>

From her online version of the article:

<On May 1, the club made its final move to its present location, No. 105 East 22d Street, occupying five rooms on the seventh floor of the United Charities Building...>

Which would tie-in with room 701 (seventh floor). Also, the there are only four room photographs shown in the article, the Directors Room, the West Room, the East Room and the Library. I wonder if there is a "hall" that might reflect the other set of photographs.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: jnpope> first of all many thanks for your generous and detailed replies.

You beat me to the punch, I was rereading <batgirl>'s article this morning and noticed the same thing!

Her reference is a little incomplete, Morse's article is actually split over two issues of American Chess Magazine, February and March 1898.

Both issues are included in Vol 1 however - the relevant passage is from p562 for the May 1 [1893] move. The photographs are from the February issue.

For completeness, the article notes that the club actually moved shortly after to the 9th floor.

<The Manhattan Chess Club, while located in the same building at 105 East 22nd Street, has changed its rooms from the seventh to the ninth floor of the building. This change enabled the club to have its quarters specially designed for its use, and it has only recently made its entry into its present abiding place, the salient features of which are shown by the illustrations in the last number of the AMERICAN CHESS MAGAZINE.>

As for the photos, you convinced me with your astute observation of the baseboard molding. Also, you pointed out the similarity of table and chairs, and I'll especially point out the woodworking on the legs of the table. The number on the door seals the deal.

The Impromptu Tournament is what got me into this really - and I believe the committee was jointly composed of both BCC and MCC officials (and what about City CC?). Wasn't Gilbert the president of BCC and the head of the Impromptu Committee?

So, I was really hoping Brooklyn was in the picture - sort of speak. (When it comes to Manhattan vs. Brooklyn, my head says Manhattan, my heart - Brooklyn). But the evidence is fairly clear, even if the chess clocks don't match (and despite the showcased rooms being more ornate - probably why the other room wasn't featured).

I would have written earlier, but I got sidetracked researching the Columbian Chess Congress during lunch - plus I found a couple of pictures to comment on. More later.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <RE: Piece contrast>

Here is a picture of Maroczy, presumably playing a simultaneous in England:

CN 4479

Notice how the contrast of the pieces differ radically between the third set and the other two.

<RE: Mackenzie portrait>

Compare his portrait with a young bearded Emanuel Lasker found here

(scroll down to 2nd image)

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: Here is the same picture of Mackenzie, found in one of Winter's posts at (second portrait):

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Hi <jnpope>, thanks again.

I should have added a little more expository in my comment about how remarkable the resemblance is, and how usual it is to see a bearded Lasker (lest it thought I was questioning the identification!).

I have a better resolution version of the Lasker picture (together with Frank Marshall) but like an idiot I didn't put the source when I saved it. I think it was from an early volume of American Chess Magazine. I'll try to dig it up and put in on my blog for display, along side the Mackenzie portrait you kindly referenced in <CN>'s.

(My history is a little weak, so I didn't recognize Mackenzie, and even confused George Mackenzie, the US champion, with Authur Ford Mackenzie, the problemist, at first!)

By the way, E. Winter has an amusing comment about the 1893 Lasker-Pillsbury photo we considered:

<Page 69 of Chess An Illustrated History by Raymond Keene (London, 1990) had a photograph whose caption begins, ‘Under the remote gaze of a picture of Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker faces Harry Nelson Pillsbury in a game in 1896 in St Petersburg’. However, the photograph (which also shows a picture of G.H. Mackenzie on the wall) was taken at the Manhattan Chess Club. For purposes of comparison, see the illustrations in the February 1898 American Chess Magazine, as well as the photograph of Pillsbury at the Club on page 52 of A Picture History of Chess by Fred Wilson (New York, 1981).>


CN 6434. St Petersburg, 1895-96

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: RE: Impromptu International Chess Tournament, NY (1893)

Pillsbury played in this, which led me to become interested in it. But it really was Lasker's tournament, where he scored an amazing 13-0!

1) How dominant a performance is this?

Apparently, Capablanca also scored 13-0 in Rice Chess Club Summer Tournament (see <Phony Benoni>'s comment: L B Zapoleon vs Capablanca, 1913 and )

2) Does anybody have any information about Olly -- Pollock (R8) on Tues 1898-10-10?

From the contemporaneous newspaper accounts, the game appears to be missing, and there is no explicit mention of it. I had to deduce the result from leader tables (e.g. New York Sun 1898-10-11).

(This is the round with Lasker -- Pillsbury, where Lasker makes a beautiful bishop sac in the endgame to win.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: 2) "...Olly scored against Pollock, the latter not appearing at all..."

<New York Times, 1893.10.11, p3>

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <jnpope> Again thanks for the ref.

I have a few questions about the O'Keefe Project, which I used extensively for my Impromptu notes (and elsewhere!). This seems like a good time to ask a few questions:

(1) Why is the New York Times omitted from the timeline?

(2) Is there any chance to get the articles scanned with OCR and be able to use a search engine like with the Dutch Delpner system?

(3) Some of the scans are, unfortunately, very hard to read. Is this irredeemable?

(In other words, is the original newpaper print faded to such a point, or is the problem due to a bad scan or bad microfilm?)

(4) Is there any description of the O'Keefe Project? Specifically, is it an ongoing project, with additions planned for the future?

Sorry for the deluge of questions, I'm sure you understand - any reply is appreciated. Thanks.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: (1) I haven't gotten around to harvesting the chess material from that particular source. I've got a huge backlog of material and the NY Times is on the list.

(2) Probably not. I would love to offer such a thing, but two problems exist; the first being my time (I never have enough of it to do all the things I want to do) and the second being the entire infrastructure for the task (database, interface, search engine, etc.). The best I could whip up was the timeline tool to give a chronological cross-cut of the material. As the project grows I may need to find a better way to generate the timeline (currently it is a little PHP code that does some tricks with file system sorting, no database is involved).

(3) For a lot of the material I am limited by the quality of the source. I would love to obtain better versions of many things including the entire run of the New York Clipper. As better copies become available I will do my best to update the online archives.

(4) No formal mission statement exists but I plan on adding more material as I find the time. I have three filing cabinets of photocopies that need to be scanned and there is an untold amount of material spread throughout the online world that could be gathered together. Not to mention submitted material like the Turf, Field and Farm from Joost van Winsen that I still need to get cropped and uploaded.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <jnpope> thank you so much on many levels.

The O'Keefe Project is truly a treasure for anyone wanting to dig into chess history, and is incredibly useful.

(Though we would all love it to be text-searchable, it seems to me that really is a task requiring full institutional support from gov't and educational agencies.

If the Dutch can do it why not the US?

California has begun:

The East coast academics needs to pool resources similarly.)

Again, thanks for such an informative reply. Regards.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: In the following tournament book:

<The Games in the St. Petersburg Tournament

--* 1895-1896 *--

Copious Notes and Critical Remarks
Numerous Diagrams of Interesting Positions
Portraits and Biographical Sketches

can be found interesting take on regional characteristics intrinsic in chess player's style in the introduction to H. N. Pillsbury:

<The men of the New England States are proverbially cool and calculating, and generally may be classed as long-headed, and it is from this stock that Pillsbury has sprung. In Morphy there was not a little of the fervent temperament of the Sunny South, and his play displayed many of the qualities that belong to natives of warm climates. Vivid imagination brillancy of style, were characteristics of the Southern player. Mr. Pillsbury comes from a colder climate, and his play is more severe and cautious than that of his great predecessor, but he too is not without fire and imagination when opportunity affords.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Despite being from the region, I was unfamiliar with the term "long-headed":


/ˈlɔŋˈhɛdɪd, ˈlɒŋ-/ adjective

1. Anthropology, dolichocephalic.
2. of great discernment or foresight; farseeing or shrewd.

Origin: 1690–1700>

(Meaning (2) is assuredly intended in the previous quote.)

Perhaps the term has become archanic and fallen into disuse? Or am I being fat-headed?

It does have a nice quaint feel to it, in keeping with the rest of the book the quote comes from.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: archaic - not archanic

(Where's the spellchecker when you need it?

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <jnpope> I'm writing here since I don't have any other contact information.

The Wed 1893.08.31 issue of NY Daily Tribune:

Seems to be a bunch of wedding notices.

Is this a mistake, or am I missing the significance? (E.g. some famous historical chess player being married?).

Actually, when you scan the newspapers, I assume you look for travel clips of the players. Do you also look at the "people" section, for things like marriages/births as well?

Also, while looking at your site it seems that you're starting to digitalize the Boston Herald from 1890. This should be a productive mining vein for Pillsbury I would think.

What contemporaneous paper (from 1890) had the strongest chess coverage in the Boston area?

Oh, I found this site with some biographical info about Jack O'Keefe, including a photograph:


Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <RE: Pillsbury's cigar smoking>

From <La Stratégie> 1902-07-20 (p209-211) (via Winter's <Chess Facts and Fables> (pbk p328)) comes this (translated in English by Zanoogle):

<The face of the master, entirely clean shaven, is one of expressionless delicacy; his eyes charmingly penetrating, enveloping all within his view with a soft caress. And one senses immediately the stamp of genius upon his calm pale face.

His frame is slight, almost so frail in appearance that one is left with the impression that the entire life force of this prodigy is contained within his brain.

There is nothing of the "show-off" in Pillsbury. Not in his speech, or the way he carries himself; there is no indication of the warrior within, from his manner alone.

Dressed quite properly in a simple and modest black attire, Pillbury climbed up onto the stage reserved for him, seating himself upon the chair, and waited for the moves to begin.

Then, without any haste whatsoever, his legs crossed, he lit his first cigar in a procession that only ended when this emotionally moving battle of many against the solitary master comes to a close at the end of the evening. >

The French writer's observations of Pillsbury while he gave a 16-game blindfold simultaneous exhibit at the Cercle Philidor in Paris, France, on June 21, 1902.

Pillsbury's score was +10-1=5.

Cf <Pawn and Two> Pillsbury vs Magana, 1902

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: The reason for the NY Daily Tribune clipping for 1893.08.31 is because Albert Hodges was one of the ushers.

I usually do a first pass for chess columns, then I do a secondary pass for chess news if I know there is a noteworthy event (I tend to discover leads by reading the columns from the first pass), then if I have time I'll do hard-target searches for certain chess players, usually just World champions and contenders along with US champions and contenders.

The Boston Herald had a good column, and from what I saw when I was in Boston doing research back in the 90s, the Boston Weekly Post and Boston Globe were good sources (I haven't found a free online resource for either of those papers). The Boston Daily Advertiser, Boston Traveler, Boston Journal and Boston Evening Transcript all had news and occasional games and are worth a peek, however the best sources with columns would be the Herald, Globe and Weekly Post.

That is indeed Jack. He was a dear friend. Jack didn't drive so I would swing by and pick him up and we'd head over to the library and spend hours photocopying microfilm.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <jnpope> Thanks for the reply. A very productive friendship you two had.

It was funny to see a chess historian so prominently featured on the Chess Programming Pages!

I suppose the idea to put all the article online was yours? Who's ever it was, it was a most excellent idea. Again thanks.

Now that <chessgames> has fixed its search to handle apostrophes in player names, I can put a couple future comments on Jack's page!

(A little foreshadowing - have you seen Olimpiu G. Urcan's chesscafe article on Stolzenberg?)

By the way, when you were in Boston were you doing your research at BPL (Boston Public Library)? Or at one of the local universities?

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: Originally I had planned on publishing chess columns. I had done a small run of Morphy's chess column and I was working on doing a Steinitz set. Jack was doing the proofreading when he got busy babysitting a new grandchild. So things slowed down considerably on that front and I moved onto other research efforts. So for the last few years of his life we didn't get a chance to interact with each other as much as we had in the past. A few phone calls to share bits and pieces, but he clearly didn't have the time he once had to devote to doing research at the library let alone proofreading something as massive as Steinitz's work. After his passing I decided to shelve the idea of republishing old chess columns in printed form and went with putting the material online.

I have not seen Urcan's article; I appreciate the heads-up.

I went to the BPL. At the time they didn't have a way to make photocopies from microfilm so I had to use pen and paper. Regrettably I only had time to copy down the games and not the full text of all the articles.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <jnpope> a belated thanks for those nice stories about Jack. I still intend to add a note or two on his bio page.

* * * * *

<RE: Pillsbury's drinking>

I think this quote, from a Nov 30, 1943 New Yorker article on Ajeeb (Automaton)

<The man who lasted the longest inside Ajeeb was Harry Nelson Pillsbury, of Somerville, Massachusetts, a mental freak of startling capacities who wore wing collars and polka-dot four-in-hands, smoked Havana cigars, and drank a quart of whiskey a day. He worked Ajeeb from 1890 to 1900. He did, however, enjoy generous leaves of absence, to play in international chess competitions. He won twenty, several of them in Europe. His specialty, though one which he did not attempt with Ajeeb, was simultaneously playing ten games of checkers, ten of chess and a hand of wist. A newspaperman who saw him compete in a chess tournament in Vienna in 1898, held as part of Emperor Franz Josef's Jubilee, wrote, "Pillsbury is a beardless young man whose Anglo-American origin in easily read on his face. His profile is cameo-like, nobly cut ; every movement is dignified and gentle eloquence. When Pillsbury sits at a board, he has an absolute stony calmness in his face ; not a single muscle moves, only now and then will he wink a bit faster, when he feels himself slowly and satisfactorily nearing his goal.">

The passage describing Pillsbury's appearance is quite similar to the one I translated above.

Back to the important topic - alcohol. My favorite site on the subject, with a BAC calculator, is <R U Pissed?> (unfortunately - all input must be in metric - no stones/pounds allowed without converting first):

I ran the calculator for a 5'6", 135 lb, 25 year-old male - consuming a quart of 45% whiskey over 24 hours - to determine his equilibrium state:

BAC = 0.352 %

The legal limit for driving in my state is 0.08 % (and I recommend you stay far below that). Which means, according to legend, Pillsbury was constantly "operating" at 4 times the legal limit.

All the while playing grandmaster level chess!

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Oh, I almost forgot the pithy summary of that BAC's condition provided by <R U Pissed>:

<You should be dead by now!>


Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <zanzibar: ...Alcohol. My favorite site on the subject, with a BAC calculator, is <R U Pissed?> (unfortunately - all input must be in metric - no stones/pounds allowed without converting first):

I ran the calculator for a 5'6", 135 lb, 25 year-old male - consuming a quart of 45% whiskey over 24 hours - to determine his equilibrium state:

BAC = 0.352 %

The legal limit for driving in my state is 0.08 % (and I recommend you stay far below that). Which means, according to legend, Pillsbury was constantly "operating" at 4 times the legal limit.

All the while playing grandmaster level chess!>

...That's a very good post. Of course, you were trying to find his equilibrium state. Pillsbury would not have drank for 24 hours, more like 16.

2 pints of whiskey in 16 hours is the same as 1 pint in 8 hours - or a quarter of a pint in 2 hours.

That is not something I would ever be able to do, but it doesn't sound exceptional. Especially for a hardened drinker.

Oct-11-14  MissScarlett: What's known about Pillsbury's family history? I'm wondering if there could be any relation with this character:

I've no particular reason to think so beyond two coincidences: i) A.C. was born in Medford, Mass., in 1870, not a million miles from H.N. in Somerville, Mass,, in 1872; ii) both apparently had brothers called Ernest, both of whom were doctors.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: <MissScarlett:< What's known about Pillsbury's family history?>>


Oct-12-14  MissScarlett: Thanks. There's a more accessible version:

Seems the answer is yes, but distantly. Didn't these people ever hear of a family tree?

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: "Pills bury, generally regarded as a great attacking master, was really the first player to plan his attacks with an eye to the endgame - his games often show profound combinations, not for tang purposes but in order to obtain an advantageous ending," - Wolfgang Heidenfeld.
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