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Harry Nelson Pillsbury
Number of games in database: 527
Years covered: 1890 to 1905

Overall record: +213 -92 =104 (64.8%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 118 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (56) 
    C67 C80 C71 C62 C78
 Orthodox Defense (49) 
    D60 D50 D63 D55 D51
 French Defense (37) 
    C14 C13 C11 C10 C12
 Queen's Gambit Declined (23) 
    D31 D37 D06 D30
 French (23) 
    C13 C11 C10 C12 C00
 Queen's Pawn Game (20) 
    D00 D02 D05 A40 D04
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (55) 
    C67 C65 C60 C79 C78
 Petrov (22) 
    C42 C43
 Queen's Pawn Game (14) 
    D00 D02 D04 A41
 Sicilian (13) 
    B73 B30 B32 B56 B24
 Giuoco Piano (11) 
    C50 C53
 Four Knights (11) 
    C49 C48
Repertoire Explorer

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

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   1st City Chess Club Tournament (1893)
   Hastings (1895)
   Buffalo (1901)
   Pillsbury - Showalter US Championship (1898)
   Pillsbury - Showalter US Championship (1897)
   Munich (1900)
   Vienna (1898)
   Monte Carlo (1902)
   Paris (1900)
   13th DSB Kongress (Hanover) (1902)
   Budapest (1896)
   Nuremberg (1896)
   London (1899)
   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
   N O P Players by fredthebear
   HNP: "A Genuis Ahead of His Time" by chocobonbon
   Vienna 1898 by JoseTigranTalFischer
   Vienna 1898 by suenteus po 147
   Pillsbury, the Extraordinary by StuporMundi
   Pillsbury winning on f5. by nikolaas
   London 1899 by JoseTigranTalFischer
   London 1899 by suenteus po 147
   Monte Carlo 1903 by suenteus po 147
   Pillsbury miniatures. by CoryLetain
   Pillsbury - Showalter 1897 match by crawfb5

   Tarrasch vs Chigorin, 1895
   Janowski vs Steinitz, 1895
   Schlechter vs Lasker, 1895
   Burn vs Lasker, 1895
   B Vergani vs Blackburne, 1895

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Harry Nelson Pillsbury
Search Google for Harry Nelson Pillsbury

(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 22; games 1-25 of 531  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Pillsbury vs F Young 1-0201890Offhand gameA02 Bird's Opening
2. Pillsbury vs Burille  1-0291891Odds Match vs. Burille, -92000 Chess variants
3. Pillsbury vs Burille  ½-½701891Odds Match vs. Burille, -92000 Chess variants
4. Pillsbury vs Burille 1-0351891Odds Match vs. Burille, -92000 Chess variants
5. Pillsbury vs Burille  0-1451891Odds Match vs. Burille, -92000 Chess variants
6. Pillsbury vs Burille 1-0531891Odds Match vs. Burille, -92000 Chess variants
7. Steinitz vs Pillsbury 1-0371892BostonC51 Evans Gambit
8. Pillsbury vs Steinitz 1-0661892Odds match (pawn and move)000 Chess variants
9. Pillsbury vs Steinitz 1-0311892Odds match (pawn and move)000 Chess variants
10. Pillsbury vs Steinitz 0-1361892Odds match (pawn and move)000 Chess variants
11. Steinitz vs Pillsbury 0-1301892Steinitz 20 board simultaneousC30 King's Gambit Declined
12. Pillsbury vs J W Young 0-1491893SimulC14 French, Classical
13. Pillsbury vs W P Shipley 0-1101893PhiladelphiaA07 King's Indian Attack
14. F Young vs Pillsbury 1-0161893BostonC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
15. Pillsbury vs K A Walbrodt  ½-½641893Pillsbury -- Walbrodt Informal Match ()A07 King's Indian Attack
16. K A Walbrodt vs Pillsbury  0-1371893Pillsbury -- Walbrodt Informal Match ()C30 King's Gambit Declined
17. Pillsbury vs K A Walbrodt 1-0291893Pillsbury -- Walbrodt Informal Match ()C25 Vienna
18. Pillsbury vs Gossip 1-0471893New YorkA07 King's Indian Attack
19. J M Hanham vs Pillsbury  1-0521893New YorkC55 Two Knights Defense
20. Pillsbury vs J S Ryan 1-0541893New YorkA40 Queen's Pawn Game
21. E Delmar vs Pillsbury 1-0251893New YorkC46 Three Knights
22. Pillsbury vs Louis Schmidt 1-0411893New YorkD04 Queen's Pawn Game
23. E N Olly vs Pillsbury  0-1451893New YorkA01 Nimzovich-Larsen Attack
24. Pillsbury vs F J Lee 0-1601893New YorkB01 Scandinavian
25. Lasker vs Pillsbury 1-0551893New YorkC60 Ruy Lopez
 page 1 of 22; games 1-25 of 531  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Pillsbury wins | Pillsbury loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 36 OF 38 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: Pillsbury played Harry Frank twice on January 10. He beat Frank in Queens Pawn game in the afternoon simul and a Spanish in the evening blindfold simul which was unfinished. Then on Feb 10 he played Frank in another blindfold simul, the Vienna game, which Pillsbury won in 36 moves.

The exhibition games with Showalter were in Louisville, but he had given a blindfold simul the day before in Lexington.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: I hope to have a new edition out this year.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <The exhibition games with Showalter were in Louisville, but he had given a blindfold simul the day before in Lexington.>

Yes, sorry, forgot to mention Showalter. So, the Lexington simul was December 21st then. Do you know how many boards? I found the score of a 32 move win by Pillsbury vs N N which I presume was from this exhibition; no doubt, you located same, but did you also turn up the opponent's name?

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <My book will be on Fischer. won't be available before 2043.>
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: I will finish before 2043 if I hire <MissScarlett> as my editor. She'll weed out those nasty mistakes.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Will my duties include sitting on your knee?
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <MissScarlett: Will my duties include sitting on your knee?>

If you are a woman, the answer is yes; but I don't think we would get much work done, and 2043 would become a reality.

If you are a man, you will have your own desk to work from. Far from mine.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: <So, the Lexington simul was December 21st then. Do you know how many boards? I found the score of a 32 move win by Pillsbury vs N N which I presume was from this exhibition; no doubt, you located same, but did you also turn up the opponent's name?>

The Lexington blindfold simul took place December 20th at the Phoenix Hotel and was 12 games. Pillsbury scored +9-0=3 against Mrs. Showalter, Messrs W. W. Creary, Frankfort; J. W. Ballard, of Winchester; Prof. J. L. Logan, H. Loevenhart, W. L. Searles, Colonel J. R. Allen, W. K. Shelby, L. B. Fields, C. B. Mannering [sic] and Dr. C. W. Trapp.

I have four games from this event, the NN game you mention can be found in the NY Daily Tribune, 1900.01.03, p9 and in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1900.01.04, p13. The three additional games are the draws against Nellie Showalter, Searles and C. A. Manning. NN remains unidentified at this time.

Pillsbury was in Louisville from the 21st to the 24th. Pillsbury started his first game with Showalter in the afternoon of the 21st, took a break that evening to give a simultaneous performance and finished his first game with Showalter in the afternoon on the 22nd.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: Ugh. Current MS of the 2016 edition is 1,688 pages (so far). Electronic edition can be one volume but I think a pb edition will need to be a two volume set.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <jnpope> <Ugh. Current MS of the 2016 edition is 1,688 pages (so far). Electronic edition can be one volume but I think a pb edition will need to be a two volume set.>

Oh, wow! Really looking forward to the MS.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: I'm down to one corrupt gamescore that I need to "solve"...

Can anyone make sense of this game (HNP was white)?

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Nope <jnpope> I tried
Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: Well, I've spent the better part of today trying to figure this out (for about the 18th time since I've found this game).

1.e4 e5 2.f4 d6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bd7 5.fxe5 dxe5 6.Nxe5 Be6 7.d4 c6 8.Bc4 Bxc4 9.Nxc4 b5 10.Ne3 b4 11.Nb1 Nxe4 12.0-0 Nf6 13.Qd3 Be7 14.Nd2 0-0 15.h3 Nd5 16.Nf5 Bf6 17.Ne4 Kh8 18.Nxf6 Qxf6 19.Qf3 h6 20.Bd2 a5 21.Rae1 Ra7 22.Re4 Kh7 23.Rg4 Rg8 24.Re4 Qd8 25.Rg4 h5 26.Rg3 g6 27.Ne3 Qb6 28.Kh1 Nxe3 29.Bxe3 c5 30.Qf4 Rh8 31.Qh6+ Kg8 32.dxc5 Qb5 33.Rxg6+ fxg6 34.Rf8# 1-0

I went as far forward as I could, then I started with the mate and worked my way backwards... I think I found a "path" between the two that isn't completely lacking in all merit, but I'm still not happy with the results.

Maybe someone can improve upon my "solution"?

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <Maybe someone can improve upon my "solution"?>

Very doubtful...

I cringe seeing these "challenges", knowing how hard it is to resist taking a stab at 'em, while at the same time realizing they don't get posted without already being vetted as "impossible".

OK, that aside, congratulations on arriving at even a plausible movelist. Really.

My attempts almost always had 10.Ne5 (10. Kt - Kt 5), though I did try 10.Ne3.

16.Kt-K 5 is problematic.

17.Q-Kt 3 is ambiguous.

17...P-K R 3 is a big error if 17.Qg3 was played.

22... P - Q 1 is good for a laugh

28.Q - Q B 3 huh?

The scoresheet is really so full of inconsistencies that I really don't think anything can be done to save it right when it gets interesting.

I tried working backwards as well, but was always troubled by the final move:

<31.R-B8 mates>

<Mates> is different than <mate> in my mind. It implies that the mate is soon to follow, rather than saying the final position is a mate.

Does this correspond from other articles by the same editor in other columns?

I did get this interesting position out of one try:

(White to move)

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: <Does this correspond from other articles by the same editor in other columns?>

Sadly all I have is a photocopy of this game from the article (I'm not even sure if it was a regular column or just something thrown together because of Pillsbury's visit), so I don't have any other material to use as comparison. Hopefully, later this month, I will get a chance to take a road trip to a library that I suspect has the original source material. I'll still have to hunt for it...

Dec-03-16  cunctatorg: The Lasker-Pillsbury score (+5, -4, =4) is an eternal testimony to Harry Nelson Pillsbury's dominance to the game of chess!! However the real testimony of Pillsbury's excellence is the very content of these games, played from 1893 up to 1904!!

Imho Pillsbury's chess as well as his contribution to the game, being widely known and praised, is simultaneously highly underrated...

Harry Nelson Pillsbury was the unique great attacker of the Steinitz-Lasker era, thus the first greatest positional attacker ... or -if you like- the second only to Paul Morphy...

The whole set of greatest attackers of the positional era only includes Paul Morphy, H. N. Pillsbury, ... (!!) A. A. Alekhine, Paul Keres, Mikhail Tal, Boris Spassky and ... Garry Kasparov!!

Dec-03-16  cunctatorg: Well, I should also include Jan Timman in the aforementioned glorious list!!
Dec-03-16  john barleycorn: <cunctatorg: Well, I should also include Jan Timman in the aforementioned glorious list!!>

I would have my doubts to do so.

Dec-05-16  cunctatorg: <john barleycorn> Well, I also had but Jan Timman's achievements were by far the best of every Westerner from 1945 until 2000 (with one unique -and titanic!!- exemption...) and his style of play was essentially aggressive ... and very imaginative! You should also notice that Jan Timman's chess carrier was (during its peak) in the shadow of two chess greatest... as H.N. Pillsbury's in the deadly shadow of a severe (back then) illness...
Dec-05-16  Pyrandus: "Pillsbury wrote no chess book" =
"Pillsbury do'nt wrote chess book"?
Dec-05-16  WorstPlayerEver: Pillbury no did write chesse book?

And ze Timmetje wonz world titlez? Yeah right. Portisch -to name one- wasn't worse than Timmetje.

I am zDutchz but Pillbury was a genius!

Dec-05-16  cunctatorg: Imho if Lajos Portisch was as strong as Jan Timman, then ... perhaps Frank Marshall was as strong as H. N. Pillsbury.

However Marshall's results with Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine were hardly like Emmanuel Lasker vs. H. N. Pillsbury; the reading of the score tables gives enough testimony but the real difference was the process of the construction of the attack from these attacking players.

Frank Marshall was an original, highly gifted, fascinating and "honest" attacking chess player, a real sportsman that is but H. N. Pillsbury's chess was much better!! My guess is that there are more among us, amateur chess players who know Marshall than Pillsbury and if this conjecture of mine is true, it would be -more or less- a pity.

Lajos Portisch had been a real super-grandmaster with a long and great carrier that only a minimal number of chess players could ever dream off, however he wasn't as original, imaginative, creative and efficient as Jan Timman ... or even Nigel Short...

Dec-05-16  WorstPlayerEver: Yeah, but Euwe was a methodical guy and contributed to the development of the (chess) computer. And though he wasn't a natural born genius -just my opinion- as Pillsbury was, Euwe became World Chess Champion. And his opponent was not the weakest one when it comes to creative chess.

Tout est relatif.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Harry Nelson Pillsbury!!

One of my favorite players.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: I spent the morning in Knoxville TN (on my way back from 2 weeks in FL) and I found 3 new Pillsbury games. I'd post one here tonight, but I'm tired from my drive back to Ann Arbor. Perhaps tomorrow.
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