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Harry Nelson Pillsbury vs Mikhail Chigorin
St. Petersburg (1895/96), St. Petersburg RUE, rd 11, Jan-09
Queen's Gambit Declined: Chigorin Defense. Main Line (D07)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Calli>
Black need not go for the pawn immediately but can play to invade squares first. For example 17. b4 Bb6 18. Qxa6 bxa6 19. Ne2 Kb7 20. g3 a5 21. Bb2 Nd5 22. bxa5 Bxa5+ 23. Kf2 Bd2 24. Bc1 Bxc1 25. Rxc1 Nb6. I'm not sure if it wins the game, of course.

So 17. b4 does look like a big improvement. Good find, <Calli>!

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Nice analysis. Pillsbury was up 3-0 on Chigorin when this took place, and couldn't shift gears after Chigorin improved on 7...Nf6 with 7...Bb4 leaving him the option of attacking the center with ...f5.

Historically Lasker's victory on January 4 1896 in the previous round is more famous, but Chigorin's play definitely sent Pillsbury into a tailspin, and he lost three consecutive games after this debacle.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <IMlday> In the only game in which I've played 3.Nf3, A Shaw-Rizzitano, Billerica (USA) 1984 featured 9.Bc4 Qh4+ 10.g3 Qh6; I believe this was a suggestion of John Watson, and a vast improvement over acceptance of the gambit.
Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: Typo? 10..Qh6 is en prise, ergo presumably 10..Qf6!? looks like worth testing..
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <-------world's worst typist.
Sep-08-05  RookFile: Boy, Chigorin was running positional circles around Pillsbury right out of the opening. I can't believe Pillsbury played 5. dxc6 instead of gxf3
Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: Pillsbury had a brilliant natural understanding of open positions; Chigorin of closed. 5.dxc6 is probably playable, but 9.e5? is very weak, perhaps even the losing move! I used to use this game for students,
to demonstrate how relative the use of the word 'modern' in hyper-modern actually was. Venerable Grekov claims this game was inspirational for the entire 'Soviet School of Chess'(sic). Perhaps that's mythologically exagerrated, but it is a wonderfully instructive game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <RookFile> your comment about 5.gxf3 reminded me that there was a second time I played 3.Nf3, vs Joe Shipman at Cambridge 1986, because I hadn't come up with any improvement for White after my loss to Rizzitano 2 1/2 years before.

My recollection's a bit foggy, but I believe we followed much the same line as was played in the Kasparov-Smyslov match in '84.

Sep-09-05  RookFile: This is the type of situation where Lasker's simple approach to the opening would have paid dividends. Lasker would have played this game like this:

1. d4 d5
2. c4 Nc6
3. Nf3 Bg4
4. Nc3

(Develop knights before doing anything)

4..... dxc4 (If 4.... e6 5. Bf4)
5. d5 Bxf3
6. gxf3 Ne5
7. Bf4 Ng6
8. Bg3 Nf6
9. e4 e5
10. dxe6 fxe6
11. Bxc4

Nice, simple developing moves, no nonsense. White has the 2 bishops and better central control.

Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: hmmm.. after 4..e6 5.Bf4 a6 does White have anything?

In Lasker-Chigorin, Hastings, 1895 White got fairly gerflubbled in this line eh.. ??

Jan-19-06  LluviaSean: wow. this game is awesome...ive once seen a better king hunt before. kasparov-topalov
May-18-07  FHBradley: <RookFile:> Your line may be no nonsense from white's point of view, but that's not the way the play the Chigorin with black pieces.
Oct-02-10  sevenseaman: For a change Pillsbury goes burst!
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: A great King chase across the board.
Jan-24-11  KingG: <This is the type of situation where Lasker's simple approach to the opening would have paid dividends. Lasker would have played this game like this: >

Perhaps, but in view of <IMlday>'s comment <Pillsbury had a brilliant natural understanding of open positions;>, it's surprising that Pillsbury didn't play 9.Bc4 fxe4 10.0-0, as I could imagine Morphy or Anderssen doing. I'm sure the idea would have come to many a Blackmar-Diemer gambit fan as well.

Jun-29-12  The Big Lebowski: This game white looks like an amateur vs a Super GM! :>)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Was this Round 11 game played on the 8th of January or two days later on January 10th?

<keypusher> has it as January 8th and I think he has the Tournament book. Chess Stars book on Chigorin says it was played on January 10th. I have labelled it as the 10th of Jan but will change it if this is incorrect. Can anyone help out here?

Premium Chessgames Member
  crawfb5: <Benzol> Pope's book on Pillsbury gives the date as 1/9/1896. He lists Schiffers' tournament book as his source.

Both the <NY Evening Post> ( and the <Brooklyn Daily Eagle> (http://eagle.brooklynpubliclibrary....) for 1/10/1896 give the date of Chigorin's win as Black against Pillsbury as "yesterday," i.e., 1/09/1896, although the BDE says it was a 40 move game instead of the 38 we have. Still, this is only 0-1 result for Pillsbury-Chigorin at this tournament.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <crawfb5> Thanks Larry. I will change the day accordingly. I have also submitted corrections to the year listings where appropriate for other games from this tourney. I don't know if <keypusher> is a bio editor as I have taken the liberty to update the St Petersburg 1895/96 tournament. If he is I hope I haven't tread on his toes by doing so. Apologies in advance.


When <cg> changes the year listings this tournament can be added to <Phony Benoni>'s list.

Aug-25-16  rea: Who knows what date it actually was--remember that Russia was on a different calendar (Julian, not Gregorian) from the rest of the world at the time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <rea: Who knows what date it actually was--remember that Russia was on a different calendar (Julian, not Gregorian) from the rest of the world at the time.>

Noted. But presumably an American newspaper dated January 10th reporting on a game played the previous day was using the Gregorian calendar.

<Benzol> <crawfb5> I was using an English-language tournament book, but assuming I didn't copy the date wrong, I would trust a daily newspaper over a book prepared well after the event. Given the length of the game I would guess it didn't take two days to play.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <rea: Who knows what date it actually was--remember that Russia was on a different calendar (Julian, not Gregorian) from the rest of the world at the time.>

Chigorin turned up 13 days early for this game. It was just an empty room with a ticking clock and a sheet of old newspaper on the floor.

Premium Chessgames Member
  lame duck: <rea: Who knows what date it actually was--remember that Russia was on a different calendar (Julian, not Gregorian) from the rest of the world at the time.> In the tournament book, edited by Emmanuel Shiffers in St-Petersburg in 1896, this game is dated by December 28, 1895.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: "...we see running throughout the whole game an artistic idea distinct for its strategic novelty, which directly opposed the dogmatic and stereotyped thinking of Pillsbury (immediate seizure of the centre)."

By Smyslov in the prefacetof his Best Games collection.

Apr-04-18  WorstPlayerEver: Don't see any trouble after 9. exf5
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