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Harry Nelson Pillsbury vs Mikhail Chigorin
London (1899), London ENG, rd 27, Jul-06
Queen's Gambit Declined: Chigorin Defense. Main Line (D07)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-30-08  madlydeeply: Pillsbury loves the f4 whilst Chigorin loves the Nge7. Why? Who can answer such questions?
Jun-30-08  RookFile: Well, this game looks like a good old fashioned butt whoopin' by Chigorin.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Another Pillsbury-Tchigorin slugfest. Pillsbury had defeated Tchigorin on the Black side of an Evans Gambit in Round 1 of the London 1899 tournament, and Tchigorin returned the favor on the Black side of a Queen's Gambit in this game in Round 27.

Needless to say, Tchigorin employed his favorite 2...Nc6 against Pillsbury's Queen's Gambit, and the game soon turned into a battle of two classic themes: (i) Pillsbury's King-side attack vs. Tchigorin's Queen-side attack; and (ii) Pillsbury's two Bishops against Tchigorin's beloved two Knights. On this day, Tchigorin won both battles, his Queen-side attack proving lethal whilst Pillsbury's efforts on the other wing proved harmless; and Tchigorin's Knights dominated the game as compared with Pillsbury's impotent two Bishops.

The first critical moment of the game came on move 11 in the following position:

click for larger view

Pillsbury--true to form--played 11. 0-0-0?!. He played for a King-side assault at all costs, and was prepared to endure whatever Tchigorin might have cooked up for him on the Queen-side. The Tournament Book criticizes 11. 0-0-0 and proposes 11. 0-0. This seems crazy. Tchigorin would almost certainly have replied 11...Qh4 (if not that then 11...Qg5+), and Pillsbury's King would have been fighting for his life.

Perhaps simplest in the diagrammed position would have been 11. NxN. This would have kept all of Pillsbury's options open while eliminating Tchigorin's d5 Knight. But it is hard to imagine Pillsbury passing up 11. 0-0-0 whatever the risks.

After 11. 0-0-0, Tchigorin--also true to form--traded off his remaining Bishop with 11...BxN and after 12. BxB began his Queen-side advance with 12...b5. The battle lines were now truly drawn.

The Tournament Book says that Pillsbury should have recaptured with 12. b2xB instead of 12. BxB, but after the proposed pawn recapture Tchigorin would seem to have the better game after 12...Qh4. In addition, the suggested recapture would have done little to protect Pillsbury's Queen-side from what he must have known was coming.

The opening here illustrates much about the respective chess philosophies of Pillsbury and Tchigorin, and was a fascinating prelude to the slash-bang battle that ensued.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: With Pillsbury's 14. Rdg1 and Tchigorin's 14...a5, the attacks on both wings kicked into high gear. Pillsbury's problem was that his plan was too slow. By the time he managed to double his Rooks on the g-file (which didn't happen until move 19), Tchigorin's Queen-side attack was well underway, and defending against Pillsbury's attack on g7 proved easy. But the Tournament Book overstates the situation when it says that "Black's attack must be overwhelming." Pillsbury was far from lost at this stage.

Pillsbury's 15. f4 was ill-advised (why not 15. h4?). But Pillsbury was still very much in the game, even after Tchigorin played the very strong 16...a4. But Pillsbury's 17. Qd1 was awful. He still seemed to believe he had a winning attack on the King-side. After 17...Ncb4 18. BxN NxB 19. Rhg1, Pillsbury finally had what he wanted: his Rooks doubled on the g-file. But Tchigorin immediately neutralized this threat with 19...Rf7. This move by Tchigorin, though sufficient to blunt Pillsbury's attack, was far inferior to 19...g6. Now his Rook was locked into a defensive role.

After 19...Rf7, the Tournament Book suggests that Pillsbury was dead lost, saying that: "It is impossible to find any good move for White. The position is irretrievable."

Really? Here was the position after Tchigorin's 19...Rf7:

click for larger view

I agree that Tchigorin had much the better game at this point. And I agree that Pillsbury's move here, 20. Bb1, left him little play. But why not 20. Qd2? After this, Tchigorin's best chance would seem to be 20...c5. But Pillbury's game does not seem lost to me even after 20...c5.

After Pillsbury's actual move, 20. Bb1, Tchigorin could have played 20...Qf8. His actual move: 20...a3, seems premature, and--as I will discuss in a subsequent post, could have allowed Pillsbury's King to flee to safety.

May-02-17  Straclonoor: To <KEG> - Nice comment, thank you! This game is in all books devoted to Chigorin.
One more interesting battle Pillsbery-Chigorin is - Pillsbury vs Chigorin, 1898
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: After Tchigorin's 20...a3, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

Pillsbury here played 21. bxa3. The Tournament Book says this was a "fatal" blunder and that Pillsbury needed to play 21. b3. In fact, the text is best. Had Pillsbury played the suggested 21. b3??, Tchigorin would have crushed him with 21...Qd6 followed by c5 and Rc6. The weakness created by 21. b3 would have been fatal. Of course, Tchigorin was much better even after Pillsbury's 21. bxa3, but at least he had to take time to attend to his Knight.

After Tchigorin's 21...Nd5 (21...Rc6+ would have been no improvement), Pillsbury's King could have begun a run for the corner with 22. Kb2. What was potentially fatal was Pillsbury's actual move: 22. Qb3. Now, Tchigorin could have smashed through with 22...c5. His 22...b4 was strong, but now Pillsbury's King could have fled to the other wing with 23. Kd2.

But here Pillsbury, under the relentless Queen-side assault by Tchigorin, fell apart. His 23. axb4 allowed Tchigorin to play 23...Rxb4. Pillsbury then played 24. Qd3 (24. Qc2 was perhaps his last chance), and this time Tchigorin got in the powerful 24...c5.

From here on the attack by Tchigorin was overwhelming and irresistible, and Pillsbury's play (25. dxc5, 26. Bc2, and 27. f3) was desperate, misguided and hopeless.

The final coup by Tchigorin was beautiful, and deserves two diagrams.

After Pillsbury's 28. R3g2, Tchigorin faced the following position:

click for larger view

Tchigorin's winning move here was the lovely "quiet" 28...Rd7 (28...Ra7 also seems to win, but Tchigorin's choice was logical and aesthetically pleasing).

Tchigorin's final combo was also lovely. After Pillsbury's 31. Kd2, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

Tchigorin here wrapped up this fine game with 31...RxB+ 32. KxR Nxe3+.

What a satisfying ending to this exciting struggle.

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