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Harry Nelson Pillsbury vs Heinrich Wolf
Monte Carlo (1902), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 2, Feb-05
Indian Game: East Indian Defense (E00)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-04-05  Rohan: In Queen pawn openings (eg Torre) the type of position with the bishop sac on h7 or g6 gives a v. strong attack ( winning?) - here Pillsbury got 3 pawns for the bishop as well-This is simple and effective strategic plan because it is easily understood and implemented.
Premium Chessgames Member
  wwall: 20...Qe7 21.e6+ Ke8 22.Qg6+ Kd8 23.Bg5
Jun-11-11  bengalcat47: Somewhere long ago I saw this game analyzed in a now out-of-print book that was written in descriptive notation. If anyone knows the title of the book I'm thinking of please let me know.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <bengalcat47> This game appears in descriptive notation with annotations in, "Pillsbury's Chess Career", by P.W. Sergeant and W.H. Watts.

If you are interested in the Monte Carlo 1902 tournament, you may want to obtain a copy of the book, "Monte Carlo 1902" edited by A.J. Gilliam. This book is in algebraic notation, and includes good annotations. The annotations included for this game were from the Wiener Schachzeitung.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: A convincing victory. However, Pillsbury could have won even faster. 13.Qd2! was nice. 13...Kxh7 14.Qh6+ Kg8 15.Ng5 Bxg5 16.Bxg5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A sparkling win by Pillsbury. The game was in fact over by about move 10, but Pillsbury's "sacrifice" (if giving up a minor piece for four passed pawns can be called a sacrifice) was both entirely sound and pleasing to the eye.

1. d4 Nf6
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 b6

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"?"--(Tournament Book)

"Giving White a free hand in the center." (Tournament Book)

"An original but unhappy line of defense." (Sergeant-Watts)

Despite its superficial similarity to the Queen's Indian Defense, the text is weak--though not unplayable.

4. e4

"!"--(Tournament Book)(Sergeant-Watts)

4... Bb7
5. Bd3

5. f3 and 5. Qc2 are other good options.

5... d5?

Looks natural, but is in fact quite bad.

Best for Black here is 5...Bb4.

6. cxd5 exd5
7. e5 Ne4
8. Nf3

8. Nge2 is probably better. Another good possibility for White is 8. Qf3.

After 8. Nf3, the position was:

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8... Be7

Better than 8...Bb4, which in fact is not the catastrophe Sergeant-Watts claims it is. The Sergeant-Watts analysis of 8...Bb4 is so bad I have wondered whether to bother to post it here. Oh well, here goes:

8...Bb4 9. Qa4 (9. Qc2 is much better, though not necessarily amounting to a win for White) 9...Nc6 10. Bb5? [10. 0-0 allows White to maintain his advantage] 10...BxN+ (10...Qd7 is much better) 11. bxB Qd7 12. e6? [Just awful. White keeps the edge with 12. Qc2] 12...fxe6? This should lose. [Black must play 12...Qxe6 after which he would actually be better]. 13. Ne5 Nxc3 14. Qc2? [Sergeant-Watts said this wins a piece, but after 14...NxB! 15. NxQ Nbxd4 16. Qa4 KxN Black has two Knighs and three pawns for the Queen--hardly a hopeless situation. But White can in fact win with either 14. NxQ or 14. BxN.

9. 0-0

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9... 0-0?

"?"--(Tournament Book)(Sergeant-Watts)

This loses. Black's only hopes lay in 9...NxN; 9...c5; or 9...Nd7, though White would be much better on any of these moves.

10. Qc2

"!"--(Tournament Book)

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10... NxN?

10...Na6 was the only slim hope. After the text, the position was:

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From here, Pillsbury demolished the Black position.

This makes for a nice problem: White to move and win.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

11. Bh7+!

Black is busted.

11... Kh8
12. bxN

Even better than the alternative winning line: 12. Qf5 Ne2+ (if 12...g6 13. Qh3!) 13. Kh1 Bc8 (best, though insufficient) 14. Qh5.

12... g6

Best, though also losing is 12...Bc8 13. h3 (13. h4 also wins) Nc6 (13...g6 14. Qd2!) 14. Bd3.

After 12...g6, the position was:

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"The following exchanges leave Black with a lost position. He can do nothing against the four passed pawns." (Tournament Book)

13. Bxg6

As <Mateo> pointed out on this site back in 2016, Pillsbury could also have won with 13. Qd2 KxB (13...Rg8 14. BxR allows Black to resist a little longer, but is obviously hopeless in the long run since now Black, among other problems, loses the exchange rather than winning a piece).

13... fxB

13...Bc8 or 13...Bg7 are nominally "better," but again quite hopeless in terms of saving the game.

14. Qxg6

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White has three pawns (and four PASSED pawns) for the sacrificed Bishop. Black can resist for a while, but the result is not in doubt.

14... Qe8

Truly hopeless, but the "superior" 14...Bc8 or 14...Qc8 were not going to change the outcome.

15. Qh6+ Kg8
16. Ng5

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16... BxN

Obviously forced.

17. QxB+ Kf7

If 17...Kh7 18. Qh4+ Kg8 (or 18...Kg6) 19. f4 and the White pawns destroy Black.

18. f4!

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18... Ke6

This should have led to immediate defeat, but 18...Qe7 or 18...Qd8 provided no realistic hope.

19. f5+

This wins, but the immediate killer was 19. Qg7! The text allowed Wolf to extend the game, though the sequel could not have been any fun for Wolf.

19... Kd7
20. Qg7+ Kc8

20...Kc6 was no real improvement. If 20...Qe7, then--as <wwall> pointed out on this site back in 2005--21. e6+ terminates resistance.

After 20...Kc8, the position was:

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Whether because of time pressure (a move 30 time control) or otherwise, from here Pillsbury--though never giving Wolf any true chance to survive--did not, as I will discuss in my next post, find the fastest way to conclude the game. This allowed Wolf to hang around for another 15-16 moves, but the four passed pawns remained a problem for which Black had no answer.

The pathetic Black Queen-side "development" is either tragic or comic depending on one's perspective.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

21. e6

Sufficient to win, but quickest and strongest was 21. f6!

21... Rg8

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22. Qh7

This also did not blow the win, but once again there was a much stronger move; i.e., 22. f6! (called "interesting" in the Tournament Book, which gives the following line: 22...RxQ 23. fxR Nd7 [if 23...Qxe6 24. Rf8+ --KEG] 24. Rf7 Bc6 25. exN+ bxd7 [after which 26. Rf8 spells fini].

22... Rh8
23. Qg6 Ba6

"!"--(Tournament Book)

"After 23...QxQ 24. fxQ Black would lose in a few more moves." (Tournament Book)

True. And the text was probably best (or maybe 23...Bc6), but it hardly saved the day for Black since Pillsbury was still able to reduce to an easily won endgame:

24. QxQ+ RxQ

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25. Re1

Pillsbury still kept the win in sight, but 25. Rf2 was better (e.g., 25...Kb7 26. Bg5).

25... Nc6
26. Bg5

"!"--(Tournament Book)

26... Nd8

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"!"--(Tournament Book)'

There were other ways to win, but this simplification by Pillsbury was probably the easiest.

27... KxB
28. f6

Pillsbury might have played this before, but it was still a killer:

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28.. Rh8
29. Re5 c6?

After this lemon Pillsbury destroyed the Black position quickly, but not even the "better" 29...Ke8 would have saved the day.

30. Rae1 Rc8

Worse than useless, but 30...Bd3 (Black's "Best") would also not--as pointed out in the Tournament Book-- have extended the game very much longer (e.g., 30...Bd3 31. R1e3 Be4 [31...Bg6 would also have been useless after 31...Rg3] 32. Rg3.

31. Rg5

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For whatever reason, Wolf chose to struggle on for a few more moves. I will cover the resulting massacre of the Black position in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

31... Bd3

Black's position was so bad that no move can truly be called a blunder. But this move should have ended the game. "Best" was 31...Kc7 32. Rg7 Kb8, though with 37 and f7 to follow the end would still have remained near.

32. Ree5

32. Rg7 would likely have induced resignation. The text prolonged the game for a few more moves.

32... Rh6

It looks like Wolf was just playing by rote at this point. After the text, Pillsbury finished nicely (not that the finish was all that hard to find at this point), the position now being:

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33. Rg8+

33. e7+ also would have won quickly.

33... Kc7
34. RxR+ KxR
35. e7

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35... Bg6
36. e8(Q)+

Here Wolf finally resigned in light of 36...BxQ 37. RxB+ Kd7 38. f7

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