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Emanuel Lasker vs Harry Nelson Pillsbury
Impromptu International Congress, New York (1893), New York, NY USA, rd 8, Oct-10
Spanish Game: Fianchetto Defense (C60)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-04-03  drukenknight: perhaps a B sacrifice even later in the game with: 51...Bg7 or 52...Bd6?
Jan-04-03  ughaibu: That would've been fun.
Premium Chessgames Member
  PinkZebra: To drunkenknight: A Bishop sacrifice on 51) doesn't work because white mops up all the queenside pawns ie:51)...Bg7 52)Qc8+ followed by the capture of the black queenside pawns. White is not obligated to capture on g7 since the pawns do a great job of blocking out of the game all of black's pieces.He also threatens mate if g5-g6 is played at the right time.
Jan-04-03  drukenknight: Im thinking 52...Qg8 in your line PZ.
Apr-29-03  pegasus: pillsbury is a master at endgames
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <PinkZebra>:
<51)...Bg7 52)Qc8+ followed by the capture of the black queenside pawns.>

<Im thinking 52...Qg8 in your line PZ.>

On 51... ♗g7? 52. ♕c8+ ♕g8?? obviously white has 53. fg+ ♔xg7 54. ♕xg8+ ♔xg8 55. ♔e3 with an easily winning pawn ending.

I would suggest 48...♕d7 instead of the game's 48...♕f7 . This would leave Black in a more active position, for example 48...♕d7 49. ♕xg5+ ♔f7 50. ♕g7+ ♔e6 51. ♕g6 ♗f8 52. f4 ef 53. ♕f5+ ♔d6 54. ♕xf4+ ♔e6 55. g5 ♕d4! The ability to play ...♕d4 in lines like this is the point of 48...♕d7 . I haven't found a White win against this defense.

Jan-10-05  DevinPFelter: 12.f2-f3 weakens white's position; Qe2-f3 or a4-a5 would work. After 19...a7xb6, black has a nice edge. 22...Ra8xa1 or Qe7-d8 would be better than Qe7-b7. After 33.h3xg4, notice where all of Pillsbury's pawns are stationed: dark squares. This does not bode well for the dark-squared bishop, which will consequently be sterile for the rest of the game. Perhaps this was another reason why Lasker felt his bishop sacrifice was alright. 46.Be3xg5 is a sound sac to make headway in a tight position, however this by no means guarrantees a win, nor does it give Lasker a winning advantage. Note that the black king cannot take the f6 pawn because of 48.Qh1-h6+ Kf6-e7 49.Qh6-h7+ Ke7-e6 50.Qh7xa7. Pillsbury loses the game on his own with 53.Qh5-h4. A continuation might be 55...Kh7-h8 56.Qf5-f6+ Kh8-h7 57.g5-g6+ Kh7-h6 58.g6-g7+ Qh4xf6 59.g7xf8=Q+ Kh6-h5 60.Qf8xc5+ Rh6-g6 61.f7-f8=Q Qf6xf8 62.Qc5xf8 and the game is over.
Jan-10-05  DevinPFelter: At move 48, I'm not so sure how wise it is for black to move the queen at all. If something like 48...Bd6-b8 instead, 49.Qh6xg5+ Kg8-f7 50.Qg5-h6 b6-b5 57.g4-g5 Qa7-a4 58.Qh6-h7+ Kf7-e6 53.Qh7-h3+ Ke6-f7 54.Qh3-h5+, and white can check all he wants with little to no headway. If white gives up a pawn with 54.b2-b3 Qa4xb3, he will eventually intend to advance f6-f7 once he forces the king away, but this allows black the perpetual checks that white had done previously. This line would have preserved a draw, and it seems that there was no need to defend the two passed pawns with the Queen.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <DevinPFelter>:
The suggested 48...Bb8 puts the bishop out of play, so White has 48...Bb8 49. Qxg5+ Kf7 <50. Qg7+> Ke6 51. Qg6 Qf7 52. Qf5+ Kd6 53. g5, and I don't see a perpetual check after 53...Qh5 54. f7.
Jan-12-05  DevinPFelter: <beatgiant>: 50.Qg7+ is certainly a possibility. But in the line you give, instead of 51...Qf7, why not Qa7-a4? Then, 52.f6-f7+ Ke6-e7 53.Qg6-g8, and finally Qa4-c2+ with perpetual check. I've been looking at some other lines and possibilities from black's move at 48 onward and I'll be sure to post anything I find interesting or helpful. The reason I think black moving the bishop on move 48 is slightly better than moving the Queen is because of this threat to creep down to a4 eventually with perpetual check.
Jan-12-05  drukenknight: is 53...Qg6 any better?
Jan-12-05  DevinPFelter: <drukenknight>: 53...Qg6 would most certainly keep black in the game. As early as a few days ago, though, I would have thought black was still lost, even if he played the best move possible at 53. But I'm beginning to think that there might be drawing chances with the move you suggested or perhaps some other move. The text move, 48...Qf7 makes a draw somewhat difficult. It would have required very precise play on the part of Pillsbury (and you can see how easy it is to make a terrible blunder, 53...Qh4, in an extremely tight situation). This would still be a game after 53...Qg6, though, but it would definitely be in Lasker's favor.
Jan-12-05  drukenknight: Pill's move 53 created a discovered attack situation on his queen that proves fatal. Take that situation away and what happens?
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <DevinPFelter: But in the line you give, instead of 51...Qf7, why not Qa7-a4?>

Good point about the perpetual check. At first glance, 48...Bb8 49. Qxg5+ Kf7 50. Qg7+ Ke6 51. Qg6 Qa4 52. f7+ Ke7 <53. f8(Q)+!> Kxf8 54. Qf6+ Kg8 (or similarly 54...Ke8 55. Qh8+) 55. Qd8+ Kg7 56. Qxb8 Qc2+ 57. Ke3 Qc1+ 58. Ke4 Qe1+ 59. Kf5 escapes the perpetual, and White has the advantage again.

Jan-12-05  DevinPFelter: <beatgiant>: Everything you suggest is accurate except for one thing. 56...Qc2+ 57.Ke3 Qc1+ and I think Pillsbury would think he died and gone to heaven after 58.Ke4? because of 58...Qf4#. If the white king chooses a different flight square than e4, I'm pretty sure it will only lead to perpetual check once again. What do you think about 50.Ke2-f2 instead of Qg5-g7+ in order to avoid black's opportunity to check?
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <DevinPFelter>:
Yes, I missed the mate in the line I gave, so White would have to allow the perpetual check.

<What do you think about 50.Ke2-f2 instead of Qg5-g7+> So we are in <48...Bb8 49. Qxg5+ Kf7 50. Kf2>. It's a good try, since Black's queen can't move yet. So probably 50...b5 51. Kg2 bxc4 52. dxc4 Qc7 53. Kh3 Qa7 54. Kh4 Qc7, and only after this preparation 55. Qg7+ Ke6 56. Qg6. How would Black keep up the threat of perpetual check against this try?

Jan-12-05  euripides: Interesting how Steinitzian this game looks, a year before Lasker took the title from Steinitz.
Jan-13-05  DevinPFelter: First of all, let me respond to your line, beatgiant. 51...b5xc4 is met by 52.Qg5-f5. The ending would go something like this: 52...Kf7-e8 53.Qf5-c8+ Ke8-f7 54.g4-g5 e5-e4 55.Qc8-f5 e4xf3 56.Kg2-f2 Bb8-g3 57.Kf2xf3 Qa7-b8 58.g5-g6+ Kf7-e8 59.Qf5-e6+ Ke8-d8 60.Qe6-e7+ Kd8-c8 61.Qe7-e8+ and white has the game basically won. Better would be 51...Qa7-c7. Here is a different variation after 50.Ke2-f2 b6-b5: 51.Qg5-h6 (perhaps Qg7+ might work just as well / note: I do not think Kf2-g2 is necessary, Kf2 escapes the black Queen) 51...b5xc4 (this is ok now) 52.d3xc4 Qa7-d7 53.Qh6-h7+ Kf7-e6 54.Qh7-f5+ Ke6-d6 55.Qf5-g6 Kd6-e6 56.Kf2-e2 Qd7-d4 57.Qg6-f5+ Ke6-f7 58.g4-g5 Qd4-g1 59.Qf5-h7+ Kf7-e6 60.Qh7-h3+ Ke6-f7 61.f3-f4 e5xf4 62.Qh3-h7+. The position is pretty much a draw, unless I've missed something. I don't know how comfortable I feel about providing such a lengthy continuation, but it should be an example that shows that 48...Bb8 can provide drawing chances. Of course there are other variations than this one. What might be more interesting now is trying to see if Pillsbury could've drawn with 53...Qg6.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <DevinPFelter>
Very interesting material.

I don't quite agree with you on how it goes on after the suggested <51...b5xc4 52.Qg5-f5>. In particular, I would think it goes (after 48...Bb8 49. Qxg5+ Kf7 50. Kf2 b5 51. Kg2 bxc4 52. Qf5) <52...Qa2> and I still don't see a win for White: 53. Qh7+ Kxf6 54. Qh8+ Kf7 55. Qxb8 c3, and I think White has to be satisfied with a perpetual check. So I think white does indeed have to play 52. dxc4 as I gave.

<I do not think Kf2-g2 is necessary, Kf2 escapes the black Queen> I agree that the king probably shouldn't go as far as h4 as I gave, because Black can counterattack via ...Qd7 (as in the line I posted Oct-22-04). That happens in the line you gave too.

After your 51...Qc7, White can continue the plan with 52. Qg7+ Ke6 54. Qg6 Qf7 55. Qf5+ Kd6 56. g5 Qe6 57. Qh7, and I think Black's in trouble.

In any case, your point is taken that <48...Bb8 can provide drawing chances>. Black doesn't "look" lost at move 48, and as I said in my much earlier post, <I haven't found a White win against> 48...Qd7.

<What might be more interesting now is trying to see if Pillsbury could've drawn with 53...Qg6.> Agreed. I'll start this process. My general impression is that by very careful play, White can avoid perpetual check and gradually advance the king and pawns, winning.

I offer one sample line: 53...Qg6 54. Qg3 Qe8+ 55. Kf2 Qd7 56. Qg4 Qxd3 57. Qe6+ Kh8 58. Kg3 Qd2 59. f4 Qd3+ 60. Kh4 Qd4 61. Kh5 Qd3 62. Qf7.

Jan-13-05  drukenknight: you are brave men to plumb the depths of this endgame...
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I was puzzled about this tournament of 1893.

On a Newsgroup I asked this question:

"Lasker won a tournament in New York in 1893 with a score of +13 =0 -0. He beat Pillsbury in their first
I have seen this described as an 'Impromptu' tournament, and as the Manhattan Chess Club Championship with Lasker playing hors concours. Can anyone tell me what New York 1893 actually was - what type of tournament?"

Anders Thulin replied:

"Not quite certain on this one: but I believe an international congress was planned, but the attempt collapsed so late that foreign players were actually on their way when it happened (Albin, Lee, Jasnogrodsky, Taubenhaus, Gossip).

The Impromptu tournament was improvised to at least give them something and to perhaps restore some amount of goodwill towards the arrangers. It was a round robin tournament, but I have no idea of timing. $800 in the price fund.

I know that the Committee asked the subscribers if they wanted the money returned or kept for another attempt, but I don't know the outcome.

Someone must have written the history of this mis-event already?"

He later added:

"Mainly German sources, and that's why I'm not entirely certain of the detail, or how far it can be trusted.

I've been digging a bit further in Brooklyn Eagle online sources: the goal for the congress was $5000, and it was reported in June to be almost fully collected. There was a gold medal donated by president Cleveland, a $100 award from the Eagle, and a prize donated by Mayor Gilroy ...

On September 19, the report is that the tournament is on hold until the condition of the money market improves. Not called off, only postponed. ('The money market'?)

On October 5, the congress is reported, but now the prize fund is mentioned as $800. (Timing, by the way, is 20/h). One or two odd games are reported during the following weeks, and reporting in general seems to be based on bulletins - rather impersonal.

I find nothing more on the financial problems, though: from this particular source, there seems to have been nothing wrong except the postponement. But as Lasker is reported to be Champion, I'm not sure what the level of chess knowledge or interest was with the Eagle itself. (They claim to be the only newspaper to have donated money to this tournament, though.) Whyld lists Chadwick as chess column editor, but ... I have had no obvious column 'hits' during this period: chess news are reported together with general sports and games news.

The tournament was first mentioned as the Columbian tournament (which sound like the Columbia Chess Club was involved). Later the reports say it was played in the rooms of the Manhattan Chess Club (apart from some rounds played in Brooklyn). Perhaps their own rooms were not large or well-placed enough? Or is there a contradiction here? Or do I misunderstand?"

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Taylor Kingston added:

"That is probably a reference to what was then called a "financial panic," for example a big stock market crash, economic depression, drain on the gold reserve, etc. A severe one started about two months after Cleveland took office in 1893, and was one of the major crises of his second term. Panics often resulted in (or perhaps from) big runs on the banks, and capital for non-essential things like chess tournaments would vanish."

Ed Gallard added:
"There was a huge financial panic in the US in 1893. Several hundred banks failed, and a number of large companies--mostly railroads--went bankrupt. It was a complicated affair, caused by a shortage of gold in the US Treasury. The Treasury stopped redeeming paper money for gold; this led to a run on the banks and a stock-market crash.

I wonder if the funds for the tournament might have been held in a bank that failed.

I think it's more likely a reference to the great Columbian Exposition of 1893, in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the New World. Although the Exhibition was held in in Chicago, I imagine a lot of special events all over the country were called "Columbian" as well."

Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: <offramp>I have seen this described as an 'Impromptu' tournament, and as the Manhattan Chess Club Championship with Lasker playing hors concours. Can anyone tell me what New York 1893 actually was - what type of tournament?"

According to the "Evening World" newspaper dated 30 September, 1893, the tournament was held at the Manhattan Chess Club, with the tournament committee being made up of members of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn Chess Clubs.

Jan-13-22  Ivan Karamazov: <stockfish: 55...Kh8 56.Qf6+ Kh7 57.g6+ Kh6 58.g7+ Qxf6 59.gxf8=Q+ +- mate-in-19>

sometimes stockfish's annotations are just bizarre. here 58.Qxh4+ is stronger, simpler, and faster.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Aminda: 52…Kg8 was necessary.
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