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Harry Nelson Pillsbury vs Carl Schlechter
London (1899), London ENG, rd 22, Jun-28
Queen's Gambit Declined: Orthodox Defense. Botvinnik Variation (D60)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-18-03  Kenkaku: A fine endgame by Pillsbury, forcing black into zugzwang on move 52.
Sep-19-03  drukenknight: looks like Sch. forget to blockade by 43...Bd7 w/o that blockade, whites K quickly penetrates too far.
Mar-11-04  Kenkaku: <drukenknight> 43...Bd7 loses the a-pawn, and then white can just wait for black to run out of pawn moves and become forced to move his king. Perhaps black can save by moving his bishop at some point, but it looks grim.
Aug-04-13  okiesooner: After 43...Bd7 44. Bxa6, White forces Black to give up his Bishop with 45. Kc5 followed by moving his Bishop to c4, d5, and c6, i.e. 44...Ke6 45. Kc5 h5 46. Bc4+ Ke5 47. Bd5 g4 48. hxg4 hxg4 49. Bc6 Be6 50. d7 Bxd7 51. Bxd7.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: An engrossing battle of ideas between two fine players involving the strengths and weaknesses of Pillsbury's d-pawn, and a wonderful endgame performance by Pillsbury.

After 11. exd4, Pillsbury had an isolated d-pawn. He sought to exploit the space this afforded and Schlechter was seemingly trying to find ways to capitalize on the isolated pawn by blocking it with 12...Nbd5.

Given these competing themes, it was surprising that Schlecter played 14... NxN, allowing Pillsbury bolster the d-pawn (which was not longer isolated) with 15. bxN. It was also, as the Tournament Book correctly notes, surprising to see Schlechter waste time with 13...Re8 followed by 15...Rf8. After this latter move, and with his d-pawn now supported by a pawn at c3, Pillsbury appeared to have a strategically won game after 15...Rf8. After Schlechter weakened his position further with 21...f5, it looked as if Pillbury was on the verge of victory.

But Pillsbury's impatience to push the d-pawn, and what the Tournament Book calls his "preparatory" move to accomplish this, 25. Bb4, was a mistake (25. c5 would have been much better).

But Schlechter, having weathered the storm, mistakenly allowed Pillsbury to swap off both pairs of Rooks playing first 28...RxR+ (instead of 28...Be5) and then 29...Re8 (instead of 29...Be5). After 29...BxR, it looked once again as if Pillsbury had the game in hand.

But Pillsbury erred with the weak 31. Qd1 (instead of 31. Qe3), with a premature pawn push (32. d6 instead of 32. g3), and allowing Schlechter to trade Queens.

The resulting double-bishop endgame after 37. Kf1 was probably savable for Schlechter. But Pillsbury's play from here to the finish was fantastic. He exploited Schlechter's small errors (37...Bd4, 38...Bf8, and most seriously 39...g5) and gave Schlechter no chances.

After the trade of one pair of Bishops and Pillsbury's 43. Kd4, there was no way for Schlechter to stop Pillsbury's d-pawn without ruinous loss of material. As Kenkaku and okiesooner have previously shown on this site, 43...Bd7 would not have worked for Schlechter.

After Pillsbury's 46. d7, Schlechter could have called it a day, though, like Kenkaku, I enjoyed watching Pillsbury's use of zugzwang on move 52, though in truth there were many roads to victory by this point (52. Ke7 would have been just as effective as Pillsbury's 52. Ba2).

This game provides further evidence, if such were truly needed, of how deadly Pillsbury could be in the endgame. As of 1899, probably only Lasker was his equal in this phase of the game.

Aug-29-17  andrea volponi: 43...f4 -Kc5 a5 -Kc6 f3 -g4 a4 -Kc7 Ke5 -Bg8 h6 -Bf7 a3 -Ba2 Be6 -Bxe6 Kxe6 -d7 a2 -d=Q a=Q -Qe8+ Kd5 -Qf7+ Kc5 -Qf5+ Kc4 -Qxf3 Qd4 -Qc6 Kd3 -Qxh6 Qxf2 -Qxg5 Qg3 draws.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <andrea volponi> I agree it looks like both sides will be able to queen, and if White trades off all the pawns and remains with only the g-pawn, it's usually a tablebase draw, albeit not easy for Black.

But White is not forced to trade off all the pawns. After your <43...f4 -Kc5 a5 -Kc6 f3 -g4 a4 -Kc7 Ke5 -Bg8 h6 -Bf7 a3 -Ba2 Be6 -Bxe6 Kxe6 -d7 a2 -d=Q a=Q -Qe8+ Kd5 -Qf7+ Kc5 -Qf5+ Kc4 -Qxf3 Qd4>

click for larger view

I don't think White has to hurry into a drawn tablebase ending. He can try things like <1. Qf5> Qd2 2. Kc6, etc. and I'm not at all sure Black can hold this ending. White can try to drive Black's king to the corner and cross with his own king to the kingside. And Black has to be very careful not to allow White to trade queens at the wrong time.

Aug-29-17  maxi: What a game!
Aug-30-17  andrea volponi: 47 Qf5 Qd2 -Kc6 Qd3 -Qc5+ Kb3 -f3 Qf1 ⩲|+-.......
Aug-31-17  andrea volponi: 58 Qf5 Qd2 -Kc6 Qd3 -Qc5+ Kb3 - f3 Qf1 -Qe3+ Kc2 -
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <andrea volponi> In lines like what you posted, if Black manages to take the h3 pawn, and later play ...h5 and hxg4, and meanwhile White wins Black's g-pawn, the result is again a tablebase draw where White has the extra g-pawn.

So you're probably right, the position is <difficult but drawn>.

Finally, another interesting try from my diagram above is <1. Qg3>. I don't have any deep analysis of it at the moment, however.

Sep-01-17  andrea volponi: 58Qg3 Qd3!=
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <andrea volponi> From the diagram, 1. Qg3 Qd3 2. f3. I don't see an immediate draw, so White battles on.

But again, I agree it's hard for White to make progress without allowing exchange of more pawns, with a drawish outcome.

Sep-01-17  andrea volponi: 58Qg3 Qd3 -f3 Qh7+ -Kd6 Qg6+ -Ke5 Qe8+ -Kf6 Qf8+ -Kg6 Qe8 -Kf5 Qd7+ -Kg6 Qe8 - perpetual check
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <andrea volponi> I missed your idea where Black sacrifices both his remaining pawns and goes three pawns down, but gets a perpetual. Great find!
Sep-01-17  andrea volponi: thanks,beatgiant
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <andrea volponi> A very pretty drawing idea that you and beatgiant have analyzed nicely. But I think there is a flaw.

Instead of 51. BxB in your line, White has a win with the spectacular 51. Bb3!! since if 51...BxB 52. d7 a2 53. d8(Q) a1 (Q) White wins with 54. Qh8+

Nonetheless, your idea is fabulous and might well have drawn had Schlechter found it over the board.

Sep-03-17  andrea volponi: 51Bb3 Bc8(forced) for example :52 Bc4 Kd4 -Ba2 Ke5 -Bb3 Be6(still parity final queens)
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <KEG>
Here is <andrea volponi>'s line: <43...f4 -Kc5 a5 -Kc6 f3 -g4 a4 -Kc7 Ke5 -Bg8 h6 -Bf7 a3 -Ba2 Be6>

click for larger view

Yes, White can wait with 51. Bb3, but then Black also waits with 51...Bc8. How does White make progress?

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <beatgiant><andrea volponi> You are both correct. My 51. Bb3 doesn't work. The waiting move 51...Bc8 does indeed do the trick for Black.

I had thought White could make progress with 52. Bc4 Be6 53. Kc6 Bc8 54. Ba2 putting Black in zugzwang, but I overlooked the saving move 54...h5!

Great analysis by both of you. Thank you!

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