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Harry Nelson Pillsbury vs Wilhelm Steinitz
London (1899), London ENG, rd 8, Jun-09
Spanish Game: Steinitz Defense (C62)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-07-06  ianD: This would make a great puzzle one day. 28Qg6+!
Feb-07-06  ianD: Not bad considering that he took up chess at the late age of 16!. Died Age 33. Seems to have been quite a character.
Oct-06-07  RookFile: After 21. gxf5, winning a piece, if Steinitz had played ...Qxc5+: 22. Be3 Qb5 23. Qxb5 Rxb5 24. f6 and see you later.

A methodic crush by Pillsbury.

Sep-17-09  donehung: Pillsbury rakes the former world champ over the coals, very noteworthy game for Mr p
Sep-27-13  Cucurbit: I was the most surprised by 10. h4 and 11. h5. Seemed to make white's king too insecure, but then, I can't argue with the result.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A typical Pillsbury crush, only this time--sadly--it was against the aging former champion Steinitz.

Contrary to Cuccurbit, I was not surprised by Pillsbury's 10. h4 and 11. h5. This sort of h-pawn advance is quite normal against a castled king with a pawn at g6, especially after Steintz's doubtful 9...Ne7 and his very weak 10...h6. I fed both moves into Fritz, which gave both moves as best. Pillsbury was an attacking genius, and he didn't need much encouragement to go after Steinitz's king and to begin his assault with his h pawn (just as Bobby Fischer 59 years later wiped out Bent Larsen with such an advance at the 1958 Interzonal tournament).

After Steinitz' weak 13...Be6, Pillsbury probably had a winning attack (or so says the mighty Fritz). But Pillsbury's 15. e5 was bad (the Tournament Book's acclaims notwithstanding) and Steinitz castled out of trouble and had a defensible position.

But then Steinitz lost the thread with 16...d5 (instead of the better 16...Nf5), 17...Qe8 (he should have played 17...Qb8)and 18...Rb8 (instead of 18...Nf5 immediately). Steinitz's position was in shambles, and I doubt anyone could have held the game after this against the brilliant Pillsbury.

After Pillsbury's brutal 20. g4, Steinitz' last chance to offer any sort of resistance was 20...Nh4. Even had he played 20...Nh4, however, resistance might have proven futile, but after Steinitz's defeatist 20...Qe7 the rest was a massacre.

As Rookfile has shown (and as the Tournament Book and Sergeant had previously also demonstrated) after Pillsbury's 21.gxf5, Steinitz would not have survived very long even had he taken Pillsbury's Knight with 21...Qxc5+

For those of us who admire Steinitz' career, the balance of the game after 21. gxf5 is painful to watch. Steinitz should doubtless have spared himself the torture, although it is always instructive to watch Pillsbury in action demolishing an enemy army.

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