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Harry Nelson Pillsbury vs Wilhelm Steinitz
St. Petersburg (1895/96), St. Petersburg RUE, rd 16, Jan-22
Queen's Gambit Declined: Vienna. Quiet Variation (D44)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-09-04  Whitehat1963: Why not 98. Bxb4 in an attempt to get a draw? Mating with the bishop and knight can take a long time; he might have escaped with a 50-move draw, even if he is in the corner, in fact, especially because he's in the opposite colored corner from the black bishop.
Jan-09-04  beachbum: You must be kidding. Steinitz was not a coffehouse chessplayer, he knew how to mate with a bishop and a knight.
Jan-09-04  Whitehat1963: I'm sure he did, but if you've already played 98 moves and are hoping for a draw, perhaps that's your best bet. What do you think?
Jan-09-04  tayer: In generat a mate with ♗ and ♘ shoug take no more than 35 moves. In the position after 98. ♗xb4 black can force a mate in about 25 moves (see:
Jan-09-04  ThunderThumbs: White hat, I don't think that a 50 move no capture rule was in effect then.
Jan-09-04  Whitehat1963: Tayer: 25 moves certainly beats 2 moves. That's 25 more chances to get a stalemate. Stranger things have happened.
Jan-09-04  Whitehat1963: When was the 50-move rule established?
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: What a tournament St Petersburg 1895 was! Each player played 6 games against the 3 others. Pillsbury beat Lasker and Tchigorin 3.5 to 2.5, but lost so badly to Steinitz 1-5 that he finished 3.5 pts behind Lasker. Whitehat: I'm guessing there was no 50 move rule back then.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: According to a quiz on, Ruy Lopez proposed the 50 move draw, so it has been around for centuries.
Jan-09-04  ughaibu: If there were no difference between proposition and acceptance would suitors get the jitters?
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: It is the same feeling I get whenever I post! Anybody know for sure, when was the 50 move draw rule enacted?
Jan-09-04  Benjamin Lau: is interesting:

Rule Changes

Chess rules have mostly stood the test of time ever since it apeared in India about 1500 years ago. There were changes when the game reached Europe, such as a checkered board and the increased power of the queen.

The 50-move Rule

"The game may be drawn if each player has made the last 50 consecutive moves without the movement of any pawn and without the capture of any piece."

This rule stood for centuries until FIDE, the world chess body, raised it to 75 moves without consulting players because computers proved that certain endings once thought to be drawn require more than 50 moves to force a win.

In 1942 Reuben Fine's BASIC CHESS ENDINGS stated that two bishops against a queen can be drawn, a myth shattered in 1986 when Ken Thompson of Belle Labs proved the queen can win in 71 moves. Fine also believed that two knights vs. queen "is a draw because the knights can keep the White king out."

But once again computers showed the queen can force a win in 63 moves. To our amazement, two bishops can also beat a lone knight in over 50 moves. In fact, computers have now solved all positions with five or less pieces on the board. Despite all these discoveries FIDE revived the old 50-move rule after many players protested about being tortured by unprincipled opponents who don't know how to find these wins without help from a machine.

Jan-10-04  Calli: <tamar> Pillsbury's 0-4 with 2 draws vs Steinitz at St Petersburg is hard to explain. His record against Steinitz 1895-1899 other than these games is 5-0-2. That might be skewed as Steinitz was in a steep decline by Vienna 1898 and London 1899 when three of those Pillsbury victories came. Still, Pillsbury was playing well enough to win against Lasker in 1896. I recall something about Steinitz being a mentor to Pillsbury for a time. Perhaps that had something to do with it. In any case, the result cost him the tourney and maybe a WC match.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Calli>You're right. It is hard to explain, given that Pillsbury had just beaten Steinitz at Hastings 3 months earlier as part of an incredible winning start that allowed him to finish first above Tchigorin and Lasker. In Pillsbury's Chess Career, Sergeant includes these sentences about the strange turnaround at St Petersburg. "The score below shows that he beat both Lasker and Tchigorin, but fared so poorly against Steinitz that his score only put him third on the list. How far his non-success against Steinitz was due to his well-known fear of the then ex-champion's chess powers, and how far to the extensive journalistic duties he assumed during this tournament can never be known now"... Looking at the evidence of the game above, where Pillsbury seems at sea by move 20, Steinitz may have discovered some flaws in Pillsbury's repertoire, much like Botvinnik did with Tal in their return match. Steinitz annotated Pillsbury's games at Hastings, and was especially critical of Pillsbury's play with White against Schlecter in one of his only losses.
Jan-10-04  tayer: <Whitehat1963> I cannot tell you that white cannot draw with ♔ againt ♔+♗+♘ since it is possible for black to make mistakes (for example in this game A Galliamova-Ivanchuk vs S Lalic, 1997 Susan Lalic was just 5 moves from the limit). I assume that after several hours in front of the chessboard most players don't want continue with a lost game hoping for a big mistake of the other player to happen.
Jan-12-04  Dick Brain: <whitehat1963>It is nowhere near 35 moves to mate in that position. Steinitz was the best player in the world. I'm no Steinitz but I could tell you the continuation off the top of my head. 99. Bxb4 Kxb4 100. Ka2 Kc3 101. Ka3 (or a1) Nc5 102. Ka2 Nb3 103. Ka3 Bb1 and White drives Black across the board with the method involving the Knight manoevers b3-d4-b5-d6-b7 and the only trick being that at one point in the drive across the board Black will escape for a moment from the side. This is a key position to memorize in Black's temporary escape: Put the black king on c4, the black knight on b5, and the White king on c6. Black then sends white king straght back to the side with ... Bf5!; Kb6 Be4!
Jan-30-17  andrea volponi: 53 a4!! bxa4 -b5 a3 -Rc3 Ad5 -Ae7 a2 -Rb2 Rg4 -Ra1=.

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