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Jacques Mieses vs Harry Nelson Pillsbury
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 8, Jun-02
Vienna Game: Stanley Variation. Reversed Spanish (C26)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Not sure why Pillsbury did not go for the win of a pawn with 9...Qd4+ 10 Kh1 Bxc4 11 dxc4 Qxc4

Did he think the knight versus the tripled pawns was a surer win?

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Going into this game, Pillsbury had been lucky in this tournament. His record to this point was impressive--6 wins and one draw in seven completed games. But Pillsbury had been lost against both Didier and Maroczy before they both blundered away their games against Pillsbury. And Pillsbury had been brilliantly outplayed by Mieses when he and Pillsbury first squared off, but bungled a won game and allowed Pillsbury to escape with a draw. Under the rules in effect in Paris 1900, this draw had to be replayed. In this replay, Pillsbury quickly outplayed Mieses, exploiting a rash 8th move by Mieses, obtaining a highly favorable endgame by move 12, and obtaining a totally won game by move 16. The balance of the game is interesting only to enjoy Pillsbury's winning procedure.

Moreover, and as only tamar seems to have noticed (in her 2010 post on this site) Pillsbury had an even more decisive winning line as early as move 9.

1. e4 e5
2. Nc3

Mieses--who had lost in a Vienna Game against Burn the day before--returns to his favorite opening with which he won many wonderful games.

2... Nf6
3. Bc4 Bb4

A reasonable alternative to the more usual 3...Nxe4; 3...Bc5; or 3...Nc6.

4. d3 Nc6
5. Nge2 d5
6. exd5 Nxd5
7. 0-0 Be6

The position was now:

click for larger view

Chances thus far are about even. But now Mieses ignores Pillsbury's threats and tries a misguided haymaker that gets him in immediate trouble.

8. f4?

"Weak." (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book). "The result of this is an isolated tripled pawn on the c-file. Herr Mieses is of the opinion that this disadvantage will, however, be completely outweighed by his possession of the open b and f files." (Marco).

8. NxN was best.

8... NxN
9. NxN

Mieses would also get a lost game after 9. bxN Bc5+ 10. Kb1 BxB (Rosenthal).

The position was now:

click for larger view

9... BxB

This gets Pillsbury a highly favorable endgame. But--as apparently only tamar (on this site seven years ago) has noticed, Pillsbury could have done even better with 9...Qd4+ 10. Kh1 BxB 11. dxB Qxc4 winning a pawn. However, and as tamar has also perceptively noted, Pillsbury apparently preferred an endgame in which Mieses has an isolated tripled pawn to a middle-game position in which he is up a pawn. Objectively, tamar's line is better. But given Pillsbury's extraordinary endgame skill and Mieses' middle-game wizardry, Pillsbury's choice was understandable.

10. dxB BxN
11. bxB QxQ
12. RxQ

The position was now:

click for larger view

While Pillsbury may not have a won game here, it is obvious that as a result of Mieses' horrible pawn structure Pillsbury has a major advantage. If Mieses thought his ability to place his Rooks on the b, d, and/or f files was sufficient compensation for his isolated tripled pawns, he was clearly mistaken.

In fact, Mieses misplayed his already bad position and was lost within four moves. How this came about will be covered in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Mieses' position was far from hopeless after 12. RxQ, but he soon ruined his chances beyond repair.

12... 0-0

12...Rd8 or 12...f6 were more accurate.

13. Rb1

13. Rd7 immediately was better, as was 13. fxe5.

13... b6
14. Rd7

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book claims that 14. c5 (getting rid of the tripled pawn) was best, but both moves seem reasonable. Perhaps 14. fxe5 was simplest.

14... Rac8
15. Rb5

The beginning of a bad plan by Mieses. 15. Be3 or 15. Kf2 were better.

15... Rfe8
16. Ba3?

Mieses' last few moves were probably not best, but were at least plausible. This move, however, is simply bad. To quote Marco: "The Bishop soon has to go back to c1 where it plays quite a passive role." Marco's suggested 16. Kf2 is certainly better than the text, but 18. f5 is best after Mieses' 15. Rb5. Alternatively, he could try 16. c5. After the text, Pillsbury quickly overwhelms Mieses.

16... exf4
17. Rf5 Ne5!

Seizing the initiative in this endgame. The position was now:

click for larger view

18. Rd4 c5
19. Rdxf4 Rcd8
20. Re4 f6
21. Rf2

21. h3 was perhaps Mieses' only chance. Now Pillsbury reduces the game to a simple win.

21... Rd1+
22. Rf1 Red8

click for larger view

"White can in no way avoid the exchange of rooks without suffering other disadvantage." (Marco).

23. Bc1 RxR+
24. KxR Rd1+
25. Re1 RxR+
26. KxR

Though material is nominally equal, the game now is an easy win for Pillsbury:

click for larger view

26... Kf7
27. Bf4 Ke6!

"Well played, since White would only hasten his downfall with 28. BxN fxB (Marco)."

28. Ke2

As Marco noted, Pillsbury would have won easily after 28. BxN KxB 29. Ke2 Ke4. The rest is easy, but it is nonetheless a pleasure to watch Pillsbury's fine technique.

28... g5!
29. Bc1 Kf5
30. h3 Ke4
31. Be3 Nxc4

31...h5 was another and perhaps faster road to victory.

32. Bf2

32. Bc1 might have allowed Mieses to resist a little longer.

32... f5
33. h4 g4
34. g3 h5!
35. Be1 Ne3
36. Bd2

If 36. Kd2 Kf3

36... Nxc2

36...f4 also wins quickly.

37. Bf4 Na3
38. Bb8 a6
39. Ba7 Nc4

39...Nb5 is another (and perhaps prettier) winning line.

40. Bb8 Ne5
41. a4 Nc4

41...Nd3 is also crushing.

42. Bc7 a5
43. Bb8 Nb2
44. Kd2 Nxa4


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