Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Harry Nelson Pillsbury (December 5, 1872 - June 17, 1906)

Reading the excellent piece by Garry Kasparov at ChessBase on some of Harry Nelson Pillsbury's games, I was reminded that June 17, 2006 was the 100th Anniversary of the former U.S. champion's death (an event honored in his birthplace of Somerville, MA with a memorial). Largely displaced in the annals by his successor (Frank James Marshall) upon his untimely death at the age of 33 (from syphilis), Pillsbury played some spectacular games. Yet there are relatively few books or online articles about his exploits. Jacques Pope's Harry Nelson Pillsbury, American Chess Champion (Ann Arbor: Pawn Island Press, 1996) -- reviewed favorably at ChessCafe -- may be the most current. Segeant and Watts's 1922 biography and game collection Pillsbury's Chess Career (Dover Books 1966 rpt.) may still be found used. Edward Winter is able to list only ten Books About Pillsbury at his site, most of which are obscure. So it is likely that what anyone knows about him has been pieced together from various sources. Here is a bibliography of what you can find online:

The Chess Games of Harry Nelson Pillsbury from
A collection of 400 games to view online, many with reader commentary on many.

Crandall, Terry. "Harry Nelson Pillsbury." The Game is Afoot.

Crowther, Mark. "Harry Nelson Pillsbury Memorial Ceremony June 17th." TWIC.

Edwards, Jon. "Great Players: Harry Nelsoin Pillsbury." Chess is Fun website.

Harding, Tim. "One Hundred Years Ago: Chess in 1901." ChessCafe
Looks at a Pillsbury postal game with McCutcheon to test the latter's variation of the French Defense.

_________. "One Hundred Years Ago: Chess in 1904." ChessCafe

Hilbert, John. "The New York Chess Association's Mid-Summer Meeting at Saratoga Springs 1899." Chess Archeology.
Offers up a "lost" game by the former U.S. champ.

Kasparov, Garry. "Harry Nelson Pillsbury, the American tragedy." ChessBase News.
Published to correspond with the 100th anniversary of his death, this article offers a brief biographical sketch and Kasparov's revised take on two of his better games.

Russell, Jenna. "A Move to Remember a Chess Great." Boston Globe (February 4, 2006)
Article describes the move by the Boylston Chess Club to name a square in Pillsbury's honor in his birthplace of Somerville, Massachusetts.

Tilling, Chris. Pillsbury vs. Amateur.
Annotated game.

Wall, Bill. Harry Pillsbury.
Simply a chronology of salient dates for the American legend.

Winter, Edward. "Books About Pillsbury." Chess Notes, #4104

Wikipedia. Harry Nelson Pillsbury.
Seems to rely heavily on the Crandall bio.

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