Classical Games Everybody Should Know, Part 10

  • GM Gserper
  • | Nov 6, 2011

In the previous instalments of this column we already discussed the importance of the knowledge of classical games and ideas.  Today I'd like to discuss how to generate your own ideas.  Again, sometimes it just means using somebody else's ideas. Smile Or, like Oscar Wilde eloquently put it: " Talent borrows, genius steals". 

Let's consider the famous "Pillsbury Attack". The American genius won countless games using a very straightforward approach: finish development, put his Knight on the central e5 square.  Then use this Knight, supported by the d4 and f4 pawns as the starting point of a direct attack against his opponent's King.



Just look at the next games, all of them won by a crushing King's side attack:

(Just like in most of my articles I give you a chance to test your chess skills, so the games are given as a Quiz.  Please remember that you can always replay the whole game from the first move if you click "Solution" and then "Move list".)

In the next game Pillsbury's opponent tried to bail out  by a pawn sacrifice to avoid an attack, but White's powerful centralization quickly decided the game:
So, how did Harry Nelson Pillsbury discover his legendary attack? Of course I can only speculate here, but I strongly suspect that he either saw the Steinitz-Mongredien game (which we analyzed here: ) or he saw the Zukertort games from London 1883 (which we discussed here: ) or, most probably he saw all the above-mentioned games. Then he just applied the ideas that he learned in those games towards a popular line of the Queen's gambit. I can already hear the voices of offended Pillsbury fans insisting that one of the biggest geniuses in the history of chess was well capable of finding this idea on his own.  Of course he was. And yet, I am almost 100% sure that Pillsbury knew the above-mentioned games.  My reasoning is pretty simple. Unlike these days, when we have hundreds of GM games played almost every week, in the end of the 1800's they probably had about 50-70 games per year worthy of analysis. I am sure all top chess players thoroughly analyzed such games played by the World's best players.  Therefore, I cannot imagine Pillsbury missing the Steinitz or Zukertort games.
But truthfully speaking, we shouldn't care that much how Pillsbury came up with his brilliant idea.  What really matters is that this dangerous attack should be in the arsenal of every chess player. Just look what happened in the game played by two modern GMs. I'm sure Pillsbury himself would be proud of White's treatment of his brainchild:
I hope the knowledge of the classical ideas from the past will help you to come up with your own brilliant ideas.
Good luck!


  • 5 years ago


    thanks again for more ammo

  • 5 years ago


    Another great article! You stringed up three d4 openings with different attacking lines! way to boost the amateur's opening reportoire! Thanks a lot!

  • 5 years ago


    Why in move 22 didn't white  do Rxg6 ?


    [White "Pillsbury, Harry Nelson"]

    [Black "Marco, Georg"]




  • 5 years ago


    YoniKer, I think because of R - b1+, and a series of checks which would lead to the black c pawn promoting. 

  • 5 years ago


       Yoniker, your proposed move is in the blue sideline.

  • 5 years ago


    In the first example (Pillsbury, Harry Nelson vs. Tarrasch, Siegbert)

    after Qg3+ Kxh6 why not Rf4! winning the game immediately?! 

    Is it possible that both Pillsburt and the GM Gserper missed it?

  • 5 years ago


    Nice article and about one of my chess heroes to boot! I sure wish someone would write an up-to-date annotated collection of Pillsbury's games, the only english vol I know of was written in 1922 and the reprint available at amazon is way too expensive!

  • 5 years ago


  • 5 years ago


    was the exchange 17 ...RXc3 18 bxc3 inlecutable for blacks?

  • 5 years ago


    Nice.Queens Gambit is my favorite opening.

  • 5 years ago


    Nice article

  • 5 years ago


    Thanks that was very insightful!

  • 5 years ago


    He's great. nice article.

  • 5 years ago


    Great article and very instructive games. Just keep 'em coming!

  • 5 years ago


    Great article,simple,sweet,and easy to understand without a lot of analysis!

  • 5 years ago


    Lol Scorpio Knights, white totally dominated that game between the two furries :o.

  • 5 years ago


  • 5 years ago


    wow i suck at chess at these calculations are brilliant i wish i could become a gm one day but i dont know how to calculate does anybody recomend a way that i can strive at my games

  • 5 years ago


    My sundays are becoming a special day in my week… In compensation for the easy daily puzzle I get an excellent article on great chess games! Wink Very nice job!

  • 5 years ago


    Very good series of articles...please keep them coming. Thanks!

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