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Pillsbury Destroys Lasker's French Defense - Best Of The pre-1900s - Pillsbury vs. Lasker, 1896

Pillsbury Destroys Lasker's French Defense - Best Of The pre-1900s - Pillsbury vs. Lasker, 1896

SamCopeland
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Some rivalries practically guarantee exciting chess. World Champions Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik always contested amazing games, at least until Kramnik discovered that the Berlin Defense was incredibly effective at neutralizing Kasparov's dynamic style. Prior to that, he won many sharp games against Kasparov, and certainly Garry the Great got in his licks as well.

In the late 1800s, one of the rivalries that ensured barn-burning chess was Harry Pillsbury versus the reigning World Champion, Emanuel Lasker. The America, Pillsbury, was a tremendous talent, and he won multiple fine games against his German opponent. Lasker, for his part, also won some beautiful games, especially his masterpiece on the black side that is probably the finest game he ever won and is certainly one of the finest games of all time.

Pillsbury vs. Lasker was a much-desired World Chess Championship match, and it would doubtless have been a great struggle. No matter who won, the games would have been splendid and cherished. Sadly, Pillsbury suffered from syphilis, often speculated to have been contracted early in his life, possibly in St. Petersburg in 1895-96. Pillsbury was shooting up the charts and rocking the chess world, but as the disease progressed over time, his results suffered. The match never appeared, and Pillsbury died tragically in 1906.

Chess is an immortal game. It also grants immortality to those who master it. Though Pillsbury died young, his great combinations and victories continue to be enjoyed by all chess fans. One of his finest games is the following crushing victory against Lasker's French Defense.

Top 10 Games from before 1900

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