Pillsbury and the Ladies

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Pillsbury and the Ladies

Harry Pillsbury seemed to like the ladies. The ladies seemed to reciprocate. From the very beginning of his world fame after winning at Hastings, Pillsbury, still quite young at age 23, started supporting women's chess. 

After Hastings, Pillsbry toured England, making many stops.

On the 5th September (1895), Mr. Pillsbury was entertained to dinner by the Metropolitan Chess Club, when a numerous company, including Mr. Steinitz and M. Tchigorin sat down, under the presidency of Mr. R. Marsden.
The toast of the evening was the health of Mr. Pillsbury, and this the young American responded to very suitably.
In the evening he encountered simultaneously fourteen members of the Ladies' Chess Club, to all of whom, except Lady Thomas, he conceded the odds of the Kt. In the end Mr. Pillsbury won 11 games, drew 1 (with Mrs. Hulme), and lost 2 (to Miss Field and Miss Wilkins). - BCM Oct. 1895

Returning to America, the celebration continued.

In addition to his grand reception at the Brooklyn Club, Mr. Pillsbury has been feted by the Metropolitan Club, of New York, and was also the lion of the evening at a large gathering of the Ladies' Chess Club, which is an offshoot of the club in London, bearing the same title. On the latter occasion he played simultaneous games with five of the ladies, and two boys, one of whom was the clever Master Napier, and defeated them all within an hour. -BCM  Nov. 1895

The Brooklyn Eagle, on Oct. 17, 1895, gave more detail-

Pillsbury's clean sweep in a simulateous tourney
The Champion Outplays a Team From the British Ladies' Club -
   H.N. Pillsbury was last night tendered the second formal reception since his return from Egland, and as on  Tuesday, he was again the central figure in a gathering of chess enthusiasts.  This time the women chess  players of Brooklyn and New York had their inning, and enjoyed the pleasuse, as they themselves expressed it,  of doing honor to Hasting's young hero, the scence being the old Armory Hall on Flatbush avenue, where the  present food exposition is holding forth. The entertainment was under the auspices of the British Ladies' Chess  club, an offshoot of which has been in existence for two years in New York, with headquarters at 119 Fifth  avenue. A Brooklyn branch has just been started already numbering over a dozen members, with Mrs. Florence  Grey as prime mover and leading spirit.
   Up under the arches of the Armory building there is a woman's department.  Here the Ladies' Art association  occupies two large sky-lighted halls, one for painting and another for art industry, presided over by Mrs. Gray.   The exposition management placed a part of the space allotted to art at the disposal of the chess club for the  proposed reception to Mr. Pillsbury.  That this was a great move on their part was shown later by the fact that  Pillsbur proved on of the chief attractions of the evening to the many attraction, nearly all of whom took the  oportunity of admiring America' chess champion.
   The reception proper lasted until 9 o'clock, during which time Mr. Pillsbury was made acquainted with many fair  devotees of the royal game and other guests. At it's conclusion the young master proceeded to given exhibitions  of simultaneous chess, as had been duly announced, he having for opponents five women players and two young  lads.  One of those two was Master W. E. Napier, the clever Y.M.C.A. champion.  He took good advantage of a  risky and, as it proved, unsound combination of Pillsbury's and though he lost in the ending through nervousness,  he had at that time a winning position.  Mrs. Worrall, who has a match pending with Mrs. J. W. Showalter, now in  Kentucky, made a gallant resistance, notwithstanding that she was considerably handicapped at the start by  poor development in the opening.  Inside of an hour the exhibition was at an end and it was found that Pillsbury  had captured all of the seven games.  A score in detail follows:
Board            Players                  Openings          Score
1.             Mrs. H. Worrall         Ruy Lopez             0
2.             Mrs. M. Favor            Sicilian                   0
3.             Mrs. M. C. Purcell    KGD                        0
4.             Mrs. Dr. Schierer     Irregular                0
5.             W. E. Napier              Sicilian                   0
6.             Mrs. M. S. Lane       Vienna                     0
7.             E. Purcell                   Falkbeer CG           0

   The members of the club are:
Mrs. Grey, Mrs. Tuly, Mrs. D'Aghroors, Mrs. Morford, Mrs. Doritzer, Mrs. Cohorer, Mrs. Titcomb, Mrs. Thomas,  Mrs. Basset, Mrs. Morrell, Mrs. Forbe, Mrs. Hanley, Mrs. Thomas, Mrs. Ford.

Pillsbury found himself back in England in early 1896 -

Brooklyn Eagle  Feb. 21, 1896
Yesterday Pillsbury visited the Ladies' Chess Club and delighted the members with a simultaneous  performance, the odds of a knight.


   The Ladies continue to display great activity, and have got through a heavy programme during the month. On the  3rd February (1896), they played a team of the Leytonstone Club, and after a close fight the score stood Ladies'  5, Leytonstone 5, and one game left for adjudication; this being given in a win for the Ladies', the final score was  Ladies' 6, Leylonstone 5.
   On the 10th February, Mr. Pillsbury visited the Ladies' Chess Club, and gave an  interesting lecture on 'Positions from actual play,' to an appreciative audience. A tournament of 32 players,  divided into four sections, was begun at the Ladies' Club, on the 17th February. On the 17th, the Ladies played a  match against 20 of the Metropolitan third team.

Then in July of that year -

On the 13th July, Lady Newnes distributed the prizes in the second Handicap Tournament. The winners were Miss Field first, Miss Bonnefin second, Mrs. Holmes third, and Miss Poole fourth. Mr. Pillsbury (who was in town en route for Nuremburg) was present during the evening.


The Brooklyn Eagle, Nov. 21, 1896, informs us:
Harry N. Pillsbury, the American chess champion, is taking great interest in the internatiional women's chess  tournament, which is to be held in London next June.  Mrs. J. W. Showalter will compete and several female  chess players from the continent have also entered.  Sir George Newnes has contributed a prize of £60 ($300)  and Mr. Pillsbury has promised to obtain a second prize of £50 ($250) in America.

In May of 1897, just prior to the 1st Women's international chess tournament-

The Washington Times    May 16, 1897
Mr. Pillsbury is at present most deeply interested in the women's international chess tournament that will be held  at the Hotel Cecil, London, about the 22d of next June, and while he is here, he said, it is likely he will give a  simultaneous blindfold exhibitin, playing chess against eight players at once without seeing the board, the  proceeds to be used in securing a prize fund for the coming woman's tournament.
Mr. Pillsbury has undertaken to donate a prize fund of £50 to be given as second prize.
'If arrangements can be made to have a simultaneous game here, ' he said, 'I am very anxious to play it here, but  if the arrangements cannot be made, it is likely that the game will be given in some other other city.'
He will sail from New York for England on June 10, and be present at the first international woman's tournament.
'The tournament,' he said, 'promises to be the next great event in the world of chess, and has been gotten up by  the Londin Ladies' Chess Club.  It has a membership of 1,120 ladies, many of them great players, and has only  been organized about two years.  They have their own parlors, and meet tri-weekly, as is the custom of London  clubs.  Lady George Newones (sic - Newnes), wife of Sir George Newones (sic - Newnes), who has donated several international  chess trophies, is presidentl  Mrs. Roda (sic -Rhoda) A. Bowles, wife of H. L. Bowles, of the Metropolitan Chess Club of  London, is secretary;  and the coming tournament is largely due to her energetic efforts and enthusiasm.  She is  also team captain.'
'Several American ladies will participate, notably Mrs. Harriet Worrell, but who the others will be is not definitely  known.  Lady Thomas, who is the wife of Sir John Thomas, and who won the first prize at the Hastings  tournament, will probably play, and I shouldn't be surprised if several of the foremost lady players of Australia are  present.
'The Germans will likely be represented by one of the Duchesses of Mecklenburg, and by Frau Tarrasch, wife of  the great German player.  Among the other well-known players whose names are mentioned are Frau Marco, of  Vienna, Mrs. Ridpath, of Paris and a German player of Berlin, whose name is said to be known to Herr  Emmanuel Lasker.
'The tournament promises to be a grand success and will do much to increase the interest of the ladies in the  game.
'I am informed tht a ladies; club is now being formed in Philadelphia.
'In New York, we have the Home and Country Club and in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Heights Sociable Club, both of  which are composed of lady chess players.'


Pillsbury was the referee at the Ladies' 1st international chess tournament.


The members of the London Ladies Chess Club, availing themselves of the last day's leisure of the American  champion, H. N. Pillsbury, induced him to give one of his marvellous exhibitions of blindfold play at their rooms. A  stranger entering the room would imagine that Mr Plllsbury was engaged merely in playing a game of whist, for  he was seated at a table, taking a hand in such a game, having Mrs. Ludlam as his partner ; Mrs. Anderson and  Miss Fox being the opponents. At the tame time there were seated in another part of the room a number of  ladies playing chess on eight boards, two or three at each board in consultation. There were also two frames of  draughts progressing. All these games were conducted without light of the board by Pillsbury, while he was  engaged at whist. There was a teller, who would call out a move, such as "Board No. 1. P-K4" and Pillsbury, after  but one or two seconds' pause would call out hla reply without ever removing his eyes from his cards or letting his  partner wait for his play. This wonderful exhibition began at a quarter to four, and at five p.m. there was an  adjournment for half an hoar, during which time Pillsbury was absent from the room. When he returned a fresh  whist table was arranged. While the cards were being shuffled, Pillsbury, to show his command of all the  positions, called out the entire position on one of the boards. After six o'clock Pillsbury scored his first victory on  board No. I which was quickly followed by a victory on board No. 4 and others. On one board he announced a  forced mate in four moves. Then the turn of the draught-players came, both games being won by the champion.  The remarkable exhibition terminated shortly after 8 p.m., Mr. Pillsbury not suffering a reverse in a single  instance. Of the whist played during the afternoon Mrs. Anderson and Miss Fox won two games At the first table,  but at the second table, made up after the adjournment, Mr Pillsbury and Mrs. Chapman won two games. The  great chess master conducted the card games with marvellous accuracy, never forgot what was out, and in spite  of his preoccupation he carried on the games with a wonderful amount of finessing.
-Timaru Herald ; July 14 1899.