The 'Pillsbury Bind'. Games Out Of My Head!

The 'Pillsbury Bind'. Games Out Of My Head!


Afternoon Everyone. A few days ago there was an article on this site where the term 'Pillsbury Bind' was used. My memory being what it is, I forget where that was, so feel free to enlighten me! Anyway, the use of that term dragged some games out of my head, and going over those, some more came to mind.

I am working on another historical article, but took time out to go over those games and put something together quickly to entertain those who are interested in playing over games from the past, which show ideas that have evolved as time goes on. I hope you enjoy them!!

O.K., so the first game that came to mind had a predecessor.  In both cases the loser was this man - Daniel Harrwitz.

In a way it shows how far ahead of his time Staunton was - you have to realise that the game was played at a time when the La Bourdonnais - M'Donnell games were still the gold standard in chess. A horrible - to modern eyes - game on Harrwitz's part, but part of the evolution of chess understanding.

So, two years later Harrwitz played a match with this young man:-

According to many lazy writers he knew nothing about positional chess, and relied on beating his opponents to death with the chess equivalent of a pick axe handle. Yeah right! This was arguably his first serious match game ( some will say that he had some earlier 'serious' games, but with Anderssen that is always a point for debate.) Not a wild sacrifice in sight - just positional play, along lines that had not been explored at the time. That took another 50 years!

As a later comparison the following game - I have mislaid my image of his opponent - oops!!, it will turn up!- here is Anderssen on the Black side of things.

O.K. so how did 'The Pillsbury Bind' get that name? The answer is the following game, from the play-off for first place at the monster of a tournament at Vienna 1898.

Illustrierte Zeitung. Page 204.1898.

Black was Tarrasch - as he notes in the comments to one of his games, he knew the theory of the time - in particular the 'Handbuch' - from cover to cover. He plays a line that the contemporary theory gave as equal, on account of the following game.

O.K. To the game that gave the concept it's name - a fascinating one it is too!

The next game - in the chronological order of things - that my head threw out, was this one.

Lasker is an incredibly difficult player to understand - for many years utter rubbish was written about his chess. In particular 'best game' collections will teach you nothing about him worth paying attention to. Games like this next one will teach you much more, if you take the time to look and try to understand.

He avoids the main theoretical debates, gets a position with possibilities to make little improvements, and keeps asking his opponent to make decisions until they make the wrong one. A picture of him with the characteristic left hand on the knee.

Lasker. St. Petersburg 1909. Tournament Book. Crop.

The next game that came to mind is probably the most published of the ones here. It is often given as an example of the extraordinary strategic insight of Akiva Rubinstein.

Rubinstein. Barmen 1905 Tournament Book.

Indeed, you can learn a lot about his chess from studying it objectively.

That game had a sequel - one which will also teach you about Rubinstein - which always comes to mind when I look at it. This one. Salwe was not so weak - we tend to view the losers of great games as 'strictly the opponent', which is a mistake!

And on to the last game that came to mind - after which I turned off my mental database.

I have no idea how many points I have won through studying Alekhine. Quite a lot! This next, rather forgotten, game ( as with Tal, everyone just publishes the attacking 'brilliancies' of Alekhine, and neglects the fact that great players do all things well) won me a game against a very strong player in one of my rare forays into playing the Caro-Kann, when a similar position arose. As I always say, if you have time to study one player from pre-war, study Alekhine. Nimzovich was so impressed that he included the game in 'My System'. It was played at Baden-Baden in 1925,

and I first studied it without notes - just the bare game score. Then I came across Alekhine's and Nimzovich's notes and learned more. I am still learning, and hopefully that will never change.

Pillsbury. Philidelphia Public Ledger. 31/05/1893.