GM Harry Nelson Pillsbury

Full name
Harry Nelson Pillsbury
Dec 5, 1872 - Jun 17, 1906 (age 33)
Place of birth
Somerville, Massachusetts, United States
United States

Like a comet that flies through the night sky then disappears shortly after, Harry Nelson Pillsbury had a brief but awe-inspiring chess career. A savant with insane memorization and blindfold skills, Pillsbury had a meteoric rise. In 1895 at the young age of 22, he won the strongest tournament of his time, only to pass away 11 years later. Unfortunately we will never know how the record books may have been rewritten if he had lived longer.

Harry Nelson Pillsbury learned to play chess in 1888. Two years later he beat a noted expert and two years after that he won a match against Wilhelm Steinitz who gave him pawn odds. In 1895, Pillsbury won the Hastings tournament ahead of all of the top players in his day including reigning world champion Emanuel Lasker, former world champion Steinitz, Mikhail Chigorin, Isidor Gunsberg and many other top players. Later, Pillsbury won the U.S. Championship in 1897 and continued to hold that title until 1906. It was in this year that he developed poor mental and physical health which ended up with him getting a syphilis infection. He was unable to live through the infection and passed away on June 17, 1906.

Best Game

Most Played Openings

White Pieces
King's Gambit Accepted (9) : C39 C37 C33 C34
Slav Defense (4) : D11 D10
Semi-Slav Defense (5) : D45 D43 D46
Sicilian Defense (5) : B44 B45 B40
Dutch Defense (5) : A84 A83 A85
Petrov's Defense (2) : C43
Queen's Gambit Accepted (4) : D21 D26
Indian Game (1) : E00
Tarrasch Defense (2) : D32
Bishop's Opening (1) : C24
Caro-Kann Defense (2) : B18 B15
Vienna Game (2) : C25
Philidor Defense (1) : C41
Queen's Pawn Opening (6) : A40 D00
King's Gambit Declined (1) : C31
Scandinavian Defense (1) : B01
Modern Defense with 1.e4 (1) : B06
Colle System (1) : D04
Black Pieces
Petrov's Defense (20) : C42 C43
Pirc Defense (3) : B09 B07
King's Gambit Accepted (10) : C33 C36 C39 C38
Ruy Lopez Opening (32) : C67 C77 C65 C79 C60
Scandinavian Defense (4) : B01
Center Game Accepted (2) : C21 C22
Queen's Gambit Declined (9) : D50 D31 D37
French Defense (2) : C12
Ponziani Opening (1) : C44
Giuoco Piano Game (13) : C50 C52 C53 C51
Italian Game (2) : C56 C55
Queen's Pawn Opening (6) : D02 D00
King's Gambit Declined (7) : C31 C32 C30
Bishop's Opening (2) : C28 C23
Four Knights Game (10) : C49 C48
Dutch Defense (1) : A83
Vienna Game (5) : C29 C26 C25
Colle System (2) : D04
King's Pawn Opening (2) : C20
Three Knights Opening (2) : C46
Nimzowitsch-Larsen Attack (1) : A01