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The current year has given a splendid excuse for exhuming games from the great tournament of Hastings 1895. With a field including the new world champion, Emanuel Lasker, and his predecessor, Wilhelm Steinitz, as well as Dr Siegbert Tarrasch, who was claiming the title of world tournament champion, and all the other leading players of the day, Hastings was the most magnificent event of the era.

The winner, however, was none of the established giants, but the young American Harry Nelson Pillsbury, who was, incidentally, the only man in the field without a moustache. Only 23 when he won the Hastings tournament, Pillsbury never had such a triumph again. He died in 1906, still in his early thirties, with the death certificate attributing his demise to "over- exertion of the brain". Later research, however, established the cause of death to be syphilis, contracted through over-exertion of the procreative organs during a dull moment at St Petersburg in 1896.

In his victory at Hastings , Pillsbury showed splendid fighting spirit and good theoretical preparation. His repertoire of openings, with the made-in-the-US label, often caught the Europeans by surprise, and he picked up several points with 3...g6 against the Ruy Lopez and the "Pillsbury Attack" - cxd5, Ne5 and f4 - in the Queen's Gambit Declined. His "Stoneware Defence" to the Evans Gambit also did its job, as the following game shows.

White: Henry Bird

Black: Harry Nelson Pillsbury

1 e4 e5 21 Rh3 d4

2 Nf3 Nc6 22 Bc1 Qe6

3 Bc4 Bc5 23 Qc2 d3

4 b4 Bxb4 24 Rhxd3 Nd4

5 c3 Bd6 25 f5 Qe4

6 d4 Nf6 26 Ba3 c5

7 Ng5 0-0 27 Qf2 Ne2+

8 Nxf7 Rxf7 28 Kf1 Rxd3

9 Bxf7+ Kxf7 29 Rxd3 Qxd3

10 f4 exd4 30 Qxe2 Qxf5+

11 e5 Be7 31 Kg1 Qb1+

12 exf6 Bxf6 32 Kf2 Bd4+

13 0-0 d5 33 Kg3 Qg6+

14 Nd2 dxc3 34 Kh3 h5

15 Nf3 Kg8 35 g3 Qg4+

16 Rb1 b6 36 Qxg4 hxg4+

17 Be3 Bg4 37 Kxg4 Be3

18 Qa4 Bxf3 38 Kf3 Bh6

19 Rxf3 Qd6 39 Ke2 c2

20 Rd1 Rd8 White resigns

With 7.Ng5, 8.Nxf7 and 10.f4 Bird hoped to demolish Black's 5...Bd6 (which Pillsbury had already played in an earlier game), but when the dust settled Black had two strong pawns for the exchange. 26.Ba3 was a nice joke - 26...Nxc2 is met by Rxd8+ forcing mate on f8 - but Pillsbury's reply defused it while improving his own position.

There are two good books of the Hastings 1895 tournament. The official tournament book can occasionally be found in antiquarian bookshops. Failing that, Hastings 1895 - The Centenary Book by Colin Crouch and Kean Haines, is a good substitute for pounds 18 from Chess & Bridge Ltd (0171-388-2404) or British Chess Magazine (0171-603-2877).

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