Pillsbury & The Sicilian Dragon – Tactics/Tactics/Tactics

by National Life Master Loal Davis

 pillsbury2Harry Nelson Pillsbury

 

 Miklos Brody vs Harry Nelson Pillsbury                    Paris 1900 (Round 16)

I have noticed that chess players frequently put their pieces on nice looking squares but the function behind the moves is not clear or non-existent. I suspect it is because they have seen other games (theirs or others) where the pieces were on those (or similar) squares, and so without much thought, they plop the pieces down. Consequently, they can be taken by surprise.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 d6 6. Be2 g6

Pillsbury was one of the first strong players who began to unearth the wealth of possibilities in the Dragon Variation of the Sicilian.

7. Be3 Bg7 8. O-O Bd7 9. h3 Qa5 10. Qd2

 Tactics1Black (Pillsbury) To Play

 

Superficially White looks fine.  It appears he has good development, good center and everything is protected.  He even has visions of attacking down the dark diagonal towards the future home of the Black King.  Well – Looking below the surface we see that Queen’s are looking at each other.  We also see that the Knight on c3 is passively defending the Pawn on e4; so this Knight is on a great looking square, aiming at the center, but functionally cannot move.  Maybe this isn’t such a great Knight after all.  Through the walls we can also see that the Knight on d4 is attached twice and defended exactly twice; that makes White’s Bishop on e3 and Queen on d2 potentially passive – at least temporarily.  Notice that White’s Queen has turned up twice in the previous mental perusal of the position.  Is it possible that the Queen may be overworked?

Nxe4 !

Pillsbury had to have stepped through the relationship of the pieces mentioned in the last note. But he also had to take tactics into account.

11. Nxc6

What if White sees, but doesn’t want to go down the obvious path of losing a piece with 11. Nxe4 Qxd2 12. Bxd2 Nxd4

11… Qxc3

 

Tactics2

 

This had to be seen at the beginning of the combination or Black is simply losing a piece after 11… Bxc6 12. Nxe4

12. Qxc3 Nxc3 13. bxc3 Bxc6 14. Bd4 O-O 15. f4 Rfc8 16. Bd3 e5 17. fxe5 dxe5 18. Be3 Bd5

 0-1

My score of the game leaves off here; White may well have resigned.  Black is up a Pawn, has a beautiful Kingside majority (effectively up two Pawns), better control of the center and a host of targets on the ‘c’ file.  Looking at the board after White’s tenth move may give one the impression that all is well.  Beneath the surface gives a different perception. The Dragon scorches another victim.

 

One More

 

James Mason vs Harry Nelson Pillsbury                     London 1899 (Round 29)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 g6

Now it’s the Accelerated Dragon Variation of the Sicilian.

4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Bg7 6. Be3 d6

Transposing into a normal Dragon.  6… Nf6 continues the Accelerated Dragon where Black often angles for playing d5 in one shot.

7. Bb5 Bd7 8. O-O Nf6 9. h3 O-O 10. Qd2

Once again – is all well – or is it not ?

 

Tactics3Black (Pillsbury) To Play

 

Nxd4 !

The Knight on c3 is overworked.  He is needed for the defense of the Pawn on e4 and for the Bishop on b5.

11. Qxd4

(11. Bxd7 Nxc2) (11. Bxd4 Bxb5 12. Nxb5 Nxe4)

11… Ng4 12. Qd3 Nxe3 13. fxe3 Bxc3 14. Bxd7 Bxb2 15. Rab1 Qxd7 16. Rxb2 Qc6

and Pillsbury is off to another victory.

 

17. Qd4 b6 18. a4 Rac8 19. Ra1 e5 20. Qb4 Qc3 21. Qxc3 Rxc3 22. a5 bxa5 23. Rxa5 Rxe3 24. Rxa7 Rxe4 25. Rd7 Rd4 26. c3 Rd3 27. Rb6 Rxc3 28. Rbxd6 f6 29. Re6 Rf7 30. Rd2 Kg7 31. Rdd6 Rc2 32. Kh1 Rb7 33. Rxf6 Rb1+ 34. Kh2 Rbb2 35. Rf3 Rxg2+ 36. Kh1 Rgd2 37. Rxd2 Rxd2 38. Kg1 Rd7 39. Kg2 Rf7 40. Ra3 Kf6 41. Kf3 Kf5 42. Ke3 Rb7 43. Kf3 Rb4 44. Kg3 Rd4 45. Ra7 Rd3+ 46. Kg2 h5 47. Rf7+ Kg5 48. Rg7 h4 49. Re7 Rg3+ 50. Kh2 Kf4 51. Rh7 g5 52. Rf7+ Ke3 53. Rd7 e4 0-1

 

See Comments for the PGN files of these two games.

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One Comment

  1. [Event “Paris”][Site “Paris”][Date “1900.06.15”][Round “16”][White “Brody, Miklos”][Black “Pillsbury, Harry Nelson”][Result “0-1”][ECO “B73”][PlyCount “36”][EventDate “1900.05.??”][EventRounds “17”][EventCountry “FRA”][Source “ChessBase”][SourceDate “1999.07.01”]1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 d6 6. Be2 g6 7. Be3 Bg7 8. O-O Bd7 9. h3 Qa5 10. Qd2 Nxe4 11. Nxc6 Qxc3 12. Qxc3 Nxc3 13. bxc3 Bxc6 14. Bd4 O-O 15. f4 Rfc8 16. Bd3 e5 17. fxe5 dxe5 18. Be3 Bd5 0-1

    [Event “London”][Site “London”][Date “1899.07.08”][Round “29”][White “Mason, James”][Black “Pillsbury, Harry Nelson”][Result “0-1”][ECO “B56”][PlyCount “106”][EventDate “1899.??.??”][EventRounds “28”][EventCountry “ENG”][Source “ChessBase”][SourceDate “1999.07.01”]1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 g6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Bg7 6. Be3 d6 7. Bb5 Bd7 8. O-O Nf6 9. h3 O-O 10. Qd2 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Ng4 12. Qd3 Nxe3 13. fxe3 Bxc3 14. Bxd7 Bxb2 15. Rab1 Qxd7 16. Rxb2 Qc6 17. Qd4 b6 18. a4 Rac8 19. Ra1 e5 20. Qb4 Qc3 21. Qxc3 Rxc3 22. a5 bxa5 23. Rxa5 Rxe3 24. Rxa7 Rxe4 25. Rd7 Rd4 26. c3 Rd3 27. Rb6 Rxc3 28. Rbxd6 f6 29. Re6 Rf7 30. Rd2 Kg7 31. Rdd6 Rc2 32. Kh1 Rb7 33. Rxf6 Rb1+ 34. Kh2 Rbb2 35. Rf3 Rxg2+ 36. Kh1 Rgd2 37. Rxd2 Rxd2 38. Kg1 Rd7 39. Kg2 Rf7 40. Ra3 Kf6 41. Kf3 Kf5 42. Ke3 Rb7 43. Kf3 Rb4 44. Kg3 Rd4 45. Ra7 Rd3+ 46. Kg2 h5 47. Rf7+ Kg5 48. Rg7 h4 49. Re7 Rg3+ 50. Kh2 Kf4 51. Rh7 g5 52. Rf7+ Ke3 53. Rd7 e4 0-1

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