The Great Pillsbury's 100th Death Day
My last post reminds me of a famous saying by one of the worlds greatest ever chess champions, the late Emanuel Lasker:
‘Chess is a fight’
Which brings me to my next subject.
Harry Nelson Pillsbury was one of the greatest chess talents of his time. He died exactly 100 years ago yesterday, but his chess games continue to inspire me. Chess is not only a fight, but an art, and Pillsbury was a master of this art.
‘Pillsbury would play up to 22 simultaneous games of chess and draughts blindfold while also taking part in a game of whist. ‘Before the display he would ask the audience for lists of words or objects, and repeat them at the end of the display. On one famous occasion in London two professors came up with the following curious list of words:
Antiphlogistine, micrococcus, Etchenberg, Bangmanvate, periosteum, plasmodium, American, Schlechter's Nek, taka diastasi, Mississippi, Russian, Manzinyama, plasmon, Freiheit, philosophy, theosophy, ambrosia, Philadelphia, Piet Potgelter's, catechism, Threlkeld, Cincinnati, Rost, Madjesoomalops, Streptococcus, athletics, Salamagundi, staphylococcus, no war, and Oomisellecootsi
Pillsbury looked at the list, repeated the words, and then again in reverse order. The next day he recited them again’ (The Complete Chess Addict, Fox and James, p. 99)
In honour of his memory, I’ve uploaded one of his games and lightly annotated it. However, bear in mind that this game was played blindfold simultaneous with twelve other chess and four other draughts games - plus a game of whist on the side!
Click here to play through the game.
Here is another superb article celebrating the occasion.