Pillsbury’s Hastings Departure Interview (1895)

Here is an interview of Pillsbury by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle upon his departure for the famous Hastings 1895 tournament. It contains comments about his opponents, as well as reflections upon the constituency of the players. Interestingly, Albin went as one of the three US representatives selected for the tournament. I wonder if the <CG> (or any) crosstables correctly reflect this?


Here then, is the Pillsbury interview, from the July 24, 1895 issue of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:




A Large Crowd of Votaries of the Game
   See Him Off on the American Liner
   New York–His Opinion of the Several Contestants

Harry Nelson Pillsbury, the expert, who will represent the Brooklyn
Chess club at the big tournament at Hastings, England, sailed this
morning on the steamer New York for the seat of international
warfare. A large crowd of votaries of the game, consisting of leading
players in New York and Brooklyn, saw him off. Mr. Pillsbury was
tendered a reception by the club members at headquarters, 201 Montague
street, last night, and was in excellent spirits when the big steamer
swung into midstream.  Speaking of the contestants in the coming
tournament to an Eagle reporter, Pillsbury said:

“With reference to the players selected by the tournament committee,
Mr. Herbert Dobell, its honorable secretary, writes that they were
obliged to decline nearly one-half of the tendered entries. That must
have been a very unpleasant task, indeed. As it is the twenty-two
retained are, with two or three exceptions, notably of Weiss, Lipke
and Winawer, the greatest players in the world and probably no
tournament ever before held contained so complete a list of great
chess masters. In Mr. Dobell’s list of players he has classified them
according to countries, crediting to the United States, 3; to Canada
1; to Austria 2; to England, 8; to France, 1; to Germany 4; to Italy,
1; and to Russia, 2. Of course, this was not intended for an absolute
accurate classification, which would be extremely difficult, as so
many chess masters are thoroughly cosmopolitan. For example, Steinitz,
one of the three credited to America, is, it is true, a naturalized
citizen, but Albin, another of the trio, should really be credited to
Austria. I heartily wish, therefore, that the United States could have
been represented also by at least one more native American other than
myself, notably by J. W. Showalter of Kentucky.

“After Steinitz, who, as I have said, is a full fledged American
citizen, and whose right to consideration among the first in any list
of chess masters will hardly be disputed, comes Dr. Tarrasch of
Nuremburg. As an eminent chess master I place him next to Steinitz,
in spite of Lasker’s record. Tarrasch and Steinitz will contend for
the first time together at Hastings and their game is likely to be the
most interesting event of the tournament.

“For his great accuracy at play I should place Lasker next, perhaps
assisted to that conclusion by the result of his match with Steinitz.
In that contest I annotated the games. In the early stage of the match
Steinitz was not at all in condition for play, as the seventh and
eight games will show. Later and at Montreal he fully held Lasker even
and under adverse circumstances. Next by, right should be placed
Tschigorin. His prowess at chess play is well known in New York. In
the sixth American chess congress he divided first and second prizes
with Max Weiss of Vienna.

“After Tschigorin, and at the end of quintet, I should place Marco
Larzely [largely(?)-ed]. He is feared on account of his undoubted skill in drawing
games, as is instanced by his record in the last Vienna club
tournament, in which he took first prize over Weiss. Gunsberg and Burn
are players who, in perfect condition, might rival those
mentioned. Neither, however, have had serious practice of late.  Bird,
Bardeleben, Blackburn, Mason, Pollock, Mieses and Schiffers have all
thorough experience in tournament play and are too well known to
require further mention. Walbrodt, Janouski, Teichmann, Tinsley and
Schlecter are players whose fame has rapidly increased in the past few
years. Vergani took first prize in an Italian tournament two years
ago. This will be the first time an Italian master has taken part in
an international tournament, and for that reason he may be considered
as an uncertain quantity.

“Of course, a contest extending over a month, with practically daily
effort, is, to a certain extent, a conflict of endurance, and physical
condition is a prime factor and must enter largely into account in the

Mr. Pillsbury has the head of a chess player and a certain
directness and resoluteness of speech which promises well for his own
chances, of which he wished, modestly, not to speak. He left the pier
with many well wishes in parting from his friends, who were assembled
to say goodby.



I hope this made for a fun, as well as revealing, read of the young Pillsbury, departing to conquer Europe by his triumph at Hastings. As the British Chess Magazine noted:

In 1895 the Brooklyn Chess Club showed the great confidence they placed in Pillsbury by sending over to Hastings, where he so fully realized expectation by winning the first prize. It was here that Mr. Pillsbury, by his good nature and modest manners, so thoroughly wormed himself into our affections, and by Hastings in particular, as quite “one of ourselves,” for his manner is so charming and free from “side” that wherever he goes he leaves kindly recollections behind him”

BCM Volume 22, 1902 p 342 :




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