Original Review by FM Eric Schiller
It is always welcome to see a book devoted to one of chess’s great players. However, one always has to look at a new offering by comparing it to the existing literature. There is no shortage of coverage of the career of Harry Nelson Pillsbury. I don’t think you’ll find much new in this offering, and even the notes to the games often simply repeat old and well-known commentaries. There are 50 annotated games, a short biography, a reprint of Pillsbury’s own autobiography, some cross tables and a few bits and pieces.
The notes to the games are very inconsistent and seemed to an assembled from a wide variety of sources. Some notes seem to have been designed for instruction, with a recap of lesson learned at the end other games have very light notes on the opening and nothing but diagrams for the rest. Except where the notes are from ancient sources, there isn’t a lot of discussion of how Pillsbury’s important opening innovations effect is the world of chess at the time. Put simply, if you already have a collection of Pillsbury’s games with notes you do not need this book. If you don’t have a collection then it isn’t a bad introduction to the great player.
The production of the book is sloppy, and having numbers and letters on all four sides of the board is a bit much for a book that is not intended for absolute beginners. Worse, citations of other games are often in the infamous ChessBase format with all sorts of commas and slashes and no periods at the ends of sentences.