In his Chess Note 6170 of June 13, 2009, at www.chesshistory.com, Edward Winter, the preeminent chess historian, cites the following quote from R.J. Buckley’s chess column in the Birmingham Weekly Mercury of August 25, 1906, p. 3. It presumably was triggered by blindfold champion Harry Pillsbury’s death two months earlier.
What has the sensational exhibition to do with beautiful chess? Why this craving for the red fire, the jugglery, the purposeless mental acrobatism that was fatal to Pillsbury? The desire for such exhibitions denotes a low level of intelligence.
Why should civilized chess amateurs exhibit the tastes of the bricklayer’s hodman or the British farm labourer?
Let the blindfold business die with poor Pillsbury. If another great chess master should arise in America, let him not be ‘butchered to make a gobe-mouche holiday’.
(Comment by E. Hearst: As our book substantiates in several places, playing large simultaneous blindfold chess exhibitions almost surely had little or nothing to do with Pillsbury’s death at the age of 33. Reliable reports indicate that the major cause of his death was from the effects of syphilis, a disease he contracted while a participant in the St. Petersburg tournament of 1895-96.)