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Pillsbury - Showalter US Championship Match

Harry Nelson Pillsbury8/12(+7 -3 =2)[games]
Jackson Whipps Showalter4/12(+3 -7 =2)[games] Chess Event Description
Pillsbury - Showalter US Championship (1898)

Postal Telegraph Building, New York, NY, United States;25 February 1898—1 April 1898

1 1 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Wins ———————————————————————————————————————— Pillsbury 0 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 0 1 1 0 1 7 Showalter 1 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 0 0 1 0 3 ———————————————————————————————————————— Format: The winner of the first seven games, draws not counting, is the victor. Time Control: 25 moves first two hours then 15 moves per hour. Stakes: $2000 ($1000 a side).

Played at the Postal Telegraph Building, New York for a purse of $2000. As with the first match, the first player to win seven games would win the match, provided his opponent had not won six games. In that event, the match would be decided by ten wins, with the provision that nine wins each would be declared a drawn match. Games were scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays as before, with days off for "holidays and cable match days." Play sessions were scheduled for 12:30-6:30 PM and 8:00-10:30 PM. Adjournments were to be played off at 3:30 PM the following day. Time control was 25 moves in 2 hours and 15 moves per hour thereafter. Each player was allowed three "off" days.

Showalter was an active match player over the years, and he often started slow, usually being the first to lose a game, even in matches he eventually won (he was the first to lose a game in 8 of the 11 matches collected for this series). In this match, however, he won Game 1 against Pillsbury in fine style. He must have been pleased, especially considering the narrow margin by which Pillsbury won the Pillsbury - Showalter US Championship (1897) match (10 wins to 8, and the two-game margin came from Pillsbury winning the last two games). In Game 2 Showalter sacrificed a pawn for an attack that Pillsbury was able to defuse, so the match was tied. Game 3 saw Showalter blunder with 33...Rxf4?? in time trouble. Games 4 and 6 were drawn, but Pillsbury won another in Game 5 to establish a two-game lead he never relinquished. In Game 7 Showalter blundered away the exchange with 25...a5? at the end of the first time control, giving Pillsbury a three-game lead. Showalter won Game 8, but lost Game 9 when he allowed Pillsbury to sacrifice the exchange for two connected passed pawns on the queenside. In Game 10, Showalter went fishing for Pillsbury's b-pawn with his Queen (22. Qxb7??) and wound up having to give up a Knight. "Recklessness born of despair seems to have been the spirit which dominated Showalter in his conduct of the tenth game..."(1) Showalter was able to win Game 11, but lost Game 12 and the match.

This was a more convincing win by Pillsbury than the 1897 match. "An unfortunate combination of daring and carelessness can alone be held accountable for his comparatively poor showing."(2) That seems to sum up much of Showalter's career; he was always a dangerous opponent, especially when he had the initiative, but was prone to self-destruct at unpredictable moments due to either outright blunders or over-optimism. That could also describe Showalter's final successor Frank Marshall. It is a pity they could not have met when both were at their peak. Pillsbury was willing to play a third match with Showalter, but it never happened. Despite the efforts of Max Judd before and during the 7th American Chess Congress (1904), Pillsbury was generally considered to still be US champion until his death in 1906. At that point, the championship was regarded as having reverted back to Showalter. Eventually Marshall challenged Showalter in 1909.

For links to other US championship matches, see Game Collection: US Championship matches (meta).

(1) Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1898.03.26, p. 3
(2) Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1896.04.02, p. 3

Original collection: Game Collection: Pillsbury - Showalter 1898 rematch, by User: crawfb5.

 page 1 of 1; 12 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Pillsbury vs Showalter 0-1611898Pillsbury - Showalter US ChampionshipC11 French
2. Showalter vs Pillsbury  0-1321898Pillsbury - Showalter US ChampionshipC67 Ruy Lopez
3. Pillsbury vs Showalter  1-0421898Pillsbury - Showalter US ChampionshipC14 French, Classical
4. Showalter vs Pillsbury  ½-½561898Pillsbury - Showalter US ChampionshipD00 Queen's Pawn Game
5. Pillsbury vs Showalter 1-0541898Pillsbury - Showalter US ChampionshipD60 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
6. Showalter vs Pillsbury  ½-½301898Pillsbury - Showalter US ChampionshipD00 Queen's Pawn Game
7. Pillsbury vs Showalter  1-0341898Pillsbury - Showalter US ChampionshipC14 French, Classical
8. Showalter vs Pillsbury  1-0421898Pillsbury - Showalter US ChampionshipC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
9. Pillsbury vs Showalter  1-0481898Pillsbury - Showalter US ChampionshipD60 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
10. Showalter vs Pillsbury 0-1321898Pillsbury - Showalter US ChampionshipC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
11. Pillsbury vs Showalter 0-1511898Pillsbury - Showalter US ChampionshipC14 French, Classical
12. Showalter vs Pillsbury 0-1251898Pillsbury - Showalter US ChampionshipC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

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