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Nellie


1892 BCM

In 1894 Nellie Love Marshall Showalter, the wife of then U.S. Chess Champion, Jackson Whipps Showalter, played Mrs. Harriet Worrell, the wife of the renowned chess player, Thomas Herbert Worrall,  a match for the U.S. Women's Championship.  The match ultimately was left unfinished due to Mrs. Showalter's illness, but with Mrs. Showalter leading with a decisive score of 3½ to 1½.

In the 1894 American Chess Magazine, G.D.H.Gossip wrote:
""Mrs. Showalter, the wife of the present American champion, whose portrait we give, is the present lady champion, and although only twenty-two, has signalized herself by beating Lasker in a match at the odds of a Knight by five to two games. In a subsequent match at Kokomo, Ind., she easily defeated Mr. C.O. Jackson, drawing the first game and winning the next three games right off. She also won a majority of games of Mr. Arthur Peter, who took first prize in the "Free-for-all" Tourney at Kokomo. She has now been challenged by Mrs. Worrall; but at present holds the title of "queen of chess", abdicated by Mrs. Gilbert, of Hartford, Conn., who once immortalized herself in the Correspondence Match America vs. England by announcing a mate in twenty-three moves in one game, and also a mate in eighteen in the other companion game, to her astonished opponent across the Atlantic."


from The Intelligencer, December 18, 1894

 The American Chess Bulletin of 1904 gives the following photo and information:

"Mrs. Showalter comes of a prominent Kentucky family, but was born in the state of Missouri in 1872 ; although her maiden name was Nellie Love Marshall, she claims no 'family relationship with the new champion bearing the same surname. This fair devotee is a natural player, never having studied the books. Instead she picked up the rudiments of the game easily and rapidly and improved by imitating the methods of leading experts, especially those of her husband, playing purely by common sense and intuition."

 

 

Nellie Love Marshall was born in Brookfield, Linn County, Missouri on August 19, 1870.  She died at age 76 in Scott Co., Kentucky on March 25 of 1946. Her husband, whom she married on Feb. 28, 1887 (she had just turned 16), was Jackson Whipps Showalter, born in Minerva, Kentucky on Feb. 4, 1860. He was 14 years older and died in 1935. They had three children, all sons: Freeman Benoni Showalter (Aug. 16, 1895), John William Showalter (Aug. 16, 1904), and James Watterson Showalter (Dec., 1906).

January 1894 (page 7) of the British Chess Magazine informs us that:
" She is only 22 years of age and was married to him [Jackson Whipps Showalter] at 16. Soon after this event her husband taught her the moves, and then gave her the odds of the queen; but she progressed so rapidly that he cannot now give her the knight, and she has won two games of Mr Lasker at that odds. Not long ago, at Kokomo, Indiana, she played four games on even terms with Mr Jackson, the champion of that State, with the result that she won three and the other was drawn. She is said to be very handsome but, if so, the portrait of her in the New York Recorder does not do her justice … "

The 1899 publication, Schach-Jahrbuch,  by Johann Berger  had a curious mention (in German):
"Showalter, Mrs. Nellie, b. 1872 married name, as she was the daughter of Chief Justice Marshall in the state of Kentucky, at age 16 years with JW Showalter (qv), is considered one of the strongest chess players who won a match at Knight's odds against Lasker (+5-2=0); and  Ms Worrall in  1894 (+3-1=1)"

 There were some relatives of Chief Justice Marshall from Mason Co. Kentucky (where Jackson Whipps Showalter was born and raised). But I wasn't able to uncover any connection between Nellie Love Marshall and the Chief Justice (nor was I able to find any Kentucky Chief Justice named Marshall).

This little article was published in the The New Review, 1894

LADIES AS CHESS-PLAYERS.


   IN all branches of the game, ladies have given proof that they possess both the talent and ability to master Chess, and to excel in it. Ladies are expert problem solvers, and a few have shown themselves to be good composers, as may be seen from the two accompanying pretty problems by Mrs. Baird and Mrs. Rowland. Nearly everyone has seen ladies playing chess in drawing-rooms.
   Few of us may know that in connection with the Counties Chess Association there are tournaments for ladies, which are usually well attended. There is a ladies' chess circle in Brighton, and occasionally a lady has sufficient fortitude to brave the smoky atmosphere and the sullenness of temper inseparable from chess matches, and grace such an event with her presence as a player. But to see two ladies engaging in a right down serious set match, recorded regularly by the Press, and to see these ladies play the close openings usual in match play, as if to the profession born, is indeed an advance in the practice of the game by lady enthusiasts. Such a match is now being played at New York, the combatants being Mrs. Worrall and Mrs. Showalter. The first game of this noteworthy contest is a careful, deliberate, and hard-fought battle, which would do credit to many a minor master, Mrs. Worrall certainly showing greater enterprise and readiness. She obtained the best game by very fine play, but rather hurriedly gave up the exchange on her thirtieth move. Mrs. Worrall lost simply because her opponent possesses greater capacity for taking pains. This is evident from comparing the time used by both ladies—Mrs. Worrall, two hours ; Mrs. Showalter, four hours ten minutes. An extra hour's deliberation devoted to the game would, no doubt, deservedly have secured the victory for Mrs. Worrall. It must not be forgotten, however, that the latter, lady is by a great many years the senior of Mrs. Showalter, and youth will tell—especially in procuring mates.
   First game of a match of seven games up, played November 5th, at New York, between Mrs. Worrall and Mrs. Showalter :—

 

 

 I. Gunsberg.

 

Comments


  • 3 years ago

    herbanmusic

    Bless... Alllways top notch articles.

    I find it funny how, from the social point of view, majority of female strong players were wife's/relatives of some strong player. At that time , i mean.

    The social factor allways has its weights, and even in chess that is so embeded in its own history !

  • 5 years ago

    Archaic71

    "Freeman Benoni Showalter"

    Of course the selection of Benoni as a middle name for her son predates the common use of the Benoni Opening, but nonetheless humerous.

  • 5 years ago

    batgirl

    What's the story about the U.S. Women's Championship and when it actually started?

     

    lubaza,

    I'm glad you asked !

    I created a pretty large site on the organization of women's chess in America, that deals with that very question using text, documents and, of course, lots of pictures.  Since you're Norwegian, I think it's nice that you've taken even a passing interest in the history of women's chess in America. Do you know anything about women's chess in Norway?

  • 5 years ago

    lubaza

    Thanks for a very interresting piece of chess history.

    Just curious: You mention a match in 1894 for the U.S. Women's Championship, while wikipedia has a list of champions beginning at 1937, giving the impression that nothing happened before that year. What's the story about the U.S. Women's Championship and when it actually started?

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    That really is amazing.

  • 5 years ago

    batgirl

    I wonder if it's possible, or if it's an urban myth. 

    Dozy,
    It's no urban myth.  Mrs.Gilbert did announce distant mate in more than a couple games, (supposedly, along with the analysis to back it up, though I've never seen that).  In the game I provided in the comments, she announce mate in 35! along with the main line that I provided in the game. Since George H. D. Gossip resigned, apparently he couldn't find a better line for white.  I've read that computer analysis pretty much backs up her analysis, but, then again, it's just something I read. In a corr. match US vs. England that began in 1877, Gossip played for England and Mrs. Gilbert, for the US. They contested 4 games against each other and Mrs. Gilbert won all four, announcing mate in 18, 21, and 35.

    Steinitz himself wrote (translated from a French translation of the original English published in the December, 1879 Chess Monthly, so bear with me ):
    "Lady Europe is nowadays accustomed to see its greater efforts reduced to the size of dwarves compared to gigantic enterprise of our young trans-Atlantic sister. Our players are very proud if they can announce a checkmate in a half-dozen of blows, whereas Mrs. Gilbert, a famous the American championne, carries this number to three dozen. The diagram illustrates the position after the White's 42nd move in the game contesting Mr. Gossip (White) and Mrs. Gilbert (Black) played in the correspondence congress between  England and America.   Mrs. Gilbert, to avoid useless suffering of her adversary, presented to him, courteously, this mate in 35: 

    42... g5 43.hxg5 hxg5 44.Bd8 Kf4 45.e5 g4 46.Bc7 g3 47.e6+ Kf3 48.Be5 g2 49.Bd4 Ke2 50.e7 Kf1 51.Kc3 g1Q 52.Bxg1 Kxg1 53.Kd3 Kf2 54.Kd2 Kf3 55.Kd3 Kf4 56.Kc4 Ke5 57.Kb4 Ke6 58.Kc4 Kxe7 59.Kb4 Ke6 60.Kc4 Ke5 61.Kc3 Ke4 62.Kc4 Ke3 63.Kc3 Ke2 64.Kb4 Kd2 65.Ka3 Kc2 66.Kb4 Kxb2 67.Ka5 a3 68.Kb6 a2 69.Kxc6 a1Q 70.Kd7 Ka3        
                          The only move for the promptest end.

    71.c6 b2 72.c7 b1Q 73.c8Q Qd4+ 74.Ke7

                        All this is perfectly exact and they are the best blows of the
                        White which are indicated.

    74... Qh7+ 75.Ke6 Qg6+ 76.Ke7 Qd6#  0-1 "

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    "Mrs. Gilbert, of Hartford, Conn., who once immortalized herself in the Correspondence Match America vs. England by announcing a mate in twenty-three moves in one game, and also a mate in eighteen in the other companion game."

    I wonder if it's possible, or if it's an urban myth.  That's a whole lot of forcing moves.

  • 5 years ago

    inotgramps

    Solution  Problem # 22. The Key move is ( 1 ) Rg6 !

  • 5 years ago

    inotgramps

    Problem # 21...The solution is ( Key Move )....( 1 ) Ne5 !

  • 5 years ago

    batgirl

    Thanks.

    Ellen Gilbert was definitely an amazing player. However, as far a I know she only ever player correspondence chess.  Here's  a game in whichshe announced mate in 35. - against Gossip, a professional player.

    [Event "US-Britain corr. match"]
    [Site ""]
    [Date "1879.??.??"]
    [White "GHD Gossip"]
    [Black "Ellen E Gilbert"]
    [Result "0-1"]

    1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. d4 b5 7. Nxe5 Nxe5 8. dxe5 Nc5 9. Bb3 Nxb3 10. axb3 d6 11. Qe2 dxe5 12. Qxe5+ Qe7 13. Bf4 Qxe5 14. Bxe5 Bb7 15. c4 O-O-O 16. Nc3 b4 17. Na4 Rd3 18. Rfe1 Rxb3 19. Re3 Rxe3 20. fxe3 Be7 21. Bd4 Rd8 22. Rf1 f6 23. Nc5 Bxc5 24. Bxc5 Rd2 25. Rf2 Rd1+ 26. Rf1 Rxf1+ 27. Kxf1 a5 28. g3 Kd7 29. Ke2 Ke6 30. Kd3 Kf5 31. Bf8 g6 32. Be7 Bg2 33. Kd4 b3 34. Kc3 a4 35. Kb4 Bf1 36. c5 Bb5 37. h4 Bc6 38. Bd8 Kg4 39. Bxf6 Kxg3 40. Kc3 h6 41. Kb4 Kg4 42. e4
    {
    Mrs. Gilbert announced mate in 35. Gossip resigns.
    }

    g5 43.hxg5 hxg5 44.Bd8 Kf4 45.e5 g4 46.Bc7 g3 47.e6+ Kf3 48.Be5 g2 49.Bd4 Ke2 50.e7 Kf1 51.Kc3 g1Q 52.Bxg1 Kxg1 53.Kd3 Kf2 54.Kd2 Kf3 55.Kd3 Kf4 56.Kc4 Ke5 57.Kb4 Ke6 58.Kc4 Kxe7 59.Kb4 Ke6 60.Kc4 Ke5 61.Kc3 Ke4 62.Kc4 Ke3 63.Kc3 Ke2 64.Kb4 Kd2 65.Ka3 Kc2 66.Kb4 Kxb2 67.Ka5 a3 68.Kb6 a2 69.Kxc6 a1Q 70.Kd7 Ka3 71.c6 b2 72.c7 b1Q 73.c8Q Qd4+ 74.Ke7 Qh7+ 75.Ke6 Qg6+ 76.Ke7 Qd6#

  • 5 years ago

    gretagarbo

    She has now been challenged by Mrs. Worrall; but at present holds the title of "queen of chess", abdicated by Mrs. Gilbert, of Hartford, Conn., who once immortalized herself in the Correspondence Match America vs. England by announcing a mate in twenty-three moves in one game, and also a mate in eighteen in the other companion game, to her astonished opponent across the Atlantic.

     Mrs Gilbert also sounds pretty impressive. I found another match where Mrs Gilbert annouces  mate, in this case 12 moves :

    1st March 1877
    Westminster papers: a monthly journal of chess, whist, games of ..., Volume 9
     By Westminster Chess Club, London

    From the Hartford Times we learn that Mrs. Gilbert, of Hartford, whose marked success in correspondence games we have often noted, has just won a game in the correspondence match America r. Canada, announcing a mate in twelve moves. The lady's adversary on the occasion was Mr. Hood, one of the strongest players of the Dominion, and the opening a variation of the Vienna game. The finish is a masterly one, and our readers will, we doubt not, thank us for reproducing it. The second game was also won by Mrs. Gilbert, Mr. Hood resigning, we are informed, in time to save a similar announcement of mate in a larger number of moves. If this is the style of the fair in America, why was the sex unrepresented at the Centennial ?

    Mate in 12

     

     

     

     

     

     

    "If this is the style of the fair in America, why was the sex unrepresented at the Centennial ?"

    Why indeed?

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