Showalter-Pillsbury 1897

Jackson Whipps Showalter was the reigning United States chess champion in 1897 when he extended a challenge to up and coming phenom Harry Nelson Pillsbury.  The match stipulations were that the first player to win seven games (draws not counting) was to be declared the winner.  In the event of a 6-6 score, the match would be extended to the first to win ten games.  Finally, in the event of a 9-9 score, the match would be declared drawn and the title would stay with the champion Showalter.

Pillsbury led early on in the match, but Showalter fought back and actually had a chance to win the match at 6-5.  Pillsbury would win a match saving game to extend the match to the first player to win ten games and go on to eventually prevail by the score of 10 wins, 8 losses, and 4 draws.  The two great players would have a rematch the following year, with Pillsbury winning a little more convincingly. 

The two of them are forever linked in chess history as a result of their two memorable matches against each other.  They additionally played the first two boards for the United States in several of the famous cable matches against Great Britain, as well as producing many memorable games when facing each other in tournament play over the years.

Below is one of their great games from the 1897 match:







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  • 9 years ago


    Showalter is one the more underrated players in the history of the game of chess. He won the U.S. Championship on three separate occassions. He won seven match play events in either winning or retaining the U.S. Championship.

    He has wins over past greats such as: Wilhelm Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker, Frank Marshall, Mikhail Chigorin, David Janowski, Harry Nelson Pillsbury, and Joseph Henry Blackburne.



  • 9 years ago


    Interesting. I've never heard of Showalter. Had read many a story about Pillsbury. A shame he died so young. If I remember right he was an excellent checker player too.
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