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Harry Nelson Pillsbury vs Jackson Whipps Showalter
Exhibition Match (1899), Louisville, KY USA, rd 3, Dec-24
French Defense: McCutcheon. Bernstein Variation (C12)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
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  Phony Benoni: <"Pillsbury and Showalter had a little informal match in Louisville December 22, 23, and 24, playing one game each day, the last one without sight of the board. They were well-contested games, as the players were not hampered by a time limit and averaged seven hours to the game, and each resulted in a draw."> -- Washington DC Evening Star, January 13, 1900.

Our database gives Lexington instead of Louisville. Does anyone have more information?

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  Pawn and Two: <Phony Benoni> In his book, "Harry Nelson Pillsbury", Pope gives all three games from this match, and he shows the playing site as Lexington, KY.

The other two games from this match are: Pillsbury vs Showalter, 1899 & Showalter vs Pillsbury, 1899

In the 54 move Queen's Gambit Declined, both players played blindfold. Pope shows the blindfold game as the first game in the match, while your paragraph from the Washington DC Evening Star, indicates the blindfold game was the last game of the match.

Pope also included a paragraph regarding this match, from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 14, 1900. This paragraph identified which game was the blindfold game: <"Pillsbury was pushed the hardest in a Queen's Gambit Declined, where in both were blindfolded and he barely escaped with a draw, even though blindfolded chess is his specialty. The game lasted fifty-four moves">.

The location of the match was not given in the above mentioned paragraph, but note the paragraph begins: <"In the three games contested by the two American masters on that occasion,....">. This mentioning of a specific occasion, indicates to me the match location was probably given in the preceding paragraph of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 14, 1900.

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  Phony Benoni: <Pawn and Two> The entire article from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle of January 14, 1900, can be found here:


It indicates that the location was Louisville.

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  Pawn and Two: <Phony Benoni> Unless Pope has some better evidence, it would seem that your research showing Louisville as match site is correct. The Lexington information on our site came from Pope's book, as I am the one who submitted these games to

Showalter must have been a very strong blindfold player. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle article stated that Pillsbury barely escaped with a draw in the one double blindfold game for this match Pillsbury vs Showalter, 1899.

In another double blindfold game between these players, Showalter vs Pillsbury, 1899, Showalter did even better, he won! This game was played on the steamship 'Paris', crossing the Atlantic enroute to the great 1899 London tournament.

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  Phony Benoni: <Pawn and Two> I've dug a little deeper, and there is conflicting information.

New York Evening Post, February 3, 1900:

<"Following is one of three exhibition games between Pillsbury and Showalter played recently at Lexington.">

Evening Star (Washington, DC), December 26, 1899:

<"Pillsbury and Showalter, who were to play the last of the series of chess games begun by them in Louisville, arrived at Cincinnati yesterday too late to play, and postponed the game without fixing date or place.">

New York Tribune, January 14, 1900:

<"While Pillsbury was in Lexington, Ky., he played three games with Showalter, and as he has already stated in the Tribune, all games were drawn. The first two were contested over the board, while in the third both players directed the play without sight of the board.">

I don't know what to believe now, but I would guess Pope probably knows more than he mentions in the Pillsbury book.

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  MissScarlett: Following the papal ruling, corrections submitted to the relevant authority.
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  jnpope: As Phony noted, there is/was conflicting evidence at the time I wrote the Pillsbury book and I went with the source that had produced the games I had found, i.e. Lexington.

Pillsbury was in Lexington on the 20th and he gave a blindfold simultaneous where he played Nellie Showalter. Jackson Showalter was in attendance and I suspect the reports that had made their way East assumed the exhibition games were played in the same locale. After Lexington Pillsbury went to Louisville, playing there from the 21st to the 24th. Pillsbury started his first game with Showalter in the afternoon of the 21st, took a break that evening to give a simultaneous performance and finished his first game with Showalter in the afternoon on the 22nd.

For the forthcoming 2016 edition this error, giving Lexington (along with a metric ton of other mistakes) has been corrected.

The new edition is less of a narrative biography followed by a games collection and more of a scholarly work giving material (news reports, games, problems, etc.) in a chronological fashion with some comments by me only when necessary.

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