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Harry Nelson Pillsbury vs Jackson Whipps Showalter
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 1, May-17
Queen's Gambit Declined: Orthodox Defense. Botvinnik Variation (D60)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Trying too hard to win a drawn ending, Pillsbury got himself into trouble and managed a draw only with some endgame wizardy and a missed opportunity by Showalter.

Pillsbury got much the better of the opening (a Queen's Gambit Declined) after a few weak moves by Showalter (e.g., 11...N7b6 instead of 11...N7f6 and 12...Bd6 instead of 12...Nd7 and later 16...N5f6 instead of 16...NxN).

Pillsbury should have played 17. Nd3 (instead of 17. NxN) and his 19. Bc2 gave away most of what was left of his advantage (19. e4 was much better).

Showalter missed a chance to play 19...c5, and after his much weaker 19...Be8 Pillsbury should have seized control of the center with 20. e4. His 20. Bb1 was inexplicable, and his 24. b4 (instead of 24. Qe3) allowed Showalter to break up Pillsbury's vise on the position with 24...c5!

After the trade of Queens on move 31, Pillsbury should have sought equality with 32. Nd4. But--as usual--Pillsbury played for a win. His 32. Nd2 courted trouble, and after Showalter's excellent 32...g5! Pillsbury's 33. g3 (instead of 33. Nb3) gave Showalter winning chances.

Pillsbury should probably have played 36. a4 (instead of his 36. Nb3), and his 38. BxN (instead of the essential 38. Kf2) should have lost him the game.

After Pillsbury's belated 39. Kf2, Showalter had a likely win with 39...Ra6! Had Showalter played this, after 40. Rg1+ Kh7 Pillsbury's best chance would have been 41. Nc6 (and not the Tournament Book's suggested 41. Rc1?). But this whole line after 39...Ra6 was a likely win for Showalter.

But Showalter missed this chance and played 39...Rd3. Now Pillsbury's endgame brilliance rescued him. After 40. Rg1+ Kh7 Pillsbury played the fine 41. Nc6! Suddenly, Showalter's win was gone.

But Showalter wasn't done yet. He played 41...Bd5 (41...Rd2+ was probably better but insufficient to win) and afrer 42. Ne7 Ra3 43. NxB exN, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

Superficially, it looks as if Pillsbury should play 44. Ra1. But this would have led to serious grief for Pillsbury after 44...Kg6. With his Rook tied up on a1, Pillsbury would have been hard put to keep Showalter from cleaning up.

But Pillsbury carefully played 44. f5. Showalter won the White a-pawn with 44...Rxa2+ But after 45. Ke3, Pillsbury had something wicked set for Showalter had he now played 45...Rxh2. Pillsbury would have played 46. Kd4 leaving the position as follows:

click for larger view

Pillsbury would have been down two pawns, but if Showalter had played 46...Rd2+ (instead of the equalizing 46...h5) Pillsbury would have had a win with 47. f6!

Showalter avoided all this by playing 45...Ra4 and the game was drawn seven moves later.

As we all have come to know, and as this game reminds us once again, Pillsbury was very dangerous in the endgame, even in what appear to be inferior or even lost positions.

Jun-07-17  JimNorCal: <keg>: "if Showalter had played 46...Rd2+ ... Pillsbury would have had a win with 47. f6!"

Umm. If Pillsbury is in check, he can't very well play f6, no?

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <JimNorCal> Oops! Thanks for catching this. What I meant to say was that if Showalter had played 46...Rd2+ in this line White had a win with 47. Kc5! I copied "47. f6!" from another variation.

This pretty win after 46...Rd2+ is given in the Tournament Book.

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