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Joseph Henry Blackburne vs Jackson Whipps Showalter
London (1899), London ENG, rd 10, Jun-12
French Defense: Exchange Variation (C01)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Blackburne had some great games in the London 1899 tournament. This loss to Showalter was definitely not one of them.

Against Showalter's French Defense, Blackburne played the theoretically equalizing Exchange Variation, but followed it up with a series of such poor moves (including 5.Bf5 and 8. Bd3) that after his 11th turn his position was a wreck:

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This position may not be lost for Blackburne, but what a sorry state of affairs when White is reduced to this mess of a piece arrangement after only 11 moves.

Not surprisingly, Blackburne tried to muster up an attack on the g-file. But he went sadly astray with 22. Rg4. Showalter could have taken this opportunity to attack on the other wing with 22...Qb4, but his 22...f5 was enough to bring Blackburne's plan to a halt. Blackburne then made matters worse for himself with 23. Rh4 (he should have retreated with 23. Rgg1). Once again, Showalter could have hit Blackburne with 23...Qb4, and once again his less accurate move (this time 23...Re7) was more than adequate to maintain what was now a winning advantage.

After Blackburne's 24. Ng3, Showalter could have won a pawn with 24...Nxf4, but as the Tournament Book notes he was in no hurry, and played the simpler 24...Ng7 (perhaps 24...Nf6 was best, but Blackburne's game was so bad it hardly mattered).

After Showalter's 26...Re3, Blacknburne may have thought he could win the exchange with 27. Ne4, trapping Showalter's Rook:

click for larger view

But after 27...fxN 28. QxR Nf4, Showalter won the exchange back and after 29. Qe1 NxR 30. QxN exf3 won a pawn as well.

Soon enough, the game reduced to an easily won Queen ending. Blackburne played on into an utterly hopeless pawn ending, and only resigned when Showalter was one move from Queening his b-pawn.

Showalter, who had lost three games running going into this game, taking his record from 4-1 to 4-4, did what he had to in order to obtain a plus score once more in this event

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