The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
"On the Square" Article

Neil "chess angel" Brennen
doing some research


Chess historian Neil Brennen’s thirteenth “On the Square” article appearing at J. Franklin Campbell’s website is anything but an unlucky omen … as long as he keeps writing entertaining pieces, of course, to increase the number beyond that baker’s dozen figure. In addition to providing readers with a glimpse at an extraordinarily talented player’s growing strength through correspondence play, Neil’s current article shows something of his devotion to researching chess history. One has only to glance at his sources—nine Showalter games from seven different newspapers, including material unearthed from Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Missouri and Ontario—to sense Neil’s commitment to his craft. His readers owe him thanks for the effort he gives his subjects, and for the pleasure his writing affords. I, for one, certainly thank him for both.
-- John S. Hilbert, Amherst, New York

The Postal Lion:
Jackson Showalter and Correspondence Chess

by Neil R. Brennen
(posted 15 June 2006)

Click here to download PGN database

Jackson Showalter
Jackson Whipps Showalter
Photo courtesy John S. Hilbert
(origin undocumented)

A master from the nineteenth century in need of a decent biography is American Champion Jackson Showalter, the "Kentucky Lion." Showalter's life and chess have not been done justice by chess writers; nothing of any substantial length has been written about him. This article will not be an attempt to provide a full-dress biography, but only to provide some background on both Showalter's life and his short but interesting career in postal chess.

Jackson Whipps Showalter was born in Minerva, Kentucky, on February 5, 1860. His father was Freeman Showalter, a local landowner. The elder Showalter, a man with the curiously chessic middle name of Benoni, probably taught his son chess as a young man. Young Jackson knew the game by the time he graduated from Kentucky Military Institute in 1882. After a few years managing his father's farm, Showalter moved to New York and began to roar among the chess masters. The tall Southerner probably made quite an impression; The Oxford Companion to Chess wrote that Showalter was "known as the Kentucky Lion after his birthplace and his mane of hair, but also perhaps on account of his playing strength."

And his playing strength was prodigious. Showalter's opponents included almost everyone who was anyone on the American chess scene in the 1890s. He was particularly skilled in match play. His match victims include Albin, Barry, Janowski, Judd, Kemeny, Lipschütz, and Whitaker. Losses include two championship matches to Pillsbury, one championship match to Lipschütz, an 1894 match to Lasker, and a 1909 match to Marshall that solidified the latter's claim to the US Championship. Several of these matches were for the US Championship, a title Showalter had first won in the annual tournaments of the United States Chess association in 1889. Many of the games featured sparkling combinative play and sacrifices, making Showalter many friends among chess amateurs.

Showalter appears to have been blessed with both strong chess ability and good social skills, a combination seemingly rare in this, or any other, era. The Kentucky Lion commanded respect from his chess peers. Steinitz, a man who had made enemies on both sides of the Atlantic, once said Showalter was one of the few men "of who I would accept a cigar." On his return to Brooklyn following his victory at the 1895 International Chess Congress in Hastings, Harry Nelson Pillsbury was asked what success American players would have if they played internationally. He responded, "Jackson Showalter would make a good score in any company."

And Pillsbury would soon enough discover the truth of that statement. In 1897 the "Hero of Hastings" challenged for a match for Showalter's US Championship title. Pillsbury eventually won the match, but it was a tremendous struggle, with the scores even until nearly the end. The nineteenth game displays Showalter's fighting qualities at their finest, as well as his penchant for exchange sacrifices. The annotations to the game appeared in the Philadelphia Public Ledger column of Emil Kemeny. His opening comment on the game is worth quoting in full:

"The nineteenth game of the Pillsbury - Showalter match, which was finished at New York on Saturday, was decidedly the most interesting and complicated contest in the series, and by winning it Showalter once more evened up things with Pillsbury. The game was a Ruy Lopez, the Kentuckian selecting the Berlin Defense. In the middle game Pillsbury started a queenside attack, while Showalter had similar designs on the kingside. Pillsbury, it seems, had the better game. He could have easily stopped his opponent's attack, while it was more difficult for Showalter to neutralize that of Pillsbury. The latter, it seems, did not play conservatively enough. However, the continuation he selected seemed good enough. On his twenty-seventh turn, however, he failed to secure the proper move. At that stage of the game he exchanged minor pieces in order to gain a pawn, which play he was obliged to abandon. The ended his aggressive tactics, and it was now Showalter's turn to start the attack. He was more successful than his adversary, especially when he was enabled to sacrifice the exchange on his thirty-fifth move. The end game that resulted was an intricate and highly instructive one. Showalter had the better end of it, but his opponent could have drawn the game. Pillsbury, however, missed his chances. On his forty-seventh turn he failed to see a quite obvious play leading to a draw, and his game grew worse and worse. Another chance of an escape is shown in the subjoined analysis, when, on his fifty-sixth turn, he could have forced a draw. But this play was altogether too difficult to fathom in actual play."

Harry Nelson Pillsbury - Jackson Whipps Showalter [C67]
New York Match Game No. 19, 1897
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Be7 6.Qe2 Nd6 7.Bxc6 bxc6 8.dxe5 Nb7 9.Nd4 0-0 10.Nf5 10. Nc3, as played in the seventh game of the series, or 10. b3, followed by Bb2, as adopted by Showalter in the ninth game of his match with Kemeny, is much superior. The text move enables Black to exchange his Queen bishop for a well-developed piece. 10...d5 11.Qg4 Bxf5 12.Qxf5 Qc8 An exchange of Queens would seem dangerous for Black on account of his double c-pawn. 13.Qxc8 Raxc8 14.Be3 c5 15.Nd2 a5 To play 15. ...d4 or 15. ...c4 would have been bad. The former move would have given White a chance to bring his knight into action, while ...c4 would have been answered with b3 or c3. 16.f4 f5 17.Rfd1 Rfd8 18.b3 Kf7 19.Kf1 Ke6 20.Nf3 h6 21.c3 Rg8 22.h4

22... Nd8 A complicated position, both sides striving for the attack. White intends to advance the b-pawn in order to follow up with Nd4, while Black has the ...g5 move in view, which would result in the winning of White's e-pawn. Both plays seem to be very promising, but White, by moving h5, can easily prevent Black's continuation, while Black apparently has no means to stop the advance of White's b-pawn, especially since White can make the a3 preparatory move. The move selected by Black, 22. ...Nd8, is probably the best for the attack as well as for the defense, for he can continue ...Nf7 as well as ...Nc6, yet it is hardly satisfactory. It should be mentioned that Black could not play ...g5 at once, for the game would proceed as follows: 22...g5 23.hxg5 hxg5 24.fxg5 f4 25.Bxf4 Rcf8 26.g3 Bxg5 27.Nxg5+ Rxg5 28.Ke2 and White remains a pawn ahead. 23.b4 As pointed out above, White should have played 23. h5 first; he also might have made the preparatory move 23. a3. The continuation White selected is quite ingenious, yet it would have been much better to delay it for a few moves. 23...axb4 24.cxb4 cxb4 25.Nd4+ Kd7 26.Nxf5 c6 27.Nxe7 White evidently had the Bc5+ and Bxb4 continuation in view, and he abandoned the capture of Black's b-pawn on account of Black's probably reply, ...c5. Black's passed d-pawn and c-pawn would become very threatening indeed. White, however, should have taken this in consideration before he captured the bishop. He should have played 27. Rac1 instead of 27. Nxe7. White then threatens Rxd5+, followed by Rxc8 and Nxe7+, etc. Black apparently had no better reply than 27. ...Nb7, which would enable White to continue with Rc2 and Rdc1; it would seem quite difficult for Black to stand the pressure the doubled rooks would exert on the c-pawn, which cannot be advanced easily on account of Nxe7, followed by Bxc5+. It seems that White at this stage of the game did not display the best position judgment. He should have made the c-pawn the target of his attack and not the b-pawn, which was of comparatively little value anyhow. Even should White succeed in winning it, Black still remains with two passed pawns. 27...Kxe7 28.Bc5+ Ke6 29.Kf2 g5 White exhausted his attack without making much headway. The advance of Black's g-pawn becomes now very threatening. White cannot maintain the f-pawn, even should he move g3. Black would continue ...gxf4, followed by ...Rg4 and ...Kf5, [and] eventually ...Ne6 winning the f-pawn. 30.hxg5 hxg5 31.Rh1 Probably as good a move as he had at his disposal. Black in nearly every variation will win the e-pawn and f-pawn, and he will obtain the superior endgame on account of his strength on the queenside. 31...gxf4 32.Rh6+ Kf5 33.Re1 Rg6 34.Rh8 34. Rxg6, followed by e6, was much superior. Black then had hardly a better play than ...Nb7. White then can continue Bxb4, followed by Bd2. It seems it would not have been difficult for White to draw the game, even should he be obliged to sacrifice the bishop in order to stop the advanced pawns. 34...Ra8 35.Re2

35... Ne6 Brilliant and sound play, though it must be admitted that Black was forced to it. The sacrifice of the exchange leaves Black with strong pawns on the queenside, and it rests with White to fight for a draw. 36.Rxa8 Nxc5 37.Rf8+ Ke6 38.Kf3 Nd3 39.Rf6+ He could not play 38. Re8+ in order to save the pawn. Black would have replied ...Kd7, attacking the rook and threatening ...Rg3 mate. 39...Rxf6 40.exf6+ Kxf6 41.Rd2 Ne5+ 42.Kxf4 Ng6+ 43.Ke3 Ke5 44.Rf2 c5 45.g4 d4+ 46.Kd2 c4 47.g5 A disastrous error. White should have played 47.Rf5+, followed by Rb5, and it seems he could have drawn the game. The game was likely to proceed: 47.Rf5+ Ke4 48.Rb5 c3+ 49.Kd1 (or Kc1) 49...Kd3 50.Rxb4 Nf4 51.Rb3 Kc4 52.Rb8 followed eventually by Rc8. White certainly had no time for a slow move like g5. 47...c3+ 48.Kc2 Ke4 49.Re2+ Kd5 50.Re8 Ne5 51.Kb3 d3 52.Rd8+ Ke4 53.Rb8 d2 54.Kc2 Nc6 55.Re8+ Kf5

56.Rf8+ In this almost hopeless looking position White could have drawn the game with 56. g6. Black then answers ...Nd4+, for if ...Kxg6 then 57. Re6+ wins. The game then would have proceeded: 56.g6 Nd4+ 57.Kd1 Kxg6 58.Rd8 Nf5 59.Rxd2 Ne3+ 60.Kc1 cxd2+ 61.Kxd2 knight moves. White then plays Kd3, Kc4, Kb3 and he will be enabled to exchange the remaining pawn. A similar continuation results if Black in reply to 56. g6 plays ...Kf6. White then continues Rf8+, leading to the following play:; 56.g6 Kf6 57.Rf8+ Kxg6 58.Rf2 Nd4+ 59.Kd1 Nf5 60.Rxd2 Ne3+ 61.Kc1 cxd2+ 62.Kxd2 knight must move, and White again is enabled to force the exchange of pawns. 56...Kxg5 57.Rf2 Nd4+ 58.Kd1 Nf5 59.Rxd2 Ne3+ 60.Kc1 cxd2+ 61.Kxd2 Kf4 It is this move which gives Black a win. White cannot well play Kd3, for ...Kf3 would follow; if, then, Kd4 Black answers ...Ke2, and if Kc5, then ...Nc2, winning easily. Should White select Kd3, and, on Black's continuation ...Kf3, he answers Kd2, then Black wins with ...Ke4, followed by ...Kd4. It will be seen that the result of the game depended on Black's ...Kf4 move, which enabled him to hold the knight in the important position it occupied. Had White, on his fifty-sixth turn, moved g6, then Black's King would have been too far off and a drawn game would have resulted. 62.Kc1 Nc4 63.Kc2 Na5 64.Kd3 64. Kb2 was not any better, for, if he continues a3, Black answers ...b3. 64...Ke5 65.Ke3 Kd5 66.Kd3 Kc5 67.Kd2 Kd4 68.Kc2 Kc4 69.Kb2 Kd3 70.Kb1 Kc3 71.Kc1 Nc4 72.Kb1 Kd2 Causes White's surrender. If he plays Ka1, then Black answers ...Kc2, forcing a mate in four additional moves, and if a3, then ...bxa3 or ...b3, followed by ...Kc3, wins easily. 0-1
Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 9, 1897, p.14 :

Thirteen years before this game, Showalter was a young man in the American South, managing his father's ranch. Over the board competition was scarce for a player of Showalter's strength, and so he turned to postal chess. Perhaps his earliest experience with chess by correspondence was a tournament run by the Elmira Telegraph of Elmira, New York. His struggle with Richmond, Virginia postalite C. W. McFarlane appeared with notes by the column editor, Edward Burlingame.

C. W. McFarlane - Showalter [C52]
Elmira Telegraph CC Tournament, 1884
Annotations by Edward Burlingame
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.0-0 d6 7.d4 exd4 8.Qb3 Qf6 9.e5 dxe5 10.Re1 Bb6 According to the books I believe Black has adopted a very weak line of defense and is now involved in difficulties and dangers which must prove insurmountable. For my part I don't see anything wrong about it, save that the attack is a trifle warm; but there is always an expedient. 11.Bg5 Qf5 12.Nxe5 Nxe5 13.f4 f6 14.Bxg8 Kf8 15.fxe5 Rxg8 16.exf6 Rh8 17.Bh4 d3+ 18.Kh1 g5 This is a very bad move, losing very valuable time. 19.Bg3 Bd7 20.Nd2 Qb5 21.Re7 Qxb3 22.axb3 Bc6 23.Bxc7 Bxc7 24.Rxc7 Re8 25.Kg1 h5 26.Nc4 The advance of this Knight is very troublesome, and cannot be prevented. 26...Rh6 27.Nd6 Rb8 28.Rf7+ Kg8 29.Rg7+ Kf8

30.Rxg5 Isn't satisfied with a draw. 30...Rd8 31.Nf5 Rd5 32.Nxh6 It seems to me 32.c4 followed by Nxh6 would have improved White's chances. 32...Rxg5 33.Rxa7 Rxg2+ 34.Kf1 d2 35.Ra8+ Be8 36.Rd8 Rxh2 37.Nf5 h4 38.Ne3 h3 39.Ng4 This loses a piece, but White cannot do much better. Any move at this point loses. 39...d1Q+ 40.Rxd1 Rh1+ 41.Ke2 Rxd1 42.Kxd1 Bh5 0-1
Elmira Telegraph, September 17, 1884

Not every game was such a struggle for the Kentuckian, as two Pennsylvanians were to discover. William Barwick of Catawissa and D. Crystal of Harrisburg both lost miniature games to Showalter. Barwick suffered the additional humiliation of a king-hunt. During the short game, Showalter moved from Dover to Laredo, Texas, to oversee some of his father's holdings there. He also married; his wife, Nellie, eventually learned the game from him, and developed enough prowess to defeat Emannuel Lasker at odds of a Knight. Perhaps games such as these served as illustrative lessons for Mrs. Showalter of how not to play chess.

W. Barwick - Showalter [C44]
Elmira Telegraph CC Tournament, 1884
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.Ng5 Nh6 6.Nxf7 Nxf7 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxc5 d5 10.exd5 Re8+ 11.Kd1 Re5 12.c4 Qh4

13.f4 Qg4+ 14.Kc2 Qxg2+ 15.Kb3 Qf3+ 16.Ka4 Bd7 0-1
Elmira Telegraph, December 10, 1884

Showalter - D. Crystal [C33]
Elmira Telegraph CC Tournament, 1884
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 d5 4.Bxd5 Qh4+ 5.Kf1 g5 6.Nc3 Bg7 7.d4 Ne7 8.Nf3 Qh5 9.h4 h6 10.e5 Be6 11.Bxb7 Bc4+ 12.Ne2 c6 13.Kg1 Nd5

14.hxg5 Bxe2 15.Qxe2 Qg6 16.Bxa8 Nb4 17.Bxf4 Nxc2 18.Rc1 Nb4 19.Qc4 Nd5 20.Rh4 Ke7 21.Qc5+ 1-0
Elmira Telegraph, September 10, 1884

By 1888 Showalter had moved to New York and was making a name for himself among the leading over the board players in the United States. Despite the demands on his time and his increasing commitment to cross-board play, Showalter still kept a hand in postal chess. Two games with Fred Wendel of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, are below. Showalter probably met Wendel through the Elmira Telegraph tournaments, and he continued to exchange postcards with him afterward. Wendel eventually became the chess columnist of the Wilkes-Barre Record of the Times; unlike many columnists, he was gracious enough to publish his losses to Showalter. In return, Showalter annotated one of the games.

Fred Wendel - Showalter [C52]
Correspondence, 1887
Annotations by Fred Wendel
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 exd4 7.0-0 dxc3 8.Qb3 Qf6 9.e5 Qg6 Perhaps 9...Qf5 is a better move, but both are recognized by authorities. 10.Nxc3 Nge7 11.Ne2 b5 Anderssen's move. Why should not 11...Nd8 be a good move? 12.Bd3 Qe6 13.Qb2 Ng6 14.Nf4 Nxf4 15.Bxf4 h6 16.Bxb5 Better, we think, than 16.Rac1, which is the regular book move. The latter gives Black more time. 16...Rb8 17.Qe2 g5 18.Bg3 g4 19.Bxc6 Qxc6 20.Nh4 Rb4 21.Rfc1 Qe6 22.Rab1 Rd4 23.Qc2 d5 A splendid move. 24.exd6 0-0 25.dxc7 Re8 26.Qc6 A very interesting position, White, offering exchanges, wishes to win another pawn. 26...Qe2 27.Qxh6

27... Bd2 A surprise for White and a very brilliant stroke. 28.Qc6 Bxc1 29.Qxc1 Rd2 30.h3 gxh3 31.Qc3 Rd1+ 32.Kh2 Rxb1 33.Qf6 hxg2 34.Qg5+ Kh7 35.Nxg2 Qg4 0-1
Baltimore Sunday News, July 30, 1887

"We publish this week a game played by correspondence between President Wendel, of the Wilkesbarre Club, and J.W. Showalter, the rising young player of New York."

Showalter -Fred Wendel [C37]
Correspondence Game, 1888
Annotations by Jackson Showalter
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.0-0 gxf3 6.Qxf3 Qf6 7.e5 Qxe5 8.Bxf7+ Kxf7 9.d4 Qxd4+ 10.Be3 Qe5 10...Qf6 would have been better, perhaps, as in a game of Morphy's against Lowenthal. Morphy continued 11.Qh5+. Analysis will show that this move can be successfully met. 11.Nc3, though slower, is very strong, and we think at least equalizes the game. 11.Bxf4 Qf5 12.g4 Qf6 13.Nc3 Bc5+ 14.Kh1 Qc6 15.Ne4 Nf6 16.Be5 Re8 17.Qb3+

17... Re6 There is nothing better. If 17...Kg7 18.Bxf6+ Kg6 19.Rf4 Bd6 (19...d5 20.Qh3!) 20.Be5 Rf8 21.Qf3 and wins. 18.Rxf6+ Ke8 19.Qf3 d5 Again the only resource. A continuation worthy of notice, however, would have been 19...Be7 20.g5 Bxf6 21.gxf6 Rxe5 22.f7+ Kf8 23.Rg1 Qg6 (best) 24.Rxg6 hxg6 25.Qf6 Rf5! (25...Re6 26.Qd8+ Kxf7 27.Ng5+) 26.Qxg6 Rxf7 27.Ng5 and the rook cannot escape, for if 27...Rf2 28.Kg1 Rf4 29.Nh7+ Ke7 30.Qg5+ 20.Rf1 dxe4 From this point the game is forced. But there is no alternative. 20...Rxf6 is bad; 20...Nd7 loses immediately, as does 20...Be7. 21.Rf8+ Kd7 22.Qf7+ Re7 23.Rd1+ Bd6 If 23...Qd6 24.Rxd6+ would probably win; but we should prefer 24.Bxd6 Rxf7 25.Rxf7+ Kc6 (25...Ke8 (or 25...Kd8) 26.Rf8+ Kd7 27.Bxc5+ Kc6 28.Rxc8 Kxc5 29.Rdd8!) 26.Rxc7+ Kb6 27.Rxc8 winning. 24.Qf5+ Re6 25.Rf7+ Ke8 26.Rxc7 e3+ 27.Kg1 1-0
The Record of the Times, Wilkes-Barre, PA, Feb. 10, 1888

Showalter eventually was recruited for the United States-Canada correspondence match of 1889, a postal foreshadowing of his participation with the American team in the United States-United Kingdom cable matches a decade later. Showalter scored first blood for the American side, and celebrated the victory by annotating the game. His Canadian opponent was overmatched by Showalter; at the time the game appeared in print, the Kentuckian was playing in the Sixth American Chess Congress. Although he only finished 13th in a field of 20, Showalter managed to defeat Gunsberg, Burn, Bird, and Blackburne, and drew with tournament-winner Tchigorin. That was some small consolation to J. Barry, the loser below.

Showalter - J. Barry [C52]
International Correspondence Match, 1889
Annotations by Jackson Showalter
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.0-0 Nf6 7.d4 0-0 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.dxe5 Nxe4 10.Qd5 Bxc3 11.Nxc3 Nxc3 12.Qf3 Na4 13.Qg3 Kh8 14.Bg5 Qe8 15.Bf6 This variation of the Evans has been so thoroughly analyzed that it is well nigh impossible to find promising lines of play, for either attack or defense, not already laid down in the books. The most approved continuation at this point is 15.Rae1. The move in the text is of an experimental nature, but the sacrifice, we think, is sound. 15...gxf6 16.exf6 Rg8 17.Rae1 Qd8 Of course if 17...Rxg3, White mates in five. 18.Qh4 Nc5 The only move, preventing Bd3, which would have been fatal. 19.Bxf7 Ne6 20.Re3 Threatening mate in two by Qxh7+, etc. Obviously, too, 19...Ne6 was forced, as 20.Re7 would have rendered the attacking overwhelming. 20...Qf8 21.Bxg8 Qxg8 22.f4 b6 23.f5

23... Bb7 If, instead, 23...Ng5 White wins by 24.Qxg5 Qxg5 25.Re8+ Qg8 26.f7 and if; 23...Nf8 24.Qh6 Bb7 25.Rg3 Qf7 26.Rg7 Qd5 27.Rxh7+ and Queen mates. 24.Rg3 Qf7 25.fxe6 Qxe6 And White mates in five moves, beginning 26.f7. 1-0
The Western Advertiser (London, Ontario), May 3, 1889

Over the board play drew more and more of Showalter's time, and so his published postal games grew fewer and fewer. We close with two forgotten games, yet another "stamp stomp" against a weaker opponent, and a somewhat more difficult struggle with a consultation team of experienced postal players from Nevada. One of the consultation players, Gorham, was part of a team that defeated Steinitz in one of the world champion's few excursions into postal chess. It may have been the impression made by that defeat, as well as the opening novelty Showalter employed, that prompted Steinitz to annotate Showalter's win for his New York Tribune chess column. Or perhaps Showalter's exchange sacrifice drew Steinitz's attention.

"A new Showalter brilliant played by correspondence between Mr. J. Showalter and Prof. J.E. Logan"

Showalter - J. E. Logan [C51]
Correspondence Game, 1890
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Bc5 6.d4 exd4 7.0-0 d6 8.cxd4 Bb6 9.Nc3 Na5 10.Bg5 f6 11.Bxg8 Rxg8 12.Bh4 Bg4 13.e5 dxe5 14.Re1 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 Qxd4 16.Re4 Qd7 17.Rd1 Qf7 18.Qg4 h5 19.Qf5 Nc4 20.Rxc4 Qxc4 21.Nd5 Qc5 22.Qe6+ Kf8

23.Bxf6 Re8 And White announced mate in seven as follows: 23...Re8 24.Ne7 Qxf2+ 25.Kh1 Qxf6 26.Ng6+ Qxg6 27.Rf1+ Bf2 28.Rxf2+ Qf6 29.Rxf6+ gxf6 30.Qxf6# 1-0
Republic (St. Louis), Oct. 12, 1890

Showalter - Gorham/Lester [C44]
Correspondence, 1892
Annotations by Wilhelm Steinitz
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 d5 4.Qa4 f6 Introduced by the editor against the late Mr. Wisker in the London handicap tournament of 1868, and since substantiated in theory and practice. 5.Bb5 Nge7 6.0-0 Bd7 We disagree with this authorized move. 6...Be6 is much stronger. 7.exd5 Nxd5 8.Qe4 New, we believe, and involving considerable difficulties for the defense. 8...Nce7 We like better 8...Nb6 9.d4 f5 10.Qe2 e4 , etc. 9.Bxd7+ Qxd7 10.c4 The pawn gained thereby for a time was, we believe, not worth the trouble and the delay in development that could have been taken in hand at once by 10.d4 10...Nb6 11.Qxb7 Nc6 12.Nc3 Na5 13.Qe4 Naxc4 14.d4 f5 15.Qe2 e4 16.Ng5 Qxd4 In view of the attack which the opponent gains after this capture, 16...Be7 might have been move advisable. Black had nothing to fear from the continuation 17.Qh5+ g6 18.Qh6 Bf6 , etc. 17.Rd1 Qe5 18.f4 Bc5+ 19.Kh1 Qe7 20.Nd5 Nxd5 21.Rxd5 c6

22.Qxc4 The idea of this spirited sacrifice of the exchange no doubt from the ground work of White's attack from the 10th move. The play in the interval was the most reasonable on both sides. 22...cxd5 23.Qb5+ Kf8 24.Qc6 Re8 25.Qxd5 g6 26.b4 h6 More adapted for simplification; with advantage was 26...Bd6 27.Bb2 Bxf4 27.Bb2 hxg5 28.bxc5 Rh5 Unwieldy in appearance and effect; 28...Rd8 29.Qc6 Rg8 30.Be5 (or 30.Bf6 Qd7) 30...Kf7 would have broken the attack; 28...Rh7 , which is pointed out by the Nevada player, was also superior. 29.Be5 Qe6 30.Qb7 Qf7 After the ill-judged defense the advance of White's c pawn becomes irresistible. 30...Re7 31.Qa8+ (or 31.Bd6 Qxd6 32.Qa8+ Re8 and should win) 31...Kf7 32.c6 gxf4 33.Bxf4! Qf6 should have been held in view as continuation. 31.c6 Rh7 32.c7 Qd7 33.Rc1 Qc8 34.Qc6 Destructive to the defense. It threatens Qd6+ as well as Qxg6. 34...Rxe5 If 34...Re6 35.Qxe6 , etc.] 35.fxe5 Kg7 36.Qf6+ Kh6 37.h4 Well-planned against 37...Rxc7 (Steinitz suggests Black avoided 37...gxh4 "since White could obviously captured that pawn with a check", missing that 38.Rc6 mates in six. - NB) whereupon would follow 38.Rxc7 Qxc7 39.Qh8+ Qh7 40.hxg5+ Kxg5+ 41.Qxh7; More expeditious was 37.Qd8 Rh8 38.Qxh8+ . But of course Black's game is also lost, as matters stand, by careful play on the other side. 1-0
New York Tribune, January 22, 1893

Thus closed Showalter's postal career. The remained of his life in chess was devoted to winning, and occasionally losing, over the board matches against the leading American players and visiting foreigners, and participating in the US-UK cable matches and occasional tournaments. By 1909, the year of his match with Marshall, he was very much in retirement, with occasional returns to active play. Showalter's last tournament appearance was in 1926. He died in 1935, in his native Kentucky. As stated, Showalter is in need of a detailed chess biography; let us hope that his correspondence play will receive the same degree of attention his over the board efforts will get.

© 2006 Neil R. Brennen. All rights reserved.

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