Max Judd Tries to Intercept US Title, 1904

  • With US Champion Harry Nelson Pillsbury ill and dying, Max Judd tried to arrange the Seventh American Chess Congress in Saint Louis in 1904, with the stipulation that the US title be awarded to the winner.

  • Judd disputed Pillsbury's ownership of the title by challenging the legitimacy of the the whole succession since the time of Mackenzie, disputing Lipschutz's claim to have acquired the title at New York 1889, and everything that had happened since then.

  • Pillsbury, from bed objected to Judd's plans, and prevailed on his friend, the lawyer Walter Penn Shipley to intercede.

  • Press and public against him, Judd's claim went nowhere.

  • Judd's tournament was held anyway, and said to be for "The United States Tourney Championship", a title explicitly said to have no relation to the United States Championship title held by Harry Nelson Pillsbury. (NOTE: Some of my sources say that this didn't happen until after the fact, and that Marshall was actually named US Champion at the conclusion of this tournament, but that he didn't accept it as valid. I'm not sure what the truth of this is yet, or under what circumstances the Capablanca-Marshall match was arranged as being for the US Championship.

  • The tournament was won by Frank Marshall, kissing goodbye to Judd's remaining hopes. The United States Tourney Championship, as something existing separately from the US Title, was forgotten perhaps even faster than Siegbert Tarrasch's 1907 "World Tournament Champion" title.

  • The Crosstable from Judd's tournament: 7th American Chess Congress
    Saint Louis, 1904
                    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
     1. Marshall    x 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ½ W   8½- ½
     2. Judd        0 x 0 1 1 1 W 1 1 1   7 -2
     3. Uedemann    0 1 x W 1 1 0 0 1 W   6 -3
     4. Kemeny      0 0 L x 1 W 1 0 1 W   5 -4
     5. Schrader    0 0 0 0 x ½ 1 1 1 1   4½-4½
     6. Eisenberg   0 0 0 L ½ x 1 1 1 1   4½-4½
     7. Jaffe       0 L 1 0 0 0 x W 1 1   4 -5
     8. Schwietzer  0 0 1 1 0 0 L x 0 W   3 -6
     9. Mlotkowski  ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 x 1   2½-6½
    10. Schrader    L 0 L L 0 0 0 L 0 x   0 -9

  • Presented below is a written exchange between Judd and Walter Shipley, which is extremely informative in showing how the history of the US Title was regarded at this time in history.

    Judd's Letter to Pillsbury
    St. Louis, Mo., September 30, 1904
    Mr. Harry Nelson Pillsbury

    Sir, Your letter of the 28th received. You are unnecessarily excited about nothing. You seem to think, and you wrote so, that I wished to rob you of your well-earned titles, and this is not so. If anyone is entitled to being called the champion of the United States it is H. N. Pillsbury; but what I maintain is this, that beating Showalter and Barry, etc., never entitled you to the championship, for Showalter, when he played you, was not champion of the United States.

    Or, to put it differently, let us say that Pillsbury has moved away from the United States and gone to live in Australia for good; then comes Napier, and challenges Marshall for the championship of the United States. Does it seem to you proper that the winner should be called champion of the United States?

    To strengthen your argument, you write that you won first prize in Hastings, but what has that to do with the United States Championship? It is true you claimed to be champion, and no one disputed you the title, and I repeat, If we had a United States champion, you were it, but what I maintain is this, that you never played for the championship; those you played with had no right to the title. You furthermore write again, if it is a tournament for the American championship, you should exclude foreigners. A pretty scheme to have the champion of America living in Vienna or London! This is provided for in our circular, which, when reading, you probably overlooked; foreigners’ scores will not be counted when the winner of the medal is to be figured out.

    Mr. Shipley is a good friend of yours. Show him these lines, and I believe that he will help me to convince you that I did not wish in any way to harm you.

    Yours as ever,
    Max Judd

    Walter Shipley's Letter to Judd, on Behalf of Pillsbury
    Philadelphia, October 4, 1904
    Max Judd, Esq.:

    Dear Mr Judd,

    It was only within the past ten days that it was brought to my attention that the St. Louis Tournament Committee proposed to issue a gold medal to the American making the highest score in the tournament, with the announcement that the holder of the medal should hereafter be known as the American champion. This announcement came as a thundercrash to Mr. Pillsbury, and I do not wonder that it did. Mr. Pillsbury won the American championship years ago, and his title has never been disputed thereto, until the circular of your Tournament Committee was issued. When Mr. Pillsbury spoke to me about the matter, I told him I felt sure there was some mistake, as I could not believe that your tournament intended to rob him of his hard-earned title, or in any way raise a doubt that he was the American champion.

    Your letter of September 30th. to Mr. Pillsbury, which he has handed to me (as you requested that he should do), fully explains matters. Your Tournament Committee has simply been laboring under a mistake as to the facts connected with the United States Championship. In the letter you state that Mr. Pillsbury never was actually the American champion, as Showalter was not the champion when he played Pillsbury, and the matches between the two "were not played for the championship of the United States." In this you are entirely mistaken. I have followed chess matters very closely in this country and abroad for the past twenty years, but I do not ask you merely to accept my word for the fact that the championship was played for in both matches between Pillsbury and Showalter, and that Showalter was not only the recognised, but the actual champion of the United States when he played Pilllsbury. I now give to you the following facts, which you can verify if you have any doubt as to the statements I have made:

    After the death of Captain McKenzie, S. Lipschütz, who had won a number of matches and tournaments, was recognized both in the East and in the West as the American champion. That title was given to him by all the clubs and in the various chess columns published throughout this country and many of those abroad. I never heard the same in any way disputed. In 1891, Showalter challenged Lipschütz for a match for the American championship and a stake of $750 a side. This challenge Mr. Lipschütz accepted, and if you will refer to the International Chess Magazine, by W. Steinitz, vol. VII, page 358, you will find the following:

    "We are glad to announce that the match for the championship of America has been definitely arranged between the two distinguished masters, Messrs Lipschütz and Showalter, to begin at the Manhattan Chess Club, April 11th."

    I might mention at this time that Showalter was known as the United States Tournament Champion. You will find this set forth on page 263 of the same volume. I personally saw part of this match played, and was informed by Mr. Mintz, who had charge of the match, the various conditions of the agreement pertaining to the same. In fact, I had been asked to subscribe to the backing of one or both players (I forget now which), but I declined. The match resulted in the score of: Lipschütz 7, Showalter 1, drawn 7.

    The next match for the championship of the United States was played the latter part of the year 1895. If you will refer to the British Chess Magazine, vol. XVI, page 9, you will find the match spoken of as the championship match, and again on page 46, in the same volume, you will find the following:

    "The match for the United States championship, between Messrs. Lipschütz and Showalter, was decided December 27, 1895."

    Score: Showalter, 7; Lipschütz, 4; drawn, 3.

    I was present at this match; talked with both Showalter and Lipschütz, and went over with Mr. Showalter the agreement pertaining to the match before the same was played. There was no question whatsoever but that the match was played for the championship of the United States, and that at that time Mr. Lipschütz was recognised in this country, from California to New York, as the United States champion. Mr. Lipschütz spoke to me several times after that match as to the likelihood of his challenging Showalter to another match, that he might be able to win back the championship, but his health was never such as to warrant him in issuing such challenge.

    The next match for the championship of the United States took place at Philadelphia, in February, 1896, when Emil Kemeny challenged Showalter to a match for the championship of the United States. The articles in the agreement for this match, which were signed in Philadelphia (under said articles Dr. Persifor Frazer being the referee and myself the stakeholder), began with the following preamble:

    "Agreement entered into by and between Jackson W. Showalter and Emil Kemeny for the purpose of a match at chess for the championship of the United States upon the terms as herein set forth."

    This agreement was signed by both Showalter and Kemeny. The match resulted in a victory for Mr. Showalter.

    The next match for the championship of the United States was played that same year, when Barry, of Boston, challenged Showalter to a match for the championship of the United States. You will find in the British Chess Monthly, vol. XVI, page 279, the following:

    "Mr. Showalter, United States champion, was challenged by Mr. Barry, of Boston."

    And, again, in the same volume, page 318, the following:

    "The match for the American championship, between Messrs. Showalter and Barry, was concluded by the former winning the seventh game."

    Score: Showalter, 7; Barry, 2; drawn, 4.

    The next match for the United States championship took place in New York, in January, 1897, between Showalter and Pillsbury. Before the match started, I went over with Showalter the terms of the match; gave him my advice as to several points and also assisted him in raising backing. If you will refer to the British Chess Monthly, vol. XVII, page 184, you will find the following:

    "The great match between Messrs. Pillsbury and Showalter for championship of the United States came to an end by Mr. Pillsbury winning the twenty-first game… Mr. Pillsbury, however, won the twentieth game, and, owing to a great error of his opponent, probably through nervousness, he also scored the twenty-first, becoming in consequence the United States Champion."

    Score: Pillsbury, 10; Showalter, 8; drawn, 3.

    In February, 1898, Showalter challenged Pillsbury to a return match for the championship of the United States. If you will refer to the British Chess Monthly, vol. XVIII, page 120, you will find the following:

    "The great match between Messrs. Pillsbury and Showalter for the championship of America began at the Postal Building, New York, on February 25th."

    And, again, on page 198 of the same volume, you will find the following:

    "The return match between Messrs. Pillsbury and Showalter for the championship of America, which began February 25th, ended on April 1st by Mr. Pillsbury winning his seventh game, making the total score:

    Pillsbury, 7; Showalter, 3; drawn, 2."

    As to this match, which was held behind closed doors, only invited guests being present, for which a limited number of special cards of invitation were issued by both masters, and which were necessary to see the games played, I had the honor to receive from Messrs. Pillsbury and Showalter a card, which read as follows:

    No. 37
    H. N. Pillsbury and J.W. Showalter
    Present their compliments to
    Mr. W. P. Shipley
    and cordially invite him to witness the chess play
    in any of the games of their championship match at
    Room No. 201 Postal Telegraph Building
    253 Broadway, New York
    Play days••Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays,
    12.30 to 8.30 and 8.00 to 10.30 P.M.
    Please show this card at the door.
    New York, February 25, 1898

    Thus you will see that Mr. Pillsbury has an undisputed right to the championship of the United States, and I have followed the title to this championship back to 1881, and give you there as my authority W. Steinitz, who was extremely accurate in matters of this kind. The title has never to my knowledge been in any way questioned in this country or abroad. Mr. Pillsbury not only values the title that he has honorably and by hard work acquired as a title second in importance only to that of the world's championship held by Dr. Lasker, but it is also to him financially a most valuable asset. There is due to Mr. Pillsbury (as I am sure no one recognizes more than yourself and your colleagues of the tournament that you are about starting) thanks and good wishes of all chess players throughout the United States, as he has done more for chess in this country than any player who has lived since the time of Morphy, and when you have read over the facts as I have given them, I feel sure your committee will not hesitate to acknowledge the mistake it has made, and will thus relieve Mr. Pillsbury's mind.

    It is hardly necessary for me to call to your attention that both the world's championship as well as championship of the United States cannot be obtained by a mere tournament. When Pillsbury won the International Tournament at Hastings, in which Dr. Lasker had entered, no one ever thought that Pillsbury acquired thereby the World's championship; neither did anyone consider that Mr. Marshall, who played in the Cambridge Springs Tournament, in which both Dr. Lasker and Pillsbury were entered, acquired thereby either the world's championship or the championship of the United States.

    If the Monte Carlo Tournament Committee, when they hold their international tournaments at that place, were to announce that the winner of their tournament is to be known as the world's champion, I am sure such a claim would be received with ridicule and scorn by every right-minded chess player throughout the world. Mr. Pillsbury has always been ready to defend his championship in a match, and still steeds in that position. It is true that he was one year abroad, but was ready then at any time to return home and defend the championship without making any charge for his bother than those allowed his opponent. No American, however, was willing to risk a match with Mr. Pillsbury during that time.

    With kind regards and beat wishes for the success of your tournament, I remain,

    Very truly yours,
    Walter Penn Shipley

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