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Showalter - Hodges 1894 match
Compiled by crawfb5
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For other US championship matches, see Game Collection: US Championship matches (meta)

Albert Hodges was a strong master who, in addition to his tournament and match play, served for a time as the hidden operator of <Ajeeb>, a US version of the infamous <Turk> chessplaying automaton. Starting in 1896, he would play in all 13 cable matches with Great Britain, scoring +5 -0 =8 (Game Collection: Anglo-American Cable Matches, 1896-1911).

Held at the Manhattan Chess Club in New York 10 Feb - 10 Apr 1894. Time control was 15 moves per hour. The Manhattan club provided a purse of $100 and $100 was staked per side. First player to win 7 games won the match. Before Game 17, with both players having won 6 games, they agreed to play to 11 wins. The venue was changed for the added games to the Brooklyn Chess Club and the $100 purse offered by the Manhattan club was awarded to Showalter for having won 7 games first. I have chosen to organize this as "match" (New York) and "rematch" (Brooklyn) to remain consistent with various sources, such as Soltis and McCormick's book on the US championship (although they misreport the result as +8 -6 =4 instead of +7 -6 =4). However, from the players' point of view, this was probably a single match that had added games and a change of venue, so considering it as a single match is perfectly correct, if not in some ways preferable.

However, the controversy does not end with the question of one match or two. Lipschutz had beaten Showalter in 1892 rather decisively (Game Collection: Showalter - Lipschutz 1892 match). Subsequently, Lipschutz moved away from the chess center of New York to California for health reasons. He was presumed to have retired from active play, so Showalter eventually arranged this championship match with Hodges. However, once Lipschutz learned of the match, he strenuously objected:

"From a dispatch received here, I learn that Mr. J. W. Showalter is engaged in a chess match with Mr. A. B. Hodges for the championship of America. It is astonishing that Mr. Showalter should persist in claiming the title when he lost the same to me by the decisive score of 7 to 1 and 7 draws two years ago. Permit me, through the medium of your valuable columns, to state that I contest his right in playing for the championship with anybody until he has beaten me in a match. To claim the title, because I declined to play him last year while I was seriously sick, is simply preposterous. I hold that a reasonable time should be allowed in playing a return match, especially under such circumstances. If, however, Mr. Showalter thinks differently, I will play him another match for $1000 a side, providing he is willing to come here to play." Letter to the editor, <New York Sun> 18 Apr 1894, page 9

This protest would result in another Showalter-Lipschutz match in 1895 (Game Collection: Showalter - Lipschutz 1892 match).

Showalter, J 1 = 1 = 0 = 0 0 1 1 1 0 = 0 1 0 1 <9>

Hodges, AB 0 = 0 = 1 = 1 1 0 0 0 1 = 1 0 1 0 <8>

Showalter +1 +1 +2 +2 +1 +1 0 -1 0 +1 +2 +1 +1 0 +1 0 +1 (+7 -6 =4)

It was a hard-fought match, with Showalter maintaining a slight edge throughout most of it. Game 1 saw castling on opposite sides and when Hodges weakened his kingside, Showalter won with an attack. Game 2 was a long draw, and all four draws would last over 50 moves. Showalter scored another win in Game 3 when Hodges erred with 23...f6? (23...d4 was probably necessary) and his position fell apart quickly. Game 4 was another draw, but in Game 5 Hodges scored his first win after Showalter blundered early with 11. Qd2? which lost a pawn. Hodges finished with a nice R+N mate. Game 6 was another draw and Hodges won Game 7, bringing him even with Showalter at two wins each. Showalter's 49...Rcxc7? may have been the "losing" move, but he was already in deep trouble. In Game 8, Showalter started better, but began to play poorly beginning with 26...Rf7? and Hodges won within a half dozen moves, putting Hodges ahead with 3 wins to 2, the only point at which he had the lead in the match.

Showalter won Game 9 to even the score at 3 wins each, although Hodges was better until around 20...Qe7? and then Showalter was better after 25...Ng4? Showalter then won Games 10 and 11 to go to +2. Hodges won Game 12 in fine form, trading a knight for the three pawns in front of Showalter's king, and finishing with a nice attack. Even so, 28...Qh7 instead of 28...Be4? offered more hope for Showalter. Game 13 was the last, long draw that Showalter was unable to win despite his material advantage. Hodges won Game 14 to tie the match score yet again, this time at 5 wins each. Showalter sacrificed the exchange for two pawns, but did not defend sufficiently well to hold off Hodges' attack. Showalter won Game 15 after Hodges began to go astray with 10...Ne7? and after 17...Nxb3? finished him off quickly. Hodges bounced back in Game 16, when Showalter's game fell apart quickly after 26...Qb6?

After 16 games, the players were tied at six wins each. They decided before Game 17 to play additional games until one player reached 11 wins. The initial agreement was to first player to reach 7 wins, and so the $100 prize offered by the Manhattan club would go to Showalter when he won Game 17. Hodges' final mistake was 24...Rd7? allowing the nice finish starting with 25. Bxg7. That, having fulfilled the initial match conditions, ended the sponsorship of the Manhattan club, so the additional games were moved to Brooklyn. A number of sources call the additional games a "rematch" and contemporary newspapers sometimes called it the "supplementary match."

Both players had their chances, and even though Showalter had a two-game lead twice in the match, Hodges was able to even the score both times. Both benefited from mistakes on the part of their opponent, but that is to be expected in a long, hard match between closely matched opponents. Although Hodges would win the "rematch" by 5 wins to 3, that would bring the total of the "match" and "rematch" only to 11 wins to 10, which is still quite close.

Game 1 -- 10 Feb 1894
Showalter vs A Hodges, 1894 
(C62) Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense, 36 moves, 1-0

Game 2 -- 12 Feb 1894
A Hodges vs Showalter, 1894
(D02) Queen's Pawn Game, 67 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 3 -- 14 Feb 1894
Showalter vs A Hodges, 1894 
(C13) French, 34 moves, 1-0

Game 4 -- 17 Feb 1894
A Hodges vs Showalter, 1894
(D02) Queen's Pawn Game, 54 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 5 -- 19 Feb 1894
Showalter vs A Hodges, 1894 
(B25) Sicilian, Closed, 29 moves, 0-1

Game 6 -- 20 Feb 1894
A Hodges vs Showalter, 1894
(D37) Queen's Gambit Declined, 65 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 7 -- 27 Feb 1894
Showalter vs A Hodges, 1894
(C82) Ruy Lopez, Open, 72 moves, 0-1

Game 8 -- 07 Mar 1894
A Hodges vs Showalter, 1894 
(D00) Queen's Pawn Game, 32 moves, 1-0

Game 9 -- 14 Mar 1894
Showalter vs A Hodges, 1894
(B32) Sicilian, 56 moves, 1-0

Game 10 -- 19 Mar 1894
A Hodges vs Showalter, 1894 
(D05) Queen's Pawn Game, 49 moves, 0-1

Game 11 -- 21 Mar 1894
Showalter vs A Hodges, 1894 
(C82) Ruy Lopez, Open, 38 moves, 1-0

Game 12 -- 23 Mar 1894
A Hodges vs Showalter, 1894 
(D05) Queen's Pawn Game, 35 moves, 1-0

Game 13 -- 27 Mar 1894
Showalter vs A Hodges, 1894 
(C83) Ruy Lopez, Open, 64 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 14 -- 29 Mar 1894
A Hodges vs Showalter, 1894 
(D05) Queen's Pawn Game, 52 moves, 1-0

Game 15 -- 07 Apr 1894
Showalter vs A Hodges, 1894 
(C80) Ruy Lopez, Open, 27 moves, 1-0

Game 16 -- 09 Apr 1894
A Hodges vs Showalter, 1894 
(D32) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch, 35 moves, 1-0

Game 17 -- 10 Apr 1894
Showalter vs A Hodges, 1894 
(C67) Ruy Lopez, 28 moves, 1-0

17 games

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