Albert Beauregard Hodges

The Man Chess Made

By John Hilbert and Peter Lahde

Albert Beauregard Hodges
Albert Beauregard Hodges
McFarland & Company (2008)
550 pages (hardback)
Reviewed by John Donaldson
ALBERT BEAUREGARD HODGES is a big book judged not only by its dimensions (7 X 10 inches) and weight (approximately five pounds) but also by its content.

The authors, the well-respected chess historians and writers John Hilbert and Peter Lahde, have joined forces to cover not just the life of US Champion Albert Hodges but also the many important moments in American chess that occurred during the playing career of the “Tennessee Morphy” which stretched from the early 1880s up to Lake Hoptacong 1923.

Lacking a long lasting American journal equivalent to the British Chess Magazine or Deutsche Schachzeitung, Hilbert and Lahde found most of the material for their book in newspapers of the time. Fortunately for the authors this was the golden age for chess columnists and the selected bibliography reflects this listing more than 60 American papers that carried columns - a dozen from New York City alone! This was also an age when chess had less competition for people’s leisure time, when many members of the professional classes played it. This helps explain the second half of the title of this book, “The Man Chess Made”, as Hodges from simple beings in Tennessee ended up rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty in New York City.

As a chess player Hodges will be best remembered for winning the US Championship, being undefeated in close to two decades of Anglo-American cable matches and playing inside Ajeeb, the 19th century chess automation. The games from the US Championship matches with Showalter and the cable matches are here as are many others (351 in total) from Hodge’s career. Many of them are annotated extensively, Hilbert and Lahde drawing upon numerous contemporary sources for their notes.

ALBERT BEAUREGARD HODGES: THE MAN CHESS MADE is a fitting tribute to the man and his time.

Highly recommended