Albert Beauregard Hodges (2437) - Eugene Delmar (2339) 
 Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania; (R# 5) /  02,05,1904.  

[A.J. Goldsby I]

 Game # 36  

[Note:  I originally annotated this game some 5-7 years ago. In May, 2010, I had another bad computer crash. (I have had many over the last 15-20 years.) This lead to going through back-ups of many of my older files, some things I had not even looked at in many years. I found this file just sitting on my {external} hard drive. I decided to fix it up and send it to Steve, in the hopes that he would post it on his website. (Or link to it.) I also re-checked the analysis with Fritz 12 as well. --->  A.J. Goldsby I / Tuesday / August 3rd, 2010.]  

I was recently scanning THE CS1904 website, when I became interested in this game. I became curious ... did Hodges truly blunder this badly? Or was he the victim of some supremely brilliant combination? Or was there some other factor (time?) at work in this encounter? Curiosity finally got the better of me, and I decided that I had to annotate this game. 

A. Hodges was one of the stronger American chess players of that period. But he was also notoriously slow and complained to friends that he often overlooked rather simple tactics. (From Herman Helms, and "The American Chess Bulletin.") 


The ratings are accurate, they come from the web site of the respected statistician, Jeff Sonas. ( However, I feel that these ratings are GROSSLY DEFLATED; to get a true feel of what these players would be rated today, you would have to add at least 150 points to each player's rating that is given here! 

NOTE: The ChessBase website gives this game as being played on April 25th, 1904 ... but that is very likely - completely incorrect! 
(See Steve Etzel's excellent site, (; for more details.

The game begins as a fairly normal {and respected} Ruy Lopez.  

1.e4 e52.Nf3 Nc6; 3.Bb5 a6!?; ('!')  
The Morphy Defense. (This play gives Black a greater range of options, although the current champ - V. Kramnik - has proven older lines, like the Berlin Defence, are just as playable.)

     [ The {older} 'regular' lines of the {more normal} Cozio are reached after the moves: 3...Nge7!?; 4.c3 g6!?; Is it too soon for this?  

          (With the moves: >/= 4...a6!; 5.Ba4 d6; 6.0-0 g6!?; 7.d4 b5; 8.Bb3 Bg7; 9.Re1!? 0-0; 10.h3!?, "+/="  we would transpose back into this game.  

       5.d4 exd4; 6.cxd4 d5!?; 7.Nc3!? Bg7; 8.Bg5 f6; 9.Be3 Be6; 10.0-0 0-0; 11.Re1 Bf7; The end of the column. 
       12.Rc1 dxe4; 13.Nxe4 Qd5!?; 14.Nc3 Qd6;  15.Qa4!? a6; 16.Bc4,  +/=  and White is slightly better.  
        Meyer - Soppela; Hamburg, 1992.  [ See MCO-14, page # 47; column # 14, & also note # (f.). ] ]   


4.Ba4 Nge7;   
A sort of delayed Cozio's line.  
(And it probably will transpose into a variation of, "The Modern Steinitz Defense." See MCO-14, page #58-59, column # 09, and all applicable notes.)  

Actually this treatment by Black was very common during this period of chess, Pillsbury himself played it quite a number of times. 
(Black plays ...a6; ...Nge7; and then plays to fianchetto his KB and castle King-side as well.)  


This is both good and reasonable, and goes along with the principles that I teach all my students. (Protect the King and castle early.) 

    [ The continuation of: 5.c3 d6;  6.d4,  "+/="  (etc.); has little independent significance, and could transpose back into the actual game here. ]  


Both sides continue to develop.
5...d6; 6.c3 g6!?;   
Black might do better to simply transpose into the lines of the Modern Steinitz with ...b5; and then ...Ng6; from this position. 

7.d4 b58.Bb3 Bg7;  
Black systematically increases the pressure against the d4-square.  

White wishes to maintain his beautiful Pawn center, but the position may call for a more vigorous response. 

     [ Modern theory says that it is better to play >/= a4! in this particular position. For example: 9.a4! Bd7?!; 10.dxe5!? Nxe5; 11.Nxe5 dxe5?;   
       I think it is a dubious concept to close in Black's Bishop and fix the Pawn skeleton so soon, and Fritz 8.0 basically agrees with me.  
Maybe better is: 11...Bxe5!?)   12.axb5 Bxb5; 13.Qf3 0-0; 14.Rd1, "+/="  (Maybe - '+/')  and White is clearly better.   
        This first occurred in the contest: GM T. Ernst - IM M. Wiedenkeller; National Championship Tourn. / Uppsala, Sweden; 1985. 
         [ White won a good game. (1-0, 70 moves!) ] ]   


9...0-010.Be3!? exd411.Nxd4!?,  
It looked more natural to recapture with a Pawn in this position. White would then have a strong center and also the c3-square for his QN. 

(The tournament book confirms this and calls this move, "an indifferent reply.") {Call it a dubious plan.} 

     [ Better was: >/= 11.cxd4, "+/="  with a solid edge for White. ]  


Black now strongly activates his Queen-side majority. 
; 12.Nd2!? c5; 13.Ne2 c4!?;  
Black wishes to drive White's Bishop back. This is good, but I am sure a modern player would not have hesitated in taking this piece on b3, and thus gaining the important Bishop-pair. 

     [ Or 13...Nxb3; 14.axb3 Bb7; "=" ]   


14.Bc2 Nac6!; 15.a4!?,  
With White's pieces bunched somewhat awkwardly in the middle of the board, I am not sure if this is the most accurate approach. 

     [ I like Nf3, and the computer agrees with me. For example, after the rather simple moves: 
       >/=15.Nf3! b4!?; 16.Qd2, "+/="  the program Fritz 8.0 awards a healthy edge to White. ]  


15...Be6; ("=")  
Black has equalized completely in this position. (Black threatens to free his game completely with the positive break, ...d6-d5!)  

Now maybe White should try something like Nf4, Qd7; with a playable position for both parties. Hodges, however, goes his own way, (and runs into trouble).  
16.axb5!? axb517.Rxa8 Qxa818.f4 f5!; {See the diagram below.}  
Black enjoys a very nice position. 


hodges-delmar_diag01.jpg, 26 KB


Who do you prefer in this situation? 


White decides to 'combine' against Black's various weaknesses ... and comes up short. 
(It was not White's basic idea that was wrong, but rather his method of implementation ... or execution.) 

The tournament book says of White's next move: "Played with a view to his 22nd move; but his opponent sees further ahead." 
19.Nf3 fxe4; 20.Qxd6, ('!?' or probably '?!')  
A somewhat inexplicable lapse ... isn't White still a little better after the simple BxP/K4? (I.e., >/= Bxe4! "+/=") 
(Deep Junior ... and Fritz 12 ... confirms this.) 

I think this is one of those cases where one side decides to ... "get fancy," as we say down South. (And it boomerangs!) 

     [ Interesting was: 20.Ng5!?,  "~"  with unclear complications. ]  


Either Black knew he was setting a trap in this position, or he truly believed that this was the best move. (Fritz thinks it is better for Black to play ...Bxh3; here.)  

     [ >/= 20...Bxh3!?; 21.Bxe4 Bf5; "=" ]   


White continues with his idea. (But 21.Nfd4 may have been a little better here and possibly resulted in a small White edge.)
21.Bxe4!? Bxe4; 22.Qe6+ Kh8; 23.Qxe4 Nf5; ('!')   
Black stands well, the second player has liquidated his 'bad' Bishop and has the threat of ...Re8; which would force White to play Ne5 and lose a Pawn. 

If White failed to - correctly - contemplate all of the consequences of this position, he had no business playing his twenty-first move.  

  ** ** ** ** ** ** **   

The tournament book, (by the esteemed Fred Reinfeld); awards Black's last move an exclamation point and says: "forces the gain of some material." 

Of course the tournament book is completely wrong in this matter, but I have to cut the author a little slack. (He didn't have a computer and Fritz 8.0 to aid in his analysis!) 

  ** ** ** ** ** ** **   

24.Bf2?, (Maybe - '??')  
Here it is ... the BIG mistake, and the cause of White's downfall. (To be fair, White may have thought that Bf2 is forced to avoid losing a piece to Black's ...Re8. And I doubt that Hodges sad seen his opponent's insidious trap.) 

We can only hope that Hodges was already short of time ... otherwise I have no method of reasonably explaining Hodges oversight here! 

     [ White could force a draw with the following continuation: >/= 24.Ng5! Re8!?; 25.Nf7+! Kg8; 26.Qd5! Rxe3; Black may as well. 
But definitely not: ..Nxe3??; 27.Nh6+! Kh8; 28.Qg8+! Rxg8; 29.Nf7#)   27.Nh6+,  Almost any Knight discovery will also work for White.   
        ( White also draws with: 27.Nd6+,  (Or even Knight-to-e5, with check, of course.)    27...Kh8;  This is definitely completely forced. 
Not ..Kf8 ???; 28.Qf7#.)    28.Nf7+ Kg8; 29.Nh6+, ("=") It's an obvious draw, the first player can simply repeat the position over and over. 
       (White can check until the sun burns out ... if need be!) 


      The tournament book looks at the following continuation: </= 24.Bc5!? Ncd4!; 25.Qxa8 Nxe2+; 26.Kf2 Rxa8; 27.Kxe2 Ng3+;  
        and Black should also win from this particular position. ("-/+") ]  


Now the game has become a position out of a chess magazine, "Black to move and win." 
"Winning outright," says the tournament book ... and for once - they are correct!   

25.Ng3, (This move is actually a blunder.) (Really - '?' ... ... ... or even '??') 
White just makes things worse with this silly move. (Time to surrender, and retreat to a nice hot spa ... filled with soothing, healing mineral waters?) 

     [ Or >/=25. Qxa8!? Nxe2+; ("-/+") and Black will come out a whole piece ahead. {This is probably what Hodges was trying to avoid.} ] 


25...Nxg326.Qxa8 Nde2+!;   "-/+"   
After the completely forced move of Kh2, Black responds with the simple NxR/f1+, ('!') and then follows this up with re-capturing of the White Queen.  
Hodges will then be hideously down in material, so he wisely raises the flag of surrender.  

A good game by the {former) Champion of New York, but a rather dismal performance by a master who normally plays a whole lot better than this! 

   *************************************** ***************************************   

I consulted many different books, (plus ACB and a copy of the original tournament bulletins); but the most important reference work or source would have to be: 
{A copy of} "The Book Of The ... CAMBRIDGE SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENT, 1904," edited by NM Fred Reinfeld
(And contributions by many of the players and participants.) Published by "Black Knight Press," of New York City in 1935. 

(Game {first} completed: July 23rd, 2004.)  


   Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I / Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, 2015. All rights reserved.  

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