By W. H. K. Pollock:
It is with great pleasure, tempered with the diffidence of modesty and the consciousness of very limited ability to master the requirements of the subject, that the writer accepts the invitation of a great and increasing chess magazine to "describe" two chess champions—"twin champions of the West "—who do not possess the routine list of " records." Would it not be a delicious relief to have to peruse a series of—say—obituary notices of some heavy " sluggers " who have never won a fight in the ring, if the expected history of their blameless " records " were to give place to the exact weight per scala and the effect of their doughtiest blows, if we could hear their thud as they fell for about the hundredth time—or of some poor Umslopogaas or "Lo" who never even ran against time, if we could measure the fearful sprints he had made from the pursuing King of Terrors,—or obituary notices of some Philidor, prehistoric Morphy, or Bird ; no, Heaven forgive us, not Bird yet—without a " Tournament Record " and dull reiteration of First Prizes, if we could analyze the sublimity of his combinations to lose the game and see wherefore and whyfore they failed to win ?
Max Judd and Jack Showalter have, both from partly similar and widely differing causes, an agreeable freedom from the vulgar popularity of a first-class match and tournament record, as compared with the lofty standard raised by their achievements in practical play ; their wielding of the intellectual sceptre is visible rather to the τó πανú than to the οι πολλοι, it is to be appreciated chiefly from the elevating study of their games, both won games and lost games. Similar, we say, in that in reciprocally crushing each other to the tune of 7 to 3 in 1890, and 7 to 4 in 1891 ; each has spoiled the other's recent match record (the objectionable word will come up again, like King Charles' head), and because, owing to their both residing 1,000 miles West even of New York, neither has had many opportunities for demolishing the hordes of Gotham and champions of the East, which we are told is the birthplace of Chess and other even worse evils:—Serpents, Asiatic cholera and so forth ; different in that, for tournaments, the older player of the two has been too busily occupied for the last fifteen or twenty years in building up a great and lucrative industry in St. Louis to find time to join in many international contests, and when he has played, has been fond enough of the game to forget about the nursing of his record (we cannot help this word, it has no near kin), while the younger, having only really learnt the game soaie half-decade ago, has obviously not yet had time to fix up as good a list as, exempli gratia, William Steinitz. It must be conceded, however, that Mr. Showalter is setting to work very earnestly to remedy this defect in his character. By the way, how very misleading the term "young player" is! Supposing Showalter had only learnt good chess for four years, and were opposed to Master Precocious, who had learnt twice as long and was but half the former's age, i.e., 16 (nothing in that, for any bright child can learn chess at 8 a.m., it is no harder, broadly speaking, than English [as she should. be], geometry, or the classics); which of the two would the next day's Morning Untruth report as the "younger player?" And let us hear no more of "boy champions " (often young men and Rook players at that), and "infant chess-editors" (as if the average chess column wanted anything more than the education of a gardener's boy at clipping box— except the shears !). But this is a deplorable digression.
Max Judd (the original family surname was, I believe, spelt as Judkiewicz), first saw the light of day on December, the 27th, 1852, in Tcuczyuck, a village near Krakow, Austria, but formerly, as the reader will recall, belonging to the kingdom of Poland.
When Maurice Judd, who is himself a skilful chess player, a prosperous jewelry and silver merchant, etc., in Toledo, Ohio, and who conducts an excellent chess column in the Toledo Commercial, visited his home in Poland, in the winter of 1863, he brought little Max back with him to the United States about February in 1864. Maurice Judd at that time lived in Washington D.C., and sent Max (who was the youngest member of the family) to school in the national Capital for about two years. A clever boy can learn a good deal in two or three years at Washington, even though that centre turns out more poker experts than chess-players. And there, at all events, young Max acquired his first knowledge of the mysteries of Caissa, somewhat as Paul Morphy did, from watching bis brother play.
At fourteen or fifteen years of age he left the Senatorial City and went north to Cleveland, Ohio, the fair ' Forest City " on the southern shore of Lake Erie, where he found a home with his Uncle, one Dr. J. Horwitz. History does not say whether this gentleman was a chess-player, though his name rings rather caissically, to use such an adverb. At any rate this is not of vital importance to our narrative, as, by Mr. Judd's own account, he took out the first course of the wearisome bitterness of his practical chess learning in Chicago about 1865 (probably during his school holidays). This was before the great fire rejuvenated the mammoth City of Hogs and Wind ; but Chicago was at that time plentiful in chess resorts, or indeed any other kind of resorts.
Max Judd resided in other northern towns, always keeping within reach of the Jakes, and it was during a visit to Detroit that he made his debut in tournament play in 1869, when, though only about seventeen years of age, he gained third prize in the Michigan State Tourney—J. Elder being first, and Swann second.
In the following year he took part in a much more important contest, nothing less than the fifth American Chess Congress, at Cleveland, and finished fourth to Mackenzie, Hosmer, and Elder. By the way, Hosmer, who was one of the brightest stars in the chess firmament of the New World, is reported to have died in Chicago last New Year's Day. It was about this time that Judd took up his residence at St. Louis, where he started business on his own account, started with nothing but a strong and willing heart: yes, we might add—with an inborn honesty and an active intellect, unbesmirched by corrupting influences of a misspent youth, with health and vigour and good looks (even these, alack ! are of service in life's struggle), for Max, as late as in '89, was dubbed by the New York papers the Adonis of the International Tournament, which was perhaps hardly fair to the other nineteen contestants, who were, without exception, a very remarkable looking lot of gentlemen, and varied in age from seventeen to nigh seventy. But it is superfluous to describe the physical appearance of the subject of so excellent a portrait as that which accompanies this sketch.
With these advantages, Mr. Judd naturally in a very short time acquired a commercial credit which he fully and ably sustained, and has continued to do up to the present writing, the result being that he owns an extensive Cloak Factory in Eighth Street, within hail of the St. Louis Chess Club and the Post Office. In 1877 he married an amiable and accomplished lady in St. Louis.
To get back once more to the chess career of the Champion of the West—for this title he has stalwartly maintained for nearly twenty years, no bona-fide Western player having made a serious bid to upset him from this honourable pedestal until the arrival of Showalter upon the battlefields of the Mississippi. In 1873 he took part in an important, though not Championship Tournament at Chicago, the result being that Mackenzie again finished first, Hosmer again second, Judd third.
Shortly afterwards he was challenged by Alberoni, a Frenchman then resident in America and a player of genius, for a stake of one hundred dollars-a-side. The match took place at Cleveland and the Frenchman went down to the tune of 6 games to 2, establishing the reputation of the Polish-American as a splendid match player.
Next came the Congress at the Centennial Exposition of Philadelphia in 1875, when Max Judd, by finishing second to Mason and defeating Bird, fairly earned the rank of an out-and-out first class tournament player. This was the contest in which Bird won the brilliancy prize for his beautiful game with Mason, contained in " Bird's Masterpieces."
In the Spring of 1881 the Judd-Mackenzie match took place at St. Louis, Mackenzie vrinnning by 7 to 5. The figures speak for themselves. From this until the time of the great Congress of 1889 Judd's devotion to the Lares and Penates of the great city (460,357 by the last census) of his adoption prevented his paying due attention to cosmopolitan chess. He was of course the leading spirit of the game in St. Louis, and was president of the thriving Chess Club there in 1881, the year of its foundation. He entered for the Championship of the newly formed United States Chess Association in September, 1888, at Cincinnati, but retired after playing a few games. He also won a match with A. B. Hodges by 5 to 2, two draws ; in this match the St. Louis man bet $200 to Hodges' $150.
In the Sixth American Chess Congress, at New York, 1889, Judd finished eighth (next to Mason, who won the seventh prize of $200). His performance in that arduous contest may be considered a very fine one in that, firstly, he was (excepting Delmar and Showalter) the only competitor among the first thirteen who had not enjoyed the advantage of practice in European International Tournaments ; secondly, he had indisputably bad luck against the " tail " ; thirdly, it counts for something that his score came out well ahead of that of such players as Delmar, Showalter, Pollock, Bird, and Taubenhaus, ; fourthly, he divided the special prize of $50 with Pollock for the best score in the second round against the seven prize winners.
When the subscriptions for this celebrated International fixture were not coming in fast enough to suit the tastes of the Committee of Management, Max Judd stepped in, with Mr. J. Spencer Turner, guaranteeing (together with an unnamed third party, if necessary) to make up the required $5,000, of which $4,400 had been so far subscribed. On July 7th, 1888, the commiitce accepted this ofler with cordial thanks, as it enabled them to expedite their preparations, and the sentence was recorded that these gentlemen had " by their noble assistance made the Congress a certainty." Our hero also, with his usual helpfulness, acted on various special committees connected with the congress.
Just before this voyage he had given the U.S.C.A. a big push forward by a liberal starting subscription to its third congress (the second, at Indianapolis, having been a failure), in which, early in '90, Showalter, Pollock, and Lipschutz carried off $475 in prizes.
Showalter's signal success on that occasion led to the first match between the " twin champions of the West," which Judd won by the handsome majority of 7 to 3, as before mentioned.
Referring to the recent match, which Showalter won by 7 to 4, three games being drawn, it cannot be denied that, after the first few parties, the younger literally overwhelmed the older master—the moves will prove it. But this feat was only accomplished by attacking powers of the grandest order, and by the rare and skilful development of new and unexpected resources in the unexplored "Ponziani" or " Staunton " Opening. Yet a perusal of the games will also convince anyone who has experienced the great soundness and resistance of the Missourian's style, that he must have been suffering during those games. It does not occur to his noble and generous mind, however, to ascribe his defeat to the illness which partly interrupted the course of the match, for in a letter just received he writes that "serious chess-play makes him ill," that he suffers from distressing palpitation of the heart, which his physician says proceeds from extreme nervousness, both physician and palpitation urging him not to enter such contests. Max Judd does not try to explain away his reverses—wherefore it is a pity he does not edit a chess column, but he has never found time for much in that line. It is not likely that he will meet his late antagonist in single combat again, but he would like to play a triangular or other short tourney in which Lipschutz should join.
Max Judd's generosity to chess-players and others who have tingled with the buffets of Schoolmistress Fortune will never be known. In this matter his left hand knows not what his right hand does. He has assisted chess-players pecuniarily whenever their wants could be conveyed to him, chess-players both in Europe and America. And he has a delicate way of doing these good deeds. The late Captain Mackenzie when in adverse circumstances at St. Louis earned a very handsome reward by his match with Judd, his opponent hedging for both sides and arranging matters so that Mackenzie neither was, nor felt himself to be in his benefactor's debt.
Judd's contributions to Chess Literature are large but scattered and merged into "the books"—variations from practical play in the German Handbuch, the English and American Synopses and so forth. He has always been a. player, rarely indulging in the too hippodrome performances of sans voir and simultaneous exhibition games.
His style is classical, solid, profound, deeply analytical and uniformly cautious, often too far-seeing to admit of brilliancy or dazzling speculative plunges into depths beyond mere mortal ken. His knowledge of the Openings is extensive, and he has not played enough "bad chess" to weary of the beauties of the strongest and most familiar methods of debut, consequently we do not find him indulging in freakish innovations, " cork-screw " gambits, weak early moves adopted for the sake of stimulating his genius to fight against self-inflicted odds, Balaclava charges, double gambits, " rat-hole " defences, improvisations or empiricisms. He is a beautiful end-game player, and there is plenty of " Polish " in his finishing and finished touches. Played during Zukertort's visit to St. Louis, April 13th, 1884.
Jackson W. Showalter was born in Minerva, a little town in Kentucky, on the 5th of February, 1860. We will pass over the details of
his infancy, save to remark that he received a first-class school and college education—which included baseball. Both his parents are happily living, Mr. Showalter owning and farming a magnificent farm close to Georgetown, Ky., in the lovely " blue-grass " region—an undulating, richly-wooded, farm-dotted district, famous for the raising of tobacco, race-horses, and " Colonels," as the natives of this once " dark and bloody ground," which the Indian name "Kentucky" signifies, are sometimes called.
The " Colonels " are a generous, noble-hearted, brainy, and hospitable race, reputed (in the old days) to set a low value on human life and to be prone to " Bourbon," which is both sweeter and heavier than rye whisky. In reality they are extremely slow to quarrel, from their shrewdness and inbred common sense, but intensely unforgiving when they once begin.
There the Chess Champion of the Great West lives a rustic but not an idle life with his father and mother and young wife, and generally a brother or other relative or guest ; Jack Showalter is the youngest of a chess-playing family, both of his elder brothers being prosperous lawyers, the one in Chicago, the other down in Texas—the latter, by the way, is reputed to be one of the best chess-players in the giant Stale. Jack has spent considerable time and pains with the higher chess education of his family, and has made it hard work to give a Rook to his charming and beautiful wife—which implies no ordinary strength for a young lady.
To come back to our trail—Showalter's knowledge of chess, previously to 1888, was almost entirely acquired through correspondence games, a branch in which he has become wonderfully expert. In was early in 1883 that fortune threw him in the way of the strongest Cincinnati player of that time, Mr. S. Euphrat, who was able to give him the odds of a Rook for some little time, and who also made him a present of the first chess work he ever possessed, Cook's Synopsis. From this dates his real interest in the game. In 1883 he entered a Correspondence Tourney conducted in the Elmira Sunday Telegram. As Showalter was at that time, by his own confession, no more than a Rook player, he joined that tourney merely for the practice and without any idea of making a good showing. Consequently he was greatly and agreeably surprised to find out that he was able to hold his own against the other contestants, and still more so when he eventually won the first prize without losing or even drawing a single one of some forty games ! At the close of this tourney he discovered that he was able to meet Mr. Euphrat on even terms. He must have been champion of Texas from 1883 to 1886, as he spent most of that period on a cattle ranch in the South-west of that State, on the Rio Grande, and the reader will readily imagine that the noble game has not even yet been much cultivated in that section. Before leaving the subject of his correspondence play it may be added that among many other interesting battles in this field he took part in the International match between Canada and the United States three years ago, contributing as far as it was possible to the ultimate victory of his side. And here we can save a separate chapter on " Showalter's Chess Finessing, or High Cunning," by giving a diagram of a game-ending, which does seem to illustrate the peculiar feature called ßncsse—like a trap, good play, if the prey snaring himself, the trapper loseth neither bait nor tackle. This was the outcome of an Evans, played by correspondence, between Mr. S. and a strong amateur of Louisville.
In 1887, the year he was married, Showalter made some six months' stay in New York, and there learned more of the game, perhaps, than in all his previous chess life, becoming too strong before he left for the West again, to receive any odds from Delmar, Hanham, and that ilk.
His strength in practical over-the-board play, as has been already intimated, will have to be gauged chiefly by the quality of his recorded games, by the voice of those who have met him in actual conflict and by the future—may it be a great and prosperous one ! He has, however, made a truly remarkable start as a tournament performer.
In 1888 he won the championship of the United States Chess Association at Cincinnati, scoring 9 out of a possible 10. Major Hanham and Charles Moehle tying for second and third places.
In 1889 he occupied tenth place in the sixth American Chess Congress at New York. As a matter of course, all the twenty contestants in that lutte (except the seven stars who won the prizes) " ought," in the eyes of their friends and themselves, to have emerged at least three places higher on the final score sheet than they found themselves. It will be enough to observe, regarding our subject, that he forfeited his first game (singularly enough to Judd himself) through non-arrival on the opening day, owing to a misunderstanding as to the date, that his play in the first round in no way did him justice, while in the second round he won eight games straight in succession, among his victims being Blackburne, Burn, Bird, Delmar, Mason, and Pollock.
$250 and in 11 1/2 games out of 12. Pollock and Lipschutz scoring only 9 and 8 1/2 respectively.
In the same year, after losing his match with Judd at St. Louis, he won the first prize in an open tournament at Chicago, scoring 13 out of 14 games, Uedemann 11 1/2, Pollock 11.
In August, 1891, at Lexington, Ky., he won the U.S.C.A. championship for the third time, after a tie with Pollock ; Major Hanham taking third prize. For these four tournaments, therefore, his aggregate score reads as follows : won games 37, lost games 2, drawn games 3 !
Mr. Showalter is a handsome and stalwartly constructed man, standing a little under six feet in height and turning the scales a little under thirteen stone probably, when in condition. The latter phrase is used advisedly, as we are speaking of an athlete, or at least of one of physical cult. His tendency is the national game of baseball—in England he would have been a cricketer with a good strain of football thrown in. He travelled with the Georgetown baseball team, of which he was the only amateur, in a successful Southern tour some years ago, encountering all the crack teams from the Ohio River to the Gulf, New Orleans included. There is little to be got out of him any summer's morning until he has perused every line of some four or five sporting columns and posted himself on the doings of every " nine " in the country, Le igue or Association. He is a baseball crank. Showalter lives " free," believes in fresh air, beef and " Bourbon," and is devoted to the weed. He is in his element over a hard game if provided with a box of cigars, and once remarked that he believed he was "about the heaviest smoker in his (Bluegrass) section." His style of play is exhaustive, slow and something after the Blackburnian method—using most of his clock time, and conveying the impression that he is trying to " suck out " the full sweets of every position that arises in the course of a game.
Showalter is about as pleasant an opponent as could be met—sunny- tempered, imperturbable, obliging, and capable of losing a game with extreme gracefulness.
The three following Games are taken from the late match :
— Second game of the match, played December 9th, 1891.
— Thirteenth game played December 29, 1891
— Fourteenth and last game played on December 31, 1891