The first known game of shogi in America took place in June of 1860 at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia. Japan had recently ended its 250 years of isolation, and sent a mission to the USA to ratify the Treaty of Friendship.
George Hodges first learned shogi from Trevor Leggett’s book, Shogi: Japan’s Game of Strategy (1966). He felt Westerners would love shogi, so arranged the creation of westernized shogi sets, and imported traditional shogi sets from Japan. With the help of Glyndon Townhill, he devised the common English shogi game notation still used globally.
In 1975 George Hodges founded The Shogi Association (TSA), and in January of 1976, he presented the world Shogi, a magazine. In Hodges’ own words, it was “the first magazine printed in English and devoted entirely to the great chess game of Japan.” He put together 70 professional quality issues, filled with news and translated professional articles from Japan, though the subscriber base never rose much above 150.
Not only did George run the magazine, but he also financed tournaments and The Shogi Association. He lent a great deal of money without receiving anything but a small financial return. Hodges’ efforts can only be described as philanthropic.
George wrote in issue 70 at the end of 1987, “I think I have shown the way in which shogi should be propagated. It is now up to others to take up this mammoth task if they have the will so to do.”
I dedicate this set of shogi articles to George Hodges. He was a driving force behind shogi popularization in the English speaking world for an entire generation. George’s efforts with The Shogi Association and Shogi magazine brought shogi news, strategy, history, and variants to those not privileged enough to understand Japanese in a pre-internet world. In the few correspondences that we had, I found him friendly, helpful, and dedicated to spreading knowledge about this beautiful game.
Thank you George Hodges (1934-2010).