Samuel Loyd (from TD 100) by Leif Schmidt Tilbage til forsiden

Sam Loyd! For any problemist this name has a magical ring. For the chess problem art the name is what Shakespeare is for drama and Beethoven is for music. This man went his own ways, he didn't belong to any "school", he put difficulty of solution and the moment of surprise highest.

Diagram 1
Sam Loyd
La Strategie Jan. 1867
#2 7+5

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Samuel was born as the youngest of eight children in Philadelphia on January 30, 1841 of "wealthy but honest parents" as he writes. His father was a financier with strong political views who developed land in the days when the United States was still undeveloped. Chess was cherished in the family, and Samuel got interested before he was a teenager along with two older brothers, Thomas (1830-0908 - 1914-03-07) and Isaac, who attempted composing. As a child Samuel was also interested in mimicry, sleight of hand tricks, and ventriloquism. A tale is told of the servant girl giving notice because there were voices in the chimney when she cleaned the parlour. Probably young Loyd caused this.
Sam's problem debut happened shortly after he was 14 years old, inspired by his brother Thomas. Thomas' friend Miron J. Hazeltine (1824-11-13 - 1907-02-24) had eagerly accepted an offer to edit a chess column in the NEW YORK SATURDAY COURIER, and Loyd published his first attempt there on April 14, 1855. After this, problem followed problem, he became surer of himself, and great progress marks the following year. Sam won 1st prize for a #4 in October, 1856. By the beginning af 1857 he was launched, at 16, as the greatest of American composers.

Diagram 2
Sam Loyd
American Chess Nuts 1868
#2 10+12

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The following three years, 1857-59, show the greatest productivity in Loyd's career. 1857 is a memorable year for America. In this year the learned Daniel Willard Fiske (1831-11-11 - 1904-09-17), who is also known in Scandinavia, started the famous CHESS MONTHLY. In this year also, Paul Morphy (1837-06-22 - 1884-07-10) started his meteoric career. The other child prodigy was Sam Loyd who was chosen to edit the problem section in CHESS MONTHLY. Before long Fiske lost interest, however, and the magazine stopped in 1861.
Loyd didn't compose much after 1860 and didn't publish many problems until his visit to Paris in 1867. The problem master decided to try to distinguish himself as a player and participated in the great Paris Congress. His opponents were names like Steinitz, Winawer, Kolisch, and Rosenthal, and despite his problem abilities he couldn't live up to expectations. He won 6 games, lost 17, and drew 1. The Congress also had a problem tourney, where Loyd won 2nd prize while Konrad Bayer (1828-11-10 - 1897-10-15) won 1st prize.

Diagram 3
Sam Loyd
"Steinitz Gambit"
#3 9+13

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Here Loyd has surpassed himself when it comes to an improbable key. The problem was chosen as the Millenium #3 in PROBLEEMBLAD no. 3, 2000, page 101.

In his work for CHESS MONTHLY Loyd made contact with Americas most prominent composers, among others Eugene B. Cook (1830-05-19 - 1915-03-19) who edited the problem section together with Loyd. Cook thought of publishing a collection of American problems, and Loyd promised to help enthusiastically. The book was planned to contain 1000 problems, but during the ten years before publishing it swelled to 2406 problems. Finally it was finished in 1868 and appeared as AMERICAN CHESS NUTS. Loyd contributed some of the best problems: 300 reproductions and 30 originals by Loyd. The work on this collection is considered to be the apex of Loyd's writing.
After this Loyd didn't compose for eight years. He was tired of composing and was preoccupied with other matters. As we see, Loyd's chess problem activities occurred mostly in brief spurts with shorter or longer pauses in between.

Diagram 4
Sam Loyd
1. Pr. Chess Monthly 1857
#3 4+3

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Star flights by black king! Loyd writes: "The problem was an impromptu posed for Paul Morphy, who complimented it highly." The problem won 1st prize and was praised for its four different aspects: The excellent Q sacrifice, the strategic S play, the zugzwang, and the long R flights.

The first composing period was his youth, which coincides with his work for CHESS MONTHLY. The second period is his work with AMERICAN CHESS NUTS. The third one started in 1876, and again the literary aspects spurred him on. O.A. Brownson (1828-04-18 - 1892-04-28) had started the DUBUQUE CHESS JOURNAL in 1870, and later this magazine changed hands and changed its name to the AMERICAN CHESS JOURNAL. The new owners couldn't improve the poor financial situation, however, so it was bought by Dr. C.C. Moore (1830-02-13 - ?), who knew Loyd and who also lived in Elisabeth, New Jersey. Moore asked Loyd to be the problem editor. After some years the magazine again changed owner and later it stopped.
It was Moore who gave Loyd the idea that he should publish his own problems. Moore took care of most of the financial aspects and spurred on Loyd until the work was completed. The book appeared as CHESS STRATEGY - a treatise upon the art of problem composition, by Samuel Loyd; it contains 535 problems on 279 pages. The work on it was started in 1878 and wasn't completed until 1881.

Diagram 5
Sam Loyd
2. Pr. N. Y. Albion 1858
#4 11+9

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Around this time Loyd had some of his greatest tourney triumphs. Contestants could submit an unlimited number of problems to the tourney in connection with the Centennial Congress in Philadelphia 1876. Loyd won 1st and 2nd set prize and the prizes for best #2, best #3, and best and second best #4. "I made them all in one week," he wrote! A phenomenal achievement. At the 5th American Chess Congress in 1880 he won 3rd set prize, and the same thing happened at the Paris tourney in 1878; this tourney featured some famous names: Johann N. Berger (1845-04-11 - 1933-10-17) won 1st set prize, Fritz af Geijerstam (1852-01-06 - 1890-10-18) 2nd, Loyd 3rd, and Konrad Bayer 4th.

Diagram 6
Sam Loyd
U. S. Chess Association
Lexington 1891
Black resigns White's last move? C+ 8+6

Loyd published this problem with the motto
"The No-move problem".

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Later we once again find Loyd as the problem editor of a major chess magazine. World champion Emanuel Lasker (1868-12-24 - 1941-01-11) started publishing his own CHESS MAGAZINE in 1904. Lasker asked Loyd to assume the editorship, and Loyd contributed to the magazine for more than one year, at which time he was forced to stop because of illness. Loyd was hit by a stroke in July, 1906, but he recovered after some time because of his robustness. He was allowed a few more years before dying at home in Elisabeth in the morning of April 10, 1911. Loyd had married Addie J. Coombs of Utica, with whom he had four children: a son, Sam, and three daughters.
Loyd's importance for the chess problem art is immense. Not only did he create so many master-pieces, but his wealth of ideas has inspired problemists, even today, so many years later!

"SAMUEL LOYD", 160 utvalda problem samlade av J.A. Ros.
Stockholms Schackförbunds Bibliotek, F. Englunds Förlag. Stockholm 1919.

Alain C. White: "SAM LOYD", und seine Schachaufgaben.
Übersetzung: W. Massmann. Schachverlag Hans Hedewig's Nachf. Curt Ronniger. Leipzig 1926.