Chess: Independent Pursuits

OF ALL the talented people who have composed chess problems, one of the very greatest was Sam Loyd. Born in Philadelphia in 1841, Loyd was from early childhood fascinated by conjuring, ventriloquism and puzzles of all kinds. Indeed, at the age of 27 he became a professional puzzle inventor, and for the eight years until 1876 he gave up chess problem composition while he established his business. But even with this hiatus, Loyd had completed well over 500 chess problems by his death in 1911.

Like, I suspect, most practical chess players, I prefer problems to be fairly clear but surprising: a quality that Loyd, who composed very much for the bafflement of his solvers rather than out of abstract aesthetic considerations, brought to the genre par excellence. He improved on his contemporaries' ideas and contributed some of his own; but the emphasis was always on his supremely light touch - at that time unfashionable, but for me delightful.

As a relative amateur in this field, I hope my crude comments are not too irksome for the cognoscenti. I guess it must be equivalent to someone, enthusiastic but under-informed, waxing lyrical about the wonderfully pellucid games of Siegbert Tarrasch as compared to the murky efforts of the young popinjays today; or, to be more controversial, to those (himself among them) who still consider Fischer to be world champion. Here, anyway, is one of Loyd's many deceptively simple-looking settings:

Mate in three

Sam Loyd 1869

This problem was published in the Leipziger Illustrierte Zeitung in 1869. White's task is to arrange to aim the queen at h7 while simultaneously attacking the black bishop. The bishop has five more squares available on the long black diagonal. But it turns out that there is one square from which she can always achieve this.

The solution is:

1 Qf1!

putting Black into zugzwang. The g pawn is prevented from moving in view of 2 Qxa1 mate, which leaves:

a) one pretty if somewhat unthematic variation: 1... g3 2 Ng6+ hxg6 3 Qh3#; and three thematic:

b) 1... Bb2, 1... h6 or 1... h5 2 Qb1!

c) 1... Bc3 or 1... Bd4 2 Qd3!

d) 1... Be5 or 1... Bf6 2 Qf5!

jspeelman@compuserve.com

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits