An Anticipation and a Misattribution

The Anticipation

The following miniature is usually ascribed to J. Öhquist:



and said to be published in Nya Pressen (Helsinki, Finland), 1889-11-19, but does not seem to have been widely reprinted. (The name is often cited as Oehquist.) As often is the case for miniatures, later composers have found themselves wholly or partially anticipated by it.

It should not come as a major surprise, then, to find that this problem, too, has been anticipated. During a recent dig through the English weekly Brief for details about a chess problem tourney, I came across the following enigma:


(Source: Brief, 1/23 (1878-04-05), p. 460. Scans are available through the British Newspaper Archive web site, but as this is a commercial service, you need to be a customer to access it.)

This is a complete anticipation: same pieces, same position, same stipulation. In later issues, the signature “J. B.” is expanded to “Rev. John Byng”.

Two week later, in the 1878-04-19 issue, a reply to the composer suggests that he may have found the notation used in the enigma unfamiliar. This does not appear to affect the problem itself, however.

The Misattribution

Apart from the anticipation itself, the attribution of the problem to Öhquist, as given above, does not appear to be correct.

Nya Pressen can be found online from the Finnish National Library, but the referenced issue does not contain any problem by Öhquist.

However, in the same issue problem 86 by G. v. Essen (of Åbo), with the same position and stipulation, appears as follows:

von Essen

It looks like the editor of the chess column (i.e. J. Öhquist) may have been mixed up with the real composer G[eorg] von Essen.

Additional Notes

Both YACPDB and the Schwalbe problem database refer to the Zuncke/Bruder miniature collection from which it appears their source details have been taken. YACPDB also mentions Jan Hannelius’s anthology 100 år finländska miniatyrer (Copenhagen, 1984). His later anthology 512 finländska miniatyrer (Helsingfors, 1992), which extends the first book, also reprints the problem with the same source reference.

The problem is not present in either of the Blumenthal collections of miniatures, or the collection “2345 Šahovski Problemi” by Velimirović and Kovačević. It is present in Sadier’s “Mat en Dos” collection of two movers, as well as the two on-line databases already mentioned.

The effects of the misattribution to Öhquist, and the anticipation from Brief are thus in all likelihood only minor. Still, Palmam qui meruit ferat.