Centennial Chess Problem Tourney, 1877: The Letter Tourney

#2-4, forming any letter (2 pr.)
Entry fee 50 cents.
E. B. Cook (see notes)
1877-01-01? (see notes)
1 pr. S. Loyd (R)
2 pr. L. W. Mudge (J)
sp. comm. ? (L-O-Y-D) (see notes)
comm.  J. N. Babson (Izzard)
comm.  W. A. Shinkman (to N-eill)
i. 9 (Mar. 1877), p. 163: list of competitors

The initiative to the tourney was taken by C. C. Moore, who had won the American Chess Journal B Tourney, and who wanted to give competitors more freedom in their choice of letters. Moore was also the secretary of the ongoing Centennial Problem Tourney, and, with the agreement of the rest of the tourney committee, used the existing framework to conduct this tourney.

Just as in the main tourney, competitors sent their problems to one of the participating chess editors, who then was responsible for the examination, possibly in the form of a solving tourney, and who then sent the problems that passed on to the judge(s).

The presumed announcement is short on practical details. We assume that all chess editors who participated in the Centennial Tourney also took part with this tourney, but it is not said that they definitely did. (Those of American Chess Journal and Detroit Free Press are known to have participated.)

Similarly, closing date is not stated. We assume the same closing date as for the Centennial Tourney, as the submission of problems seems to be said to be done as per former program, but that puts closing date within two months from the announcement, which appears to be a fairly short time for a tourney.

The report is dated March, 23, and is signed by E. B. Cook, but it is not known if any others of the Centennial Tourney judges also were involved.

Cook reports 26 problems (some competitors sent more than one problem), of which two were found to be faulty. Apart from the two prize winners, he also mentions two problems as deserving high commendation and one as deserving special commendation. These have been considered to be equivalent to honorary mention, and for that reason included in the list of awards above. No references are made to where these problems were published which makes the identity of one of them uncertain.

Cook mentions two LOYD problems in his report. His description of the first is: The four-fold position, L‑O‑Y‑D, merits special commendation for the ingenuity of its double doubleness. The second one is described: The other position, L‑O‑Y‑D, comprises four problems in one diagram, [...]

The American Chess Journal L‑O‑Y‑D problem (American Chess Journal, 1/8 (Feb. 1877), p. 148, prb. 233), fits the second description very well, but may also fit the first one as the term four-fold position is somewhat ambiguous. As it has no obvious double doubleness about it, it is almost certainly the problem that Cook describes as having four problems in one diagram.

No four-fold L‑O‑Y‑D problem with some ingenuous double-doubleness published as contribution to the letter tourney has been found so far. Presumably it is one of the few problems that were submitted through other participating columns. (A problem that fits Cook's description well appears as American Chess Journal, 2/2 (June, 1877), p. [37], prb. 305. But as it is published three months after the awards in the letter tourney were printed, it doesn't fit the remaining necessary circumstances.)

In the same issue as the report, Loyd reports on the identities behind the mottos/letters, but Loyd's list is shorter than Cook's, as he omits E, one L, M, Cook, and one LOYD, and adds one B‑cause not mentioned by Cook. In some cases, Loyd gives the motto (e.g. Izzard) where Cook uses the problem letter (i.e. Z). The single L‑O‑Y‑D problem he mentions is by W. A. Shinkman, but he does not identify it further.

The first publication of Loyd's "R" problem was misprinted (a missing black Knight); Loyd corrects it in the January issue.


1 Prize: S. Loyd


2 Prize: L. W. Mudge