Matlock Register, 1883 (Ladies' Tournament)

sets of #2 (1 pr. best set + pr. best British set + 2 sp. pr. for best problems by foreign and UK composers; see notes for full details)
Open only to female composers. All problems had to have the same motto, and be numbered, and standard sealed envelope requirements applied.
J. Crake, W. Geary, F. C. Collins, J. W. Abbott (see notes)
pr. best set Mrs. Arthur Smith (Motto: Eva, B and A)
pr. second best set E. Lavater (Motto: Nicht aus den Augen, nicht aus dem Sinn, B and A)
pr. best foreign prb. A. Otterström (Alfa, C)
pr. best British prb. F. F. Beechey (Somebody's Darling, A)
(See notes for the second and fourth of the prizes.)
British Chess Magazine
v. 3, p. 112 (Mar., 1883): summary of announcement
Illustrated London News
v. 82, i. 2294 (1883-04-07), p. 350: summary of announcement
Croydon Guardian and Surrey County Gazette
1883-11-17, p. [2]: F. F. Beechey resigns as chess editor of Matlock Register; changes in tourneys
Sheffield & Rotherham Independent (abbrev. below as S.R.I.)
v. 68, i. 9248 (1884-05-31), p. suppl. 5: results, judges' report.

In the absence of access to Matlock Register for the relevant period, the information below is partially based on secondary sources, and should as far as announcement details be regarded as unconfirmed.

The four prizes were described as:

1. Best set of two problems,
2. Best set of two problems contributed by a lady residing in the United Kingdom not winning the first prize,
3. Best problem contributed by a foreign competitor in her first year of problem composition, and
4. Best problem contributed by a lady residing in the United Kingdom in her first year of problem composition.

Different sources describe these slightly differently. The judges' report call 2–4 special prizes, but then also seems to reclassify prize 2 into a full prize, apparently contradicting itself. The British Chess Magazine, one year earlier, mentions two main prizes and two minor prizes.

Ten problems in four sets were received. Two problems (Alfa, A and B) appear to have been found to be faulty and eliminated before the problems were turned over to the judges. (Problems were published before closing date.) The judges reported that they received eight problems, one of which (Somebody's Darling, B) proved to have been published previously and was withdrawn, and they report in detail on the remaining seven problems, and on their relative order of merit. The judges did not adjudicate between sets, and did not concern themselves with the conditions placed on the prize winners; thus they did not award any of the prizes.

The prize report (by the column editor) appears to give Miss Beechey a prize for the best problem. As no such prize has been identified, it is assumed that this refers to the fourth of the prizes described above. While the claim for best problem status is supported by the all judges giving their top votes for this particular problem, there is no corresponding award that does not have additional conditions.

However, it is doubtful that F. F. Beechey fulfilled the requirement of being in her first year of problem composition, as problems by her had been published from at least 1880, and she appears to have taken prizes in at least three tourneys before this one. It may be that some change had taken place in the price plan. If that had happened, it would have happened during the period when the tourney was conducted in Matlock Register, as no trace of change has been found in S.R.I.

The second of the prizes, which was described as intended for a lady residing in the United Kingdom not winning the first prize, was given to E. Lavater of Zurich, and relabelled Second Best Set. This may be due to the fact that only two sets passed the examination of the judges, and that the prize would have remained unawarded if the conditions had been retained. The older label (or near enough) for the best set of two problems composed by a lady residing in the British Isles, not winning the first prize is still present in the report, suggesting that the change may have been made fairly late in the process, and as far as S.R.I. goes, not been documented.

Another unanswered question concerns how the column editor adjudicated between the two sets eligible for the two set prizes. The set Eva consisted of three entries, reaching place 2, 5 and 7 on the judges' list with scores 21, 11 and 6 respectively, while the set Nicht aus ... contained two problems on places 3 and 6, with scores 20 and 9. Whether it was done by excluding the third problem of the set Eva,, or by excluding the lowest-scoring problem, it should preferrably have been documented, even if the final results would have been the same.

There is also some ambiguity about the role of Miss Beechey, who was a prize donor (4th prize), as well as a contestant and a column editor, and therefore a possible adjudicator. It is possible that she collaborated with T. B. Rowland, and that he acted as an adjudicator of this tourney, but it does not seem to have been stated that such was the case.

The chess column of Matlock Register, conducted by F. F. Beechey, was ended in November, 1883. The future management of the ladies' tournament appears to have moved to Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, where a new chess column was started on December 1. (The relevant first column is unfortunately absent in both on-line copies available to us, although all remaining columns until the report are.) No changes in prize plan have been found after this date.

F. F. Beechey conducted multiple chess columns, where in at least some the problem content appears to have been the same. This means, for example, that most or all of the problems published in S.R.I. were also published in Nottinghamshire Guardian (and possibly other publications as well.) As the latter was published on Fridays, first publication of relevant problems may have taken place here, instead of in the S.R.I. For example, the Alfa A problem was published in Nottinghamshire Guardian on 1883-12-14, and in S.R.I. on the following day. As the full extent of Miss Beechey's columns is not known, no attempt to locate the earliest publication of the problems has been made. (Ken Whyld's list of chess columns list at least another four for the relevant period: Illustrated Science Monthly, Irish Sportsman and Farmer, Knowledge, and Bristol Mercury and Post.)

The name of the 2nd pr. winner is printed as Laviter in S.R.I. This has been corrected as an assumed misreading or misprint for Lavater.

The name of the winner of the best foreign problem was printed as Otherstrom. This is also suspected to be a misreading or a misprint, as well as probable lack of accented vowels, and been corrected to Otterström.

While the tourney was divided between Matlock Register and Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, it has here retained the attribution to Matlock Register, primarily because the first of the prizes was provided by Matlock Register. (The clumsiness of the designation Matlock Register/Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, 1883 contributes, admittedly.)

Thanks to Udo Degener for pushing the earliest date of the second problem in the 1st pr. set to mid-1883.


Locate and check Matlock Register for announcements and tourney problem publication.


Prize for best set: Mrs. Arthur Smith





Prize for second best set: E. Lavatar (see notes)





Prize for best foreign problem by a lady in her first year of composition: A. Otterström


Prize for best British problem by a lady in her first year of composition: F. F. Beechey