Sam Loyd (1841-1911)

Sam Loyd (January 31, 1841-April 10, 1911) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA). He spent most of his childhood in New York, where he played chess and developed a fascination for solving complicated chess problems.

He had one of his first chess puzzles published in the New York Saturday Courier in 1855 and the same puzzle was later published in the New York Clipper the following year. The recognition landed him a job with Chess Monthly Magazine as a chess problem editor.

Loyd had several chess puzzle books published over the years, but eventually became more fascinated with mathematical puzzles and concentrated his energies on those after 1870. Loyd was eventually inducted as a member of the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.

One his most famous chess puzzles was called “Excelsior”, which was named after a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This 1861 puzzle is shown below. Can you solve it?

White to Move and Mate in 5

4 responses to “Sam Loyd (1841-1911)”

  1. Steven B. Dowd

    Looks like a very promising site, and thanks for this piece on Loyd.

    Please note that what Sam Loyd did (at least chess-wise) should be not classified as “puzzles.” They are chess problems.

    Puzzles are typically taken from played games.

    Some of my problemist friends get quite indignant at the use of “puzzle” for “problem.” For me, it is more of a question of accuracy. I get much more upset when problems are cited without correct author attribution.

    Of course the differentiation is also somewhat arbitrary, with some problems being mostly puzzles.

  2. Steven B. Dowd

    I certainly see what you mean in relation to the Daily Puzzle, you probably use a mix of problems and puzzles, and how best to categorize that?

    So long as authors are getting proper credit, I won’t complain.

    Anything I would ask for would reflect my own interest in more obscure topics. I like the way you use vignettes to get right to the meat of the matter, and wish you much success.

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