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100
CHESS

partook of the nature of ingenious end-games, in which it was usual to give Black a predominance of force, and to leave the White king in apparent jeopardy. From this predicament he was extricated by a series of checking moves, usually involving a number of brilliant sacrifices. The number of moves was rarely less than five. In the course of time the solutions were reduced to shorter limits and the beauty of quiet (non-checking) moves began to make itself felt. The early transition school, as it has been called, was the first to recognize the importance of economy, i.e. the representation of the main strategic point without any extraneous force. The mode of illustrating single-theme problems, often of depth and beauty, was being constantly improved, and the problems of C. Bayer, R. Willmers, S. Loyd, J. G. Campbell, F. Healey, “J. B.” of Bridport, and W. Grimshaw are, of their kind, unsurpassed. In the year 1845 the “Indian” problem attracted much notice, and in 1861 appeared Healey’s famous “Bristol” problem. To this period must be ascribed the discovery of most of those clever ideas which have been turned to such good account by the later school. In an article written in 1899 F. M. Teed mentions the fact that his incomplete collection of “Indians” totalled over three hundred.

In 1870 or thereabouts, the later transition period, a more general tendency was manifest to illustrate two or more finished ideas in a single problem with strict regard to purity and economy, the theory of the art received greater attention than before and the essays of C. Schwede, Kohtz and Kockelkorn, Lehner and Gelbfuss, helped to codify hitherto unwritten rules of taste. The last quarter of the 19th century, and its last decade especially, saw a marked advance in technique, until it became a common thing to find as much deep and quiet play embodied in a single first-class problem as in three or four of the old-time problems, and hence arose the practice of blending several distinct ideas in one elaborate whole.

In the composition of “two-movers” it is customary to allow greater elasticity and a less rigorous application of the principles of purity and economy. By this means a greater superficial complexity is attained; but the Teutonic and Bohemian schools, and even English and American two-move specialists, recognize that complexity, if it involves the sacrifice of first principles, is liable to abuse. The blind master, A. F. Mackenzie of Jamaica, however, with a few others (notably T. Taverner, W. Gleave, H. and E. Bettman and P. F. Blake) have won some of their greatest successes with problems which, under stricter ruling, would not be allowed.

Bohemian (Czech) composers have long stood unrivalled as exponents of that blending of ideas which is the distinguishing trait of the later problem. Such is their skill in construction that it is rare to find in a problem of the Bohemian school fewer than three or four lines of play which, in economy and purity, are unimpeachable. Amongst the earliest composers of this class Anton König, the founder of the school, Makovky, Drtina, Palct and Pilnacek deserve to be honourably mentioned, but it was not until the starting of a chess column in the weekly journal Svetozor that the merits of the new school were fully asserted. It was in 1871 that Jan Dobrusky contributed his first composition to that paper: he was followed by G. Chocholous, C. Kondelik, Pospisil, Dr Mazel, Kviciala, Kesl, Tuzar, Musil and J. Kotrc; and later still, Havel, Traxler and Z. Mach were no unworthy followers of Dobrusky.

The faculty for blending variations is not without “the defects of its qualities,” and consequently among the less able composers a certain tendency to repeat combinations of similar companion ideas is discernible at times, while the danger that facile construction might usurp the place of originality and strategy was already apparent to Chocholous when, in an article on the classification of chess problems (Deutsche Schachzeitung, 1890), he warned the younger practitioners of the Bohemian school against what has been dubbed by H. Von Gottschall Varianten-leierei, or “the grinding out of variations.” When this one reservation is made few will be inclined to dispute the pre-eminence of the Bohemian school. To some tastes, however, a greater appeal is made by the deeper play of the older German school, the quaint fancy of the American composer Samuel Loyd, or the severity and freedom from “duals” which mark the English composers.

The idea of holding a problem competition open to the world was first mooted in connexion with the chess congress of 1851, but it was in 1854 that a tourney (confined to British composers) was first held. Since then a number of important problem tournaments have been held.


History of Chess.

The origin of chess is lost in obscurity. Its invention has been variously ascribed to the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Scythians, Egyptians, Jews, Persians, Chinese, Hindus, Arabians, Araucanians, Castilians, Irish and Welsh. Some have endeavoured to fix upon particular individuals as the originators of the game; amongst others upon Japheth, Shem, King Solomon, the wife of Ravan, king of Ceylon, the philosopher Xerxes, the Greek chieftain Palamedes, Hermes, Aristotle, the brothers Lydo and Tyrrhene, Semiramis, Zenobia, Attalus (d. c. 200 B.C.), the mandarin Hansing, the Brahman Sissa and Shatrenscha, stated to be a celebrated Persian astronomer. Many of these ascriptions are fabulous, others rest upon little authority, and some of them proceed from easily traceable errors, as where the Roman games of Ludus Latrunculorum and Ludus Calculorum, the Welsh recreation of Tawlbwrdd (throw-board) and the ancient Irish pastime of Fithcheall are assumed to be identical with chess; so far as the Romans and Welsh are concerned, the contrary can be proved, while from what little is known of the Irish game it appears not to have been a sedentary game at all. The claims of the Chinese were advocated in a letter addressed by Mr Eyles Irwin in 1793 to the earl Charlemont. This paper was published in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, and its purport was that chess, called in the Chinese tongue chong-ki (the “royal game”) was invented in the reign of Kao-Tsu, otherwise Lin-Pang, then king, but afterwards emperor of Kiang-Nang, by a mandarin named Han-sing, who was in command of an army invading the Shen-Si country, and who wanted to amuse his soldiers when in winter quarters. This invasion of the Shen-Si country by Han-Sing took place about 174 B.C. Capt. Hiram Cox states that the game is called by the Chinese choke-choo-hong ki, “the play of the science of war.” (See also a paper published by the Hon. Daines Barrington in the 9th vol. of the Archaeologia.) Mr N. Bland, M.R.A.S., in his Persian Chess (London, 1850), endeavours to prove that the Persians were the inventors of chess, and maintains that the game, born in Persia, found a home in India, whence after a series of ages it was brought back to its birthplace. The view, however, which has obtained the most credence, is that which attributes the origin of chess to the Hindus. Dr Thomas Hyde of Oxford, writing in 1694 (De Ludis Orientalibus), seems to have been the first to propound this theory, but he appears to have been ignorant of the game itself, and the Sanskrit records were not accessible in his time. About 1783–1789 Sir William Jones, in an essay published in the 2nd vol. of Asiatic Researches, argued that Hindustan was the cradle of chess, the game having been known there from time immemorial by the name of chaturanga, that is, the four angas, or members of an army, which are said in the Amarakosha to be elephants, horses, chariots and foot soldiers. As applicable to real armies, the term chaturanga is frequently used by the epic poets of India. Sir William Jones’s essay is substantially a translation of the Bhawishya Purana, in which is given a description of a four-handed game of chess played with dice. A pundit named Rhadhakant informed him that this was mentioned in the oldest law books, and also that it was invented by the wife of Ravan, king of Lanka (Ceylon), in the second age of the world in order to amuse that monarch while Rama was besieging his metropolis. This account claims for chess an existence of 4000 or 5000 years. Sir William, however, grounds his opinions as to the Hindu origin of chess upon the testimony of the Persians and not upon the above manuscript, while he considers the game described therein to be more modern than the Persian game. Though sure that the latter came from India and was invented there, he admits that he could not find any account