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Sam Loyd
Number of games in database: 32
Years covered: 1853 to 1898

Overall record: +10 -20 =1 (33.9%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 1 exhibition game, blitz/rapid, odds game, etc. is excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Giuoco Piano (8) 
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (4) 
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   C Golmayo vs Loyd, 1867 0-1
   Fitzgerald vs Loyd, 1898 0-1
   Loyd vs S Rosenthal, 1867 1-0
   Loyd vs Charles Caldwell Moore, 1853 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Paris (1867)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   great games by awesome players by zzzzzzzzzzzz

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(born Jan-30-1841, died Apr-10-1911, 70 years old) United States of America

[what is this?]
Sam Loyd was born in Philadelphia. By age 9, young Sam won his club championship (one of the New York chess clubs (1) hosted a city championship in 1850), becoming deeply obsessed with chess, & frequented that club where his interest in making puzzles started. His first problem was published by a New York paper when he was 14, and during the next five years his output of chess puzzles was so prolific that he was known throughout the chess world. By 1858 he was hailed as the leading American writer of chess problems. When Loyd was only 17, he invented his ingeniously difficult "Trick Mules Puzzle," which was later sold to showman Phineas T. Barnum for $10,000.

Loyd's most famous puzzle was the "15 Puzzle" which he produced in 1878. The craze swept America where employers put up notices prohibiting playing the puzzle during office hours. Recent research, however, casts doubts upon whether Loyd was actually the originator of this puzzle.

He published a book of 500 chess problems, entitled Chess Strategy in 1878, comprised mostly of his weekly chess columns he wrote for the Scientific American Supplement & NYC dailies such as the Brooklyn Daily Eagle as a puzzle contributor. He also served as a chess columnist for the American Chess Journal (called Dubuque Chess Journal formerly when Orestes Brownson Jr. edited it).

Reference: (1) Brooklyn Daily Eagle (March 22nd, 1896).

Wikipedia article: Sam Loyd

 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 32  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Loyd vs Charles Caldwell Moore 1-024 1853 CasualC33 King's Gambit Accepted
2. T Loyd vs Loyd 1-027 1855 New YorkC44 King's Pawn Game
3. Loyd vs F Perrin 0-129 1856 New YorkD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
4. C Stanley vs Loyd 0-115 1859 Stanley's Chess RoomC00 French Defense
5. Loyd vs J A Leonard  0-119 1860 New YorkC77 Ruy Lopez
6. J A Leonard vs Loyd  0-133 1860 New YorkC01 French, Exchange
7. Loyd vs de Riviere 0-150 1867 ParisC50 Giuoco Piano
8. de Riviere vs Loyd 1-041 1867 ParisC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
9. De Vere vs Loyd 1-043 1867 ParisC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
10. Loyd vs De Vere 0-142 1867 ParisC50 Giuoco Piano
11. Loyd vs E D'Andre 1-031 1867 ParisC50 Giuoco Piano
12. E D'Andre vs Loyd  0-124 1867 ParisA03 Bird's Opening
13. Loyd vs S Rosenthal 1-036 1867 ParisC50 Giuoco Piano
14. S Rosenthal vs Loyd  ½-½51 1867 ParisC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
15. Loyd vs E Rousseau  0-126 1867 ParisC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
16. E Rousseau vs Loyd 0-136 1867 ParisC52 Evans Gambit
17. Loyd vs G Neumann 0-146 1867 ParisC50 Giuoco Piano
18. G Neumann vs Loyd 1-027 1867 ParisC52 Evans Gambit
19. M S From vs Loyd 1-026 1867 ParisC44 King's Pawn Game
20. Loyd vs Winawer 0-144 1867 ParisC42 Petrov Defense
21. Winawer vs Loyd 1-051 1867 ParisC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
22. Loyd vs M S From 0-140 1867 ParisC60 Ruy Lopez
23. H Czarnowski vs Loyd  1-024 1867 ParisC50 Giuoco Piano
24. Loyd vs H Czarnowski  0-139 1867 ParisC50 Giuoco Piano
25. Loyd vs Steinitz 0-129 1867 ParisB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 32  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Loyd wins | Loyd loses  

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S. Loyd
"New York Clipper"
June 14th 1856

click for larger view


Loyd called this one <"The Pilot" > - He expressed more than once the opinion that long problems consisting in a sequence of checks and forced answers were not his artistic ideal - Here we have at least a quiet key.

S. Loyd
"Cleveland Voice"
July 1st, 1877

click for larger view

Change the Knights from the King's to the Queen's side of the board, without moving backwards or ever getting two Knights on the same file.

(But this one, titled <"Crossing the Danube"> was already from a period where he was more occupied with his puzzle-maker career than with Chess...)

<phony benoni> Yes, the problem showed in GameKnot seems to be a version of that Bondarenko #21. I'm reasonably sure that <"Kegelschach"> provides an answer to this historical question

1. ♕b7-e7+ ♖f5-e5
2. ♕a6-g6+ ♖f4-f5
3. ♕e7-h4+ ♖f3-f4
4. ♕g6-g2+ ♖e3-f3
5. ♕h4-e1+ ♖d3-e3
6. ♕g2-c2+ ♖d4-d3
7. ♕e1-b4+ d5-d4
8. ♕c2-c6+ ♖e5-d5
9. ♕b4-e7+ ♖f5-e5
10. ♕c6-g6+ ♖f4-f5
11. ♕e7-h4+ ♖f3-f4
12. ♕g6-g2+ ♖e3-f3
13. ♕h4-e1+ ♖d3-e3
14. ♕g2-c2+ d4-d3
15. ♕e1-b4+ ♖d5-d4
16. ♕c2-c6+ ♖e5-d5
17. ♕b4-e7+ ♖f5-e5
18. ♕c6-g6+ ♖f4-f5
19. ♕e7-h4+ ♖f3-f4
20. ♕g6-g2+ ♖e3-f3
21. ♕h4-e1# 1-0

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  GrahamClayton: Here is another puzzle by Loyd, first published in the 'Buffalo Commercial Advertiser' in 1890:

White: Ke2, Qh1, Rg3, Rf6, Ne5, h2
Black: Kh4, e6, h5, g4

White to mate in two moves.

1. ♕a1!! ♔g5 2. ♘f3#.

The point of ♕a1 is now revealed - the Queen protects the rook on f6.

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  Phony Benoni: Seems as good a place as any to post this.

I've been browsing through the chess column of the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, edited by Howard L. Dolde, and available at Nick Pope's <Chess Archaeology> site ( This appeared on March 19, 1911:

"A few weeks ago we published a problem by the late Russian chess master, Tchigorin, in which, owing to the wording of rule at that time covering promotion, White played 1.g8 (Black knight) and mate."

click for larger view

<White mates in 1 move>

"Now one of the leading composers of this country (his name is withheld for his own good) sends us the following position."

click for larger view

<White to play and what?>

"Try the same key move on this and note carefully the result. The effect cannot but bring a smile. Who was mated first?"

Well, since it's Black's move, White must have left his king in check while mating Black, so White is mated. On the other hand ... oh, I don't know.

If you want to take the position seriously, I think any promtion on g8 to a White piece yields a draw. Black must play 1...Kxg8, and 2.Rg7+ forces stalemate. 1.gxh8(any)+ looks like a loser: 1...Kxh8 2.Rf8+ Qxf8+ 3.Kxf8 c5.

If you don't want to take the position seriously, 1.gxh8BQ+ appears to lose after 1...Kg8 2.Rg7+ Qxg7#. However, promoting to a Black rook, bishop or knight after capturing on h8 sets up the stalemate. 1.g8BQ+ and 1.g8BB+ are blunders, but 1.g8BR+ Rg7 2.Rxg7+ Kxg7 is a draw.

Just to close all the loopholes, 1.g8BP+ loses to 1...gxf7, but 1.gxh8BP+ Kg8 2.Rg7+ hxg7 is a draw. 1.gxh8BK+ is a draw, but it looks like White actually has a win with 1.g8BK#. Black is in check and has no legal move to get out of check, so it must be mate.

Finally, don't even think of playing 1.g8WK+. That puts the new White king into triple check, which we all know is impossible.

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  jnpope: Hey <Phony Benoni> The St. Louis Globe-Democrat for Jan. 30th, 1886 ( gives the same problem, but attributes it to Zukertort. Now I'm curious as to who actually created it...
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  Phony Benoni: <jnpope> I couldn't speculate as to the actual originator, but it wouldn't surprise me if it were neither Zukertort nor Chigorin.

But I do want to express my thanks for your work on the Jack O'Keefe Project. This is a important and useful resource, even for amateur researchers such as myself.

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  Richard Taylor: My father was given a book of Sam Loyd's in the middle 60s) puzzles for giving another chess player lifts by car to tournaments but I myself didn't look at them very much, I prefer "real positions" when I hopefully find it easier to recognize patterns...but I might haul it out...

Studies are good.

But good to see Sam Loyd on here today. Very clever man.

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  Richard Taylor: <becoming deeply obsessed with chess, >

This sounds familiar!

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  Richard Taylor: < vonKrolock: <Phony Benoni> The atribution to Loyd in this instance is doubtful. There're some similar examples with this matrix in <WinChloe>, though, for instance this one:

F. S. Bondarenko
"feenschach" 1960

click for larger view

w #21 1.Dd8+ Td6 2.Db7+ T6 3.Da5+ T45 4.Db3+ Td4 5.Dd2+ Td4 6.Df3+ T4 7.Dg5+ 5 8.Df7+ T6 9.Dd8+ Td6 10.Db7+ T6 11.Da5+ T45 12.Db3+ Td4 13.Dd2+ Td4 14.Df3+ 4 15.Dg5+ T5 16.Df7+ Td6 17.Dd8+ Td6 18.Db7+ T6 19.Da5+ T45 20.Db3+ Td4 21.Dd2 >

I can visualize the whole process of this without moving the pieces! The pieces all move around the King like Merry go Round!!

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  Richard Taylor: These are intriguing! I must dust off (now my) book of Sam Loyd's puzzles!
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  Penguincw: Best puzzle composer ever.
Jan-02-12  erniecohen: Since Loyd is player-of-the-day, perhaps it's as good a time as any to ask: did anyone ever compose a rook excelsior (or show it impossible)? I seem to remember it was an open problem (with a prize!) back in the '70s.
Jan-02-12  erniecohen: <Phoni Benoni> I think even when the ambiguous rules allowed promotion to a Black piece, promoting to a ♘ constituted moving into check, which you are not allowed to do (even if you do it while checkmating the opposing ♔).

On the other hand, promoting to a King (of either color) introduces all kinds of interesting possibilities. (I'd vote for the interpretation that you have to capture all of them.)

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  Phony Benoni: <erniecohen> You may be remembering an offer made by Al Horowitz. I don't recall the definite context, but it may have been in conjunction with P. L. Rothenberg and appearing in their book "The Personality of Chess" (also known as "The Complete Book of Chess").

They offered a $100 prize for a double knight promotion helpmate. In this problem, Black would move first and both sides would cooperate to mate Black in five moves by marching a single pawn which would promote to a knight.

Just to illustrate the idea:

click for larger view

The intention, Black moving first, is 1.g5 a4 2.gxh4 a5 3.h3 a6 4.h2 a7 5.h1N a8N#. Black's g-pawn must jump two squares to avoid checking the White king, and must promote to a knight to avoid another check or covering the mating square on a8.

Of course, this position is totally unsound. For example, Black can play ..Bb7 at some point, allowing axb7 and b8Q#. Horowitz and Rothenberg had not found a solution, and I believe Pal Benko also worked on it without success. Perhaps one of our more knowledgable problem fans knows something further.

Jan-02-12  erniecohen: <Phoniy Benoni> I do think it might have been in "The Complete Book of Chess", but I don't remember it as being a helpmate - it was supposed to match the original Excelsior problem, but promoting to different pieces (i.e. White to mate in 5, where the principal line was all moves by a single pawn, ending with promotion to an appropriate piece). So it was not supposed to be a helpmate. They had accomplished it for all pieces except for one, which I thought was the Rook (but it might have been Knight).

Can somebody with a copy of "The Complete Book of Chess" check this out?

Jan-06-12  erniecohen: I finally tracked down a copy of "The Complete Book of Chess" and <PhoniBenoni> was absolutely right, it was indeed a helpmate in 5 with promotion to a ♘ (for both sides, the second delivering mate). There are several references to the problem on the web (google "Knight double excelsior"). The following solution from "Chess Life and Review" 1974 (by R. Stanley) shows a solution using promoted pieces:

click for larger view

It is apparently widely believed to be impossible to achieve this without using promoted pieces, but the problem seems to still be open.

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  brankat: Forever young!
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  Penguincw: R.I.P. Sam Loyd.
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  Peligroso Patzer: I just came across the following curious and interesting statement attributed to Paul Saladin Leonhardt: Genius is creative, sees and combines visions, is original and catholic, so far as possible. If one may speak of genius in chess, then you may concede it to Morphy, Steinitz, Pillsbury and Lloyd [sic]. But to call Rubinstein a genius is a perversion of words.

The foregoing was quoted in <The Life and Games of Akiva Rubinstein, Volume 1: Uncrowned King>, 2nd Edition, Revised and Enlarged, by Donaldson, John and Minev, Nikolay, Russell Enterprises, Inc. 2006, at p. 269, in an extended passage excerpted from an article the above-identified source says appeared in the November 1912 issue of the <British Chess Magazine>.

Despite the incorrect spelling, I wonder if Leonhardt was attributing genius to Sam Loyd on the basis of his creativity as a problem composer. Otherwise, I am at a loss to identify his reference to Lloyd.

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  TheFocus: I never liked chess problems. Or their composers. And isn't "composer" kinda pretentious? Of course, it is easier than saying "chess problem maker-upper."

Just kidding. Sam Loyd was a fantastic chess problem maker-upper.

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  johnlspouge: From Wolfram's MathWorld:

"The "15 puzzle" is a sliding square puzzle commonly (but incorrectly) attributed to Sam Loyd. However, research by Slocum and Sonneveld (2006) has revealed that Sam Loyd did not invent the 15 puzzle and had nothing to do with promoting or popularizing it."

[ ]

MathWorld therefore gives the following as the relevant reference.

Slocum and Sonneveld (2006)

[ ]

Jan-08-13  thomastonk: Here is an early game of Loyd:

[Event "*"]
[Site "Stanley's Chess Room"]
[Date "1859.01.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Stanley, Charles H."]
[Black "Loyd, Samuel"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C01"]
[PlyCount "30"]

1. e4 e6 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. d4 Bd6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. h3 O-O 7. Nf3 Re8+ 8. Be3 Ne4 9. Nbd2 Ng3 10. fxg3? Rxe3+ 11. Be2 Bxg3+ 12. Kf1 Nc6 13. Qc2 Ne7 14. h4 Nf5 15. Rh3 Rxf3+ 0-1

Source: NY Saturday Press 22 January 1859.

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  TheFocus: <My theory of a key-move was always to make it just the reverse of what a player in 999 out of 1000 could look for> - Sam Loyd.
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  TheFocus: Great problemist!

Happy birthday, Sam Loyd!!

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  steinitzfan: Hard to believe that Loyd couldn't have become a top-flight player. I remember telling someone I was teaching the game that stalemates usually occurred with just a king and blocked pawns. Although, I hastened to add, I was sure that some uber-genius had composed a stalemate with like five (wow!) pieces. I thought that was a joke but then I saw Loyd's stalemate composition with every piece on the board. He was a genius.
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  TheFocus: I would wish you happy birthday, Mr. Loyd, but I am having problems.
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