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Sam Loyd
Number of games in database: 31
Years covered: 1853 to 1878

Overall record: +10 -19 =1 (35.0%)*
   * 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, 1877 0-1
   Loyd vs S Rosenthal, 1867 1-0
   Loyd vs Charles Caldwell Moore, 1853 1-0
   E D'Andre vs Loyd, 1867 0-1
   Loyd vs C Golmayo, 1867 1-0

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

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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).

Brothers: Thomas Loyd and Isaac S Loyd.

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

Wikipedia article: Sam Loyd

Last updated: 2020-05-09 14:10:52

 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 31  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Loyd vs Charles Caldwell Moore 1-0241853CasualC33 King's Gambit Accepted
2. Loyd vs F Perrin 0-1291856New YorkD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
3. C Stanley vs Loyd 0-1151859Stanley's Chess RoomC00 French Defense
4. J A Leonard vs Loyd  0-1331860New YorkC01 French, Exchange
5. Loyd vs J A Leonard  0-1191860New YorkC77 Ruy Lopez
6. Loyd vs de Riviere 0-1501867ParisC50 Giuoco Piano
7. de Riviere vs Loyd 1-0411867ParisC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
8. De Vere vs Loyd 1-0431867ParisC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
9. Loyd vs De Vere 0-1421867ParisC50 Giuoco Piano
10. Loyd vs E D'Andre 1-0311867ParisC50 Giuoco Piano
11. E D'Andre vs Loyd 0-1241867ParisA03 Bird's Opening
12. Loyd vs S Rosenthal 1-0361867ParisC50 Giuoco Piano
13. S Rosenthal vs Loyd ½-½511867ParisC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
14. Loyd vs E Rousseau  0-1261867ParisC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
15. E Rousseau vs Loyd 0-1361867ParisC52 Evans Gambit
16. Loyd vs G Neumann 0-1461867ParisC50 Giuoco Piano
17. G Neumann vs Loyd 1-0271867ParisC52 Evans Gambit
18. Loyd vs Winawer 0-1441867ParisC42 Petrov Defense
19. M S From vs Loyd 1-0261867ParisC45 Scotch Game
20. Loyd vs M S From 0-1401867ParisC60 Ruy Lopez
21. Winawer vs Loyd 1-0511867ParisC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
22. H Czarnowski vs Loyd  1-0241867ParisC50 Giuoco Piano
23. Loyd vs H Czarnowski  0-1391867ParisC50 Giuoco Piano
24. Loyd vs Steinitz 0-1291867ParisB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
25. Steinitz vs Loyd 1-0171867ParisC27 Vienna Game
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 31  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Loyd wins | Loyd loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  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+ Tçç6 3.Da5+ T4ç5 4.Db3+ Tdç4 5.Dd2+ Téd4 6.Df3+ Téé4 7.Dg5+ é5 8.Df7+ Té6 9.Dd8+ Tçd6 10.Db7+ Tçç6 11.Da5+ T4ç5 12.Db3+ Tdç4 13.Dd2+ Téd4 14.Df3+ é4 15.Dg5+ Té5 16.Df7+ Tdé6 17.Dd8+ Tçd6 18.Db7+ Tçç6 19.Da5+ T4ç5 20.Db3+ Tdç4 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!!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: These are intriguing! I must dust off (now my) book of Sam Loyd's puzzles!
Premium Chessgames Member
  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.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  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.

Jan-30-12  brankat: Forever young!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: R.I.P. Sam Loyd.
Premium Chessgames Member
  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”.

Jul-30-12  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.

Jan-02-13  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.

May-15-15  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.
Jan-30-16  TheFocus: Great problemist!

Happy birthday, Sam Loyd!!

Premium Chessgames Member
  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.
Jan-30-17  TheFocus: I would wish you happy birthday, Mr. Loyd, but I am having problems.
May-24-17  RookFile: If Loyd mastered the openings he goes to the next level. I'm glad he didn't. His problems are amazing and we have those instead.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Stonehenge: "He collaborated with puzzler Henry Dudeney for a while, but Dudeney broke off the correspondence and accused Loyd of stealing his puzzles and publishing them under his own name. Dudeney despised Loyd so intensely he equated him with the Devil."

See also

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: For anyone familiar with Welsh -- why is Lloyd usually spelled with two L's? And whatever happened to Sam's second L?
Sep-26-17  Sally Simpson: It's one his lesser known puzzles.

Where is the missing 'L',

He may have sold an 'L' to Lionel Llewellyn.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Rankled File: I'll try posting this again - checked my profile paged and noticed that it said "This user has never kibitzed". And I knew I had hit the button below which says "Kibitz!" when I first tried to post, so I'll try again. At least I'm confident that I didn't accidentally post this under the name of some other chessplayer, like Tal. I'd never hear the end of it. Not around here.

Found my mistake (whenever things aren't going quite right for me, I've learned to check first for "operator error" - surprising how often a mirror will show me the source of my difficulty). Seems there's this second, "post kibitz" button . . . . ---
This is what happens when you are just a little OCD and save stuff, like notes on scraps of paper, for decades. And then go through them in your old age.

In either the 1980s or 1990s I copied down the following self-help-draw by Sam Loyd, published in George Koltanowski’s chess column in the San Francisco Chronicle. Unfortunately, in those days I had not yet developed the habit of dating my notes. George couldn't have published it much earlier than 1981, based on my own history of interest in chess.

Perhaps someone who a.) has access to a searchable database of S.F. Chronicles, and b.) has sufficient time and inclination, will look up the source and offer an improved reference. My expectation that someone will do this is zero - I can easily think of a multitude of things to do which are more important, like breathing.

(I had to copy the entry, as opposed to clipping the column from the paper, since the paper wasn’t mine and the owner wasn’t finished passing it around our little group of chessnuts.)

Having read all the posts on c.g.’s bio of Sam L. through yesterday, I see that at least I’m not posting old news (though some of you may be familiar with this challenge).

Interesting to read past posts on Sam's shortest stalemate puzzle and it makes me wonder if the challenge I’m posting was developed first or was part of Sam's study leading to his stalemate puzzle. My guess is that it was. I doubt this can be a proper puzzle, since I imagine there’s more than one solution, given the number of moves required.

Perhaps Sam worked much as some mathematicians do, just following leads for the sheer fun and joy of it. Just my guess, with zero basis in known references. This one just has a feeling about it (to me) of Sam’s perverse sense of the silly. Though, judging from his photo above, Sam had no perverse sense of anything. Or else he did, of everything. Or maybe he's simply trying to fight off volcanic diarrhea.

And while c.g. member Nikolaas may no longer be with us here at c.g. all these years later (trusting he’s well), I can offer him what has got to be one of the most brutally ridiculous retrograde analysis positions ever devised. It's by Sam Loyd and it goes like this:

click for larger view

Achieve this position starting from a full board in just 17 legal moves for each side.

Given that I’m now 66, I’ll post Sam's solution when I remember to. Both friendly reminders and complete disinterest are welcome. Which goes with the turf when you’re 66.

And it just registered with me what The Focus wrote back in January '17, 5 posts back or so - thank you! Now I'm starting my workday with a big smile.

Nov-19-21  Mathematicar: It is worth mentioning that Sam Loyd was also a prolific recreational mathematician.
Jun-26-22  lonchaney: Chess composer

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