American Chess Journal, 1879 (First Problem Tournament)

single #2–5 (5 pr. for the most difficult problems)
Solving Committee: ? (10 expert solvers)
Every problem will be solved by a committee, who will keep a separate record of the time consumed on each problem. One 30th of this time will be deducted for each piece employed in the construction of the problem. The average balance of the several records of the Solving Committee will give the rating of each problem. (see Notes for additional information.)
1 pr. C. Mohle (Motto: Finis Poloniae)
2 pr. H. D. Morwood (Not so Fast)
3 pr. Mrs. Wm. Brace (Ceramic Echos)
4 pr. J. C. Ninde (Alpha)
5 pr. J. M. Hughes (Euclid 47.1)
p. 192 (Nov. 1878): announcement
p. 262 (Feb. 1879): closing announcement; list of participants
p. 284 (Mar. 1879): status report; discussion of evaluation of priority claims
p. 313 (Apr. 1879): award report; individual scores for all(?) particpants
Although the tournament was announced as the First Problem Tournament of the American Chess Journal, there had been at least one earlier tourney (see American Chess Journal B Tourney).

The number of entries were 64: three were withdrawn prior to publication, three were received after closing date, and two were rejected as having been published elsewhere. The remaining 56 problems were published as prbs. 211–266.

Another three problems were found to have been published elsewhere, under other names than submitted, and were also disqualified, but do not appear to have been identified in print.

The problem score list contains 52 entries (no. 353 is certainly a misprint for 253, and one of the two entries for 243 a misprint for 244). Missing from the list are prbs. 216 Much Ado About Nothing, 217 As You Like It, 239 Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and 254 An Open Question. Some of these are probably the problems that were disqualified due to prior publication.

However, the fairly high number of misprints and inconsistencies found here and elsewhere in this source may indicate that problems missing from the score list might also have been omitted by accident. The editor does not always seem to have had the time or the patience necessary for close proofreading.

In addition to the basic method of adjudication cited above, the report details the method of making scores of 2-movers commensurable to scores of longer problems:

We also proposed to compare problems in few moves with those in more, upon the following scale : A three mover must be six times as difficult as a two mover, and a four mover four times as difficult as a three, and a five mover five times as difficult as a four.
To arrive at the rating ot a two move problem, for example, we take the average time of the ten solvers, deduct one 30th for each piece employed then multiply by six, which places it on the same basis as a 3 mover. If the problem is a 4 mover, divide by 4; so as to reduce the valuation to the rating of a 3 mover. Upon this plan we give the rating of the entire collection, those in 2 moves multiplied by 6, those in 4 and 5, reduced by dividing by 4 or 20.
It is not clear if the 1/30 time deduction applied also for kings: the denominator suggests it did not.

In view of the relative obscurity of the prize winners, it may be worth noting that G. E. Carpenter reached 7th place and R. Braune 31st.


1 Prize: C. Mohle


2 Prize: H. D. Morwood


3 Prize: Mrs. Wm. Brace


4 Prize: J. C. Ninde


5 Prize: J. M. Hughes