Friday, 1 May 2020

One Hundred Chess Problems, by Rev. A. Cyril Pearson

One Hundred Chess Problems, by Rev. A. Cyril Pearson, London 1883.

This is the third edition of this work, originally published in 1879. However, I can find no trace anywhere of a second edition. This was Pearson's only chess book and, almost certainly, the only chess book published by the Civil Service Printing and Publishing Company. 

Portrait of Arthur Cyril Pearson in The Chess Bouquet, by F. R. Gittins, London 1897, page 61.

The Rev. Pearson (1838 - 1916) also compiled a couple of books of general puzzles and edited a dictionary. The LN catalogue also lists an article by Pearson in Chambers Journal for 1887 on Curiosities of Chess

Chess problem books were very popular in the second half of the nineteenth century and far exceeded other categories of works on chess (excluding periodicals). Books on chess problems accounted for 73 of the 248 chess books published in the English language between 1850 and 1899, compared with, for example, 41 general treatises, 34 tournament and match books, 29 books on openings and 28 games collections. 

Typical of the period, the book was beautifully produced, with attractive gilt title and facsimile signature on the front cover surrounded by black ornamentation, bevelled edges to the cloth covers, red-tinted page edges, and a colourful frontispiece Chess Puzzle.  

Pearson often inscribed copies of his book, and this copy has an inscription dated 1888. The author also provided a hand-written draughts problem and diagram on the rear endpaper.  

The original Preface dated December 1878 is given, along with a Preface to Third Edition in which the author states that a few additional problems are included and proudly proclaims that the first new problem had won two first prizes in the Chess Monthly Problem Tournament of 1882. 

The solution commences with 1. Nab5

The problems are clearly displayed one to a page with Solutions at the end. 

The publishers also took the opportunity to include ten Opinions of the Press, both on the first edition of this work and on this new edition.  

© Michael Clapham 2020 

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