Yesterday I had written about Mr. Pollock as sketched out by Mrs. Frideswide F. Rowland in 1897.
As noted, Mrs. Rowland's maiden name was Beechey. She, a chess problemist married an avid chess player, Thomas B. Rowland and settled down in Kingstown Ireland. Strangely enough, this town, 12 km south of Dublin was originally named Dún Laoghaire. For exactly 100 years -from 1821 to 1921- it was renamed Kingstown, but reverted back to its original name which it bears today.
Thomas Rowland belonged to, and directed, a chess club in Clontarf which is in Dublin's northside. A curious event occurred in 1891.
The Clontarf Chess Club and the Clontarf Lawn Tennis Club, both of which T.B. Rowland belonged, played the corresponding team from the Belmont Club in both Chess and Tennis.
The Dublin Evening Mail of August 26, 1891 published the following account:
"The Clontarf Club in being singled out for the distinction of receiving the challenge was known to possess a strong element of tennis for many of its members figure prominently in the records of that prosperous young institution the Clontarf Lawn Tennis Club. The Clontarfites at once gallantly accepted the unique challenge and after settlement of preliminaries, sallied north wards on the appointed day the 16th August 1891 with the following team of Messrs C Drury, S Fitzpatrick, Powis Hoult, H Jenkins, W Morrow, T B Rowland, K A Rynd, Porterfield Rynd and A Stephens accompanied by Mr R McFerran.
Most cordially welcomed on their arrival in the Northern capital by Mr D R Lowry, President and other officers of the Belmont Club the Clontarf team lost very little time in repairing to the picturesque grounds of the Belmontites, near Sydenham. The Belmont Club was determined to make the day a gala occasion and the Band of the 2nd Battallion Rifle Brigade performed numerous musical numbers conducted by Sergeant F McGarry while an impressive banquet was prepared for the southern visitors. The tennis events were the first to be decided and in the singles honours were divided while in the doubles Belmont obtained a majority. The rack and dust of the journey had an obvious effect on the nerves and optics of the visiting team which would account for them not exhibiting their very best form; nevertheless the Belmont players were a strong lot and played so well that the result may fairly be attributed to their superior skill.
Before the Chess events came off a repast of a sumptuous kind was laid in the Ferguson Hall adjoining the tennis grounds. The tables and walls were gorgeously decorated with flowers and the eye caught the conspicuous display of Clontarf colours red and blue provided by yellow marguerites and blue iris; alternating with the Belmont colours of blue and yellow provided by red poppies and blue comflower. The Clontarf director Mr T B Rowland was visibly affected with anxiety for the fate of his chess team who if they yielded to the temptation of the rich banquet - ‘many joints of roast meat and foul accompanied by a profusion of fruits strawberries, raspberries, grapes; while a wonder of size and flavour was the enormous salmon carried to the table in two halves which put together made a young whale in length and height’ - might be unable to cope with their adversaries. At 8 o'clock he however had the satisfaction of seeing his valiants march off to the chequered squares in good fighting form."
(Report of the Chess & Tennis Challenge with Thomas B Rowland 1891)
The 1897 book, The Chess Bouquet By Frederick Richard Gittins gives biographical sketches of noted chess problemists of that time. Gittens wrote a sketch of both Frideswide and Thomas Rowland:
MRS. T. B. ROWLAND
More than fifteen years ago, when there were but very few prominent lady chess devotees, lovers of the game, and of the problem art in particular, were charmed and delighted by the appearance on the chess horizon of a shining star — a lady problem composer, who produced brilliant two-move problems, and showed the greatest interest in everything appertaining to public chess. That lady was Miss Frideswide F. Beechey. There was a peculiar charm, a poetic gentleness, in the leading motifs in all her problems ; and if we mention also that the fair problemist frequently enriched the pages of contemporary literature with chess prose and poetry of an equally soft and pleasing tone, it will be readily understood that the work and personality of the lady who then stood almost alone as a pioneer lady exponent of problems, the poetry of chess, and as a chess poetess, should have excited a degree of admiration which the more numerous latter day lady chess devotees will scarcely be able to emulate. It is for that reason that Mrs. T. B. ROWLAND, as she now is, will ever be best remembered as Miss Beechey, a name under which the chess world first and lastingly learned to love and admire her chess talent and genius. As Miss Beechey, she was the first lady on record to enter an international problem tournament and carry off a prize whilst competing with most of the leading composers of the day. Since then her chess career has been a continuous series of brilliant successes, for she has entered no less than forty-nine "solution and problem" competitions, and she has been successful in carrying off forty-one prizes. We append a specimen problem of her composition, in connection with which we must mention that at a recently-held solution competition at a New York chess club twenty-two problems were submitted to the solvers. Every problem was solved with the exception of the one subjoined, notwithstanding it being only a problem in two moves. Our previous remarks concerning heredity will receive further confirmation in the case of Mrs. T. B. Rowland.
Her grandfather, Sir William Beechey, was President of the Royal Academy, London ; her father, Admiral Beechey, was an artist as well as a distinguished naval officer. Need we mention that Mrs. Rowland herself possesses, in addition to her delightful chess talents, considerable artistic attainments, and has won prizes as a painter of flowers. Her marriage, in 1884, with Mr. T. B. Rowland, of Dublin, may truly be described as a chess match. It was the common pursuit of our noble pastime which brought husband and wife together. The union has been productive of great benefit to the cause of chess, for Mr. and Mrs. T. B. Rowland together have thrown themselves heart and soul into the work of chess literature and journalism. They conduct chess columns in the weekly Irish Times, they own and edit the Kingstown Monthly Magazine, and have produced the Chess Player's Annual since 1889. In fact, Mr. and Mrs. T. B. RowlandD have exhibited remarkable industry as writers, producing such works as "Chess Blossoms," "Chess Fruits," "The Problem Art," "Living Chess," etc., and it must be said that Mr. and Mrs. Rowland are the only live factors in chess in Ireland.
Mrs. Rowland has a daughter, who, at the early age of eight, already shows great talent and aptitude for the game. — The Lady s Pictorial.
PROBLEMS by Mrs. T. B. Rowland
MR. T. B. ROWLAND, who with his amiable and accomplished wife, has done so much for the cause of chess and chess literature, is an Irishman, and a descendant of one of the oldest families in the South. He takes his place amongst those who, by their skill, talent and genius, have become illustrious throughout the world. Almost every devotee of the game has, for the past fifteen years, been benefited by the herculean work done on their behalf by Mr. Rowland.
As an organizer and one skilled in stirring up and infusing spirit, he was instrumental in founding in Dublin, near where he resides, the Irish Chess Association in 1885, the Kingstown Chess Club in 1886, the City Chess Club in 1887, the Clontarf Chess Club in 1888, the Rathmines Chess Club in 1889, the Club of Living Chess in 1891, the Hibernian Chess Association, and the Irish Chess Club in 1892, and the Glengeary Chess Club in 1893. In 1885, he promoted the first Irish Chess Congress held after a lapse of twenty years. He also promoted successful chess congresses and tournaments in Dublin in 1892 and 1893.
As captain, he, in 1886, led to victory a team of fourteen picked players in a correspondence match against redoubtable Sussex. He has also led to victory, a team of over 50 Dublin players in a correspondence match against Belfast in 1891, a team of too Dublin players in the return match with Belfast in 1892, and a team of 100 Irish players against England in 1893. In the summer of 1891 he marshalled a team of ten Clontarf players to Belmont, County Antrim, — a distance of 120 miles — and in all cases, both as captain and competitor, won.
Mr. Rowland is also conductor of the famous Correspondence Tourneys which are annually held in connection with the Dublin Morning and Evening Mail, the chess department of which he has managed since 1885. He has also, during the past fifteen years conducted as many as thirty Problem Tourneys, and thirty Solution Tourneys, and these chiefly held in connection with the Sheffield Independent and the Bristol Mercury were always on a gigantic scale — as many as two hundred competitors sometimes taking part in them.
What, perhaps, is more pleasing than all in Mr. Rowland's brilliant chess career is his directorship of the renowned Club of Living Chess. This Club, founded for the sole purpose of giving public performances in aid of deserving causes and charities, is limited to fifty lady and gentleman members, of high social position, and has made about fifty appearances. On the occasion of a floral fete, held in connection with the Alexandra College, Dublin, Mr. Rowland, having E. MacDowel Cosgrave, Esq., M.D., F.R.C.P., as his opponent, had the honor of playing a game in presence of their excellencies the Lord Lieutenant and the Countess of Zetland, and a large number of other distinguished patrons, among whom were the Duchess of Leinster, Marchioness of Headfort, Countess of Mayo, Countess of Longford, Countess of Wicklow, Vicountess de Vesci, Lady Ardilaun, Lady Henry Grosvenor, Lady Katherine Pakenham, Lady Stokes, Hon. Mrs. Butler Massey, Lady Fermoy, Hon. Miss Vesey, Lady Gore Booth, &c. The performance was described as one of the most magnificent sights ever witnessed in Dublin. In the Large Concert Hall — the largest in the city — amidst the wealth and beauty of the floral triumphs and decorations, the monster chess board was laid, in the centre as it were, of a fairy palace of enchantment. The newly designed dresses of the chessmen, sparkling with jewels, glittering with gold and silver and the sheen of silk and satin, the imposing sceptres of the stately crowned heads, the heraldic oriflammes of the noble Rooks, the awe-inspiring battle-axes of the valiant and doughty Knights, the pastorial staffs or croziers of the reverend Bishops, the coquettish spears of the sixteen charming Pawns, and the Squires clad in the splendour of the Tudor Age, together with their graceful actions and perfect movements, and the surrounding floral decorations, were the admiration of all beholders, who will long and pleasantly remember the gorgeous scene. Never before was chess shown to more advantage.
In addition to all Mr. Rowland's splendid accomplishments and colossal efforts on behalf of the game, he is a gifted problem composer and solver, and has won very many of the first pri/.es of the leading tourneys of the past ten years. He is an authority on the subject, and has just issued a second edition of his clever work "The Problem Art," which is much sought after. He is the author of many works on chess.
One of which ("Chess Fruits") was presented to Her Majesty, the Queen, who commanded Sir Henry Ponsonby to convey her thanks for the gift. Mr. ROWLAND is also proprietor of a social periodical in Kingstown.
His career is an unbroken series of successes. He and his talented wife are holders of innumerable tourney prizes. On the occasion of their marriage in 1884, they were presented with a handsome full-sized set of Staunton pattern ivory chessmen by a large number of leading players as a mark of appreciation of their varied labours in support of the royal game, and the ready courtesy with winch they constantly place their skill in chess at the service of all. The list of donors included the names of nearly all the British and several of the foreign chess editors, a large number of presidents and secretaries of chess clubs, and some lady players.
Many other presents were sent by chess players at the time. More recently, Mr. Rowland was presented with a testimonial to the value of £30. His untiring zeal and ability, his courtesy and kindness, and his constant enthusiastic advocacy for the good of chess and the enjoyment of chess players will be long and favorably known.
THE ART OF COMPOSING.
By T. B. ROWLAND.
PROBLEMS are termed the " poetry of chess; " and as " a picture is a poem without words," so is a problem. To the ordinary observer it is merely a few wooden or ivory pieces on a board ; to a chess solver it is the hard flint wherein lies the rich amber; the oyster shell concealing the pearl ; the casket that contains the precious jewel ; and as the golden key alone of the owner will disclose the treasures within, so will a gem of problem composition require the study of an adept before the beauty of its inner soul is revealed.
As in a picture the tones should harmonise, and all things tend to throw out the subject in bold relief, so in a problem there should be one idea or theme, and each piece should co-operate in developing the idea to the best possible advantage.
In a two-move problem especially, point and distinctness, with brilliancy and piquancy, are to be the chief aim ; and the difficulty of its solution should be in its strategic qualities.
We see hundreds of problems in various tourneys, but how seldom one haunts the memory as "a joy for ever."
To become a good problem composer requires certain qualities and a special taste for the art ; for, though anyone may learn the method and make a problem, only natural talent can conceive a meritorious theme and compose its setting.
Most people with any taste for poetry can make a jingle of sounds. It is quite possible for a poor player to be a fine problem composer, but it does not follow that a brilliant and strong player can also compose ; yet the qualities essential respectively to player and composer may be found united.
The qualifications necessary for other artistic pursuits are also requisite in the art of problem construction. These are ideality of imagination, ingenuity, coustructiveness, or invention. Add to these a full measure of perseverance and patience, and, to crown all, a large amount of comprehensiveness, in order to grasp the whole idea, or position, and to know exactly where to put the finishing touches.
The principal requisites in a chess problem are beauty, unity, originality, and difficulty — beauty of construction and conception, unity of idea, originality of thought, and difficulty of solution. The best problems have but one idea, and only such variations as are required to illustrate the theme. Poor variations should be cut off at all hazards. Frequently, in
composing, by adding another "defence," another mate is added, and so on, building up the problem until it has some ten or twelve variations, to the detriment of the beauty of the position and the "unity of idea."
Variations, if arising from the original theme, are to be admired, and it is this very admiration of them that tempts composers to sacrifice neatness and unity to the more flowery, and may we say vulgar, style of overgrown problems. The gardener does not take the fullest blown rose to the flower show, but the one most perfectly formed. It is to quality, colour, and rarity that the judge awards the prize.
ORIGINALITY is a rare quality indeed. With the thousands of problems that have been composed it is hardly to be expected that anything new call be further discovered. Every composer has his own particular style, and it is in his own manner of setting forth some known idea, or combination of themes, that originality may be found. The many instances of so-called plagiarism, where the parties are entirely innocent of copying each other, show that the same ideas occur to the minds of different composers.
Artists paint the one scene and sculptors work from the one model. Take, for instance, the undraped figure in art ; many sculptors have worked on that one subject, each has rendered his own ideal, and plagiarism could not be brought against them. But if one should perchance copy the "folds of drapery, the expression of countenance, or some striking attitude portrayed by another, his originality is lost, and the charge can be brought against him. Likewise with chess problems, the composer may render some well-known conception in his own way, give it his own dressing, and claim originality.
At the same time, when the whole field of thought has been so repeatedly travelled over that originality in idea is almost impossible, he would be not only censoriously critical, but unjust as well, who rigorously investigated the claims of any author to originality of conception. Fancied resemblances and similarity in the elaboration of a train of thought are
quite consistent with the strictest honesty of the composer. Solomon's apothegm that "there is nothing new under the sun," is probably more true relative to the products of the mind than of anything else. The thought that flashes like an inspiration across the mental vision of the poet and philosopher of to-day has probably warmed the brain of a Grecian poet or Hindoo sage twenty centuries ago. The witticisms that sparkle and amuse a select coterie in London or Paris, cheered aiid amused the loungers in the groves of the Academy at Athens before the commencement of our era.
In several instances of similarity of idea which have of late occurred, charges of plagiarism have been brought forward. Such charges are more easily made than proved, and should not exist except in cases where one directly appropriates the work of another, or where one makes alterations in the work of another and then appropriates it and claims it as his own. Reliable authorities give credit to composers for clothing fine ideas in what the problem world would deem presentable apparel. Referring to the "Bristol" theme, the late H. J. C. Andrews said, " Many have since extended and embroidered it, and quite legitimately so."
LITERARY THEFT cannot be charged unless a writer appropriates the language of another and claims it as his own Of such wholesale and thievish transference of mental products it is not probable that much prevails, as the fear of detection will prevent those who are dishonest from copying verbatim.
We do not infer that there is no property in an idea. We contend that a composer is perfectly justified in rendering a known idea in his own particular style, in his own original manner. There is property in an idea, and there is likewise property in rendering or redressing an idea known or otherwise.
Similarity of construction is a different thing. There is no property whatever in a position or arrangement of the men Two problems may be almost alike in appearance and yet contain different ideas. Two or more authors working on different ideas may construct similar positions and each claim his own. As an illustration we give the following : —
Move the position one square to the left,
and we have a different problem by B. G. Laws, with 1. Q to KKtsq as key.
Now move the position two squares up and one to the right
and we have again a different problem with 1. Q to R4 for key
Many other curious instances could be given, but want of space forbids.
PROBLEMS by Mrs. T. B. Rowland