Author: Baird, Mrs William James (Edith Elina Helen Wood) [1859-1924]
Publisher: Henry Sotheran & Co
369 pages with frontispiece portrait and column diagrams. Quarto (11 1/4" x 8") bound in original publisher's red cloth with gilt lettering to spine and decorative gilt cover, page ends in gilt, decorative flower gilt end papers, beveled edges. The text is printed in blue, the diagrams in blue and red. (Betts: 39-4) First edition.
Contains 200 retractors, 100 direct mates of the "picture" and "letter" type. Each problem is accompanied by quotations from Shakespeare; all are by the author, who was the inventor of the retractor genera. Solutions appear at the end.
Edith Elina Helen Winter-Wood Baird was the daughter of poet and chess problemist Thomas Winter-Wood but possibly learned chess from her mother who was said to have been a strong player. She had two older brothers, Edward (EJ) and Carlaske, both of whom were strong players and problemists. Edith was born at Toulouse rather than at the Brixton as commonly thought, in 1859 and in 1880 married a navy surgeon and Deputy Inspector-General of Hospitals & Fleets, William James Baird. The very next year Lilian, their only child, was born at Tynemouth. Lilian was a child chess prodigy whose first problem was published when she was eight years old. Lilian was also an accomplished poet and painter like her mother. Although she had over 70 problems published by the age of thirteen, Lilian gave up chess composing while still in her teens. Lilian died at Brighton in 1977 at the age of 95. Edith Baird started composing around 1888 and in her life composed over 2000 high-quality problems. She published two chess books, Seven Hundred Chess Problems in 1902 and The Twentieth Century Retractor-Chess Fantasies in 1907. She also published an illuminated book of verse in which she provided all the artwork as well as the text. Edith was a champion archer (although she was vehemently opposed to hunting) and an avid bicyclist who was known to have ridden 25 miles (on one of those old style bicycles) to discuss an adjourned chess game. In 1895 she took up competitive chess and though she won the Sussex Ladies' Championship in 1897, it must not have been to her liking. The only other tournament she played in was one organized by "Leisure Hour" in 1900. Very few of her games have survived.
Points and spine ends moderately rubbed, corners bumped Half title begging to separate. A very good copy of a scarce chess item.