Edith Baird

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Edith Baird

Edith Elina Helen (Winter-Wood) Baird (February 22, 1859 – February 1, 1924) was a chess composer who in her day was the most prolific composer of chess problems in the world.[1] She published under her married name as Mrs. W. J. Baird and was sometimes referred to in the press as the "Queen of Chess".[2]

Early years and family[edit]

Edith Elina Helen Winter-Wood was born at Hareston Manor near Plymouth in the United Kingdom, the daughter of Thomas Winter-Wood, a writer, and Eliza Ann (Sole) Winter-Wood.[3][4] She learned to play chess early in life as her father, her mother, and her older brothers Edward and Carslake were all either amateur or tournament-level chess players.[3]

In 1880 she married W. J. Baird, Deputy Inspector-General of Hospitals and Fleets for the Royal Navy.[3] They settled in Brighton, where their only child, Lilian Edith, was born. Lilian also went on to become a chess composer.[3]

Chess composition[edit]

In the mid 1880s, Baird started composing chess problems and within a few years had gained a reputation in the field.[3] In 1888, she took third prize in a Sheffield chess-composition tournament, the first of over two dozen subsequent prizes.[2] Her most celebrated success came in 1893 when she won an international chess-composition tournament against a number of the most notable chess composers of the day.[3] She became the most prolific composer of chess problems in the world, with over 2000 problems to her credit.[1] These were published in newspapers such as the Times of London.[2] Some of these are still considered sound, many are considered elegant, and some are novelties such as letter problems, in which chess pieces have to form the shapes of letters.[2][3]

Baird published two books of her problems: Seven Hundred Chess Problems (1902) and The Twentieth Century Retractor (1907).[3] The first book took her 14 years to complete.[1]

As a chess player herself, Baird won the Sussex Ladies Championship in 1897 and a silver medal in the tournament three times.[2][3]


  1. ^ a b c Kavalek, Lubomir. "Chess". Washington Post, July 20, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e Gittins, F.R., ed. The Chess Bouquet, or, The Book of the British Composers of Chess Problems. Fielden McAllan & Co., 1897, pp. 9–11.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Edith Elina Helen Baird - née Winter-Wood (1859 - 1924)". Chess Devon, August 25, 2008.
  4. ^ "No. 1 - Thomas Winter-Wood (1818-1905)". Chess Devon, August 25, 2008.