The late Tony Lewis, from Cheltenham, who had been a strong Gloucestershire player in his early days, later devoted himself entirely to chess problems. The British Chess Problem Society benefited enormously from his input, especially as Treasurer, in which capacity he was instrumental in getting a lot of the Society’s business, not just the financial business, done. He did still find time for composing chess problems, mostly traditional mate-in-2 problems, and was a leading expert in a particular category of problem, the mutate. You may like to have a go at solving this mate in 2, which was published in British Chess Magazine in 1993:
This is (among other things) an example of a mutate (as will be explained later), but (typically of Tony’s problems) it is first and foremost an engaging problem, one that is enjoyable to solve. The solver’s eye is drawn to the position of the white Queen, lurking behind the white King. At the moment, there is no move of the wK that would give mate – the only legal move, 1.Ke3+, blocks the line f2-c5 and so allows 1…Kxc5. But if Black played 1…Nc2 or 1…Pb3 (or if Black played 1…dxc5, after which 2.Ke3 would indeed work) then there would be a mating move by the wK. Given that moves of the h6N allow mate by Bf7 we see that Black is in zugzwang.
However, White doesn’t have a good waiting move. We might think of 1.Be3?!, especially because there is then a nice new wK mate, 1…f2 2.Ke2, but Black can defend with 1…Bxc5 since 2.Ke3 is no longer available.
The key in fact takes us off in a wholly different direction – 1.Qa4!. (Well done if you spotted this!) Now we have a new zugzwang. If 1…dxc5 2.Qd7; if 1…b3 2.Qc4; if any move of the a1N then 2.Qb3. In a mutate White lacks a waiting move and so has to give up a mate set for at least one defence, for which a new mate is prepared in a new zugzwang. I find this idea inherently attractive. Considerable skill is required to do what Tony did and make such problems work soundly – you may like to have a go at composing one. If you do, don’t hesitate to send your problem to Bristol ChessTimes!
Chris is a GM problem composer and regular player for Horfield C.C.