Problems in February with GM Jones

I was interested to receive feedback that it would be good to see problems that featured more game-like positions. This set me thinking. ‘Mate in 2’ positions are very unlikely to fill the bill as White must have a totally overwhelming position with a choice of apparently immediately killing moves of which only one forces mate next move. Problems in other genres – helpmates, selfmates – certainly won’t fill the bill! (Though most of us have had the experience of unwittingly creating an inelegant helpmate in the course of a game…) So the likeliest place to find such problems is in the ‘Mate in x’ field where “x” is a large number.

I haven’t yet come up with a really good example to publish here. A candidate would be this mate in 9, but it’s hard work just reading through the solution, never mind trying to solve it!

B8A6DD4B-B758-487A-975B-5403719F5FD9

Andrei Zhuravlev, U.S.Problem Bulletin 1995

It turns out that Black has to try to keep his Bishop on a square that guards white squares from which the white Knight is imminently threatening to reach f7. In case you’re interested, the first move apparently is 1.Ng4, and thereafter there are numerous variations, in each of which White manages to wrongfoot, and so overload, the black Bishop.

In fact, this is similar to many studies that feature such duels between minor pieces (it’s just that in this case penetrating the defences gives rise to a mate, not just the win of a crucial Pawn or whatever). And if we’re thinking of studies then there are plenty of studies from game-like positions that are much more enjoyable, for instance this one, by former World Champion Vassily Smyslov (Pravda, 1976):

5C95CAB9-EEB5-4346-8026-4BC1362DE56F

White to play and win (solution below)

I’m indebted to Jonathan Mestel, who expounded this study in a recent issue of The Problemist (the magazine of the British Chess Problem Society). I’ll basically be cribbing his commentary! It looks as though White has a straightforward win by forcing Black to sacrifice his Bishop for the fP and preserving at least his hP which will in the end be able to promote. After 1.f7 Ba3 2.Bg7 does Black have any resources? As Jonathan remarks, he could try 2…Kd3 3.f8Q Bxf8 4.Bxf8 e2+ when 5.Ke1? f3 6.gxf3 Ke3 is a draw, but 5.Kf2 wins.

535E4F52-2BEA-4451-83E8-B756765B2639

2. …Kd3 isn’t the answer leading to white victory with …5.Kf2. What else?

In a game, you might be quite pleased to see this way to give White the chance to go wrong, knowing that you’d resign if he played 5.Kf2. In solving a study, you’d look deeper to see if there’s a way to show this idea without 5.Kf2 being available to White. And you might then find (if you’re a strong solver!) 2…f3! 3.gxf3 Kd3. The point is now that now, surprisingly, 4.f8Q only draws: 4…e2+ 5.Kf2 Bc5+! and either 6.Qxc5 e1Q+ leading to stalemate or 6.Ke1 Bxf8 7.Bxf8 Ke3 capturing both Pawns.

424EF457-8E72-4716-A990-7DEC8A19B103

Amazingly, promoting to a queen only leads to a draw after 5…Bc5. Hmmm

So we need an under-promotion! After 4.f8B! Black no longer has his stalemate defence and we have 4…e2+ 5.Kf2 e1Q+ 6.Kxe1 Ke3 7.f4! 8.Kxf4 Kf2. Jonathan adds 8…Bc1, saying that then 9.Bh6+ (and not 9.Bf6) is the only win. I don’t see why 9.Bf6 doesn’t also win (in the end) – perhaps you may be able to tell me. Whatever – this point in no way diminishes my enjoyment of the main play.

6A76CA71-E601-40F1-9CBB-5250882E8A43

The final position


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Christoper Jones

Christopher holds the Grandmaster title for Chess Problem Composition and uses his skills to write a regular column for the Bristol Chess Times. He is also a longterm Horfield Chess Club player (where he is acting secretary).

More mini games for coaching chess

The less experienced you are, the harder it is to take specific lessons from a full game of chess. This is the claim that I made in the last article on coaching. There are just way too many factors in a full game, and most of the time any interesting strategic play will be dwarfed by blunders. It is for this reason I believe more in the value of mini games – this means a game specifically designed to teach one or two aspects of the game.

Last time I showed a few games which only use one major piece.

Bristol league alumnus Chris Russell has contributed a further mini-game which he has used with great success in coaching: King, Queen and 8 pawns vs. King, 2 Rooks and 8 pawns. A queen vs. two rooks does come up from time to time in games, and depending on the position, can be much better for either side. The rooks like to be co-ordinated, and the queen likes more open positions and some loose targets. In the scenario with 8 pawns on their starting ranks – Chris notes that the queen has a slight edge because she can keep attacking pawns early on, and the rooks find it hard to establish the right battleground for them – but there’s not much in it.

Since writing the first article, I’ve also discovered that Chess.com has several training games of exactly this nature. I tried the ‘Queen vs. Queen with two extra pawns’ game (you have 5 pawns, the computer has 3) and surprisingly I ended up losing the first two games…
Once I had snapped out of that I managed to press the advantage for a bit and ended up drawing the next two. Fifth time lucky, I triumphed – but I had to calculate a queen trade very carefully. It just shows how hard these ‘winning’ positions are to convert! Anyway, this time let’s see a few other types of mini-game:

Classic mini chess

I started playing this as a youngster; it is arguably a streamlined chess game, reducing down to one of each major piece. Apart from being a shorter game, I like this one for coaching for a couple of reasons. Firstly there is an immediate way to blunder checkmate, so it doesn’t take much to explain the link between a general strategy and checkmate. Let’s take a look [n.b. the board is 5×5, pieces set up with R,N,B,Q and K on a- to e- files; and pawns in front of them, which can only move one square per move, unlike regular chess]:

minichess

1.d3 ed??

Blunder! (You have given your opponent both control and access to the square right in front of your king!) It is forced mate in four:

2.ed – threatening Qe2+ and mate on e4. Black can prolong this with cd (answered by cd) or Nc3 (answered by bxc3) but mate will come on e4 soon enough.

The other thing mini-chess should teach well is that pawns are powerful weapons – where they are only three moves away from queening from the start, strategies for promotion should quickly become apparent.

(It can also teach you about zugzwang – but that’s a bit advanced!)

Push or defend

For this one you’ll have to imagine a solid line between the a and b file. One pawn starts on the a file and can freely wander to the other end. Once it is promoted, you win the game.

However, the other side is trying to checkmate you. Try this one: (White doesn’t have a king in these games, just some pieces to attack with. Here it is Qh1, Rg1, Pf2. Black has the pawn on a7 – which will promote in 5 moves unless Black uses up some moves to avoid checkmate: Kg8, Rf8 and pawns on f7,g7 and h7.)

Push or defend.PNG

This should teach the basic importance of time, and having your own plans (counterplay). As an attacker it should force you to think about forcing moves, and see which threats really are threatening.

Endgame cuts

This one I recommend for absolutely all levels of chess – and was surprisingly inspired by a method for cutting cake fairly! I remember a puzzle from years ago about cutting cakes that are not uniform – different amounts of icing, toppings, corners etc – a potential minefield for any cake cutting scenario. The question was how can two people can ensure a cake is cut fairly between them, using only a knife? (n.b. you are not told anything about the shape or design of the cake).

The answer was pretty simple: One person makes the cut, and the other one gets to choose their piece. This encourages the cutter to cut as fairly as possible.

Okay, its not perfect – it’s a little unfair on the cutter. However, the same approach actually works much better for chess training:

One person sets up an endgame, and the other person chooses their colour.

Why does this help? Two reasons – it gets you to try to evaluate positions. As you set the board up, you will be thinking through all the various parts of the position. Material, time, and quality. Two connected past pawns? Maybe that’s equal to a bishop? Maybe they’re not, maybe they’re easily better. The point is it’s up to you, and you can modify the position until you think it’s equal.

The second reason I like it (except that it trains endgames, which let’s be honest we all need to do more of!) is that when you lose with the side that you picked, you are forced to re-evaluate. Psychologically it’s much harder to ignore the flaws in your thinking when it’s you who chose the position!


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Mike Harris

Mike is a regular pretender in Bristol’s top division and can also be seen propping up local tournament ladders. He writes a regular column for the Bristol Chess Times and plays a solid 20 openings a season.

January Problems with GM Jones

A good way in which to extend one’s imagination as to the possibilities in a chess position is solving ‘series problems’. In other words, one looks for a sequence of moves all made by either White or Black that lead to a position in which the specified outcome can be achieved. I was recently reading an article by the American composer, George Sphicas, a leading expert in this field, from which two such problems of his stood out.

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This problem (from Ideal-Mate Review,1997) is a series helpmate in 25. In other words, Black makes 25 moves in order to reach a position in which White can play a mating move.

It becomes apparent that the only way to achieve mate is by Black blocking his potential flight squares at d7, e7, f7, f6 and f5. This will entail using each of his five potential blockers; all four Pawns will have to promote. The solution therefore comprises a wonderfully precise interlocking sequence in which every element falls into place with move-by-move exactitude (a requirement of the problem being considered sound). The f5 square must be blocked first (otherwise moving the P from g5 to g4 would give check); and you will find that there are reasons why each of the other bPs, once freed up, have to complete their manoeuvres before the next stage in the process can be undertaken. And it also transpires that we have to make one of each of the possible promotions (i.e. once to N/B/R/Q): ‘Allumwandlung’ (or ‘AUW’ for short) in problemists’ parlance – 1.a1N 2.Nc2…4.Nf5 5.g4…8.g1Q 9.Qgg5 10.Qf6 11.g5…15.g1R 16.Rg7 17.Re7 18.Qhf7 19.h5…23.h1B 24.Bc6 25.Bd7 d5#.

If you like that one, you may like to have a go at another Sphicas series helpmate, this time in 30 moves, from Ideal-Mate Review, 1995 –

cjprob2

This time we don’t get AUW, but what we do get is four ‘Excelsiors’, i.e., each of the four black Pawns is moving the whole way to promotion from its starting square. And this time there are six blocking squares to be occupied (as well as a black piece to be sacrificed at g5), so this is a longer, more complex move sequence, whose logic you will enjoy unravelling – 1.a5…5.a1B 6.Bg7 7.Kf6 8.Be6 9.d5…13.d1R 14.Rd7 15.Rf7 16.Ne7 17c5…21.c1B 22.Bg5 23.Rb5 24.Re5 25.b5…29.b1B 30.Bf5 hxg5#.

These two problems qualified for inclusion in Ideal-Mate Review because one of their achievements is that in each the final position satisfies the criteria of an ‘ideal mate’: every unit on the board contributes to the mate either by blocking or by guarding a potential flight square, and there is nothing superfluous in the way in which each potential flight is nullified (i.e., no square that is guarded as well as blocked). From experience I know how challenging it is to find settings in which you don’t have to add any extraneous material to the board in order to exclude unwanted alternative solutions (‘cooks’)!


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Christopher Jones

Christopher holds the Grandmaster title for Chess Problem Composition and uses his skills to write a regular column for the Bristol Chess Times. He is also a longterm Horfield Chess Club player (where he is acting secretary).

Mind-blowing Problems in December with GM Jones

Sir Jeremy Morse, who died last year, had during a distinguished career (which included a spell as Chancellor of Bristol University) maintained an interest in chess problems. He wrote one of the definitive chess problem books, Chess Problems – Tasks and Records, whose third edition was published days before his death. In his memory, the British Chess Problem Society instituted the ‘C.J.Morse Award’, for task-oriented chess problems; the first such award was published in November 2017. I should like to present one of the finest problems in Jeremy’s book together with the problem that won the 2017 award.

A ‘task problem’ seeks to show some particular feature many times (and it is a ‘record’ if it exceeds the number of times shown in any other problem). Sometimes the effect of going for records is to produce boring, mechanical problems, but Jeremy especially cherished such problems that also worked well as artistic problems and as puzzles. Here’s an example:

gmjones1

O.Stocchi
2nd Prize, L’Italia Scacchistica, 1958 (version)
Mate in 2

(Solution Below)

As matters stand, if it were Black to play, then promotions lead to mate: 1…e1Q 2.Rd4; 1…e1N 2.Be3 (‘set mates’). But no mate is set for 1…Ke1 (or for moves of the Bishop), so we’d like to move the d1N so as to meet 1…Ke1 with 2.Qxc1(and to prepare a mate for Bishop moves). This however necessitates changes to the mates after the promotions. In the try, 1.Ne3? (no threat) we have 1…e1Q 2.Qc2 and 1…e1N 2.Nf1 and we have 1…Ba3 2.Ne4; but 1…Bb2! refutes.

So instead play 1.Nf2! (no threat; and a 2nd King flight-square, e3, is granted). Now the mates are 1…e1Q (or Ke3) 2.Qd3 and 1…e1N (or either Bishop move) 2.Nfe4. Jeremy writes of “…the actual record for a promoting black Pawn…with 3 pairs of self-blocking promotions on e1 leading to 6 different mates over three phases…a masterpiece”. Amen to that!

And now the 2017 award-winning problem, first published in The Problemist in 2016:

gmjones2

Ladislav Salai jr. and Emil Klemanic
Mate in 2

(Solution Below)

This is a messier position, and I don’t think that a solver would foresee what the task achieved is; it would become apparent only when he worked out what are the two most plausible attempts to solve the problem and how the play unfolds after each of them. (Do feel free to have a go before reading on!)

In this problem, we do need to find a move that threatens mate. So we try 1.e4, which threatens 2.Qe7. The lines of play now are 1…Nd4 2.cxd4; 1…Nf4 2.Bxf4; 1…c5 2.Rd5; and 1…Bxe4 2.Nfxg4. But 1…Qxe4 refutes.

So now we look at 1.Ne4, threatening 2.Re7. The lines of play now are 1…Nd4 2.exd4; 1…Nf4 2.Bxf4; 1…c5 2.Qd5; and 1…Bxe4 2.Nhxg4. This is the thematic play, but the solver will also note 1…Kxe4 2.Qe6 and 1…Qxe4 2.Bg7.

As the award puts it: “Try and key, threats and four pairs of variation mates involve moves of different white units to the same squares”. This is craftsmanship of the highest order (for each of the lines of play the composers have to devise reasons not only for piece A to have to go to the square but also for piece B’s move to the square to be ineffective, and vice versa), although I don’t think it quite has the clarity of Stocchi’s masterpiece.


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Christopher Jones

Christopher holds the Grandmaster title for Chess Problem Composition and uses his skills to write a regular column for the Bristol Chess Times. He is also a longterm Horfield Chess Club player (where he is acting secretary).

A positional squeeze in the Hippopotamus Defence

This week saw the hotly anticipated Division 1 clash between current league leaders Horfield A and second placed Clifton A.  In the end the match was decided by a single solitary win on Board 4.  Horfield’s Steve Dilleigh talks us through his game against Duncan Grossett, a lovely positional squeeze.  

Dilleigh, S (188)  – Grossett, D (178) [A42]

1.Nf3 d6 2.d4 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.e4 Nd7 5.Nc3 e6 6.Be2 Ne7!?

sd1

So its to be a Hippo System. I remember playing the Hippopotamus in a crucial schools match. One of the opposing team came up to me and accused me of getting my Kings Indian and Queens Indian mixed up. I still won and so did the team. Since then I have maintained a fair amount or respect for the Hippopotamus even though it’s not good enough to be a universal weapon. I rarely try to blast it off the board. I now prefer a wait and see strategy.

7.0–0 b6 8.Be3 Bb7 9.Qc2 h6 10.Rad1 0–0 11.Rfe1 a6

sd2

Here we have the Hippopotamus in all its glory but the trouble for Black is that none of the pawn breaks tends to be that convincing if White keeps his pieces on reasonably sensible squares. If White starts messing around, misplacing his pieces in search of active play that can be a completely different matter.

12.h3 What is Black to do now? I tend to take the attitude that White has more space and more flexibility and the onus is on Black to try to improve his position.

12…Qe8 Black continues to wait. This might have been one of the better points to play 12…f5 13.d5 (13.e5!? and 13.Bc1 were other options.) 13…e5 14.b4 which would be rather like the way the game ended up going.

13.Bc1 The Computer wants some more action here (e.g.13.d5, which may well be right) but I stick to my tactics which are gaining me time on the clock.

13…Rc8 14.b4 Preparing something a bit more active.

14…e5?! Finally Black is induced into doing something but it doesn’t work out too well. A more flexible course could have led to 14…g5 15.a4 c5 16.bxc5 bxc5 17.d5 Ng6 18.a5 which is only slightly better for White.

15.d5 I had the strong feeling that I should be capturing on e5. That gives certain chances but in the end I decided to close the position. I have lots of experience with closed positions and my intuition that this was the right way to go for practical purposes.

15…f5 16.Bd3 Trying to provoke my opponent’s next move.

sd3

16…f4? Black was no doubt intending to create attacking chances on the kingside by advancing his pawns but this is not so easy to achieve here. Black should stay more flexible with for instance 16…Qf7 17.Ba3 Rcd8 18.c5 Nf6 A complex battle ensues but since Black has maintained his pressure against e4 this is not all one sided.

17.Nh2 Rd8 18.Be2!

This is one of the problems with playing ..f4 prematurely. White may be able to activate his bad bishop via g4.

18…Bc8 Black can stop Bg4 but he then loses flexibility. After 18…h5 19.Nf3 Bf6 20.Na4 Kg7 (Or 20…g5 21.c5 bxc5 22.bxc5 dxc5 23.Nxc5 Nxc5 24.Qxc5 g4 25.hxg4 hxg4 26.Nh2 and Black’s unsupported pawn advances prove ineffective.) 21.c5 White gets his attack in first.

19.Bg4 g5?! Another pawn on a dark square. The cage is forming around the g7 bishop.

20.Qe2 Nf6 21.Bxc8 Rxc8 22.g4 White is well on his way to a strategic advantage but Black still has time to counter.

22…Qg6?!

sd4

Here Black misses a big chance. Before White consolidates he can play. 22…c5! 23.bxc5 (23.dxc6 Qxc6 is double-edged and probably balanced.) 23…bxc5 24.Bd2 Rb8 25.Rb1 Qd7 26.Qf1 Rb4 27.a3 Rbb8 28.Rxb8 Rxb8 29.Rb1 White is still heading for a slightly better ending but Black has a lot more space and more activity than in the game.

23.f3 Rfd8 Play is always likely to gravitate towards the queenside so perhaps this isn’t a bad idea. Instead 23…h5 24.c5 hxg4 25.hxg4 Ra8 26.cxd6 cxd6 27.Bd2 Nd7 28.Rc1 is not too bad. White’s advantage looks manageable for Black. This is more or less a normal Kings Indian type position.

24.Ba3 This should be an unnecessary precaution but I was a bit wary of Black’s possible counterplay and indeed after the immediate 24.c5 c6!? (an inspired move in an otherwise bad position) 25.cxb6 cxd5 26.Nxd5 Nexd5 27.exd5 Qf7 (or 27…Rc2 28.Qxa6 e4 with counterplay)) 28.Qxa6 Ra8 29.Qc4 Rdc8 30.Qb3 Qb7 things are suddenly rather unclear and Komodo even prefers Black.

24…Qe8 25.c5 Now this is more playable.

sd5

25…b5?? Surely a very bad decision. Black needs to keep fighting chances for his pieces with 25…dxc5 26.bxc5 Bf8 27.Nb1 Qa4 28.Rc1 Ng6 when there is not much in it.

26.c6!

sd6

Now the Black bishop is caged in behind its pawns and the knights are not doing much better. White simple has to open up the queenside and exchange Black’s better pieces. Black can try to engineer a sacrificial counter but this is will probably only be speculative or sit back and wait. 26…Rb8 Black may have been counting on the plan of getting a knight to b6 but this is easily parried.

27.Rb1 Nc8 28.Bc1 Nb6 29.a4! White gives up a pawn temporarily. Black’s lack of activity means he cannot stop White regaining it and the open line will come in handy.

29…Nxa4 30.Nxa4 bxa4 31.Bd2 Rb5 32.Ra1 Ra8 33.Rxa4 Qb8 34.Rea1 Qb6+ 35.Qf2 Not the computer’s first choice but an exchange of queens just makes things increasingly easy for White.

35…Kf7 36.Qxb6 Rxb6 37.Nf1 Ne8 38.Bc3 Ke7 39.Nd2 Ready to chase the rook from b6 and win a pawn.

39…Rab8 40.Rxa6

sd7

Black doesn’t want to see any more. With his minor pieces virtually dead White can win at his leisure. 1–0

(Editors note – my thanks to both players for contributing their game).


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Steve Dilleigh

Probably the most active player in Horfield chess club, playing ten or more tournaments a year in addition to league chess.

Fascinating endgame study for November with GM Jones

I hope you won’t mind if this month I present not a problem but a rather remarkable endgame study, composed only a few months ago by two of today’s foremost study composers, Karen Sumbatyan and Oleg Pervakov, as a birthday tribute to another top study composer, Yuri Baslov.

novemberproblem

In this fairly game-like position White can’t win by immediately pushing his bP, as then 1…Qf5+ would draw. So instead he plays 1.Qf3. Now Black wants to clear b1 for his own bP and to be able to play …Qe5, so 1…Qe1. So far so mundane. Now the pyrotechnics begin…2.Qf6! (more prosaic moves fail, e.g. 2.Qf5 Qf2). After 2…gxf6 3.g6 Black has …Qe6+! 4.Kxe6 b2.

november prob 2

The critical position with white to play…

This is a key position. If we continue with the obvious 4.Kf7 b1Q then although we can promote at g8 with check Black is OK because his Qb1 is guarding against Qg6# while also observing the potential route of the b6P. In fact if in that position it were Black to play then he’d be in greater difficulty. Any move off the b1-g6 diagonal, or either of his two available pawn moves, would allow Qg6#. So Black may be in zugzwang, needing to move his Queen off the b-file and so no longer observing the b6P. All of which goes to explain the otherwise unbelievable tempo move 5.Ke7!!. (If you were down to ten-second increments in a League match, you might be forgiven for missing this resource.)

So: now if 5…b1Q 6.g7+ Kh7 7.g8Q+ Kh6 reaches the position in which the bQ must leave the b-file. Better is 5…Kg7 6.h8Q+ Kxh8 and now – you guessed it – instead of playing 7.Kf7 straight away White again temporizes – 7.Kf8! b1Q 8.Kf7 – and Black has problems. His best is 8…Qf5! and now we have 9.g7+ Kh7 10.g8Q+ Kh6 11.Qg7+ (not 11.b7, when 11…Qd7+ is good enough for a draw) Kh5 12.b7 Qd7+ 13.Kxf6 Qxg7+ 14.Kxg7 c2 15.b8Q c1Q – and now with yet another new pair of Queens on the board the win eventually becomes clear – 16.Qh8+ Kg4 17.Qh3+ and 18.Qh6+, winning the black Queen.

november prob 3

After Qh3+ no matter where the black monarch goes he is lost after Qh6+ winning the black queen

A remarkable study! And although there are no problems in the column this month there is a good problem theme – those positions in which the apparently powerful bQ is stuck at b1 because it needs to control both b7 and g6 exemplify the sort of ‘focal control’ which is often seen in ‘White to play and mate in x moves’ problems.


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Christopher Jones

Christopher holds the Grandmaster title for Chess Problem Composition and uses his skills to write a regular column for the Bristol Chess Times. He is also a longterm Horfield Chess Club player (where he is acting secretary).

Problems in October with GM Jones

One of the pleasures of composing problems is to send them to overseas magazines and websites and then to receive feedback both from solvers and, in due course, from judges. Generally, an expert judge assesses all the problems in a particular genre published in a particular period and then produces his award. For instance the helpmates published in 2015-16 in the Danish problem magazine were recently judged, and you might like to look at a couple of the successful problems.

First, a word about helpmates. In many ways of all the problem genres they are at the furthest extreme from over-the-board play; and yet anecdotally I gather that they are the problems that most often entice players into an interest in problems. (I was a case in point.) In a helpmate, the ‘players’ conspire together to reach a position in which Black is mated. If you are already familiar with helpmates you may like to have a go at solving these two, though the second one would tax even an experienced solver!

IMG_5161

Steffen Slumstrup Nielsen (a strong player and composer of studies, I believe)
Helpmate in 3
2nd Honourable Mention, Problem-skak 2015-16

We are looking for a BWBWBW sequence landing Black in mate. There’s only one way to do it. Composers generally have in mind a theme for their problems (puzzle element on its own isn’t enough for a good helpmate), and in this case the composer set himself the task of having five consecutive line openings, as follows (remember, Black plays first): 1.Qxf5 d4 2.Bc1 Rb3 3.Bd1 Bxf5#.

IMG_5162

Henry Tanner
Helpmate in 6 and 1/2 moves – two solutions
Prize, Problem-skak 2015-16

Most of the time Black moves first in helpmates, but sometimes the composer’s idea works best if he starts with a white move – hence in this case “6 and 1/2”: we begin with a white move and thereafter Black and White alternate moves six times to reach the mate position. What’s more, this time there are two solutions. Composers like to spice up their problems by having two solutions which either are strongly complementary or radically different. (Whichever, it’s important to minimize the same moves cropping up in both solutions.)

In this case, it’s two radically different solutions. And you might think that the composer fails my test of showing a theme. On the other hand though, solutions as long as these can show a lot of interesting play in themselves (remember: the move orders have to be absolutely forced) and here we get two interesting solutions for the price of one! Also, as the judge commented, “the opening moves to b3 and h8 … add a welcome unifying factor”. So, here goes:

1…Kb3 2.Bh8 Kc4 3.Kg7 Kxd4 4.Kf6 Kxe3 5.Ke5 Kd2 6.Kd4 e4 7.Be5 Nb3# and
1…Nb3 2.Kh8 Nd2 3.exd2 e4 4.d1R e5 5.Rg1 exf6 6.Rg7 f7 7.Rh7 f8Q#.

Well, OK, the move …e4 did crop up both times, but for different reasons… I especially like the first solution, but the second, with its intricate precision, also has its charms.

If you are interested to look at other problems in this genre, or in any others (some traditional, some very non-traditional), you may like to visit the website of the British Chess Problem Society.


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Chris Jones

Chris holds the Grandmaster title for Chess Problem Composition and uses his skills to write a regular column for the Bristol Chess Times. He is also a longterm Horfield Chess Club player (where he is acting secretary).