Friday, May 30, 2008

Byron Zappas

Zappas Byron (pronounced 'za-pas 'vi-ron) was the only Greek Grand Master in composition of chess problems.

He was born in Athens at December 06, 1927, and died in Athens at January 05, 2008, one month after his 80th birthday.

He studied Economics in the Superior School of Economic and Commercial Sciences (ASOEE) of Athens, he continued with higher studies in Accounting and Costing in the London School of Economics. Under scholarships he specialized in Pedagogy and in School Administration (in the American University of Beirut, in the California Polytechnic University of USA, and in the British Bolton College of Education).

Most years of his professional life were dedicated to Education. He worked as professor at schools of Cyprus and, from 1972 until his pension year 1987, as professor in the Technological Educational Foundation (TEI) of Athens.

He learned chess at age 14 by his older brother. He quickly showed that he was a strong player and when he was 16 he played successfully blindfold chess. He liked solving chess problems and very soon become strong solver.
He started composing strategic three-mover problems in Miniature form (at most seven pieces). The first publication of one of his compositions was in the magazine "Helios" in 1945. Mr J. Koutalidis, editor of the chess column of the magazine, motivated and decidedly cultivated the talent of Zappas, and also the talent of other composers (Nikos Siotis, Dimitris Kapralos) of that time. Zappas met older Greek composers (Spyros Bikos, Vassilis Lyris) and become very interested in composing.
The first international success, which showed the great talent of Zappas in composition, happened in 1949 with a two-mover which was awarded first prize from the chess column of the newspaper ”Parallèle 50”, edited by the composer G. Martin.

In the years of his staying in Cyprus Zappas was also active with tourney over-the-board chess. First, he participated in the Cyprus championship in 1964. He become champion and kept his title for three consecutive years. As member of the Cypriot team he participated in Chess Olympiad 1964 in Israel. For the chess compositions, he formed a team of new composers (Pantelis Martoudis, S. Stavrinidis, G. Sfikas, and Cr. Papadopoulos) and with this team Zappas achieved to bring Cyprus in 15th place at the 2nd World Championship on Composition of Chess Problems, organized by Holland in 1967.

After his return in Greece in 1970, he organized regular meetings of old and new Greek composers, for conversation and exchange of views on the work of each and everyone, also for study and analysis on the contemporary themes of the problems. Assisted by the Greek Chess Federation, he founded the Committee of Chess Compositions (Epitropi Kallitehnikou Skakiou), of which he become president, and in 1981 by his initiative Greece become permanent member of the FIDE Committee for Chess Compositions. In the yearly congresses of this Committee he represented Greece, for the period allowed by his health.

He has published, mainly in editions and contests outside Greece, more than 400 problems. Over half of them were awarded with prizes or distinctions. Most problems are orthodox, but Selfmates, Helpmates, Fairies and Studies are also represented.
The peak of his creative imagination was the presentation of a theme, which now is called Theme Zappas. For his 18 compositions with Theme Zappas he was awarded 5 times First Prize, 3 times Second Prize, 5 times Honourable Mention.
Having accumulated over 70 FIDE points (more than 70 published problems selected for publication in FIDE Albums), he was awarded, in 1993 by FIDE, with the title of International Grandmaster, GM.

For the Chess Composition he has published, mainly in foreign magazines, articles and studies and has given speeches in many yearly congresses of the FIDE Committee for the Chess Problems. He has published, in 1990, the book “Chess Compositions” with selected problems of his, with analysis and explanation of themes. This book is also published in English language. In his professional area he also was exceptionally productive, as writer of four educative books.



With the following problem the Theme Zappas was presented for the first time :

Theme Zappas : A flight of the black King is guarded by three white pieces. There are three tries which fail, as a result of the cyclic neutralization of the three guards by the White and the Black.



(Problem 124)
Zappas Byron,
“O Pyrgos”, 1976
Mate in 2
#2 (11+13)
[4R3/3s3p/pB4pK/pp1B1pQS/S7/1P1kPP2/1Ppps3/2bb4]

Zappas liked problems with many tries.
Tries: {1.Re5? / Re6? / Re7? / Ba7? Bxb2!}, {1.Rc8? Sd4!}, {1.Sf4+? Sxf4!}, {1.Sc5+? Sxc5!}, {1.Qf6? Se5!}, {1.Qxf5+? gxf5!}, {1.Qxg6? hxg6!}, {1.Bb7? Bxb2!}, {1.Bc4+? bxc4!}, {1.Be4+? fxe4!}, {1.Bxa5? f4!}.
Let us study the solution. In the problem there is a flight of the black King Κd3, the square e3, which is controlled by Qg5, Re8, and Bb6.

Set play (*) : (In this phase, where white has not played yet, in several black moves there are set mates).
1...Sd7~ / Se2~ / f4 / b5 / gxh5
2.Sc5# / Sf4# / Be4# / Bc4# / Qxf5#.

However, black has the move 1...Bxb2, for which there is not mate, but if a white piece guard square c3, then follows 2.Sxb2# checkmate. There are four possibilities, but only one is successful. Let us see the continuation, on virtual game after the tries, and on actual play after the key.

Virtual play :
Try: 1.Qf6? (waiting, but the white Q does not guard e3 anymore)
1...Se5! (intercepts the guard of the white R on e3, thus playing [2.Sc5#] is not possible anymore because it interrupts the guard of white B on e3 and the black King can flee there with 2...Kxe3).

Try: 1.Rc8? (waiting, but the white R does not guard e3 anymore)
1...Sd4! (intercepts the guard of the white B on e3, thus playing [2.Sf4#] is not possible anymore because it interrupts the guard of white Q on e3 and the black King can flee there with 2...Kxe3).

Try: 1.Bxa5? (waiting, but the white B does not guard e3 anymore)
1...f4! (intercepts the guard of the white Q on e3, thus playing [2.Be4#] is not possible anymore because it interrupts the guard of white R on e3 and the black King can flee there with 2...Kxe3).

Actual play :
Key: 1.Bd4! (waiting, without having interrupted the three guards on e3. The five mates we have seen in the set play still exist and furthermore...)
1...Bxb2 2.Sxb2#


(This post in Greek language).

1 comment:

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