Friday, May 09, 2008

Lorenzo Mabillis

Lorenzo Mabillis was a lyrical poet from the Ionian Islands, a warmhearted patriot, and a strong composer of chess problems.
He was born at 06/09/1860 in Ithaca, Greece. He was strong-built, blond with blue eyes. His parent came from Corfu, (while his grandfather came from Spain), and he lived there a great part of his life. Initially he was a student at school "Kapodistrias" of Corfu, having J. Romanos and J. Polylas as teachers.
In 1879 he attended lessons in the University of Athens, Department of Philosophy.
In 1880 went to Germany to study Literature and Philosophy. His studies lasted fourteen years, and he was influenced by the theories of Friedrich Nietzsche (Mabillis has written a sonetto titled "Yperanthropos" (= Uebermensch)), by the ”Critique of Pure Reason” of the rationalist Immanuel Kant, and by ”The World as Will and Representation” of the pessimist Arthur Schopenhauer. He was occupied with sanscrit philosophical texts and has translated fragments of the Indian Epic ”Mahabharata”. During his staying in Germany he wrote lyrical poems (mainly sonnets) and composed chess problems which were published in German magazines.
In 1884 his first poem was published in "Messiniakos Typos", and he continued publishing poems and translations in magazines of Athens (Greece), Alexandria (Egypt), and Leipzig (Germany). The Mabillis's sonnets had perfect construction and excellent content, which was characterized by obvious pessimism. It is very difficult for anyone to find such integrity, either in the Greek language or in another language. His sonnets, with hendecasyllable verses, are much more elaborate and artful than the works of his contemporaries, (see ”Patrides”, Costis Palamas, 1895), and introduce new elements, as the beginning of a sentence in the middle of the verse, the use of dialog, etc..
In 1887 he participated as Lorenzo Mabillis in the chess tournament of Frankfurt.
In 1889 he participated as Sillibam in the chess tournament of Breslau (south Silesia in Poland).
In 1890, with his dissertation about the Byzantine chronographer Skylitsis, he earned PhD degree at the University of Erlangen (Bavaria).
In 1896 Mabillis participated in the revolution of Crete, fighting on the side of the rebels on the rocky Cretan mountains.
In 1897, during Greek - Turkish war, Mabillis gathered seventy volunteers from Corfu, and they went to fight in Hepirus where he was wounded at the hand. The expenses of the campaign of these volunteers were covered by him.
In 1909 he became enthusiastic preacher of the uprising.
In 1910 he was elected in Corfu as member of Parliament.
In 1911, defending the language of the common people ("Dimotiki") in the Greek parliament he said, addressing the followers of the puristic language ("Katharevoussa") : There is no vulgar language. There are vulgar men, and there are many vulgar men speaking the purified language. ("Newspaper of Parliament debates", Second Revisional Parliament, 1911, p. 689, session 36).
In 28/11/1912, during the First Balkan War, the last poet of the ”Heptanissian school” fell heroically for the fatherland, as commander of his company of volunteers, in the Driskos battle near Ioannina of Hepirus.

We give here an amateur translation of the poem Oblivion by Lorenzo Mabillis:

The dead who forget the bitterness of life are good-fortuned.
When the sun is sinking and twilight follows, do not cry for the dead, however great is your sorrow.
Such an hour the souls are thirsty and go to the crystalline fountain of forgetfulness,
but mire will blacken the water if a tear drops for them, coming from their loving ones.
And if they drink muddy water, as they pass through meadows of daffodils,
they remember again old pains that were living inside them...
If you can do nothing else but cry in the afternoon, let your eyes mourn the alive ones:
they want - but they can't forget.

Chess Problems

Lorenzo Mabillis can be considered as the first Greek composer of chess problems with international fame.
In the next diagram, (which we found in the Greek magazine ”Ellinika Skakistika Chronika” No.8, 1971), we see a direct-mate three-mover, where the white Queen dominates either with her presence or with her sacrifice.

(Problem 121)
Lorenzo Mabillis,
Akademisches Monatsheft für Schach, Nr. 37, März 1893
White plays and mates in 3 moves
#3 (5+10)

Let us see the solution of the problem:
Tries: {1.Rxc5? Kxc5!}, {1.Be3+? / Qf2+? / Qe3+? Kc3!}.

Key: 1.Qh1! (White threatens 2.Qa1+ Rc3 3.Qg1#, and also 2.Qxh8+ Rg7 3.Qxg7#. If 1...Rxc6, to create a flight c5 for the black King, then 2.Qg1+ Kc3 3.Qa1#).
1...Rg7 (It seems that black has covered the two initial threats, but...)
2.Qxd5+ (...finally the Queen has relocated the Rook Rd7).
2...Kxd5 3.Rd6#,
or 2...Rxd5 3.Rc4#,
or 2...Kc3 3.Qe5# (since Rc5 is pinned and Bh8 does not guard e5 any more).

The next problem is a more-mover with Indian theme.

(Problem 137)
Lorenzo Mabillis,
”Schach, Organ des Schachclubs Altműnchen”, Problem No.206, 1891
White plays and mates in 4 moves
#4 (7+2)

Tries: {1.Ke7? / Kf7? / Kd7? Bc2!}, {1.Re6+? Kxe6!}, {1.Sf3+? Bxf3!}, {1.Bg6? Bh5!}, {1.Bd3? Be2!}.

Key: 1.Bh7! [2.Ke7 [3.Re6#]]
1...Bh5+ 2.Ke7 Bg6 3.Rxg6 Ke4 4.Re6#

As we see, the problems by Mabillis have strategic content.

The next problem is relevant with the Bohemian school with the pure mates. White marches undaunted in his plan disregarding the way of defense of the black:

(Problem 138)
Lorenzo Mabillis,
”Ellinika Skakistika Chronika” No.8, 1971
White plays and mates in 4 moves
#4 (8+5)

Tries: {1.Re5+? Kd6!}, {1.Rd7+? Ke6!}.

Key: 1.Ka3!
1...Kc5 2.Ba2 Kb5 3.b4 ~ 4.Rb7#
1...Bf8 2.Ba2 Bxe7+ 3.b4+ Kd6 4.Be5#
1...Bg7 2.Ba2 Bxf6 3.b4+ Kd6 4.Rd7#
1...e3 2.Ba2 d3 3.b4+ Kd6 4.Rd7#

Bibliographical sources

"Lorenzo Mabillis", article by Photis Mastihiadis, magazine "Ellinika Skakistika Chronika", issue 8, March 1971, p. 80

"Anthology of Neohellenic Poetry", VI-PER #100, editions "Papyros PRESS", Athens, 1971

"With Greek Ideology", Nikolaos Karras, editions "Pelasgos", Athens, 1998

[This post in Greek language].


Emmanuel Manolas said...

Dear readers,
please refrain from writing comments not relevant with my posts.
This blog must remain suitable for children starting to read about chess compositions.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

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Emmanuel Manolas said...

Please explain why you stay anonymous, yet you ask to be trusted and exchange links with my blog.
(Machine translated):Erklären Sie bitte, warum Sie anonym bleiben, dennoch bitten Sie vertraut zu werden und tauschen Verbindungen mit meinem Blog aus.