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)

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).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Helpmates (2)

We have said that the helpmates are heterodox problems, having different goal than the orthodox problems, that is in helpmates black plays first and helps white to give checkmate. Now we will see helpmate twins, helpmate duplex, and series helpmates.

Helpmate twin problems

Besides the multiple solutions, another way to give variety to the play of a helpmate is the construction of twin problems.
Thus, from one diagram more problems appear with small differences, such as the relocation of one piece, the addition or the removal of a piece, the turning of the chessboard to another direction, or some other differentiation.
there are twins in all types of problems, but they are more common in helpmates.

(Problem 97)
Henry Forsberg,
”Revista Romana de Şah”, 1935
(a) diagram : Helpmate in 2
(b) replacement of the Queen Qa6 with Rook Ra6, (-bQa6 +bRa6)
(c) or with Bishop Ba6, (-bQa6 +bBa6)
(d) or with Knight Sa6, (-bQa6) +bSa6)
(e) or with black Pawn a6, (-bQa6 +bPa6)
h#2 (3+2)

The problem-97 is a helpmate two-mover, by Henry Forsberg, which was awarded First Prize in the Memorial Tourney for composer W. Pauly, the results of which were published in the magazine "Revista Romana de Şah" in 1935. The twins in this problem are created by replacement of the black Queen with various pieces. The solutions of the five problems are :

(a) With black Qa6 : Key: 1.Qf6! Sc5 2.Qb2 Ra4#

(b) With black Ra6 : Key: 1.Rb6! Rb1 2.Rb3 Ra1#

(c) With black Ba6 : Key: 1.Bc4! Se1 2.Ba2 Sc2#

(d) With black Sa6 : Key: 1.Sc5! Sc1 2.Sa4 Rb3#

(e) With black Pa6 : Key: 1.a5! Rb3+ 2.Ka4 Sc5#

Helpmate Duplex

Another method to take two problems from one position diagram is the Duplex problem.

Duplex is a helpmate with two goals : in the one black plays and helps white to give checkmate, in the other white plays and helps black to checkmate.

(Duplex problems can also be composed for other types of problems, but in great majority they are helpmates).

(Problem 98)
Milan Vukcevich,
First place, "Bucuresti vs Beograd" composition match, 1960
Helpmate in 2, Duplex
h#2 duplex (3+3)

The problem-98, by the Yugoslavian composer Milan Vukcevich, was awarded first place in the Match "Bucharest vs Belgrade" in 1960. The solutions are :

Black plays first : Key: 1.Sg6! f8=Q 2.Se5 d8=S#.

White plays first : Key: 1.f8=R! Sf7 2.d8=B Sd6#.

These two solutions are closely related, with two pieces from white pawn promotions to cover the flights of the black King in the one solution, and two pieces from white pawn promotions to block the flights of the white King in the other solution.
Since the problem achieves the four promotions, is an Allumwandlung.

Series helpmate

A helpmate is of type series, when the black plays without response from the white a series of moves, and then white with one move checkmates. Black King may not be exposed in danger, also black may not give check to the white King, except at the last move.

(Problem 99)
T. R. Dawson,
”Fairy Chess Review”, 1947
Series helpmate in 17
ser-h#17 (2+2)

The problem-99 is a series-helpmate more-mover in 17 moves (short notation : ser-h17#), composed by Thomas Rayner Dawson, which was published in "Fairy Chess Review" in 1947.
An effective way for someone to solve series-helpmate more-movers like this is to try to imagine a position, where black can be checkmated, and to try "to bring" this position.
Here, where only a Knight exists, the only way for black to be checkmated is to be their king in the corner a1 and another black piece in a2, thus a mate with Sb3 is possible. The white King is in c1, so the black piece can not be a Knight because it would give check from a2. The mate is given from square b3, so the black piece in a2 can not be a Bishop or a Queen, because it would capture Sb3. So the promotion will give a Rook.
The need not to expose white King to check means that there is only one way to solve the problem, with the black King going to the middle of the chessboard and returning.
The solution is :

Key: 1.Ka2!
2.Ka3 3.Kb4 4.Kc3 5.Kd3 6.Ke2 7.Ke1 8.f1=R 9.Rf2 10.Ke2
11.Kd3 12.Kc3 13.Kb4 14.Ka3 15.Ka2 16 Ka1 17 Ra2 Sb3#
(or in short notation
1.Ka2-a3-b4-c3-d3-e2-e1 8.f1=R 9.Rf2 10.Ke2-d3-c3-b4-a3-a2-a1 17.Ra2 Sb3#)

Other types of helpmates

The helpmates, just as the other types of problems, can be composed with Fairy pieces or with rules of the Fairy chess, such as Circe chess, Grid chess, or Patrol chess.
Every variety can be combined with another, so there is a vast field for application of various ideas.

(This post in Greek language).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Helpmates (1)

In this post, in collaboration with the International Master Harry Fougiaxis, we present another type of heterodox problems, the helpmates, where the two opponents (white and black) are working together. With the exception of the cooperation of the two opponents, every move must be legal according to the classic chess rules.

Helpmate is a problem where black plays first and helps white to mate in a specified number of moves.

For example, in a helpmate two-mover (notation h#2), the solution consists of the first black move (the key), the first white move, the second black move, and the second white move that checkmates black: B – W – B – W.

(Problem 95)
Z. Maslar,
First Prize, ”Die Schwalbe”, 1981
Black plays and helps white to mate in 8 moves
h#8 (2+3)

The problem-95 is a more-mover helpmate, by Zdravko Maslar, awarded with first prize when published in the magazine ”Die Schwalbe” in 1981. The black King goes to a1 to become mated, while the white King tries to allow him to pass.

Let us note that in the solutions of helpmates the black move is written first, unlike what is used in other types of problems. The solution is :

Key: 1.Kf3! Kd3
2.Bb3 Kc3
3.Ke4+ Kd2 (we observe the manoeuvre of the white King, usually called King's triangle)
4.Kd4 Ke2
5.Kc3 Sb4
6.Kb2 Kd2
7.Ka1 Kc1
8.Ba2 Sc2#

During the first years of their development, in the period 1930-50, the helpmates had usually a phase of apparent play (set play) where the white plays first, and the complete solution where a black move begins the series of moves. This must be attributed to the attempt of the composers of that era to adapt on helpmates characteristics of the direct-mates. A very nice (a little posterior) example is a composition, by the Georgian Grand Master (GM) Iosif Krikheli, specialized in more-movers and in helpmates.

(Problem 146)
Iosif Krikheli
First Prize, Sahovski glasnik, 1963
(There is set play). Black plays and helps white to mate in 3 moves
* h#3 (5+7)

Phase of set play (*) : 1...Bd3 2.Sf5 Bb1 3.Sg7 Bd2#
Phase of actual play : Key: 1.Sf4! Bd2 2.Kh5 Bc1 3.Sg6 Be2#

Here we have the combination of two half-pins, one black and one white. The two black Knights undertake by turns to block a flight of their King, while the white Bishops are positioned in the diagonals take care to unpin one another. The mates are chameleon, echo and model.

As the years passed by, the composers understood that the set play functioned as a limiting factor on their imagination. A specific technique is required, in order someone to construct such a problem (i.e. no black pieces should exist free to play a random first move keeping the set play intact, since this would be a "hole" in the problem), and usually the positions are heavily "loaded". The composers decided that it was clearly superior the presentation of the content in two (or more) solutions, since this facilitated the construction effort and simultaneously earned one black move.

Peculiarities of the helpmate problems

Since the two sides are cooperating, the play in the helpmates is simpler than the play in orthodox problems. In direct-mates, white plays first and attempts to checkmate black who is defending. For each white move might be many defensive answers by black, hence there are many variations. In helpmates, both black and white have unique move when it is their turn to play.

It is important to note that what has been said for the key of the direct-mates is not applicable on helpmates. Hence, the first black move can very well capture a white piece, or give check. And this is very logical. Such a move increases the strangeness of the problem : why black, who wants to help, does remove a piece or attack the white King?

Some additional rules valid for helpmates are the following :

>> In all the phases of the problem, in the final picture of mate must take part (must be necessary) all the white pieces on board. King and pawns are excluded. (Obligatory rule).

>> White must not capture black pieces, but it is tolerable to capture black pawns. (This rule is not inviolable, but a capture of piece lessens significantly the value of the problem).

>> The same moves must not be repeated in the same sequence, i.e. same second black move in both solutions. (The applicability of this rule is loose and depends, in most cases, on the number of the moves of the problem. Thus, in a h#2 such a repetition diminishes greatly the "variety" of the problem and is almost always blamable, but in helpmates of 3 or more moves might not be annoying).

For the insertion of more than one series of moves in a problem, various methods have been used. The method [the problem to have two solutions] is the most direct.
The helpmates can have more than one solutions (if this is specified), which are connected with an inner relationship, with a common theme. The solutions will somehow complement each other (homo-strategic), and they will be analogous or completely contrary.
Every solution can be considered as a different phase of play.
If more solutions exist, the composer must declare it in the stipulation. If there is not something declared there, then the problem must have only one solution.

(Problem 96)
Chris Feather,
”Schach”, 1975
Black plays and helps white to mate in 2 moves. (There are two solutions).
h#2 (5+9)

The problem-96 is a helpmate two-mover with two solutions, composed by a specialist in helpmates, Chris Feather. (The notation in the stipulation means that there are two keys (two black first moves), but from there on all moves are unique). The two solutions are :

Key: 1.Bxb8! Bd5 2.Sc7 Bxg5#
Key: 1.Rdxd8! Bc6 2.Sd7 Rxb3#

These two series of moves are closely interconnected, because they have the same plan:
(a) First, Black captures the white piece that checkmates in the other solution (theme Zilahi), opening at the same time the line on which the mate will be given.
(b) Then, White moves a Bishop to close a line, in order the next black move not to give check.
(c) The second black move closes another line, in order not to be able to interfere when white will give check.
(d) Then White, moving in the opposite direction of the black key-move, gives checkmate.

Theme Zilahi : black captures the white piece, which checkmates in the other solution.

See the page for helpmates, at the site of the British Chess Problem Society.

(This post in Greek language).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chess Solving Contest 15-03-2008, ESSKEDYM Ptolemaida

FIDE Master Spyros Ilandzis has sent to us the following correspondence.

The 9th Championship of Central-West Macedonia (translators's note: this is a part of Greece, not F.Y.R.O.M.) was held in city Ptolemaida, and lasted four days March 13-16. It was organized by the Union of Chess Clubs in Central-West Macedonia (Enossi Skakistikon Syllogon Kentro-Dytikis Macedonias, E.S.S.KE.DY.M.) together with the three chess clubs of the city, S.O.Ptolemaidas ”Ptolemaios", S.A.P. ”Skakistakos”, and ”Dourios Hippos”. (See more here in Greek).

In parallel with the OTB chess championship, there were organized various happenings, and among them the 2nd Chess Solving Contest ESSKEDYM-2008, with twenty participants! Before that, Spyros Ilantzis gave an introductory speech about Chess Compositions, presenting various themes, with an audience of more than thirty persons (many of them were children)!

In 2nd-SC-ESSKEDYM-2008 six problems were given, (five direct-mates and a study), and with 5 grades per problem we have maximum grades : 30. The time limit was set to one hour and thirty minutes. The first ten solvers were the following :

# points hh:mm Surname Name Chess Club
123.501:24Rompas Stergios Giannitsa
221.501:30Kourtis Hariton SO Ptolemaidas
315.501:25Kodounas George Skakistakos Ptolemaidas
415.001:12Spirliadis Ach. Thessaloniki
515.001:15Gouderis D. Giannitsa
6-715.001:30Triantaffylidis Ath. Veria
6-715.001:30Panidis K.Skakistakos Ptolemaidas
812.001:30Mitsis John LP Florinas
911.001:11Tsilouhas Vas.PSS Kifissia Serron
107.001:30Minas J.SO Ptolemaidas

The given problems were the following:

(Problem 140)
Frank Healy,
Family Herald, 1858
White plays and mates in 2 moves
#2 (5+1)

(Problem 141)
Fritz Giegold,
Hofer Anzeiger, 1916
White plays and mates in 2 moves
#2 (8+2)

(Problem 142)
Navon Em.,
Variantim, 2005
White plays and mates in 2 moves
#2 (7+5)

(Problem 143)
Frank Healy,
White plays and mates in 3 moves
#3 (5+6)

(Problem 144)
Sam Loyd,
"N. Y. Albion", 1858
White plays and mates in 3 moves
#3 (4+5)

(Problem 145)
G. Gorbunov,
Platov Centenary Ty, 1982
White plays and draws
= (4+3)

Solutions of the problems of this Solving Contest

Problem-140, Healy
Many tries: {1.Qe6+? Kf3!}, {1.Qf2? / Qf4+? Kd5!}, {1.Qf3+? / Qh5? / Ke8? / Kd7? / Ke6? / Kd8? / Kf8? / Kd6? / Ba1? / Bh8? / Bg7? / Bc3? / Ba3? Kxe3!}.
Key: 1.Be5!
1...Kxe3 2.Qf4#
1...Kxe5 2.Qe6#

Problem-141, Giegold
Tries: {1.Rf4+? / Ba4? / Bc2+? Kd5!}, {1.Bb3? e5!}.
Key: 1.Rf5! [2.Re5# / Bc2#]
1...Kxf5 2.Bc2#
1...e5 2.Rxe5#
1...exf5 2.Bf3#

Problem-142, Navon
Tries: {1.Rxe5+? Qxe5!}, {1.Rd6+? Kxd6!}, {1.Sb4+? Kd4!}, {1.Sd4? fxe6!}, {1.Se7+? Bxe7!}, {1.Qd3+? Qd4!}, {1.Qc4+? / Bc4+? Qxc4!}, {1.Bf3+? Qxf3!}.
Key: 1.Se4! [2.Qc4#]
1...Qc1 2.Rxe5#
1...Qxe4 2.Rd6#
1...Kxe6 2.Se7#
1...Kxe4 2.Qd3#
Nice key, sacrifying both Se4 and Re6, and giving another flight to the black King.
(Flight in the set play : d6.
Flights after the key : e4 and e6).

Problem-143, Healy
Tries: {1.Qe3? / Sc4? Sg6!}, {1.Se7+? Kd6!}, {1.Qd4+? Kxd4!}, {1.Qa6? / Qxc7? Kd4!}, {1.Qc5+? Kxc5!}, {1.Sb7? Bxb7!}, {1.b4? Se4!}.
Key: 1.Sc6! [2.Sb4# / S6e7#]
1...Kxc6 2.Qa6+ Kc5 / Kd5 3.Qc4# (model mate)
1...dxc6 2.Qa4 [3.Qc4#] c5 3.Qd7#
1...Bxc6 2.Se7+ Kd6 3.Qa3#

Problem-144, Loyd
Tries: {1.Se6? h6!}, {1.Sg6+? hxg6!}, {1.Qd3? / Qc2? / Qe4? g6!}
Key: 1.Qf1! [2.Qb1 [3.Qxh7#] g6 3.Qxa1#]
1...Bf6 2.Qf5 [3.Qxh7#] g6 3.Qxf6# (the Queen hunts down the Bishop)
1...Be5 2.Qf5 [3.Qxh7#] g6 3.Qxe5#
1...Bd4 2.Qd3 [3.Qxh7#] g6 3.Qxd4#
1...Bc3 2.Qd3 [3.Qxh7#] g6 3.Qxc3#
1...g3 2.Sg6+ hxg6 3.Qh3#

Problem-145, Gorbunov
Key: 1.Sh5! e3
(if 1...Kxe5 2.Sg3 =, or if 1...h1=Q 2.Bxe4+! Qxe4 (cannot be saved with 2...Kxe4 3.Sg3+ =) 3.Sf6+ =)
2.Sg3 e2
(if 2...h1=Q 3.Be4+ Qxe4 4.Sxe4 e2 (and if 4...Kxe5 5.Sc3 =, or if 4...Kxe4?? 5.e6 e2 6.e7 e1=Q 7.e8=Q+ and white wins!) 5.Sc3+ =)
3.Sxe2 h1=Q
4.Be4+!! Qxe4
(if 4...Kxe4 5.Sg3+ =)
5.Sc3+ =

Cooperation of B and S, ending in forking King and Queen.

(This post in Greek language).

Sunday, May 25, 2008


For heterodox problems we have said that other goals are valid and other conditions are applied, in comparison with orthodox (direct-mate) problems or with over the board play.

Here we describe the condition Maximummer, which affects the way pieces move (and usually specifies which piece exactly will move).

Condition Maximummer : The pieces make always the longest geometrically move from those available, (and in case there are two longest, the player decides which move he will make). When under check, the player must defend with the longest move which deals with this checking. Distances are measured from the center of the departure square to the center of the destination square.
Condition Black Maximummer : is a maximummer where only black has to apply the condition of the longest geometrically move.

(Problem 94)
Wilhelm Hagemann,
First Prize, ”Schach-Echo”, 1963
Selfmate in 3, Black Maximummer
s#3 black maximummer (6+5)

The Maximummer is used often in selfmates, where white forces black to give checkmate, because in maximummers white has better control of the black responses.
In problem-94, by Hagemann, we see the black Queen to move, during the four variations of the solution, in the shape of a big X, which is called big star of the Queen.

There are some tries : {1.g4? Qh1!}, {1.g3? Qh1!}, {1.Qg3+? Qg5!}, {1.Qb1? Qa8!}, and the solution is :

Key: 1.Qb4! (zz, zugzwang)
1...Qxa2+ 2.Kc3 (zz) Qg8 3.Qb3 Qxb3#
1...Qxg2 2.Kc1 (zz) Qa8 3.Qb2 Qh1#
1...Qg8 2.Kc1 (zz) Qxa2 3.Qb3 Sxb3#
1...Qa8 2.Qf8+ Qxf8 3.Kc1 Qa3#

For those who need exact specifications for the distances, we note the following :
One step of the Rook, like the move Ra1-a2, has [length 1].
One step of the Bishop, like the move Ba1-b2, has [length 1,414] (square root of 2).
One step of the Knight, like the move Sa1-b3, has [length 2,236] (square root of 5).
The move a1-f6 (five steps of the Bishop), has [length 7,07] while the move a1-a8 (seven steps of the Rook), with [length 7], is shorter.
The King's side castling 0-0 has [length 4], and the Queen's side castling 0-0-0 has [length 5].

(This post in Greek language).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Selfmates (2)

We continue with selfmates, in which White plays and forces Black to give checkmate, while Black is resisting to do so.

(Problem 92)
W. Jørgensen,
First Prize, ”Die Schwalbe“, 1952
(White plays and forces black to mate in 3 moves). Selfmate in 3
s#3 (14+11)

There are three tries: {1.e8=Q? bxa1=Q!}, {1.Bf5+? Bxf5!}, {1.exd3+? Kf3!}.
Key: 1.e8=B! (zugzwang)

If 1...bxa1=Q 2.bxc8=S Qd4
(in any other place the Qa1 is captured, and the black move checkmates)
3.Sd6+ Qxd6#.

If 1...bxa1=R 2.bxc8=B Ra6
(in any other place the Ra1 is captured, and the black move checkmates)
3.Bxa6 (and black move will checkmate. Not 3.Rxa6? because, after Re7+, the Ra6 can capture the Bh6).

If 1...bxa1=B 2.bxc8=R Bd4
(in any other place the Ba1 is captured and the black move checkmates)
3.Rc4 (and black move will checkmate).

If 1...bxa1=S 2.bxc8=Q Sxc2 / Sb3
3.Qxc2 / Rxb3 (and black move will checkmate).

In problem-92 we have seen double allumwandlung and capture of the promoted black piece in the third move.

(Problem 93)
Nikolai Argunow
”Schachmatnaja Komposizija”, 07-08/1999
(There is set play). Selfmate in 2.
* s#2 (11+8)

Phase (set play) : (*)
1...Kxh8 2.exf8=Q Sa3#
1...Kf6 2.exf8=B Sa3 #

Phase (actual play) : Key: 1.Se6+!
1...Kxh8 2.exf8=R Sa3#
1...Kf6 2.exf8=S Sa3#

Composer Argunow achieves the four promotions on square f8, (Theme Allumwandlung), in two phases. The checking key is not considered a defect for a selfmate.

(This post in Greek language).

Friday, May 23, 2008

Selfmates (1)

Today's post is the first containing selfmate problems. The selfmates (also the helpmates, the fairies, etc) are heterodox problems. The selfmates differ from the orthodox direct-mates on the goal.

Selfmate is a chess problem where White, who plays first, must force Black to give mate in a specified number of moves, while Black tries to avoid this.

(Problem 90)
Wolfgang Pauly,
Selfmate in 2 moves (= White plays and forces black to give mate in 2 moves).
s#2 (10+4)

The problem-90 is a relatively simple example of a selfmate problem. It was composed by Wolfgang Pauly, was published in the book "The Theory of Pawn Promotion" in 1912, and is a selfmate two-mover : White plays first and forces Black to give mate in (at most) 2 moves.
In two moves only the black Bishop can give mate. If White leaves no other choice to Black than Bxg2#, then the problem is solved.
White could :
(1) move the Bishop, but it is not good because it allows Black to play his bishop without capture, delaying the mate after the second move,
(2) move the Knight, but this gives flight to the black King,
(3) make promotions 1.g8=Q or 1.g8=R, which is not good because, after 1...Bxg2+, the promoted piece can defend with 2...Qxg2 or 2...Rxg2,
(4) make promotion 1.g8=S+, which checkmates Black, totally wrong for a selfmate,
(5) promote 1.g8=B, which is also not good, since after the moves [1...gxf6 2.exf6 Bxg2] the white Bishop can interfere with 3.Bd5,
(6) try 1.e6? exf6! (and 2...f5)
(7) try 1.fxe7? Kxg7! (similar defend after 1.f7).

The white move, which forces Black to mate in 2 moves, is :
Key: 1.c8=S!
(promotion only to Knight, because any other piece could interfere in diagonal h1-a8 after the move Bxg2. There are two variations, the simple...)
1...exf6 2.exf6 Bxg2#
(...and the cunning...)
1...e6 2.g8=B Bxg2#
(...which is effective only because the path of the wB towards d5 is blocked by the black move 1...e6).

Other kinds of selfmates

There is the type reflexmate, in which white forces black to give checkmate, under the additional condition that, if either side can checkmate, then it must checkmate on the move. When this condition is valid only for black, then the problem is semi-reflexmate.

There is the type black maximummer, in which black must always make the longest (geometrically) move available. The length is measured from the center of the departure square to the center of the destination square.
Usually this condition is used in selfmates.
With the term maximummer we specify the problem where white and black must play the geometrically longest move.

There is the type series-selfmate, (one kind of the Series chess problems), where white alone plays a number of moves without response from the black, and in the end black makes a move and checkmates.

In the next selfmate-91, by Rudenko, we see the themes of X-flights and of multiple pawn promotions (Allumwandlung).

(Problem 91)
V. Rudenko,
First Prize, “F.I.D.E. Tourney”, 1962-3
White plays and forces black to mate in 3 moves
s#3 (9+9)

There are some tries: {1.f8=Q+? / f8=S+? Kd5-e4!}, {1.f8=R+? Kxc6!}, {1.Rb3? Ke4!}, {1.Rb4? Ke4!}.
Key: 1.Rb2! (zugzwang)
1...Kc4 2.f8=Q+ d5 3.Qa3 h2#
1...Kc6 2.f8=S d5 3.Sf7 h2#
1...Κe6 2.f8=Β+ Κf6 3.Βd5 h2#
1...Ke4 2.f8=R Ke3 3.Bd5 h2#
or 2...d5 3.Rf3 h2#

A page for selfmates, at the site of the B.C.P.S., may be found here.

(This post in Greek language).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


We have seen, in problem-22, the version by Iatridis, who has changed a pawn from black to white in order to give a solution to Dittrich's no-solution problem.

In the next two versions we will see other reasonings which have led some composers to create new versions of some problems.

(Problem 79)
Sam Loyd,
”Holyoke Transcript“, 1878
White plays and mates in 3 moves
#3 (13+4)

32 Tries: {1.Sf2+? gxf2!}, {1.Qxh2? Kxd3!}, {1.f5? Kxf5!}, {1.Kh8? / Kxg7? / Kg8? / d6? / Rbb1? / Rb2? / Rb3? / Rb4? / Ra5? / Rc5? / Rb6? / Rb7? / Rb8? / Bf2? / Ba7? / Bb6? / Bc5? / Sb2? / Se1? / Sc5+? / Sb4? / Qe1+? / Ra1? / Rcb1? / Rc3? / Rc2? / Rd1? / Re1+? / Rf1? Ke4-f5!}
Key: 1.Rg1!
1...Kxc3 2.Ra1 (Bristol line clearance) K~ / Kxc4 / Ke2 3.Qb1# / Qf1# / Qd1#
1...Kf5 2.Sf2 (zugzwang) gxf2 / hxg1=S 3.g4# / Qh5#

(Problem 80)
C. Bull,
White plays and mates in 3 moves
#3 (11+5)

22 Tries: {1.Sf2+? gxf2!}, {1.Bc1? / Bd2? / Bg5? / Sxg3+? / Qxh2? Kxd3!}, {1.Kh8? / Kxg7? / Kg8? / Sb2? / Sc1? / Se1? / Sc5+? / Sb4? / Sc1? / Ra1? / Rb1? / Rc1? / Rd1? / Re1? / Rf3? / Rf2? Kf5!}.
Key: 1.Rg1!
1...Kxc3 2.Ra1 (Bristol line clearance) K~ / Kxe2 3.Qb1# / Qf1#
1...Kf5 2.Sf2 (zugzwang) gxf2 / hxg1=S 3.g4# / Qh5#

The key and the main variations of Loyd's problem have been preserved, but Bull's position is more economical, not so heavy in white forces.

(Problem 81)
rev. Saavedra, (or position from the game [Potter vs Fenton])
White plays and wins
+ (2+2)

Key: 1.c7! Rd6+
(Not Ka7, because after Rd7 the pawn is lost,
not Ka6 / Ka5, because after Rc6 the pawn is lost,
not Kc5, because after [Rd1 and Rc1+] the pawn (or the promoted piece) is lost).
2...Rd5+ 3.Kb4 Rd4+ 4.Kb3 Rd3+ 5.Kc2
(Now the plan [Rd1 and Rc1+] is not applicable).
(Tricky move, because if 6.c8=Q Rc4+ 7.Qxc4 forced, and black is stalemated!)
6.c8=R [7.Ra8#] Ra4 7.Kb3 [8.Kxa4 / Rc1#] ± (white wins).

(Problem 82)
A. A. Troitzky,
”Ceske Slovo”, 1924
White plays and wins
+ (5+5)

Key: 1.h7! Rg5+ 2.Kxd6 Rxh5 3.Kc7 [4.Ra2#] Be6 4.Kb8 [5.Rd6#] Bd5 5.Rxd5 Rxd5
6.h8=R [7.Rh6#] Rd6 7.Kc7 [8.Kxd6 / Ra8#] ± (white wins)

Troitzky has taken Saavedra's idea and has presented it in new form.

(This post in Greek language).

Monday, May 19, 2008

Greek solvers of chess problems (2008)

We present here the Greek solvers with international classification and ELO grade, or with a position in the first decade of a Greek Solving contest.

Greek solvers of chess problems (international)
(*) Surname Name Title (Contest, mm/yyyy, #position, ELO)
28/08/1966Prentos Kostas IM, Champion of Greece(WCCC, 01/2008, #32, 2490)
.Mendrinos Nikos .(WCCC, 01/2008, #71, 2340)
.Papastavropoulos Andreas .(WCCC, 01/2008, #87, 2300)
20/04/1966Fougiaxis Harry IM(WCCC, 01/2008, #168, 2123)
.Kostouros Alexis .(WCCC, 01/2008, #219, 2047)
29/08/1971Konidaris Panagiotis .(WCCC, 01/2008, #243, 1996)
19/06/1962Sklavounos Panagis .(WCCC, 01/2008, #260, 1972)
.Skyrianoglou Dimitris .(WCCC, 01/2008, #261, 1972)
19/11/1962Ilantzis Spyros FM(WCCC, 01/2008, #267, 1960)
.Garoufalidis Ioannis .(WCCC, 01/2008, #289, 1922)
22/05/1979Anemodouras Leocratis .(WCCC, 01/2008, #304, 1896)
12/07/1950Manolas Emmanuel .(WCCC, 01/2008, #338, 1811)
26/10/1973Argyrakopoulos Themistoklis .(WCCC, 01/2008, #349, 1775)
.Alexandrou Anastasios .(WCCC, 01/2008, #358, 1760)
04/10/1961Kalkavouras John .(WCCC, 01/2008, --, 1859)
.Mitsakis I. .(WCCC, 01/2008, --, 1600)

2008/03/15 Ptolemaida 2nd Solving Contest ESSKEDYM
# points hh:mm Surname Name Chess Club
123.501:24Rompas Stergios Giannitsa
221.501:30Kourtis Hariton SO Ptolemaidas
315.501:25Kodounas George Skakistakos Ptolemaidas
415.001:12Spirliadis Ach. Thessaloniki
515.001:15Gouderis D. Giannitsa
6-715.001:30Triantaffylidis Ath. Veria
6-715.001:30Panidis K.Skakistakos Ptolemaidas
812.001:30Mitsis John LP Florinas
911.001:11Tsilouhas Vas.PSS Kifissia Serron
107.001:30Minas J.SO Ptolemaidas

2008/04/19 Athens 5th Solving Contest ESSNA "Byron Zappas"
# points hh:mm Surname Name Chess Club
125.002:13Mendrinos Nikolaos AO Zinon Glyfadas
220.002:15Papastavropoulos Andreas AO Zinon Glyfadas
319.002:15Konidaris Panagiotis .
4-515.002:15Anamodouras Leocratis AO Zinon Glyfadas
5-515.002:15Garoufalidis John AO Zinon Glyfadas
614.002:15Ilantzis Spyridon .
712.002:13Fougiaxis Haralambos AO Zinon Glyfadas
811.502:10Manolas Emmanuel AO Zinon Glyfadas
910.001:42Skyrianoglou Dimitrios .
1010.002:12Kalkavouras John .

The Solving Contest took place in SO Pagratiou, 22 Zinodotou str., Athens, 19/04/2008 18:15-20:30.
Max points 30, max time 2h 15m. Among 18 contestants, Mr. Mendrinos Nikolaos became champion of Attica.
AO Zinon Glyfadas became Champion team of Attica. No young solver gave solutions.
Organizer : Sklavounos Panagis

(This post in Greek language).

Sunday, May 18, 2008


We present two examples of Domination, from the 2545 which Kasparyan has included in his book.
The problem-118 is a study of the prolific composer Henri Rinck. The battle is R+B vs Q, and in a few moves the domination of the White on the chessboard ascertains his victory. The Queen tries in vain to avoid her fate.

(Problem 118)
Henri Rinck,
”Deutsche Schachzeitung“, 1903
White plays and wins
+ (5+5)

Key 1.Ra8! [2 Rxg8]. (If 1...Qxa8 then 2.Bf3+ and 3.Bxa8)
2.Rxa4 [3.Rxa2]. (If 2...Qxa4 then 3.Be8+ and 4.Bxa4)
3.Ra8 (The Rook insists!) Qh7
4.Bg6 Qxg6
5.Ra6+ K~
6.Rxg6 ± (white wins)

The problem-139 is a study by Kasparyan, from the chapter R+B+B vs Q. In order to avoid the immediate loss of his Queen, the black King is forced to be exposed to batteries, resulting in a series of double checks. At the end the Queen is lost.

(Problem 139)
G. Kasparyan,
First Prize, Tourney Marking 20th Anniversary of the USSR Young Communist League, 1938
White plays and wins
+ (5+6)

It is not good to play (1.Rd3++? Kxd3 2.Bf1+ Kc2 3.Bxa7 Kb2 4.Bc4 Be5) and black is saved.
Key: 1.Re4++! Kd5!
2.Rd4++ Kc5!
3.Rd5++ Kc6!
4.Rc5++ Kb6! (If 4...Kd6 5.Rc6+ Kd7 6.Bxh3+ Kxc6 7.Bxa7+)
5.Rc6++ Kb7!
6.Rb6++ Kc8
7.Bxh3+ Kd8
8.Rd6+ Bxd6
9.Bxa7 ± (white wins)

(This post in Greek language).

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Genrikh Kasparyan

Genrikh Moiseyevich Kasparyan (German: Genrich Moissejewitsch Kasparjan, Russian: Генрих Моисеевич Каспарян) is considered one of the greatest Soviet composers of chess studies.
G. Kasparyan was born 27/02/1910 in Tbilisi (Georgia USSR), and died 27/12/1995 in Erivan (Armenia USSR). He was more than 13 years old when he was taught chess, in 1924, by his older brother. He became student (1926 - 1931) of civil engineering in the Polytechnic Institute of Tbilisi. During that period he started composing and he created about 40 chess studies.
He was also very strong over the board player. In 1931 he became champion of Tbilisi and then champion of USSR, taking the first place in a match with Michail Moiseyevich Botwinnik, who became later world champion. In 1936 he went to Erivan and became the first Armenian chess player ”Meister des Sports” winning 9,5-7,5 Witali Alexandrowitsch Tschechower.
He served as soldier (July 1941 - November 1945) and was repeatedly decorated.
In 1956 he has been awarded the title ”Honourable Master of Sports”. He worked as chess tutor till 1990. As active OTB player he won ten times in the Armenian championship.
In 1928 he published his first end-game study. He has composed over 500 studies, from which about 300 have won prizes in various contests.
He took part in 13 composing championships in USSR and he won in six.
In 1950 the International Chess Federation (F.I.D.E.) gave him the title ”International Master”.
In 1956 he became ”International Judge” for chess compositions.
In 1972 he became ”International Grand Master” for chess compositions. For this high title Kasparyan needed 70 points (publications in FIDE Albums). During his career he has gathered 174,17 points.
His book ”ЩАХМАТНЫЕ ЭТЮДЫ, Доминация” (1974) is famous, (and it was translated in English as ”Domination in 2,545 Endgame Studies” in 1980).

Two studies by Kasparyan

(Problem 116)
Genrikh Kasparyan,
First Prize, ”Roycroft Jubilee Ty”, 1979
White plays and draws
= (5+10)

This study, is not only noteworthy because it was awarded First Prize in a famous tourney, but because Kasparyan was working on it for 30 years. By his statement, this study is based on an idea he had in 1945. Let us see the solution :

Key: 1.Qb5!
White loses in the variation (1.Kxc2 Bf5 2.Bf6 e3+ 3.Kb3 exd2 4.Bxe5+ Kb1), also in the variation (1.Kxc2 Bf5 2.Qb5 e3+ 3.Kb3 exd2 4.Qxe5+ Kb1).

1...Sd3+ 2.Qxd3
White loses again with (2.Kxc2 Bd1+ 3.Kxd1 Rg1+ 4.Ke2 Rxh4 5.Ke3 Re1+ 6.Kd4 Sb2 7.e8=Q e3+), or with (2.Kxc2 Bd1+ 3.Kxd1 Rg1+ 4.Kc2 Rc1+ 5.Kb3 Rb1+).

2...exd3 3.e8=Q Be6
The continuation (3...Rg5 4.Qh8+ f6 5.Bf2 Rb5 6.Qxf6+ Rb2 7.Bd4 Rxf6 8.Bxf6) is not good because the position is at equilibrium despite the fact that black has more material.

4.Qxe6 Rg5
The threat is [5...Rb5]. If now 5.Bxg5, then after 5...Rf1+ black can checkmate.

Not (5.Qe3 Rf1+ 6.Be1 Rb5 7.Qxd3 Rxe1+ 8.Kxc2 Rb2+ 9 Kc3 Rc1+ 10 Kd4 Rb4+ 11 Ke5 Kb2). There are now two continuations...

5...Rg1+ 6.Be1 Rb4 7.Qxa2+ Kxa2
The black Rook has pinned the Bishop and white is stalemated, or...

5...Rb5 6.Bd4+ Rb2 7.Qf6 Rxf6 8.Bxf6
The white Bishop has pinned the Rook and black is stalemated.

(Problem 117)
Genrikh Kasparyan,
First Prize, ”Chess in USSR”, 1935
White plays and draws
= (7+7)

The situation, which will be presented in the solution of problem-117, can be described as Continuous Stalemate, where white and black try in vain to sacrifice their Queens. Let us see the solution :

Key: 1.Sf4! [2.Qd3# / Sd5#]
2.Sg2+ Ke4
3.Qxa4 (White sees that if 3... bxa4, will be stalemated).
3...Qh2+ (Black sees that after 4.Kxh2 bxa4, will win).
4.Kf2! Qg1+ (Black tries repeatedly to sacrifice his Queen, but White continuously becomes pinned...)
5.Kg3! Qf2+
6.Kh2! Qg3+
7.Kg1! Qh2+ (Draw, by repetition of the moves).

(This post in Greek language).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Studies (2), draws

The study is a chess composition, that is a contrived position on the chessboard, in which the white achieves his goal no matter what is the black defense, and the goal is [white plays and wins] (symbol +) or [white plays and draws] (symbol =).

The study can be considered as a special case of the orthodox chess problem. The goal must be achieved (win or draw, just as in a chess game) without a pre-specified number of moves for the variations.
The study has also unique key and unique solution.
Typically, the studies resemble game-finales (end-games) and they have usually few pieces.

White draws

(Problem 87)
M. S. Libiurkin,
“64”, 1934
White plays and draws
= (4+4)

The draw comes in various ways:
* with a stalemate position (of the white or of the black)
* with lack of enough material of the one side, which cannot win (i.e. K+S versus K)
* with repetition of the moves, (three times the same position, without capture, without pawn move, with the same side ready to move, with the same rights (castling, en-passant)).

Problem-87 is a study by M. S. Libiurkin, where the stipulation defines that it is white's turn to play and achieve draw.

The pawn c7 is pinned, so white cannot become any stronger by promotion, and the position is open, so stalemate is not an easy job. Let us see the solution:

Key: 1.e5! [2.c8=Q, or 2.Bd5+ that wins the black Queen].
(Now white must not continue with 2.Bd5+ because 2...Sf3 wins for black).
2.c8=Q Sc4+
(Now white must take care. If 3.Ka7, then 3...Qg1+ mates or wins the Queen Qc8).
3.Ka8 Sb6+
4.Kb7 Sxc8
5.Bd5+ Kg1
(Again white has an opportunity to lose the game. If 6.Bxh1 Sd6+ 7.Kc6 Kxh1 and black wins).
(Now black is forced to capture the Bishop which is threatening the black Queen).
(and white is stalemated).

Richard Réti, (28/05/1889 – 06/06/1929) was born in Austria-Hungaria. (He had an older brother Rudolph, famous pianist). Réti created studies, where the white King is apparently away from the black pawn and cannot catch it before promotion, but during the solution the Réti geometry triumphs.

(Problem 88)
Richard Réti
White plays and draws
= (2+3)

Key: 1.Ke7! g5
2.Kd6 g4
3.e7! (Exactly now! Now that the diagonal e2 – h5 has been closed) Bb5
4.Kc5 Bd7
5.Kd4 (the King has entered the square g4-g1-d1-d4-g4 and can capture the pawn).

In the next problem-89, by G. M. Kasparyan, the white King prepares to be buried alive and black, a Queen ahead, is watching unable to stop him!

(Problem 89)
G. M. Kasparyan,
“Chess in U.S.S.R.”, 1937
White plays and draws
= (5+3)

Key: 1.Kd7! h5
2.Kc7 h4
3.Kb6 h3
4.Ka5 (If 4...b6+ 5.Ka4 h2 6.a3 h1=Q 7.b3 ~ (stalemate))
5.b6 h1=Q 6.b5 Qb1 7.a4 ~ 8.b4 ~ (stalemate).

[This post in Greek language].

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Studies (1), wins

The study is a chess composition, that is a contrived position on the chessboard, in which the white achieves his goal no matter what is the black defense, and the goal is [white plays and wins] (symbol +) or [white plays and draws] (symbol =).

The study can be considered as a special case of the orthodox chess problem. The goal must be achieved (win or draw, just as in a chess game) without a pre-specified number of moves for the variations.
The study has also unique key and unique solution.
Typically, the studies resemble game-finales (end-games) and they have usually few pieces.

White wins

(Problem 84)
A. S. Seletsky,
First Prize, ”Chess in U.S.S.R.”, 1933
White plays and wins
+ (5+4)

There are some studies with excellent solutions, they are truly works of art. Such a study is problem-84, by Seletsky, awarded first prize in 1933.

The stipulation white plays and wins forces us to wonder, how much stronger is White?.
White has an excess pawn ready for promotion, but it is already threatened by the black Bishop, the promotion square is guarded by the black Queen, and if the black King moves to capture it, gives discovered check.
The position is much too open and there is no visible way for the white to press the black.

Can you imagine how does White win? Here follows the solution:
Key: 1.Qg5! [d8=Q]
(If 1...Bxd7, then 2.Sf4 and with 3.Bh5+ White wins).
(If 1...Qe7, then 2.d8=Q and White wins).
1...Ke6+ 2.Kg1!!
(We will understand later why this move is noted as excellent, with two exclamation marks).
(It is not good to play 2...Bxd7 3.Bg4+ Kf7 4.Se5+ Ke8 5.Bxd7#)
2...Kxd7 3.Sc5+ Kc8
(It is not good to play 3...Kd6 4.Qg3+ Kd5 5.Bc4+ Kxc4 6.Qb3+ and in the next move the black Queen is lost. If 3...Ke8 4.Bh5+ and Qf8 is lost. If 3...Kc7 / Kd8, then with 4.Se6+ again Qf8 is lost).
4.Ba6+ Kb8
5.Qg3+ Ka8
6.Bb7+ Bxb7
(The queen Qf8 is under threat and must be moved. A good idea is to give check, but the white King is wisely located on g1 (now the meaning of the second move becomes obvious!) and there is not a safe check from the black. White is also threatening [8.Sb6#] and, if the queen Qf8 leaves row-8, follows mate [8.Qb8#], so...)
8.Qb8+ Qxb8

White, starting from an open position and having a threatened excess pawn, in nine moves, gave with a lonely Knight a smothered mate to black, who got himself cornered.

Let us see a simpler study with similar ending, created by a study-composer with a large production of splendid works. The Russian writer and composer Karl Artur Leonid Kubbel, (06/01/1891 – 18/04/1942), changed his name to Leonid Ivanovich Kubbel after the October 1917 revolution. Leonid had two brothers, Arvid and Evgeny, who were chess-players.

(Problem 85)
Karl Artur Leonid Kubbel,
”150 Endspielstudien”, 1925
White plays and wins
+ (3+5)

Key: 1.Se3+
(Many studies have checking key).
1...Kg3 2.Qg4+ Kf2 3.Qf4+ Ke2 4.Qf1+ Kd2 5.Qd1+ Kc3
6.Qc2+ Kb4 7.Qb2+ Sb3 8.Qa3+! Kxa3 9.Sc2#

The moves of the black were the best, as he tried to save his Queen. It was not enough, because the King was lost.

And now a study were the white wins, avoiding many traps which lead to a draw. The composer of this study is Vladimir Aleksandrowitsh Korol(i)kov, (07/11/1907 – 01/05/1987).

(Problem 86)
V. A. Korolikov,
First Prize, ”Truda”, 1935
White plays and wins
+ (5+6)

Key: 1.d7! Ke7
2.Rb8 Bxg3
(not 2... f1=Q 3.d8=Q+ Kxd8 4.Ba6+ Kc7 5.Bxf1 Kxb8 6.gxh4 and white wins)
(not 3.Kxg3 f1=Q because the previous moves can be repeated now, but the white is without a pawn)
3...f1=Q 4.d8=Q+ Kxd8 5.Ba6+ Bb8
(playing 6.Rxb8 Kc7 leads to a draw)
6.Bxf1 Kc7 7.Ba6 e2 8.Bxe2 Kb7 9.Bf3 Kxa8 10.Bxc6#

[This post in Greek language].

Monday, May 12, 2008

Solution of Exercise No.5

In Exercise-5 we presented twelve direct-mate problems. Their solutions follow:

(Problem 49)
Comins Mansfield,
White plays and mates in 2 moves
#2 (6+4)

Tries: {1.Rxb7? / Kxb7? / Qe2? / Qa1+? / Sh3+? Kg2!}, {1.Qf1+? / Qxb7? / Qg6+? K(x)f1!}.

Key: 1.Bc6! [2.Rg8# / Qa1# / Sh3#]
1...bxc6 2.Rg8#
1...b5 2.Qa1#
1...b6 2.Sh3#
1...bxa6 2.Rb1#
There is a Pickaninny pawn at b7. The three threats of the key are separated in the three variations and there is a defense which refutes all the threats of the key but allows another mate. This is the theme Karlström-Fleck.

(Problem 50)
Marble & Bettmann
White plays and mates in 2 moves
#2 (5+2)

Tries: {1.Qd4+? Kc6!}, {1.Qe5+? Kxe5!}, {1.Sc4? / Sf7? Ke4!}.

Key: 1.Qe8! (zugzwang).
1...Kc5 2.Qb5#
1...c5 2.Qe4#
1...c6 2.Qh5#
1...cxb6 2.Qb5#
1...cxd6 2.Rh5#
There is a Pickaninny pawn at c7.

(Problem 51)
White plays and mates in 2 moves
#2 (13+2)

In the set play: 1...dxc6 / dxe6 2 Qe5#

Tries: {1.Bxd7? / exd7? / Rc3+? Kb5!}, {1.Qd4+? Kxd4!}, {1.Qe5+? / Ka4? Kxc6!}.

Key: 1.Qd8! (zugzwang).
1...Kxc6 / Kb5 2.Qb6#
1...Kd6 2.Rc3#
1...Kd4 2.Qb6#
1...d5 2.Qxd5#
1...d6 2.Qb6#
1...dxc6 2.f6#
1...dxe6 2.fxe6#
There is a Pickaninny pawn at d7.

(Problem 52)
Comins Mansfield,
3rd Prize, Memorial L. Segal, Themes-64, 1962
White plays and mates in 2 moves
#2 (7+3)

Tries: {1.Rc5+? e5!}, {1.Qxf4+? Kxf4!}, {1.Qh3+? Ke5!}.

Key: 1.Sf6! (zugzwang).
1...Kxg5 2.Qxf4#
1...Ke5 / Ke6 2.Qd5#
1...e5 2.Qg4#
1...e6 2.Qxf4#
1...exd6 2.Qd5#
1...exf6 2.Rc5#
There is a Pickaninny pawn at e7.

(Problem 53)
C. Morse,
”The Problemist”, 1962
White plays and mates in 2 moves
#2 (9+3)

Tries: {1.Qh6? / Bb4? / Be2+? fxg6!}, {1.Rh5? f5!}.

Key: 1.Qb8! [2.Re5~# (goes anyplace except g5 and mates)]
1...f5 2.Rxf5#
1...f6 2.Rh5#
1...fxe6 2.Rxe6#
1...fxg6 2.Rxe4#
There is a Pickaninny pawn at f7.

(Problem 54)
Walther Martinus Johannes Jørgensen
Arbejder-Skak, 1950
White plays and mates in 2 moves
#2 (10+8)

Phase of set play: * 1...g5 / g6 / gxf6 / gxh6 2.Qh7# / Qd5# / Sd6# / Qg4#

Phases of virtual play: Tries: {1.Qd5+? Kg6!}, {1.Sd6+? / Rc5+? Kxf6!}, {1.Qf7? gxf6!}, {1.Sf6~? K(x)e4!}, {1.Rxf4+? Bxf4!}.

Phase of actual play: Key: 1.Qe8! (zugzwang).
1...Kg5 2.Qh5#
1...g5 / g6 / gxf6 / gxh6 2.Qe4# / Qe5# / Rc5# / Qh5# (four changed mates)
There is a Pickaninny pawn at g7.

(Problem 55)
W. Tura,
First Prize, ”Europe Echecs”, 1962
(There is set play). White plays and mates in 2 moves
* #2 (10+11)

We spot two black Grimshaw intersections at squares b4 and e6 with set mates :
Phase of set play : * 1...Bb4 / Rb4 / Be6 / Re6 2.Qxd4# / Qe1# / Bd6# / Rb5#
(If White tries to exploit b4 as a Nowotny intersection, Black uses the Grimshaw intersection at e6 to close the line of Bc8 towards f5 and to make f5 a flight of the black King).

Phases of virtual play :
Try: {1.Bb4? [2.Qxd4# / Qe1#] Re6! (and there is no mate with 2.Rb5)}
Try: {1.Rb4? (same threats) Be6! (and there is no mate with 2.Bd6)}

There are several more tries: [1 Re4+? Kxe4!], [1 Rxg5+? Rxg5+!], [1 Rb5+? Bd5!], [1 Bd6+? Rxd6!], [1 Qe1+? Bxe1+!], [1 Qxd4+? Rxd4!], [1 Qe3+? dxe3!], [1 Qe2+? dxe2!], [1 Qf6+? Rxf6!], [1 Qf5+? Sxf5+!], [1 Qf4+? gxf4+!].

The key is a Nowotny intersection at e6, Black is defending with interferences at the white Grimshaw intersection b4, closing the line of Ba3 towards d6 and the line of Rb3 towards b5, but this square is also a black Grimshaw intersection, and the white Queen can execute one of the threats [2.Qxd4# / Qe1#].
Phase of actual play: Key: 1.Be6! [2.Rb5# / Bd6#] Bb4 / Rb4 2.Qxd4# / Qe1#.

(Problem 56)
M. Niemeijer,
First Prize, ”Tijdschrift v. d. N. S. B.”, 1928
White plays and mates in 3 moves
#3 (9+8)

Tries: {1.Re6? fxe6!}, {1.Rxf7? Kxd6!}.
Black pieces have no great mobility. If f7 was missing, black would only move the pawn e7 or Ke8.

Key: 1.gxf7! [2.f8=Q [3.Qxe7#]]
The beauty of the problem is that for each of the four moves of the Pickaninny pawn e7, white answers with a different promotion of f7, so the problem is an AUW!
1...e6 2.f8=Q e5 3.Qd8# / Qe7# / Rf7#
1...e5 2.f8=S+ Ke8 3.Sg7#
1...exd6 2.f8=R Ke7 3.R6f7#
1...exf6 2.f8=B Ke8 3.Sxf6#
The same pawn, on the same square, is promoted to four different pieces.

(Problem 57)
Ren A.
White plays and mates in 3 moves
#3 (6+5)

The black King is cornered and a check will finish him. Which piece will give the mate?
Tries: {1.Kd2+? / Kf2+? / Sd3? Sxd1!}.

The Rook Ra1 is a revealer, because it reveals the thought of the composer to use castling. We note that Ra1 and Ke1 have many pieces between them, there is also the guarding of d1 by the Knight Sc3 (as we have seen during virtual play), so White has apparently no time to castle in three moves.
Or has he? Yes, if the key is checking.
Key: 1.Qd5+ Sxd5
2.Sd3 [3.Sf2] Bxd3
The white pawn closes the diagonal d1 – f3 to stop [1.Qf3#].

(Problem 58)
White plays and mates in 2 moves
#2 (4+3)

Tries: {1.Qh4+? Kg6!}, {1.Qg5+? Bxg5!}, {1.Qxg7? Bxg7!}, {1.Qf5+? Bg5!}, {1.Qf7+? Rxf7!}, {1.Qxh6+? Kxh6!}, {1.Se5? Rg4!}, {1.Sg3+? Rxg3+!}, {1.Sf4+? Bxf4!}.
We do not need much time to locate the black Grimshaw intersection at g5. We exploit it as Nowotny intersection.
Key: 1.Sg5! [2.Sf4# / Sg3#]
1...Bxg5 / Rxg5 2.Sg3# / Sf4#.

(Problem 59)
Allan Werle,
”Tidskrift för Schack“, 1945
White plays and mates in 4 moves
#4 (2+2)

Trying {1.e8=Q? d1=S+! 2.Kg3 Se3 3.Qxe3}, black is stalemated, because Qe3 guards g1. For this reason we prefer to have underpromotion at the key.

Key: 1.e8=R! [2.Rg8#] d1=S+
2.Kg3 Se3
3.Rxe3 Kg1

(Problem 60)
J. A. Schiffmann,
”T N S B Chess Assn. Tourney”, 1929
White plays and mates in 2 moves
#2 (12+8)

Tries: {1.d8=Q? Sxd8!}, {1.Sd3+? Rxd4!}, {1.Be1+? Bxf1!}.

Key: 1.Sf8! [2.Sh7#]
1...Rc4 / Bc4 (closing the line of Ba2 towards e6) 2.Be1# / Sd3#
1...Rd3+ / Bd3 2.Be3# / Sc4#

The moves of the Rooks at c4, d3 are dealt by Bf2 which forms a battery with Rf1. The moves of the Ba6 at c4, d3 are dealt by Se5 which forms a battery with Qd4.
In this problem the theme TRD is presented:

Theme TRD : It is a double Grimshaw, which is formed from two Rooks and a Bishop, or from two Bishops and a Rook. (The theme is also called Three Rider Double).

The theme is named in honor of Thomas Rayner Dawson, very prolific British composer, who died in 1951. Dawson is considered the inventor of the fairy chess. The fairy chess uses many (over a thousand) fairy pieces or different chessboards or different conditions modifying the rules of the play.

[This post in Greek language].

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].

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Themes Hamburg and Dresden

We continue presenting problems of the three relevant themes: theme Roman, theme Hamburg, theme Dresden. These themes contain the following common elements:

(a) The problems have at least one try.
(b) There is a General plan (German : Hauptplan), which becomes obvious with the moves after the try (the virtual play), but is not successful.
(c) A Pre-plan (German : Vorplan) is applied, which starts with the key and continues with modification of the defensive moves. Then the general plan reappears and is finally applied.
(d) The themes require at least 3 moves.

Theme Hamburg : The move of a black piece changes the way of defense of another piece.

(Problem 77)
Siegfried Brehmer,
Second Prize, ”German Ring Tourney”, 1948
White plays and mates in 3 moves
#3 (8+8)

First we see some tries with checking moves:
Tries: {1.Sb8+? Kc7!}, {1.Rd6+? Kxd6!}, {1.Rb6+? Kxd5!}, {1.Rbc5+? Kb7!}.

Next we see two tries relevant with the theme, (thematic tries):
Tries: {1.Sc4? [2.Rd6+] Rg6!}, {1.Rd4? [2.Rb6+] Rg5!}

Key: 1.f4! [2.Rb6 Kxd5 3.Sc7#].
If the pawn f7 moves, the Rook Rg7 will guard c7 (but then, the defensive moves of the Rook will be modified):
1...f6 2.Sc4 (and there is not the defense Rg6) Rd7 3.Rdc5#
1...f5 2.Rd4 (and there is not the defense Rg5) Rb7 3.Rbc5#
And another variation with en-passant capture of a pawn:
1...exf3 e.p. 2.e4 (holds Rd5) ~ 3.Rb6#

The Rook Rg7 has adequate defenses for the thematic tries with moves on file-g, but the pawn f7 changes the way of defense of the Rook, forcing it to move on row-7. When the Rook makes its defensive moves there blocks flights of the black King.

And now let us see the third theme of the group Roman - Hamburg - Dresden.

Theme Dresden : The move of a black piece changes the (good) defense of piece-A to (inadequate) defense of piece-B.

(Problem 78)
Erich-Ernest Zepler,
Fourth Prize, ”Dresdener Anzeiger“, 1927
White plays and mates in 3 moves
#3 (3+12)

There are several tries: {1.Rxa7+? Kxa7!}, {1.Rb6? Sc8!}, {1.Qxf5? Rxf5!}, {1.Qxc3? Bxc3!}, {1.Qe2? Ra4!}.

Another two tries relevant with the theme: {1.Qg2? [2.Qg8#] Rg4!}, {1.Qa2? [2.Rxa7#] Ra4!}.

Key: 1.Qf2! [2.Qg1 [3.Qg8#]].
The Rook Rd4 can not move because of Qxa7#.
1...f4 (if white plays 2.Qg1, black will continue with 2...Rg5)
2.Qg2 (not 2.Qa2? Ra4!) Rg5 3.Qxc6#
1...b4 (if white plays 2.Qg1, black will continue with 2...Rb5 and 3...Rb8)
2.Qa2 (not 2.Qg2? Rg4!) Ra5 3.Qg8#

In the virtual play the Rook Rc4 has adequate defense.
The moves of the pawns f5-f4 or b5-b4 change the 'defenses with Rc4' to 'defenses with Rc5', which are unable to stop the mate because they open the diagonals passing from c5.

[This post in Greek language].