Friday, September 11, 2009

The Sword of Damocles

First, some historical details for the expression of the title.

The city of Syracuse, Sicily, was ruled in ancient times by the tyrant Dionyssios. Among his courtiers there was a flatterer named Damocles, who envied the wealth and the glory of his master.

In a circumstance, Dionyssios asked Damocles if he would like to try sit in the throne. Damocles gladly accepted the invitation and started to enjoy the comforts of his lord. Examining curiously everything around, Damocles noted that above his head a sword was hanging, restrained only by a few horse hairs. Naturally, the hair might be cut at any time...
Dionyssios had placed the sword above the throne, to remind him to take the right decisions, since he could die at any moment and he could not correct any misjudgments.
Damocles was terrified and immediately left the seat of the lord, which seemed not enviable any more.
The phrase [Sword of Damocles] specifies the deadly danger threatening us, and has passed from Greek language to other languages (for example, in French : L' epee de Damocles).

This title was given, in 1865, to the problem we present today. Since many dangers are threatening us, the problem has two solutions.
(In the era of this problem the element of economy in pieces was not very strict).

(Problem 381)
"L' epee de Damocles ",
M. Schoumoff de Saint-Petersbourg,
Journal des Echecs, 1865-6, (Vol.2, p.238), by Paul Journoud, Paris
Mate in 3 moves.
#3 (10 + 1)

The solution follows ...

Key : 1.Rf3!
1...Kg2 2.Se3+ Kg1/Kh1 3.Rf1#
1...Kh1 2.Se3 Kg1 3.Rf1#

Key : 1.Bh1! Kxh1 2.Se3 Kg1 3.Rf1#

It is quite obvious that the lonely King (theme : Rex solus) is condemned from the beginning.

No comments: