Final award, 1 September 2003

In the moremover-section of the composing tourney for my 60th birthday, there were no less than 177 entries, by 87 composers from 26 countries. Themes were free, and the problems' content varied widely, from technical four-movers to longer adventurous problems, including one 34-mover. Co-judge Ruud Beugelsdijk wanted it to be my tourney, with him as a sounding board, and perhaps that is why the award seems to favour the bolder problems: the average length of the top four is twice that of the bottom four; 11 and 5½ moves respectively. Andrzej Jasik won the tourney with a very witty 14-mover.
    But this is bound to happen when an old over-the-board player, no matter how much he has come to love chess composition, co-judges a problem-tourney. From games you go to studies, then to moremovers, to shorter problems, and perhaps from there, to self- and helpmates, retrograde and Fairy Chess. No coincidence that for my birthday, I asked for studies and moremovers.
    We marvelled at many of the problems, but it is difficult to compare symphonies to jingles, jokes to novels, especially when your judgment changes from day to day - during our e-mail-deliberations, some problems went from top to bottom of the award and/or vice versa. In art, what matters is taste, but of course there were technical considerations (cooks robbed the award of some beautiful problems) and anticipations: it is sad, but information can turn something brilliant into something neat. And there was this one problem we both put aside in the first round, but which, as we discovered later, was a slightly better version of a problem that had won that same author a First Prize 25 years ago. Skill improves, fashions change. (But the very first strategic problem idea, Loveday's Indian theme from 1845, occurs in two problems in this award.)
    Ruud was much more than a sounding board - I am grateful for the tireless way in which he showed me good and bad points of problems that I would have missed myself. Those e-mails of ours amount to a very interesting problem book - he taught me a lot.
    Many thanks to tourney director Henk le Grand, too. It must have been a huge, at times discouraging job, to decipher all those manuscripts, with Poles using English notation; Bulgarians using Dutch; Dutchmen using German; with rooks that changed from T to R in the middle of a solution; green white pieces on grey squares; green black ones on yellow squares; stamped from dried-up inkpads. If one thing amazed me, it was how careless some of these artists are with their creations.

Except for one problem which turned out to have duals and had to be stricken, this final award does not differ from the provisional one as published in Probleemblad no. 3, May/June 2003. Problems not in the final award are at the disposal of the authors.

Amsterdam, 13 April / 1 September 2003
Tim Krabbé
Ruud Beugelsdijk

There is also a Dutch version of this award, a PGN-file with the problems and the author's own analysis, and a page where the problems can be played over online with Palview .

First Prize: Andrzej Jasik (Poland)

A newly promoted knight, whinnying with delight at being alive, jumps back and forth, blocking, vacating and unpinning, so a Phoenix queen can carry out a subtle mating manoeuvre. Perhaps not the best key ever, but what dressage!

Mate in 14
Even if this key is a strong threat, it is less obvious than 1.b8N+, which is refuted by Kb6 2.Qg2 Qe6, or 1.e8Q when c5 2.Qxa4+ bxa4 3.Qxa4+ Kb6 4.Qxa7+ Kc6 5.b8Q Kd7+ saves. Pawn b7 must reserve its queening potential.
Now Qe6 could be met by 2.b8Q and mate soon.
2.b8N+ Kb6 3.Nd7+
Not 3.e8Q c5+ That square must first be blocked.
3...Ka6 4.Nc5+ Kb6 5.e8Q Qg8
And now White must unpin his queen.
6.Nd7+ Ka6 7.Nb8+ Kb6 8.Qe7
Threatening Qc5 mate.
To threaten mate again, the knight must go back to c5.
9.Nd7+ Ka6 10.Nc5+ Kb6
Or 10...Qxc5 11.Qxc5 Nc8 12.Qxc6+ Nb6+ 13.Kb8 and 14.Qb7 mate
11.Qf8 Qg8
Once more, the knight must unpin the queen:
12.Nd7+ Ka6 13.Nb8+ Kb6
And finally,
14.Qc5 mate.

Second Prize: Ruzvelt Martsvalashvili (Georgia)

It is easy to point out the faults in this problem. The key threatens two mates in one; pieces disappear without having played or are just being wood; Black is a bystander - but these objections melt away before the hilarious prank that is being played here, and that deserves to be seen as a theme in the spirit of Sam Loyd: the Least Likely Move to Mate.
    But the play is attractive, too: the Zwickmühle of which the front piece sacrifices itself; the three diagonal steps of the black pawns; the cameo appearance of the star, pawn a2, in a side variation.

Mate in 12
Threatening Nd4 and Re5 mate.
1...Ra7 2.Re5+ Ka6 3.Bxc4+ b5 4.Nc5+ Kb6 5.Nd7+ Ka6 6.Bxb5 mate and 1...a3 2.Nd4+ Ka4 3.b3+ Bxb3 4.axb3+ cxb3 5.Bb5 mate are quicker. Now White creates a battery
2.Re5+ Kc4 3.Re4+ Kb5
which first eliminates a defender:
4.Nd4+ Kc4 5.Nxc2+ Kb5
and then brings the knight into position:
6.Nd4+ Kc4 7.Ne2+ Kb5
when everything is ready for the final act:
8.Re5+ Kc4 9.b3+ axb3 10.Re4+ Kb5 11.Nc3+ bxc3
And now the move Loyd would have been proud of:
12.a4 mate.

Third Prize: Gerard Bouma (Netherlands)

The difference with the first two prizes could hardly have been greater. There, circus artists were at work while here, solemn scholars created a modest but captivating miniature.
    The black rook is bound to the fifth rank to stop one mate, but also needs guards on the third and fourth ranks against another mate. White's key move provides for a future waiting move which robs this rook of a crucial guard, either because it must leave the protection of the guarding pieces, or these pieces must stop their guarding.

Mate in 9

Why 1.Rb8 doesn't work will be clear soon.
1...Rc5 2.Rbg7
Now White has, beside the threat behind the black king, two threats in front of it: 3.R7g3 and Rh3 mate which Black must be able to meet on the third rank, and 3.R2g4+ Kh5 4.Rg3 Rc2+ 5.Kh3 Rb6 6.R7g4 which Black must be able to meet with Kh6, or a defence over the fourth rank.
The only other file with a defence square on the third rank. Knight moves or other rook moves are met by 3. R7g3 and mate soon. After 2...a3 (unguarding b3) 3.Rg8! Black must give up his third rank defence, e.g. 3...Rb5 4.R8g3 etc. The text move enables Black to meet 3.R7g3 by Rb3!
Had White played 1.Rb8, he would now have lacked space for a waiting move; 3.R8g7 Rc5 4.R2g4+ Kh5 5.Rg3 Kh6! and no mate. Now Black must give up the b-file with its two defence squares.
Or again 3...a3 (unguarding b3) 4.R8g3 Rb3 5.Rxb3 Nc3 6.Rxc3 and 7.mate, or 3...Nc1 (unguarding b4) 4.R2g4+ Kh5 5.Rg3 Rb2+ 6.Kh3 Rb6 7.R8g4 Rb4 8.Rxb4 and 9.mate. But now, b4 is also unguarded, so:
4.R2g4+ Kh5 5.Rg3 Rc2+ 6.Kh3 Rc6 7.R8g4 Rc4 8.Rxc4! and 9.Rh4 mate.

This problem can also be seen as an illustration of the Roman theme. 2...Rb5 is an anti-Roman; Black doesn't want his rook to defend from an unguarded square. White's 3.Rg8 is a Roman, leaving Black with a good defence, but from a bad place.

First Honourable Mention: Baldur Kozdon (Germany)

In two variations, pawn moves decoy two black bishops, a file is surprisingly opened, and a rook sacrifices itself decisively on the back rank. These sacrifices, the two defences by the black knight and the two interferences by pawn f2 make for a harmonious whole. If soundness hadn't called for such a crowd in the south-west corner, this problem would have been ranked higher.

Mate in 9
Immediately 1.Rh3, with short threats on h5 and g7, is defended both by 1...Nf4 2.Bxf4 Be2 3.f3 Bxf3 4.?? and 1...Ng3 2.fxg3 Be2 3.g4 Bxg4 4.?? White must first decoy the Bd4.
Threatening Rf8 mate.
1...Bxc5+ 2.d6
and now two variations in which the other bishop is also decoyed:
a) 2...Nf4 3.Rxf4 Bxd6+ 4.Kf7 Be5 5.Rh4! Be2 6.f3! Bxf3 and suddenly the b-file cannot be defended: 7.Rb4 Qa3 8.Rb8+ Bxb8 9.Bg7 mate
b) 2...Bxd6+ 3.Kf7 Be5 4.Rh3! Ng3 5.fxg3 Be2 6.g4! Bxg4 and now the d-file is undefendable: 7.Rd3 Bf6 8.Rd8+ Bxd8 9.Bg7 mate

Second Honourable Mention: Wenelin Alaikow (Bulgaria)

After a preliminary shut-off by a rook, a knight replaces it as the front piece of a battery, and catapults itself to the mating square in four Rössel variations. That had been shown before, but the rook doing its cutting-off on a4, b4 and c4 in turn, is a brilliant feature. The key, which opens the first battery but also provokes two checks, is nice too.

Mate in 5
1.Ka3 threatening 2.Rf4+ Kxd5 3.Nc3+ Ke5 4.Nd1+ Kd5 5.Nxe3 mate
a) 1...Ra8+ 2.Ra4+ Kxd5 3.Nc3+ Ke5 4.Nb5+ Kd5 5.Nxc7 mate
b) 1...Bxd6+ 2.Rb4+ Kxd5 3.Nc3+ Ke5 4.Ne4+ Kd5 5.Nxf6 mate
c) 1...cxd6 2.Rc4+ Kxd5 3.Nc3+ Ke5 4.Na4+ Kd5 5.Nb6 mate

Third Honourable Mention: Viktor Melnichenko & Nikolai Rezvov (Ukraine)

An original and puzzle-like problem with a hidden Indian manoeuvre as its main theme. White must do three things at once: stop the pinning by his Re2, prevent the unpinned piece from checking, and tame a pawn. Three black pawn moves each call for a different unpinning device: the rook hides on the pinning rank, leaves it, or is captured.

Mate in 4
Without Re2, 1.Kg2 would be mate in 3; 1...g3 2.fxg3! and Rc1 (Qb1) mate, or 1...gxh3+ 2.Kxh3 etc. But 1.Re4? is refuted by g3! (threatening gxf2+ followed by a check at e4) and after 1.h4 g3! White cannot get rid of his rook quickly enough.
Opens the line for the Indian. Each of Black's three pawn moves is now met by a different unpin:
a) 1...g3 With a critical move, White now hides his rook: 2.Rh2! g2 (2...gxh2+ 3.Kh1! etc.) 3.Kxg2 N- 4.Rc1 mate (3...Nxb3 4.Qb1 mate)
b) 1...gxf3 2.Kf2! Not 2.Rh2? because of f2+ 3.Kxf2 Ne4+
2...fxe2 3.Kg2 and 4.mate
c) 1...gxh3 2.Kh1! h2 and the knight has no check, so: 3.Re4 and 4.mate

First Commended: Fedor Davidenko (Russia)

Behind a well-known pawn phalanx, two mating squares loom, both still defended. After the beautiful key, which interferes with two lines of attack, the phalanx is torn down and in two variations, separated by dual-avoidance, the mating squares can be used after all. Old elements, elegantly combined. Compare the 4th Commended.

Mate in 5

1.Rxd5+? Qxd5 2.Bxe5+ Qxe5 3.Qc4+ Bxc4!
1.Bxe5+? Qxe5 2.Rxd5+ Qxd5 3.Qe3+ Bxe3!
threatening Nxe4 and mate, and now:
a) 1...Bh3 weakens c4 2.Nf5+! Not Nb5+ because after axb5, c4 is guarded again. 2...Nxf5 3.Rxd5+ Qxd5 4.Bxe5+ Qxe5 5.Qc4 mate
b) 1...Be3 weakens e3 2.Nb5+! Not Nf5+ because after Nxf5, e3 is guarded again. 2...Bxb5 3.Bxe5+ Qxe5 4.Rxd5+ Qxd5 5.Qxe3 mate
Side variations:
1...Qh7+ 2.Kb6 Qc7+ (Qa7+ 3.Bxa7 Bg2 4.Qf5 Nxf5 5.Nxf5 mate) 3.Bxc7 Bg2 4.Nf5+ Nxf5 5.Qxe5 mate
1...Rg1 2.Ndxe4 Rg7+ 3.Ka8 Ra7+ 4.Kxa7 and 5.mate
1...Kxc5 2.Nxe4+ Kb5+ 3.Nxf2 and 4.mate

Second Commended: Sven Trommler & Dieter Müller (Germany)

Mate in 5
A little gem. In two variations, White annihilates a pawn, and after a switchback, mates with an unblocked pawn. A little blemish is that one mate is delivered by the pawn itself, and the other by its discovered check.

1.Bg2 (threatening e4 folowed by Bh3 mate) and now two variations:
a) 1...Na6 2.Nf4+ Ke5 3.Nxd3+ Ke6 4.Nf4+ Ke5 5.d4 mate
b) 1...Bb7 2.Nf8+ Ke5 3.Nxd7+ Ke6 4.Nf8+ Ke5 5.d7 mate

Third Commended: A.N. Pankratiev (Russia)

Multiple Plachuttas are old hat, but this attractive combination with a junction-point was new to the jury. In two variations, one piece is decoyed to this junction-point; another is lured away from it by its Plachutta duties, and mate on the junction-point follows.

Mate in 4
threatening e4+ and mate. As Black would lose control over d6 or c4 otherwise, he must capture this pawn. The thematical variations are:
a) 1...Rxe3 2.Nf4+ Bxf4 (Qxf4 3.Nxe3+ Qxe3 4.Rxd6 mate) 3.Rxd6+ Bxd6 4.Nxe3 mate
b) 1...Bxe3 2.Nec3+ Raxc3 (Rcxc3 3.Nxe3+ Rxe3 4.Bc4 mate) 3.Bc4+ Rxc4 4.Nxe3 mate

Fourth Commended: A.N. Pankratiev (Russia) & Dieter Müller (Germany)

Striking similarity to Davidenko's First Commended. Here too, White aims two line pieces at a pawn-phalanx, which is still defended. The key move, which interferes both attacking pieces, forces a black Grimshaw between the defenders and enables White, with dual-avoidance, to carry out his original plan. It is a pity that one of the initial attacks is guarded doubly (after 1.Bxd4+, both Kxd4 and Rxd4 refute) and that the relevant dual avoidance is also doubly motivated.

Mate in 4
1.Qxc4+ Kxc4 2.Rxc6 mate is refuted by 1...Bxc4, and 1.Bxd4+ Kxd4 2.Qf2 mate by 1...Rxd4 and the impossibility of 1...Kxd4 2.Qf2 mate.
1.Nd2 threatening 2.Nxc4 and 2.Bxd4+ is defended by c3! but 1.Nc3!
works. The threat is Qxf5+ followed by Nd7 mate, and the main variations are:
a) 1...Rd3 Weakening c4 2.Nce4+! and not Na4+, because after Rxa4, c4 is guarded again. 2...fxe4 3.Qxc4+ Kxc4 4.Rxc6 mate
b) 1...Bd3 Weakening d4 2.Na4+! and not Nce4+ because after Bxe4, c4 is guarded again - and after fxe4 there would be no mate 2...Rxa4 3.Bxd4+ Kxd4 4.Qf2 mate
Side variations:
1...cxb3 2.Qxb3 and mate in time
1...d3 2.Nce4+ fxe4 3.Qxc4+ etc.
1...dxc3 2.Qxc3 Rb7(a4) 3.Qe3+ and 4.Qxd4 mate

Fifth Commended: S. Zakharov (Russia)

A somewhat bizarre problem with witty elements and serious faults. After the spectacular key, Black is essentially defenseless, but if he robs White of the most obvious mate, this calls for a nice square-vacating queen-sacrifice.

Mate in 7
After 1.Qf8 Kg6 Black escapes, and other attempts are also too slow. Now 2.Qf8 is a threat, but also 2.Qg8+ Kxg8 3.b8Q+ Kh7 4.Qf8 etc., and other queen moves, followed by b8Q and the doubling of the queens.
1...Nc4 2.Rxf7+ Kh6 3.Qf8+ Kh5 4.Rh7+ Kg5 5.Rg7+ Kh6 6.Qf4+ Kh5 7.Qg5 mate
Again threatening Qf8, Qg8+, but also Qc/e8
or 2...f1Q 3.Qf8 Qf6 (3...Qa1 4.b8Q) 4.Bxf6 exf6 5.b8Q Kg6 6.Qg8+ Kh6 7.Qbf8 mate. After the text move White must hurry, but not too much: 3.Qf8? Nb6+ 4.Kb8 Nd7+
Vacating b7
3...Kxg8 4.b8Q+ Kh7 5.Qf8 Nb6+ 6.Kb7 Kg6 7.Qg7 mate

Special Commended: Chris Handloser (Switzerland)

Mate in 5
If it is true that we had to wait until 2003 for these two ancient ideas (Loveday's Indian from 1845 and Loyd's double square vacation by castling from 1877) to be combined, then this problem, however bulky, is worth a mention.

1.O-O h5 2.Ne1 h4 3.Bh1 h3 4.Nf3 Kc6 5.Nd4 mate

© Tim Krabbé, 2003

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