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
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|
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
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|
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|
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|
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|
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|
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|
Second Commended: Sven Trommler & Dieter Müller (Germany)
|Mate in 5|
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|
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|
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|
Special Commended: Chris Handloser (Switzerland)
|Mate in 5|
1.O-O h5 2.Ne1 h4 3.Bh1 h3 4.Nf3 Kc6 5.Nd4 mate
© Tim Krabbé, 2003
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