Final award, 9 August 2003

For my 60th anniversary Jubilee Tourney, 126 studies were submitted, by 81 composers from 29 countries. The average quality was high; over three quarters at least had something fresh, witty or deep - and many were simply beautiful.
    At times, when I went over all those vastly different concoctions, I felt like a vaudeville impresario, judging hopeful fire-eaters, tap dancers, knife throwers, stand-up comedians, human cannonballs, unicyclists, all showing their acts, hoping to be in the show. Often, I was truly moved by the dazzling and crazy acts they had devised, their belief in them, the endless practising that had obviously gone into them - but mainly, I was just awed. Chess is inexhaustable, and the study composers' imagination and ingenuity is inexhaustable. I am grateful to them. René Olthof
    I also want to thank tourney director René Olthof and fellow jury member Harold van der Heijden. For some twenty years, I have known both as kindred souls; lovers of the unusual, and especially the beautiful in chess.
    Only when I saw the original manuscripts, some with solutions in hardly legible handwritten cyrillic; in enigmatic notations; without variations or with an almost sickening plenitude of them, I knew how much work René had done - just to get all the studies uniformly and anonymously to Harold and me. Harold van der Heijden
    Harold, with his vast knowledge, his famous database and his eagle's eye as an analyst, hopefully kept us from awarding studies that are not entirely new or correct - but his artistic appreciation was what really mattered.
    That endgame composition is a form of art, and therefore a matter of taste, was rather shockingly illustrated by the differences in our initial selections - when we showed each other our first top-9's, not a single study was in both of them. It was great fun, and very enlightening, to explain to each other, in lengthy e-mails, the merits and shortcomings of individual studies. Harold insisted that it was 'my' tourney and that therefore I had to speak the final word, but even if his own ranking would have been different in a few places, we both like the one that is presented here, and he influenced it greatly.
    When René finally gave us the names, we discovered we had turned down quite a few celebrities, and had awarded two newcomers, Van Essen and Bichu, highly. The winner of the tourney, the New Zealander Emil Melnichenko, has been a renowned study composer for over a quarter century, winning many prizes.
    This final award does not differ from the provisional one; the claims that came in only necessitated a few minor remarks. Studies not in the final award are at the disposal of the authors.

Below are the 17 awarded studies with, more or less briefly, their solutions. A very nice pdf-version of the award (thanks to René Olthof and Joop de Groot) can be downloaded, and also a PGN-file with the complete analyses by the authors. The studies can be played over online with Palview .

Amsterdam, 13 April / 9 August 2003
Tim Krabbé
Harold van der Heijden (FIDE-judge for endgame studies)

First Prize: Emil Melnichenko (New Zealand)

With a very witty sacrificial manoeuvre, which repeats itself on a neighbour file as an echo-chameleon, White obtains successive vacating checks for two rooks. Finally g7 is vacated by a promotion, leading to a winning rook plus pawn vs. rook endgame.
    The construction, with only 12 pieces, is perfect. The thematical try 1.Bd7+, when a third version of White's vacating manoeuvre is refuted by a drawing version of the rook endgame, adds to the unity. By virtue of the echoes, this study is the culmination point of an idea that Melnichenko had been working on for twenty years
    Remarkably, the composer seems to have tried to obscure the beauty of his masterpiece by using an obscure notation system for the approximately 1200 moves of his, often repetitive, analysis. It took the tourney director many hours to turn this labyrinth into a PGN-file, and the jury to get a clear view of the path from entrance to exit.
    The reward was great.

White to play and win
Black threatens mate. In order to win, White must vacate g7. This calls for a check by the Rg8, which calls for a check by Rf8 - which calls for a line-opening bishop sacrifice.
Why 1.Bd7+ doesn't work will be explained later. If Black does not capture a bishop now, White will have less trouble liberating the North-East corner. There are two variations.
    a) 1...Kxc7 2.Rc8+ Kb6 3.Rc6+
After 3...Kxb7 4.Rb8+ Kxc6 5.g8Q Nf8+ 6.Kg7 Rxg6+ 7.Kxf8 Ne6+ 8.Qxe6+ Rxe6 9.Kf7 White wins the rook ending. The thematic defence is
when Black hides behind the white pieces. A strange hunt develops:
4.Ba6+ Ka5 5.Rc5+ Ka4 6.Bb5+ Kb4 7.Rc4+ Kb3 8.Ba4+ Ka3 9.Rc3+ Ka2 10.Bb3+ Kb2 11.Rc2+ Kb1 12.Ba2+ Ka1 13.Rc1+
This could go on forever, if not for the edge of the board:
13...Kxa2 14.Ra8+ followed by 15.g8Q, and White wins.
    b) 1...Kxb7 2.Rb8+ Kc6 3.Rb6+
and now the dark-squared bishop joins the hunt:
(or 3...Kxc7 4.Rc8+ Kxb6 5.g8Q and White wins)
4.Bd6+ Kd5 5.Rb5+ Kd4 6.Bc5+ Kc4 7.Rb4+ Kc3 8.Bd4+ Kd3 9.Rb3+ Kd2 10.Bc3+ Kc2 11.Rb2+ Kc1 12.Bd2+ Kd1 13.Rb1+ and Rg8 finally gets its check.

The thematical try
1.Bd7+? does not work, because after
the black king gets too close:
2.Rd8+ Kc6 3.Rd6+
If Black tries to hide now, White wins as above, but Black draws with
3...Kxc7! 4.Rc8+ Kxd6 5.g8Q
After 5.Rd8+ Ke7! both promotions only draw; 6.g8Q Nf8+ 7.Kg7 Rxg6+ etc., or 6.g8N+ Kxd8 7.Nxh6 Nf8
5...Nf8+ 6.Kg7 Rxg6+ 7.Kxf8 Ne6+ 8.Qxe6+ Kxe6 and now the rook ending is a draw.

NB 16 April: As Rik van der Heiden shows, Black can last one move longer if in the main variation after 1.Bb7+, he plays 1...Kd7(!) when White has nothing better than 2.Rd8+ Kxc7 3.Rc8+, reverting to the position after 2.Rc8+

Second Prize: Martin van Essen (Netherlands)

Two rooks up, White is in for a ferocious sacrificial struggle to keep Black from promoting. Both sides take part in the slugfest: Prokeš-manoeuvre with double rook sacrifice on f4 by White; self-blocking bishop sacrifice on a promotion square and unguarded guard with Novotny by Black. The black king must undertake a Long March to f3 where his proud passed pawns only help in the tragicomical but beautiful way in which he is mated.
    The initial position, light but not too elegant, has miraculously withstood all the computing power unleashed at it. In those side variations, some more beautiful moves can be found.
    An amazing work of art for a new composer.

White to play and win
Not 1.Nd3 e1Q+ 2.Nxe1 f2, or 1.Re4 e1Q+ 2.Rxe1 Bxe1+ 3.Kg5 bxa6 4.e6+ Bxe6 5.Rb7+ Kg8 6.Nxe6 Bc3 (6...f2 7.Rg7+ Kh8 8.Rf7) 7.Rd7 f2 8.Rd1 Kf7 9.Nd8+ Kg7 and the possibility of Bf6+ ensures Black a draw; 10.Nc6 Be1 11.Rd7+ with a perpetual.
1...Bxe6 2.Rxb7+ Kg6 3.f5+ Kxf5
Or 3...Bxf5 4.Rb6+ Kf7 5.Nd3!
(4.Re4 Bd5!) Now Black loses after 4...e1Q+ 5.Nxe1 Bxe1+ 6.Kh3 Bxc4 7.Bxc4 and after 4...f2 5.Rc5+ Kf6 6.Nf4 f(e)1Q 7.Nh5+ Kg6 8.Bd3+ Kh6 9.Rxh7 mate, but he has the unlikely
Blocking his own promotion square. 4...e1Q+ 5.Nxe1 Bxe1+ 6.Kh3 Bxc4 7.Bxc4 leads to a slow but inevitable death.
5.Nxe1 f2
It seems the other pawn will promote. But:
6.Rf4+! Kxf4
Now after 7.Ng2+? Kf3 Black would win, as b7 is blocked. Vacating this square is worth a rook.
The pawns' fate seems sealed now: 7...Kf5 8.Bd3+ Kf6 9.Rf4+ or 7...Ke3 8.Nc2+ Kd2 9.Rd4+ followed by Bxe2.
The last resort - an unguarded guard (also a Novotny) to close the diagonal a6-e2.
8.Rxc4+ Kf5 9.Rf4+!
After two bishop sacrifices by Black, now a second rook sacrifice by White, to open the diagonal again.
9...Kxf4 10.Ng2+ Kf3
To prevent Bxe2. But now:
11.Bb7 with a fairy tale mate in which, except for pawn h7, all remaining pieces cooperate.

Third Prize: Jarl Ulrichsen (Norway)

Natural position; crystal clear story, governed by one theme: the prevention of promotions. With two unguarded guards, White uses Black's ingenious anti-promotion struggle for an even more ingenious anti-promotion manoeuvre of his own. The paradoxical journey of the white king from a5 by c8 to d5, to stop pawn h5, makes one think of Réti.

White to play and draw
Seems winning.
1...Be1+ 2.Kb5 c6+ 3.Kc5 Nxd3+
3...Bf2+? 4.d4 and White wins.
4.Kd6 Bg3+ 5.f4!
Mysterious, for the moment. After 5.Kxd7 Nc5+ 6.Kd8 Ne6+ 7.Kc8 Nc7, Black wins.
5...Bxf4+ 6.e5! Bxe5+ 7.Kxd7 Nc5+ 8.Kc8
Again: 8.Kd8 Ne6+ 9.Kc8 Nc7 and Black wins.
8...Nxa4 9.Kxb7 Nb6 10.Kxb6 Bd4+ 11.Kxc6 Bxa7
Finally, the dangerous pawn has been caught.
Suddenly, it is clear what White has been doing: with 5.f4 and 6.e5, he used Black's clearance of the diagonal to b8, to clear the diagonal he needed to stop pawn h5.

Fourth Prize: Gady Costeff (Israel / USA)

Brilliant final position with a triple-pin stalemate, after a baffling rook-promotion. Play, from an initial position that looks remarkably like the First Prize, somehow lacks unity - or perhaps we should applaud the composer for finding an acceptable introduction to his beautiful idea at all. The fork after 7...Bxg7+ 8.Kxg7 is a terrific joke, and it is amazing that after 7.Ng8, Black cannot reach a winning database endgame of rook and bishop vs. two knights.

White to play and draw
Other moves spoil the promotion's strength, e.g. 1.Rc8+ Kxd2 2.f8Q Rh6+ 3.Kg8 Nf6+ 4.Kf7 Nh7+ 5.Ke8 Rxf8+ 6.gxf8Q Nxf8 7.Nf5 Rf6 8.Nxd6 Rxd6 9.Kxf8 g4 etc.
1...Kd4 2.Nxg5
Here, 2.Re8 Kxe4 3.f8Q Rh6+ 4.Kg8 Nf6+ 5.Kf7 Nh7+ 6.Nf5+ Kxf5 7.Qh8 Kg4+ 8.Kg8 Nf6+ 9.Kf7 Nxe8+ 10.Kxe8 Rxh8+ 11.gxh8Q Rf8+ loses.
2...Rh6+ 3.Nh7 Nf6
or 3...Be5 4.Rd8+ Ke4 5.Kg8 Bxg7 6.f8Q Bxf8 7.Nxf8 Rg2+ 8.Neg6 Nf4 9.Re8+ Kd5 10.Kg7 drawing - "at least until there is an 8-piece database," as the composer drily remarks.
4.g8Q Nxg8 5.fxg8R! Be5+ 6.Rg7 Rxf8+ 7.Ng8
and Black cannot win. With a queen on g7 something like 7...Ra8 8.Qxe5+ Kxe5 9.Kg7 Rb6 would be possible, but now all pinning rook moves are stalemate. After 7...Rf7 8.Nxh6 Bxg7+ 9.Kg8 Ra7 10.Nf5+ rescues the draw, and after
7...Bxg7+ 8.Kxg7 the king's fork on the two rooks also draws.

Special Prize: Dirk Borst (Netherlands)

Black creates an unusual Rambling Rook that can be captured without an immediate stalemate. With a logical and beautiful manoeuvre consisting of several phases, White silences this rook, and wins. A nice feature is that both moves by pawn c7 each play their very different but crucial part in the solution.

White to play and win
1.Bd7+ to immediately get the pawn where White wants it, doesn't work: 1...c6 2.Bf5 Rh2! 3.Rh3 Qxh3!
Bd7 mate still being possible, 1...Rh2 could now be met by 2.Rh3! etc.
1...Qh7+ 2.Bxh7 Rxh7+
and after a future KxR, there follows c5, and the stalemate cannot be lifted. To win, White must force c6+ and hide at b6. The forcing however, can only be done with the black pawn on g5, and the hiding only makes sense without it. These considerations govern White's manoeuvre, but there are many pitfalls.
g5 being taboo, only this will lure the Rambling Rook to the south of his king, which is necessary to force c6+
3...Rg7+ boils down to the same, but after 3...c5? 4.Rc2(1) White runs to c3 and wins much faster.
4.Kf5 Rf6+ 5.Ke4 Re6+
After 5...Rf4+ 6.Kd5 White jumps to move 10.
6.Kd3 Rd6+ 7.Ke2
Not 7.Kc2? Rd2+ 8.Kb1 Rb2+ 9.Kc1 c5 and the white king is boxed in.
7...Rd2+ 8.Kf3 Rf2+ 9.Ke4 Rf4+ 10.Kd5
The crucial position. Without pawn g5, Black could now play 10...Rf5+, and White would not be able to make progress.
The only move. 10...Rd4+ 11.Kc5 c6 12.Rc1 loses immediately, and after 10...c5 11.Rc1 Rd4+ 12.Ke5 White picks up g5, runs to c3 and wins; 12...Re4+ 13.Kf5 Rf4+ 14.Kg6 Rf6+ 15.Kh5 Rh6+ 16.Kxg5 Rg6+ 17.Kf4 Rf6+ 18.Ke3
White cannot use the new hiding place right away: after 11.Kc5? Rf3! draws, as the next step in the winning manoeuvre, 12.Rc2, is refuted by Rxg3 13.Kxc6 Rc3! For this rook endgame to be won, pawn g5 must vanish.
11...Re4+ 12.Kf5 Rf4+
White has slower wins, Black slower losses.
13.Kg6 Rf6+ 14.Kh5 Rh6+ 15.Kxg5 Rg6+ 16.Kf4
Again, White must force the rook to the south.
16...Rf6+ 17.Ke3 Re6+ 18.Kd2 Re2+
And now: to the hiding place.
19.Kd3 Rd2+ 20.Ke4 Rd4+ 21.Ke5 Re4+ 22.Kd6 Re6+
or Rd4+ 23.Kc5 Rd3 (23...Rxg4 24.Rgd3 Rg3 25.Kb6 c5 26.Rd5! Rxc3 27.Rxc5 Kxa3 28.Rxa5+ Kb4 29.c5) 24.Rg2 Rxc3 25.Kd4! Rxa3 26.c5 and wins.
23.Kc5 Re3
or Re5+ 24.Kb6 c5 (24...Re3 25.Rb3) 25.Rc1 Re6+ 26.Kxc5 Re5+ 27.Kd4 Re4+ 28.Kc3
24.Rg2 Rxc3 25.Kd4!
(25.g5? Rg3)
25...Rxa3 26.c5 and White's g4-pawn decides.

First Honourable Mention: Jan Timman (Netherlands)

A clear and wittily told adventure, in a natural position. By choosing the right way to put a rook on d1, and sacrificing it, White sets up a promotion fork. A second rook sacrifice on the same square leaves Black with the wrong check.

White to play and win
and not 1.Rd1.
1...cxd5 2.Rxd5+ Kc6 3.Rxc5+ Kxc5 4.f6+ Kc6
Not 4...Kxc4 5.f7 e6 6.fxe8Q Ba3+ 7.Kc2 Rxe8 8.Ne3 mate, nor 4...Kb6 5.c5+ followed by 6.f7 After 4...e5 5.f7 Bd6 it becomes clear why the king had to go to c1 on move 1: 6.Nxe5! - now the knight is not pinned. (6.Rxg7 Rgf8 7.fxe8Q Rxe8 8.Rxd7 is insufficient in both cases) There follows 6...Rgf8 7.fxe8Q Rxe8 8.Nf7+ and the black bishop is lost: 8...Kc6 9.Rg6 Re6 10.Nd8+
To close the diagonal f8-a3. If immediately 5.f7 e6! draws. 6.Ne5+ (6.Nf6 gxf6 7.fxg8Q Ba3+ 8.Kc2 Rxg8) 6...Kb7 7.Kc2 Be7 8.Rxg7 Rgf8 9.fxe8Q Rxe8 10.Ng6 (10.Nxd7 Kc8) 10...Bd6 11.Rxd7+ Kc6 12.Rxa7 Rg8 and Black should be able to hold.
5...Kxc5 6.f7
and now, with the king on c5, Black must open the other diagonal:
6...g6 7.fxg8Q Bh6+
Which has a drawback:
8.Nxh6 Rxg8 9.Nxg8
and White wins.

Second Honourable Mention: Eduard Eilazyan (Ukraine)

Elegant gamelike position where White, carefully avoiding knight's forks and an unguarded guard, eeks out a win. The rescue 9...Kd5 in the variation after 4.Kg3 is especially beautiful.

White to play and win
1.b7 Nb8 2.Nd6+
Not immediately 2.Rc8 because of Rg8 3.Kh4 Kf4 4.Kh5 Ng4! 5.Rxg8 Nf6+
or 2...Kf3 3.Rc3+ Kf4 4.Rc4+ Kf3 5.Rh4 Rd8 6.Rxh6 Rxd6 7.Rh8 Rxg6 8.Rf8+ Ke4 9.Rxb8 and White wins, or 2...Ke5 3.Rc8 Rg8 4.Nf7+ Kd5 5.Nxh6 Rxg6 6.Nf7 Rb6 7.Rxb8 Kc6 8.Nd8+ Kd7 9.Ra8 Kc7 10.Rc8+ Kd7 11.b8Q and wins.
3.Rc8 Ng8+
(3...Rg8 4.Nf5!)
The only good square. After 4.Kg3? Kxd6 5.Rxb8 Kc7 6.Rf8 Kxb7 7.Rf7+ Kc6 8.Rh7 Ne7 9.Rxh8 Kd5! White loses the pawn. 4.Kg4 also doesn't win: 4...Kxd6 5.Rxb8 Nh(f)6+
4...Kxd6 5.Rxb8 Kc7 6.Rd8!
After 6.Rf8? Kxb7 7.Rf7+ Ne7! 8.Rxe7+ Kc6 9.Kf3 Kd6 10.Ra7 Ke5, Black draws. White needs that knight to stay at g8.
6...Kxb7 7.Rd7+ Kc6 8.Rh7 Ne7 9.Rxh8 Nxg6 10.Rh6 and White wins.

Third Honourable Mention: Philippe Bichu (France)

With a square vacation and a quiet rook sacrifice, White meets a promotion threat - with Black to choose whether a surprising perpetual or a symmetrical queen's catch will do the job.

White to play and draw
White needs g5 for his knight.
1...d1Q 2.gxh7 is not enough.
Threatening mate by Rf6+ etc.
2...Kxf5 3.Nf1 d1Q 4.Ne3+ is a draw, as is 2...Bh5 3.Rf1 Be2+ 4.Kxd4 Bxf1 5.Ne3
3.Nf3 d1Q
After 3...Bd3+ 4.Kxd4 d1Q 5.Ng5+! the new queen is lost: 5...Kf5 6.Ne3+ or 5...Kd6 6.Nf7+ Kc6 7.Nd8+ Kb5 8.Nc3+ But now White has a perpetual, e.g.
4.Ng5+ Ke5 5.Nf7+ Ke4 6.Ng5+ Ke5 7.Nf7+ Ke6 8.Ng5+ Kd6 9.Nf7+ Kc6 10.Nd8+ Kd6 11.Nf7+ etc.

Fourth Honourable Mention: Mario Matous (Czech Republic)

A Zugzwang duel between a bishop and a rook is decided when a black knight must cause a surprise interference.

White to play and win
1.Ne5+ Kf6 2.Nd7+ Kg6 3.Be7 Kxh6 4.Nf8 Rg4
4...Ra5 5.Bf6 is mate, and after 4...Rxh4 5.Bxh4 the knight is lost.
After 5.Bc5 Re4 (or Rg3 6.Bd4 Nf2 7.Bxf2 Rg8+ drawing) 6.Ba3 Re1 7.Bb4 Re2 8.Bc3 Rg2, the wrong side must move.
or 5...Rc4 6.Bb2 Rc7 7.Bf6 Rh7+ 8.Kg8
6.Bb4 Rg2
After 6...Rd1 there follows 7.Bc3
7.Bc3 and the black knight must spoil the defense.

Fifth Honourable Mention: Andrey Visokosov (Russia) and Nikolay Mironenko (Ukraine)

With a sharp introduction, White reaches an endgame of bishop against rook plus two pawns which he can miraculously draw with the paradoxical 7.Kb4!

White to play and draw
1.c7 Rc6 2.Rg3+ Kh4 3.Bd7 Rxc7 4.Rg4+ Kh5 5.Rg7 Rhc6 6.Bxc6 Rxg7 7.Kb4!
Sparing both pawns. 7.Kxa4 Rc7 8.Be4 Kg5 9.Kb4 Kf4 10.Bg6 Ke5 11.Kc3 Kd5 loses.
Both after 7...Rc7 8.Bxa4 c3 9.Bc2 Kg4 10.Kb3 Kf4 11.Bg6 Ke3 12.Kc2 and 7...a3 8.Kxa3 Rc7 9.Be4 Kg5 10.Kb2 Kf4 11.Bg2 Ke5 12.Kc3 Kd6 13.Bf1 White reaches a theoretical draw.
8.Be8+ Kg5 9.Kxc3
But not 9.Bxa4 Rc7 10.Bc2 Kf4 11.Kb3 Ke3 12.Bg6 Kd2 and Black wins.
9...a3 10.Kb3 Ra7 11.Ka2 with a draw.

Sixth Honourable Mention: Harrie Grondijs (Netherlands)

After a rook's homerun, with two bases touched for captures, a last try by Black is refuted by the nice feint 8.Kg5.

White to play and draw
1.h8Q+ Rxh8 2.Rh1+ Kg2 3.Rxh8 bxa2 4.Ra8 a1Q 5.Rxa1 Bxa1 6.g5 Bxf6! 7.gxf6 Kh3 8.Kg5!
The obvious 8.Ke5 loses after Kg4 9.Kxd5 Kxf5 10.Kd4 Kxf6 etc.
8...Kg3 9.Kh6 d4 10.Kg7 d3 11.Kxf7 d2 12.Kg8 d1Q 13.f7 is also a draw
9.Kf4 Kh4 10.Ke4 Kg5 11.Kxd4 Kxf5 12.Ke3 Kxf6 13.Kf4 with a draw.

First Commended: Alexander Golubev (Russia)

After a witty tour, a knight takes revenge for a collegue, repeating a family check on c5 with great benefit.
    Golubev deserves a prize for the most beautifully sketched diagram.

White to play and win
1.e3+ Kc4
or 1...Ke4 2.Nf6+ Ke5 3.Ng4+ Ke4 4.d3+ winning the queen.
2.d3+ Kb4 3.Nc2+ Ka4 4.Nd4 Qxd3 5.Nc5+! Bxc5 6.Bd7+ Kb4 7.Nc6+ Ka4
After 7...Kb5 8.Ne5+ Kb6 9.Nxd3 Bxe3, White has a tedious but clear technical win.
8.Nxa7+ Kb4 9.Nc6+ only loses time; both after 9...Kb5 10.Ne5+ Kb6 11.Nxd3 Bxe3 and 9...Ka4 10.Ne5+ the disappearance of Pa7 is without meaning.
8...Qb5 9.Nd3 Qxd7
b3 mate was threatened too. But now a second family check on c5 decides:
10.Nxc5+ and White wins.

Second Commended: Roger Missiaen (Belgium)

A dominated bishop is finally silenced by a knight's corner move.

White to play and win
White is two pieces up, but two pieces are en prise.
1.Ng3+ Kf3 loses a piece.
1...Kf3 2.Nxd3!
2.Bc6+ Kxf4 3.Bc7 d2 4.Bxd6+ Ke3 5.Bc5+ Kf4 is a draw.
2...Nxb5 3.Nf6 Nd6
Or 3...Bg6 4.Bd8! followed by Ne5 winning a piece. 3...Ke2 4.Ne5 Nd6 5.Bc7 Nb5 6.Bb8 also loses the bishop.
4.Bc7 Nb5 5.Bb8 Bg6 6.Ne5+ Kf4
Now after 7.Nxg6+? Kg5 Black immediately wins the piece back, but
7.Nf7+! Ke3 8.Nh8! finally corners the bishop - White wins.

Third Commended: Luis Miguel Gonzalez (Spain)

A hard struggle for a back-rank mate, with the white pieces constantly occupying squares guarded by pawns. The highlight is the striking 6.Rfd6.

White to play and win
1.Kf7? Ng4! but now Kf7 is a threat.
1...Kg8 2.c7 Rc6
Or 2...Ra8 3.Nxd6 and now 3...e(g)xf6 4.Nc8! or 3...h2 4.Ne4 Rbb8 5.cxb8Q+ Rxb8 6.Rf1
3.Nxd6 Rxc7 4.Ne8
4.Rf7 exd6 5.Rxc7 d5+ 6.Kg5 a2 will be a draw.
4...Rac6 5.Rd8 Rc8
and now
and mate soon, e.g.
6...Rxd8 7.Nf6+ exf6 8.Rxd8 mate

Fourth Commended: Mario Matous (Czech Republic)

Avoiding two stalemate traps, White delivers a beautiful three bishop mate.

White to play and win
Not 1.Be6+ Ka3 2.h7 Qb1+
1...Qh1+ 2.Kb6 Qxh4
3.h8Q Qxg4 is a draw; White must save his Bg4. 3.Bd1+ Kc4 doesn't work, so:
3.Be6+ Ka3 4.h8B!
4.h8Q? Qxd4+ 5.Qxd4 is stalemate. Now, both 5.Bc5+ and Bb2+ are threatened.
4...Qg5 5.Bb2+!
Avoiding 5.Bc5+? Qxc5+ 6.Kxc5 when Black would be stalemated after all.
5... Kb4 6.Bhc3 with a beautiful mate.

Fifth Commended: Iuri Akobia (Georgia)

Creating a hiding place for his king, White stops the passed pawns, and reaches a database draw where he seems to run in the wrong direction.

White to play and draw
Other tries leave Black with a decisive material advantage, e.g. 1.Rc7 g3 2.c6 g2 3.cxd7 Rd1 4.Rb8 Rb1+ or 1.Rc8 g3 2.c6 g2 3.cxd7 Rd1 4.d8Q Rxd8 5.Rxd8 g1Q 6.Rc6 Kxg6 or 1.Rd6 g3 2.Rd2 g2 3.Rxg2 Rxg2 4.Kxc4 Rc2+ 5.Kd5 Kxg6
1...g3 2.c6 dxc6+ 3.Kxc6 c3 4.Rf5+ Kh6 5.Rc5 g2 6.Rxc3 Rh1 7.Rg3 g1Q 8.Rxg1 Rxg1 9.Kd5 Rxg6
and now only
draws. There could follow:
10...Rg4 11.Rh1+ Kg6 12.Ke5 Kg5 13.Ke6 g6 14.Kf7 Rf4+ 15.Kg7 with a draw.

Sixth Commended: Yochanan Afek (Israel)

The improbable 5.Ra4+, a check-provoking rook sacrifice while Black threatens everything, is a true gem, and the resulting perpetual is nice.

Black to move; White draws
If 1...b2, then 2.Ra4+! Black wants to capture with check.
2.Kf1 e2+ 3.Kxe2 d1Q+ 4.Kxd1
After 4.Qxd1 Bh5+ 5.Kd2 Bxd1 6.Rc5 b2 7.Rxa5+ Ba4 8.Nb5+ Kb3 9.Nd4+ Kc4 10.Rxa4+ Kd5 11.Rxa2 b1Q Black must win.
4...b2 5.Ra4+!
Even now.
5...Bxa4+ 6.Kd2 bxa1Q 7.Nc4+ Kb3 8.Nxa5+ Kb2 9.Nc4+ Kb1 10.Na3+ Kb2 11.Nc4+ etc., drawing.

© Tim Krabbé, 2003

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