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Welcome to OzProblems.com, a site devoted to the chess problem art in Australia! Whether you’re a player who is new to composition chess or an experienced solver looking for challenging problems, we have something for you. Our aim is to promote the enjoyment of chess problems, which are at once interesting puzzles and the most artistic form of chess.

 Problem of the Week


223. Henry Tate
Brisbane Courier 1913
Mate in 2

The weekly problem’s solution will appear in the following week, when a new work is quoted.
See last week’s problem with solution: No.222.
See previous Problems of the Week without solutions: Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9.

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 Walkabout
Archives: 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014
Chess and problem rambles by PW


22 Feb. 2015 – What’s New


We have a mixed bag of updates and new materials this month.

Bob Meadley continues his invaluable historical research on Australian chess problemists. He has put together two informative papers about some of our best-known composers, and also sent a third prepared by Ken Fraser:

Frank Ravenscroft and Frederick T. Hawes' Chess Problems
C.G.M. Watson: Chess Master, Insurance Officer and Problemist
Chess Problems by Henry Tate

The fecund partnership of Ravenscroft and Hawes had produced consistently high-quality works, and Bob has gathered these joint compositions in one accessible place. The current Problem of the Week (No.222) by the pair was picked from this album, which contains plenty of works that could have been lost otherwise. Watson's paper incorporates his biographical information, OTB chess activities, and a selection of his compositions. Below I quote a joke problem he published a century ago. Tate's problem collection was transcribed from his original notebooks by Ken Fraser, the late curator of the Anderson Chess Collection in the State Library of Victoria. Bob has added the diagrams and updated the solutions to algebraic notation. You can view or download these documents in the PDF format on the Problemists and History page of this site.

C.G.M. Watson
The Dux 1914
Mate in 1
‘A difficult problem, only to be solved by a solver
who is willing to put in a whole evening at the task.’

As promised in the previous column, Nigel Nettheim has completed his Report on the 2015 Guided Composing tourney. This is a very readable account that covers the conception and running of the new event. Check it out here: Guided Chess Problem Composing Competition Report.

Over the past few months I have been polishing the look of this website, primarily for users of hand-held devices. Previously the site's layout was quite messy when viewed on mobile phones with low screen resolutions; now it looks at least decent (though the site logo is still cut off and only half visible). One unexpected effect of fixing the more serious formatting issues is that, on small mobile screens, the chess diagrams have become variable in size depending on the amount of text next to them!


31 Jan. 2015 – Guided Chess Problem Composing Competition


The inaugural problem composing tourney linked to the 2015 Australian Junior Chess Championships has been completed. This event (announced in a previous column) aimed to encourage players and solvers to try their hand at constructing chess problems; some harder tasks, which were more suited to experienced composers, were also set. The final results were very close, and here are the prize winners:

1st Prize: Ilija Serafimović (Serbia)
2nd Prize: Ralf Krätschmer (Germany)
3rd Prize: Marko Lozajic (Serbia)

Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to all those who participated. At just ten years of age, the obviously talented Ilija managed to achieve a near-perfect score! Ralf is an established problemist, best-known for his more-movers. Marko is another junior who did very well. Both he and Ilija are students of the renowned Grandmaster of chess composition, Marjan Kovačević.

A document comprising the Tasks, Answers, and Results of the competition is now available for download. There you will find not only the "official" answers to the composing tasks, but also some of the contestants' alternative problem settings. Often I was surprised by these submitted positions – they illustrate the varied ways in which composers deal with the hurdles of construction.

Below I give the answer to the mate-in-three task that was reproduced in the October column. Only one contestant, Ilija, found this setting which is the most economical way of removing the 2.Kg6/Kg7 dual. After 1.Qg4! Ke5, only 2.Sc8+ works, leading to 2…Kd5 3.Se7 and 2…Kf6 3.Qg6, both model mates.

James Joseph Glynn
The Leader 1905, Version
Mate in 3

Nigel Nettheim will provide a Report on this composing event in due course, covering its organisational aspects.


26 Dec. 2014 – Helpmates of the ‘distant’ future – Part 2


This month I’ll provide two early examples of ‘helpmates of the distant future’ (somewhat oxymoronically), followed by an amazing update to the previous column. The problemist Chris Feather originated the term ‘Helpmates of the Future’ in 2000 when he produced a booklet by that name, which surveys the field with more than one hundred illustrations. As a composer he not only pioneered the basic HOTF scheme (in the 1970s!), but he also created a very early rendition of the idea in its expanded form, as seen below.

Chris Feather
The Problemist 1997
Special Prize
Helpmate in 2
3 solutions
(b) Swap Kc4 & Rf4

The focus of this problem is the half-battery arrangement on the fourth rank. In the three solutions of the diagram position, the d4-bishop and e4-knight are either moved or captured to activate the white rook. 1.Kxd4 Sxc3+ 2.Kc5 Sxa4, 1.Qxe4 Bxb6 2.Qd4 Rxd4 & 1.Qc6 Bxe3 2.Kxb5 Sxc3. The twin exchanges the black king and white rook so that the half-battery is pointing the other way. The resulting play shows strategic effects that precisely match those seen in the first triplet, to generate three pairs of corresponding solutions. (b) 1.Kxe4 Bxe3+ 2.Kxe5 Bf4, 1.Qxd4 Sd2 2.Qe4 Rxe4 & 1.Qe6 Bxc3 2.Kf5 Sd6.

János Csák
Orbit 2002
1st Prize
Helpmate in 2
6 solutions

The second example makes an interesting comparison with the six-phase helpmate we looked at last month. Though both works feature the same couple of direct batteries (R + P and B + P) the thematic pieces are employed quite differently, so this older problem is only a precursor and not an anticipation. 1.c1(B) Bf6 2.Bd2 cxb5 & 1.f1(S) Rc7 2.Sd2 d5. 1.Rxc6 bxa8(Q) 2.Kxc4 Qxc6 & 1.Bxe5 b8(Q) 2.Kxd4 Qxe5. 1.Sd5 Rxg6 2.Kxc4 Rc6 & 1.Se3 Bxb8 2.Kxd4 Be5. Elements of play include the mixed promotions, white switchbacks, and reciprocal captures by the black and white rook/bishop pairs.

Emil Klemanič
Ladislav Salai Jr.
Michal Dragoun
Kalyan Seetharaman &
Nikola Predrag
The Problemist 2014
Helpmate in 2
8 solutions

In a remarkable development, the ‘distant future’ helpmate cited in the previous column has been improved to show no less than four pairs of analogous solutions. Another two composers contributed to the collaborative effort that accomplishes this wonderful feat. Though the two added phases don’t have a formal connection with the rest of the problem (lacking moves that recur elsewhere with changed functions), that is of little importance. The new play involves Black capturing the e5- and c4-pawns for the purpose of self-block; this is nicely differentiated from another pair of solutions in which the captures of the same pawns are motivated by square-clearance. I will refrain from concocting a name for this super format of 4 x 2 related phases!

1.Rb5 axb5 2.a4 c5 (A) & 1.Qh7 gxh7 2.g6 e6 (C).
1.gxf6 c5+ (A) 2.Kxe5 f4 (B) & 1.axb4 e6+ (C) 2.Kxc4 b3 (D).
1.Sf7 f4 (B) 2.Sxe5+ Bxe5 & 1.Ba6 b3 (D) 2.Bxc4 Rxc4.
1.Bg3 Be7 2.Bxe5 Bc5 & 1.Sxb2 Rb3 2.Sxc4 Rd3.


29 Nov. 2014 – Helpmates of the ‘distant’ future – Part 1


The helpmate was invented in the mid-19th century, and early examples of the form usually consist of a single line of play with modest thematic content. Over the years the genre evolves and the problems become more elaborate and varied. Now the modern helpmate (at least in two- and three-movers) typically involves two solutions that are strategically rich and interrelated. The trend towards greater complexity continues with the arrival of ‘helpmates of the future’ (HOTF). This is the name given to a scheme in which a problem contains not one but two pairs of analogous solutions. Helpmates of this sort are of course quite demanding to compose, and it’s probably not a coincidence that they came to prominence around the turn of the millennium, when computer-testing of problems became commonplace.

The British Chess Problem Society held a HOTF tourney in 2001-03, and the First Prize went to the problem shown below. It features two white indirect batteries (R + B on the file and B + R on the diagonal), which are utilised or dismantled in a variety of ways. The diagram position is solved by 1.fxe5 Rc5 2.exd4 Bc4 and 1.Rxd5 Bf4 2.Rxd4 Re3. The twin replaces the d4-pawn with a black queen, which converts the solutions to 1.Ke3 Bg6 2.Qf4 Bd4 and 1.Kc4 Rb8 2.Qc5 Rd4. While the two solutions of each pair show matching play, the two pairs are themselves strategically distinct – such an element of contrast is considered desirable or even necessary in HOTF. The judge of the tourney praised this work for its creative twinning, originality and harmonious play.

Franz Pachl
HOTF Tourney 2001-03
1st Prize
Helpmate in 2
2 solutions
(b) BQd4

What could be the next step in this development of increasingly intricate and dense helpmates? One easy answer – which is anything but easy to arrange – is to have a problem incorporate three pairs of related solutions. We might call this type, ‘helpmates of the distant future,’ and a rare example recently appeared in The Problemist. The play of this superb composition revolves around two white batteries (R + P and B + P) aimed at the black king. In each of the three pairs of solutions, these batteries are exploited in analogous ways, to bring about a three-fold orthogonal-diagonal transformation.

Emil Klemanič
Ladislav Salai Jr. &
Michal Dragoun
The Problemist 2014
Helpmate in 2
6 solutions

1.Sb5 axb5 2.a4 c5 (A) & 1.Rh7 gxh7 2.g6 e6 (C).
1.gxf6 c5+ (A) 2.Kxe5 f4 (B) & 1.axb4 e6+ (C) 2.Kxc4 b3 (D).
1.Re8 f4 (B) 2.Rxe5 Bxe5 & 1.Qe2 b3 (D) 2.Qxc4+ Rxc4.

What makes this helpmate even more special is how certain moves recur in different solutions with new functions, to create another kind of pattern. In the three solutions listed on the left-hand side, the white pawn moves c5 and f4 (labelled ‘A’ and ‘B’ respectively) act variously as a first move and as a mating move, and a similar role reversal of e6 and b3 (‘C’ and ‘D’) occur in the right-hand group. That means the three solutions of each group, while showing different strategy, have a formal connection that enhances the coherence of the problem.