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

335. Laszlo Apro
The Australasian Chess Review 1932
1st Prize
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.334.
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Chess and problem rambles by PW

20 Mar. 2017 – What’s New

Bob Meadley’s excellent series of e-books continues with the publication of J. K. Heydon: Problemist, Solicitor, Businessman. Joseph Kentigern Heydon (1884-1947) was a leading Australian problem composer who produced mostly traditional two- and three-movers. He was especially skilled in devising mutates (fashionable in his era) and task problems. This volume begins with a biographical chapter that describes Heydon’s multifaceted life as a scientist, solicitor, and author of religious books. His chess activities are then reviewed, and the next chapter covers his stint as the problem editor of the Australasian Chess Review. A “Notes and Scans” section reproduces a variety of materials, such as his entry in Who’s Who in Australia and a letter to the British Chess Magazine that indicates he pioneered a variation of the Evans Gambit. The book concludes with a collection of 62 problems by Heydon; reflecting the difficulties in gathering materials from the early 20th century, Bob mentioned that this is not Heydon’s complete output.

Joseph Heydon
Australasian Chess Review 1932
International Tourney, 2nd Commended
Mate in 2

Here are two selections from the e-book, which can be downloaded using the link above. The first two-mover shows correction play by three black pieces, unified by White’s self-interference mates that are made possible by Black’s self-blocks. The key is 1.Be7! (waiting). 1…B~ 2.Sb3, 1…Bc4 2.Sc6, 1…Bxd5 2.Bc5; 1…Sd~ 2.Qc3, 1…Se3 2.Sf3; 1…Sf~ 2.Rd3, 1…Se4 2.Sf5. The judge J.J. O’Keefe commented, “This achieves white interference on four lines with consummate ease and artistry.”

Joseph Heydon
Good Companions 1921
Complete Block Tourney, 2nd Prize
Mate in 2

Two of Heydon’s compositions are cited in Jeremy Morse’s seminal Chess Problems: Tasks and Records. One appeared previously on this site as a weekly problem, No.295. The other is a modified version of the above two-mover, which brings about a remarkable five changed mates in mutate form. Set mates are prepared for all of Black’s moves: 1…Bb7 2.Qxd7, 1…S~ 2.Qxc5, 1…b3 2.c4, 1…c4 2.Bxc4, 1…g~ 2.Bc4, and 1…e4 2.Sf4. The flight-giving key 1.Se4! (waiting) removes the latter variation but adds another one, 1…Kxe4 2.Qc6. The remaining play is completely changed: 1…Bb7 2.Qxb7, 1…S~ 2.Sf6, 1…b3 2.Sc3, 1…c4 2.Qxc4, and 1…g~ 2.Qd6.

2 Feb. 2017 – Two selfmates by Laimons Mangalis

In December’s column regarding a new e-book on Laimons Mangalis, I mentioned that he was a proficient composer of selfmates. Since this major problem genre is rarely discussed on this site, it seems a good opportunity to delve into some examples discovered in the book. In selfmates, White plays first and compels Black to mate in the specified number of moves, while Black does not cooperative and resists giving mate. The two selections below are both fine illustrations of the type, presenting appealing and accessible ideas.

Laimons Mangalis
The Problemist 1977
Selfmate in 2

In the first problem, Black’s B + K battery pointed at the white king suggests that it will be forced to open and deliver mate at some stage. Hence if Black were to play 1…Sf3 guarding e5 and d4, then 2.Qg7+ Kxg7 mate. This is the only set variation, however, as no selfmates-in-one are prepared for the other black moves. Consider the checks 1…Kf8+ and 1…e6+; each by attacking d5 means that 2.Ke5 could be followed by 2…Sf3 mate, but Black is not obliged to move the knight. The key 1.Qh8!, a waiting move, deals with these checks because: (1) 1…Kf8+ now self-pins the black bishop (and also the e7-pawn), so that 2.Ke5 does force 2…Sf3 by zugzwang, and (2) after 1…e6+ 2.Ke5, the black king is confined by the queen from its corner position, leaving 2…Sf3 again as Black’s only legal move. The black royal battery fires twice as the mating move: 1…Sf3 2.Qg7+ Kxg7 as in the set play, and 1…e5 2.Qf6+ Kxf6, when White makes a different queen sacrifice to ensure that the black king covers the e5-flight.

Laimons Mangalis
The Problemist 1977
Selfmate in 2

The second position contains a R + B battery on the first rank, and any bishop move would mate immediately. A set line utilises the battery thus: 1…Ke3 – attacking f2 – 2.Rxe4+ Bxe4. The surprising key 1.Kh1! (waiting) unpins the queen, sparking a full-length variation when Black moves the bishop: 1…B~+ 2.Qg1+ Rxg1. The black king has two flights on e3 and c5. Taking the first gives 1…Ke3 2.Rxe4+ Bxe4 – unchanged from the set play, though here the queen is pinned on the diagonal instead. If Black takes the second flight, White exploits the unpin of the black knight with 1…Kxc5 2.Qf2+ Sxf2. The final defence 1…c2 admits 2.Qxc2, immobilising the black king, and Black is forced by zugzwang to open the R + B battery once more: 2…Bxc2.

31 Dec. 2016 – What’s New

Laimons Mangalis (1911-1982) was one of the best Australian problemists, who produced numerous top-quality compositions marked by sophisticated themes and strategies. His life and works are documented in a new e-book by Bob Meadley, titled Laimons Mangalis: Lover of Chess. It begins with a biographical article, with interesting details such as how in the upheaval of WWII, many of Laimons’ chess problems were lost forever in his native Latvia. We also learn that Laimons was a strong tournament player, with a win over the great Cecil Purdy! A short piece called ‘A Glimpse into L.M.’s Home’ follows, written by his daughter, Baiba Ford.

The book then presents 162 problems by Laimons, with full solutions and some solvers’ comments from the original sources. While he primarily composed two- and three-move directmates, the collection shows that he was also proficient in creating attractive selfmates. The next section, ‘Some Letters, Games, and Research’, covers various topics, such as Laimons’ association with The Australian Problemist and several South Australian publications. The book concludes with some photos and an extensive compilation of Laimons’ chess clippings. The latter includes scans of his Sunday Mail chess columns and an excellent Problemist article on him by Bob and Geoff Foster. You can download this free e-book using the link above or that on the Problemists and History page of this site.

Laimons Mangalis
American Chess Bulletin 1957
1st Hon. Mention
Mate in 2

Here are two selections of Laimons’ works. In the two-mover, the thematic try 1.Bd3? closes the third rank and threatens 2.Qxh3, leading to 1…Rxd3 2.Sxc5, 1…Bf5 2.Bxf5, 1…Bg4 2.Qxg4, 1…Sh6 2.Qxh6, 1…Sxe7 2.Rf6, 1…exd4 2.Qe2/Re2, and 1…Qxf7 2.Qxf7; but the knight correction 1…Sf6! refutes. The solution sees the white queen and bishop exchanging their roles with 1.Qf3! closing the rank to threaten 2.Bxh3. The key brings about an impressive number of “free changes”. 1…Rxf3 2.Bc4 (not 2.Sxc5? Kxf7!), 1…Bf5 2.Qxf5, 1…Bg4 2.Qxg4, 1…Ng-any 2.Qf6, 1…exd4 2.Qe4, and 1…Qxf7 2.Qxf7. I especially like the g8-knight’s completely dual-free play in both the try and post-key phases.

Laimons Mangalis
The Problemist 1955
C.S. Jacobs Memorial Tourney
3rd Prize
Mate in 3

In the three-mover, note that if White places an extra guard on the f6-knight, then the queen has two potential mates on b8 (guarded by the b2-rook) and d5 (guarded by the d4-rook). The sacrificial key 1.Sd2!, by threatening 2.Rxh5+ Qxh5 3.Sxf3, aims to draw the black rooks away from their defensive positions. After 1…Rbxd2, which not only unguards b8 and but also self-pins the d4-rook, any move of the g6-bishop would (by guarding f6) entail a strong double-threat, 3.Qxb8/Qxd5. However, a random bishop move (e.g. 2.Bh7?) is defeated by the ingenious switchback 2…Rb2!, holding off both queen mates. Therefore White prevents this defence with 2.Bc2!, leaving Black with only 2…Bd6 to stop both threats, answered by 3.Nd7. After 1…Rdxd2, which self-pins the b2-rook, a random g6-bishop move threatens 2.Qxb8 only (since d5 remains guarded), but again a rook switchback 2…Rd4 would be spoiling. So White must preclude that move with 2.Bd3!, which generates the double threat; 2…Bd6 3.Nd7. A third thematic defence, 1…Rf4, unguards d5 and self-pins the other rook, and White similarly counters with 2.Be4! to prevent the 2…Rd4 switchback; 2…Bd6 3.Nd7. An inspired way to exploit the half-pin mechanism! In the fine by-play, the black rooks get decoyed on the second move: 1…Sh~ 2.Qe7 (threat: 3.Sd7) Rb7 3.Bxd4; and 1…Sxf6 2.Sxc4+ Rxc4 3.Qxb8, or 2…dxc4 3.Qxd4.