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

178. Thomas Henderson
777 Chess Miniatures 1908

Mate in 3

The weekly problem’s solution will appear in the following week, when a new work is quoted. See last week’s problem with solution. See previous Problems of the Week without solutions: Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8.

Use the contact form on the About page to comment on a problem you’ve solved. You can also subscribe to OzProblems updates – get an email notification when a new problem or Walkabout column is added.

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

30 Mar. 2014 – ‘The Original Christopher Reeves’

The recent January issue of The Problemist includes a supplement on Chris Reeves (1939-2012), one of the best British problem composers. As the title of the booklet suggests, Chris was a highly original and inventive problemist – demanding qualities especially in the well-worked genre of two-movers, his favoured field. He came to prominence in the 1960s and produced many masterful works for a decade or so, before his other, “real life,” commitments brought about a period of inactivity. He returned to the problem world in the 1990s, prolifically as a composer, editor, tourney judge, and team leader of his country in international competitions. His extended break from chess, quite unusual for a composer of his calibre, no doubt contributed to his relatively small output of about two hundred problems.

The booklet is introduced by David Shire in ‘Chris Reeves: Composer and Editor extraordinary’, which discusses Chris’s perfectionist style and the way he draws the best from his collaborators. The main section presents about one hundred of Chris’s two-movers, selected with comments by David, followed by two small chapters on his three-movers and helpmates.

Christopher Reeves
Die Schwalbe 1965

Mate in 2

Here are two sample works that are illustrative of his standard. The first two-mover features the Pickaninny theme: a black pawn on its initial square has four available moves and each induces a different mate. Thus the d7-pawn generates these set variations: 1…dxc6+ 2.Bxc6, 1…dxe6 2.Bc8, 1…d6 2.Sd5, and 1…d5 2.Qb4. The key 1.Qxe5! threatens 2.exd7, and because the queen has opened the d-file for the d3-rook – as well as lost control of b4 – none of the set mates work anymore against the pawn defences. Instead, the actual play becomes 1…dxc6+ 2.Sxc6, 1…dxe6 2.Qxe6, 1…d6 2.Qf6, and 1…d5 2.Qc7. The problem hence achieves the remarkable task of a completely changed Pickaninny. Two other variations are 1…Rd5+/Re3 2.Sxd5 and 1…Rd6 2.Qf6.

The second selection is even more impressive, showing a cycle of white self-interferences. First note the set play, 1…Sh5 2.e4, 1…Bxd3 2.Rxd3, and 1…Rxb4 2.Sxb4. If White moves one of the three thematic pieces on e2, f2, and h3 to e3, the black d2-bishop is cut off and White threatens 2.Sf4. The piece landing on e3, however, would also interfere with the remaining two of the white trios, and thereby disrupt two of the set variations. Thus the try 1.e3? impedes the h3-rook and f2-bishop, but 1…Bxd3 allows the changed mate 2.Qxd3, and only 1…Rxb4! refutes (2.Sxb4+ Kc5!). The second try 1.Re3? obstructs the f2-bishop and e2-pawn, but 1…Rxb4 now enables 2.Bxc6, and 1…Sh5! is the only spoiler (2.e4??). The last try 1.Be3? blocks the e2-pawn and h3-rook, but another change takes place with 1…Sh5 2.Qf3, and Black must answer with 1…Bxd3! (2.Rxd3??). In these try phases, the cyclic play combined with changed mates runs beautifully like clockwork. The
Christopher Reeves
problem 1969
1st Prize

Mate in 2
post-key phase utilises the queen in a new way, with 1.Qd1! threatening the pin-mate 2.Sf4. Since no white self-interference occurs, the set play is retained: 1…Sh5 2.e4, 1…Bxd3 2.Rxd3, and 1…Rxb4 2.Sxb4. Good by-play follows with 1…Rxd1 2.c4, 1…Se5 2.Rxe5, and 1…Qc7/Qb8 2.Se7.

19 Feb. 2014 – Australian Junior Chess Problem-Solving Championship

For the eighth consecutive year, a problem-solving competition took place as part of the national Junior Chess Championships. Held at the Knox Grammar School in Sydney this year, it attracted 85 solvers (70 boys and 15 girls), the highest number ever for the event. Nigel Nettheim was again the main organiser, and you can read his comprehensive Report on the Championship on this site. Having arranged the competition successfully for so many years, Nigel has also put together a useful guide on how to run a junior problem-solving event, and it’s included as an Appendix in the Report. For a list of this year’s winners, go to the Prize List page of the Australian Junior Chess Championships site.

The contestants had two hours to deal with fifteen problems, which were capably set by Geoff Foster and Nigel. The selectors posed mostly directmates and endgame studies, though a selfmate and a proof game were added to the mix. Incidentally, these less common problem types are explained in Nigel’s updated Quick Introduction to Chess Problems and Endgame Studies, an invaluable read for any prospective entrant.

On the right are two directmates from the Championship for you to solve. Although Formanek’s two-mover is placed early in the paper (No.5) – where the tasks are arranged roughly from easy to hard – it still held me up
considerably. De Jong’s three-mover is ordered last and indeed it’s quite challenging (only one participant managed to crack it within the time limit). With no time pressure bearing down on me, I solved it in a few minutes
Bedrich Formanek
Pionýrské Noviny

Mate in 2

Leonard de Jong
Magyar Sakkvilág
1930, 1st Prize

Mate in 3

and had tremendous fun deciphering its many variations. To see the two solutions, along with the rest of the problems used in the event, check out the Report mentioned above.

28 Jan. 2014 – ‘Problem Potpourri’ draws to a close, and two selections

In a sign of the times, the magazine Australasian Chess has ceased publication at the end of 2013, apparently a print media casualty of the encroaching Internet. Regrettably this also means the closure of ‘Problem Potpourri’, the excellent column run by Geoff Foster that’s been showcasing new works from both Australian and overseas composers. Since we don’t have a successor to the column for now, I propose to use this site as an outlet for original problems, particularly from Australian composers. If you’d like to submit your work for publication as a Problem of the Week, please contact me. Solvers are also encouraged to send their comments on the problems, and I will start adding such feedback to the solution pages.

David Shire
Australasian Chess 2013

Mate in 2

Let’s look at a couple of highlights from the final year of ‘Problem Potpourri’. The most attractive directmate, in my view, is a two-mover by the UK problemist, David Shire. It combines two themes: multiple mates on the same square and the pseudo le Grand, the latter being a type of reciprocal change between try and key. The thematic try 1.Rf6? threatens 2.d6, and if 1…Rxe5 then 2.Sfd6. More virtual play follows with 1…Sd4 2.Sbd6, 1…Qa2 2.Qxc2, and 1…Sf4 2.Rxf4, but 1…Qd1! refutes. The try thus leads to three different mating moves on d6. These mates are seen again in the actual play, yet they function in new ways. The flight-giving key 1.Re6! threatens 2.Sfd6, and if 1…Rf5 then 2.d6 – the moves Sfd6 and d6 thereby reverse their roles as the threat and a mating response when compared with the try play. Strikingly, the third thematic mate 2.Sbd6 also recurs but is transferred to a new defence, 1…Kf5. There’s by-play with 1…Qf1 allowing 2.Qxc2.

Fittingly a trio of International Masters conceived the helpmate triplet, which features impressive cyclic play with perfect construction. In the three parts, White’s pieces on the first rank rotate their functions by taking turns to (1) be sacrificed, (2) guard flights, and (3) deliver mate. The solutions run (a) 1.dxc1(S) Rd4+ 2.Ka3 Rb4 3.Sa2 Sc2, (b) 1.dxe1(R) Bxe3 2.Rg1 Bf4 3.Rg4 Rh1, and (c) 1.exd1(B) Sf3 2.Bb3 Sg5 3.Bg8 Bb2. Each time Black promotes to a different piece, one that matches White’s eventual mating unit. A spectacular composition and it’s a testimonial to the high standards of ‘Problem Potpourri’.

Jorge Lois, Jorge Kapros &
Christer Jonsson
Australasian Chess 2013

Helpmate in 3
(b) Kb4 to h4, (c) Kb4 to h8

26 Dec. 2013 – A list of task and record problems, and a comic strip

After discussing tasks and records in the last two columns, I think it’d be useful to make a list of further examples found on this site. Most of these selected problems are exceptional works, so they are well worth another look!

Weekly Problems. No.73: Mate in 2 by McQueen – twelve rook defences. No.90: Mate in 2 by Hawes & Ravenscroft – four Schiffmann defences. No.138: Mate in 2 by Ravenscroft – knight-wheel. No.152: Mate in 2 by Mosely – eight sacrifices of key-piece.

Australian Problemists. No.5: Mate in 2 by Foster – seventeen mates after black king moves. No.7: Series-helpmate in 20 by Foster – fourteen unpins. No.5: Series-selfmate in 20 by Shanahan – Allumwandlung. No.6: Series-selfmate in 10 by Shanahan – Valladao task. No.3: Mate in 2 by Willmott – five unpinning defences with line-openings. No.3: Helpmate in 2 by Wong – seven tempo moves. No.6: Shortest proof game in 21½ by Wong – five tempo moves.

Problem World. No.2: Mate in 2 by Shinkman – knight-wheel. No.3: Mate in 2 by Quellet – Albino theme. No.5: Mate in 2 by Heathcote – key self-pins four pieces. No.28: Helpmate in 2 by Milovanovic & Sorokin – Allumwandlung. No.37: Mate in 2 by Loshinsky – three Grimshaws. No.38: Mate in 2 by Manolescu – Zagoruiko with Grimshaw defences. No.49-54: Six examples of Allumwandlung. No.57: Mate in 2 by Hesselgren – three complete half-pins. No.79-84: Six examples of knight-wheel. No.85: Mate in 2 by Bettmann – six promotion mates by one pawn. No.87: Mate in 2 by Stocchi – Zagoruiko with promotion defences. No.95: Helpmate in 6 by Hernadi – four queen promotions. No.115: Mate in 2 by Fink & Ua Tane – eight self-blocking defences. No.125: Mate in 2 by van Dijk – four Novotnys and two white Grimshaws.

It has been
a long while
since I last
quoted an
xkcd comic,
and here’s
good one,