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

196. Linden Lyons
Probleemblad 2011

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. See previous Problems of the Week without solutions: Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8.

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Chess and problem rambles by PW

14 Aug. 2014 – What’s New

Canberra resident Molham Hassan has contributed a profile article to the Australian Problemists section. A surgeon by profession, he got involved in chess problems in the 1970s, and has been composing regularly since. He produces mostly traditional two- and three-movers, and eight of his best works are presented here.

Nigel Nettheim has provided another instalment of problem columns from the Australasian Chess Review. Covering the year 1944, the file can be viewed or downloaded from the Problem Magazines and Columns page. Previously Nigel has also re-processed some existing materials from the Oz Archives to make the PDF-files more accessible in size, such as the ACR 1930a/b and 1931a/b, and all of the Australasian Chess Magazine. Thanks, Nigel!

And here I quote
another amusing
comic from xkcd,
titled “Explorers.”

15 Jun. 2014 – Solving a four-move directmate, and the ‘Check!’ magazine

Two problemists who are regular solvers of the Weekly Problems, Dennis Hale and Nigel Nettheim, have sent in materials to share on this site. Dennis forwarded the four-mover below, composed by a Spanish expert (whose quality works have appeared in the FIDE Albums), for me to solve. The position looks rather heavy and daunting at first sight, but it turns out to be not too hard to unravel. And the problem has a sparkling main variation that makes it very quotable. I encourage you to try tackling it before reading on.

The black king has two orthogonal flights, suggesting that White will aim for a queen or rook mate on the h-file. The white queen seems out of play, and 1.Qa1! looks promising in view of 1…Bxa1 2.Rc1 and 3.Rh1. The threat is 2.Qxb1 Bc1 3.Q/Rxc1 and 4.Q/Rh1. Black’s defence 1…Rxd3 initiates the thematic variation, 2.Rc1 Bxc1 3.Rxg5 fxg5 4.Qh8. Five pieces are impressively diverted from the long diagonal, to allow the queen to pass through and mate with the longest possible move on a chessboard. If 2…Rd1, White answers with 3.Rxd1 and 4.Rh1. Notice how White cannot shuffle the move order, e.g. 1…Rxd3 2.Rxg5? fxg5 3.Rc1 is stopped by 3…Rd1! A second full-length variation goes 1…c5/c6 2.Qa7 Sc7+ 3.Qxc7 and 4.Qh7.

Valentin Marin y Llovet
Deutsche Schachzeitung 1902

Mate in 4
The Oz Archives section of this site brings together almost all of the problem columns found in early Australian chess magazines. Gaps exist, however, and Nigel has kindly offered to provide some materials that were missing and which he has scanned from his magazine collection. The first lot of these files is now available for download. It is a complete run of the problem columns conducted by Frederick Hawes in the magazine Check!, which appeared from July 1944 to December 1945. Check it out on the Problem Magazines and Columns page.

7 May 2014 – First prize problem by Geoff Foster and Ian Shanahan

The Aussie duo of Geoff Foster and Ian Shanahan have carried off another major First Prize, this time in the 2011 Fairies section of The Problemist. The winning problem is a series-mover showing a favourite theme of the composers: multiple pins and unpins. Earlier renditions of the idea can be found in the Walkabout columns dated 8/11/10 and 7/8/11. Here we see some extra fairy elements, like the nightriders and the absence of the white king, but they are well justified by the problem’s strategic intensity (nine unpins in ten moves) and pure construction.

Let’s consider the two types of unorthodox pieces used in this composition. A reflecting bishop, travelling on diagonal lines, is able to bounce off a board edge at 90-degrees and continue its move. Thus in the diagram, the piece on g6 has access to f7, e8 and also d7, c6 and b5 by reflecting off the top edge; in fact the reflecting bishop is pinning the nightrider on b5, without which the black king would be in check via the g6-e8-a4-c2 line. Likewise, the h5-nightrider is pinned along the g6-h5-d1-c2 line, and the h7-nightrider along g6-h7-g8-a2-b1-c2. The nightrider is a long-range piece, analogous to the rook and the bishop, that can make any number of knight-steps in a straight line as one move. For example, the h6-nightrider can move to g8, f7, d8, g4, and f2, but its access to d4 and b3 is obstructed by the f5-piece.

The series-helpstalemate objective indicates that Black will play ten consecutive moves to reach a position where White can deliver stalemate. What sort of stalemate position is possible with the material present? Assuming that White’s stalemating move will be a capture, we need to immobilise six black nightriders, all of which can be pinned – four by the reflecting bishop and two by the rooks. The black king has eight flight-squares, six of which can be blocked by the pinned nightriders, and if White plays Bxa3 at the end, the bishop will control the remaining flights on b2 and c1. However, this scheme has a snag, because pinning a nightrider on b1 requires the path g6-h7-g8-a2-b1 to be clear, meaning the b3-flight cannot be blocked. To get around this, we will pin a nightrider on a4 instead of b3 (via the g6-e8-a4-c2 line) – workable since b3 will be guarded directly by the reflecting bishop. (Note that pinning a nightrider on b5 instead would be ineffective for the stalemate, because the piece could move to f7 without allowing the reflecting bishop to check!)

Geoff Foster &
Ian Shanahan
The Problemist 2011
1st Prize

Series-helpstalemate in 10
Reflecting bishop g6
7 Nightriders
Even after determining the final position, it’s far from easy to work out how it can be reached within ten moves. The solution shows an intricate sequence in which the nightriders unpin one another nine consecutive times. 1.Ng8 2.Nhf3 3.Nhd3 4.Nfd1 5.Nb1 6.Ngd2 7.Ngc4 8.Na4 9.N5c3 10.Nca3 Bxa3 stalemate. The judge writes, “There are no inactive units and no cookstoppers, and all nightriders move during the solution. A unique setting and strategy and my unambiguous first pick from the start.”

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.