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

272. Alex Boudantzev
The Australian Problemist 1962
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.271.
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Chess and problem rambles by PW

7 Feb. 2016 – Whyatt Medal winner: Ian Shanahan

Congratulations to Ian Shanahan, who has been announced as the 2016 winner of the Whyatt Medal. This four-yearly award is bestowed by the Australian Chess Federation for outstanding success in problem composing and in promoting the art of chess composition. Ian is certainly a well-deserved recipient who has achieved a great deal in the field. His consistently high-quality problems have gained numerous prizes in prestigious international tourneys, and his finest works have appeared in the FIDE Albums, anthologies of the world’s best chess compositions. Ian’s expertise is also attested by the articles he has written for top problem journals such as The Problemist and Ideal-Mate Review. On the home front, from 2003 to 2007 he edited the “Problem Billabong” column in Australian Chess, where he nourished local talents.

Ian Shanahan
The Problemist 1993
4th Hon. Mention
Mate in 2

Here are two of Ian’s problems that are representative of his skill. The two-mover (Ian’s debut in the FIDE Albums) shows one of his favourite themes, combinative separation. Although multiple threats and dual mates are generally frowned upon in problems, some directmates purposely employ them as a theme by presenting such multiple mates in an orderly manner. Consider the try 1.Se3? which threatens 2.Sf5, 2.S3c4, and 2.Rd5. By labelling these three moves as A, B, and C respectively, we see how various black defences induce or separate these mates in different combinations. 1…f1(S) 2.Sf5[A], 2.S3c4[B], 2.Rd5[C]; 1…Sd8 2.Sf5[A], 2.S3c4[B]; 1…f1(B) 2.Sf5[A], 2.Rd5[C]; 1…f1(R) 2.S3c4[B], 2.Rd5[C]; 1…Sa5 2.Sf5[A]; 1…f1(Q) 2.Rd5[C]; but 1…Sc5! defeats the try. That 2.S3c4[B] is not individually forced here is a flaw, but in the actual play, the same idea is exhibited perfectly. The key 1.Sb4! threatens 2.Rd5[C], 2.Sf7[D], and 2.Sc4[E]. 1…f1(S) 2.Rd5[C], 2.Sf7[D], 2.Sc4[E]; 1…f1(B) 2.Rd5[C], 2.Sf7[D]; 1…f1(R) 2.Rd5[C], 2.Sc4[E]; 1…Sc5 2.Sf7[D], 2.Sc4[E]; 1…f1(Q) 2.Rd5[C]; 1…Sa5 2.Sf7[D]; 1…Sd8 2.Sc4[E]. The problem hence doubles the combinative separation theme, and in doing so renders many changed mates between the try and post-key phases – all in a very light position. Furthermore, note how the four promotion moves of the f2-pawn (in each phase) provoke different white mating responses, so the Allumwandlung theme is effected as well!

Ian Shanahan
The Problemist 2010
Helpmate in 8

In the helpmate, Allumwandlung features again but here as the main theme and it’s achieved in a very different way. To assist White in queening the a2-pawn as quickly as possible, Black must promote to two minor pieces and sacrifice them in succession: 1.c1(S) Kg4 2.Sb3 axb3 3.g1(B) b4 4.Bc5 bxc5. A black rook promotion is then required for blocking a flight-square, in preparation for the queen mate: 5.a2 cxb6 6.a1(R) b7 7.Ra7 bxa8(Q) 8.Re7 Qc6. The four promotions occur in ascending order. The composer writes, “A white minimal Meredith, ending in an ideal mate after a white Excelsior with mixed Allumwandlung – a rare blend indeed, one which I had been wanting to conquer for many years!”

30 Dec. 2015 – What’s New

The Problem Magazines and Columns section of this site has been revamped, thanks to the work of Nigel Nettheim. He has digitalised most of the PDF-files on that page with OCR software so that they are now text-searchable. While the search results may not be perfect – it depends on the print quality of the materials originally scanned – this is a very useful function, which you can test by opening any file with the built-in PDF-viewer and pressing ‘Ctrl+F’. Another advantage of the conversion process is that file sizes are reduced, with no noticeable difference in readability. This has allowed Nigel to combine some files to make them more convenient to access. For example, issues of the Australian Chess Problem Magazine, previously provided individually, are now grouped so that you can download a year’s run in a single file.

Paul Wiereyn advises that his program APWin, a graphical interface for the problem-solvers Popeye and Alybadix, has been updated. More features have been added to this excellent tool since it was last covered in the Walkabout column of 4/8/2015. The most notable changes, for me at least, are the addition of the default Popeye solving options and the way solution files are handled. The former means that you can have any solving options, such as “set play” and “try”, already in place when the program starts. The latter change relates to the creation of solution files when a problem is adjusted and solved again. Now the program overwrites the existing solution file instead of creating a new one; this is a return to the behaviour of earlier versions of APWin and one which I much prefer. There is a clever mechanism to avoid accidentally deleting a solution you want to keep – the file being overwritten is automatically copied to another place as a backup.

To download APWin and also see a full list of its features and recent changes, visit its site here. Sadly this will be the last version of APWin. Paul indicates that this project has taken much of his spare time over the last few years, so it’s understandable that he wishes to move on. I’d like to thank Paul for writing such a helpful program and making it available for free.

To finish
for the year,
here’s a “Puzzle”
from xkcd.

25 Nov. 2015 – Guided Chess Problem Composing Competition 2016

The 2016 Australian Junior Chess Championships, to be held in January at the city of Adelaide, will include a problem composing event. This Guided Chess Problem Composing Competition, organised by Nigel Nettheim, is aimed at introducing chess players and problem solvers to the basics of constructing a problem. Similar to the previous year’s event, the contest is conducted online with a questions paper that entrants can download and work on at home. Everyone can take part in this open competition, regardless of age, locality, and experience, though it’s especially suitable for those who have not composed before. Book and other prizes will be awarded, and possibly divided according to the categories of contestants (depending on the entries).

I have set the paper’s four tasks, which require participants to complete or correct an existing mate-in-two problem. Plenty of clues are provided with the questions, hence the “guided” aspect of the competition. The tasks have been made considerably easier than those in the previous paper, in response to the feedback we have received. There is a slight increase in difficulty over the course of the paper, but solvers are encouraged to take part even if they don’t answer all of the questions. Further, the paper includes Nigel’s ‘A Quick Introduction to Chess Problem Composition’, an article containing great advice that will help readers to tackle the tasks.

Here’s a link to access the paper: GCPCC 2016. The closing date for entries is the 7th of February, 2016. More information is available on the Guided Problem Composing page on the Australian Junior Chess Championships site. Below is the second task from the paper, given here in an abbreviated form.

Mate in 2 (unsound)

In this mate-in-two problem, we seem to have these set variations if Black were to play: 1…S3~ 2.Sf5 and 1…S5~ 2.Sf3. When White begins, the intended key 1.Kd1 aims to preserve the set play while avoiding checks by the black knights. However, the problem actually has no solution because 1.Kd1 is defeated by a particular black move. What is this spoiling black defence? Modify the position so that the key 1.Kd1 does solve the problem and leads to the above knight variations. You can add or remove pieces as required, or shift existing pieces to other squares. Various sound settings are possible – try to find the most economical position.

12 Sep. 2015 – Changes to Problems of the Week

Since the start of this site, the Problems of the Week have been showcasing works by Australian composers only. After almost five years and 250 selections later, I feel it’s time to remove this restriction and consider works by international problemists as well. This will allow a greater variety of problem types and ideas to be presented. To maintain the Australian connection, however, I will choose only problems that originally appeared in Australian publications when overseas composers are quoted. International composers are also welcome to submit originals to this site for publication as a Problem of the Week.