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

288. Niharendu Sikdar
Australian Chess 2005
Mate in 2
2 solutions

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.287.
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Chess and problem rambles by PW

5 May 2016 – What’s New

The recent winner of the Whyatt Medal, Ian Shanahan, has gathered his compositions in a free e-book: Chess Problems by Dr. Ian Shanahan. As may be expected from one of Australia’s best problem composers, this is a very fine collection of his works and it’s highly recommended. The book consists of about 200 problems divided into seven groups – two-movers, three-movers, more-movers, helpmates/helpstalemates, series-movers, other fairies, and retros – indicative of the author’s versatility. The problems are nicely presented one to a page, with full solutions given below the diagrams. Ian also provides the thematic content of each problem in detail, and in many cases instructive comments on its construction.

Ian Shanahan
Springaren 2013
1st Commendation
Ded. to David Shire
Mate in 2

Here’s a sample two-mover featuring an unusual theme: “Masked battery-formation with total change involving pin-mates between try- and actual phases.” Note the set play: 1…Sb~ 2.Bxc6, 1…c5 2.Bxb7, 1…B~ 2.Qxf5, and 1…f4 2.Qxg5. The try 1.Sxf5? disrupts the set variations on the fifth rank and forms a Q + S battery that’s masked by the g5-bishop. The threat is the pin-mate, 2.Sxe3, and it induces 1…d1(S) 2.Qxd1 and 1…c5 2.Bxb7, but 1…Be7! subtly refutes the try. The analogous key 1.Rxc6! removes the set variations on the long diagonal and forms a B + R battery that’s masked by the b7-knight. The threat is another pin-mate, 2.Rd6, which provokes 1…Ra6 2.Rc5, 1…fxe4 2.Qxg5, 1…Be7 2.Qxf5, 1…Bf4 2.Sf6, and 1…Sf7 2.Qxf7. The play following the try and the key differ in both Black’s defences and White’s mates, hence the “total change” effected.

In May last year, Bob Meadley published the comprehensive e-book, Australian Chess Problem History (see the Walkabout column of 17/5/2015). An interesting article by Bob, titled ‘Some Memories of John Kellner’, has been added to Part 2 of this document. John Kellner (1931-1987) was a strong player who edited the chess columns of the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Telegraph. He was also a problem enthusiast and Bob recounts the wonderful ways in which John promoted both the game and problems.

The M.V. Anderson Chess Collection in the State Library of Victoria holds one of the largest collections of chess books in the world. It also contains many manuscripts of significant individuals and clubs, a list of which has been prepared by Bob Meadley. This useful reference guide, which highlights chess-problem related material, can be downloaded from the Problemists and History section of this site or here: Manuscripts in the M.V. Anderson Chess Collection.

3 Apr. 2016 – Guided Chess Problem Composing Competition 2016 – results

The second Guided Chess Problem Composing Competition, announced in the Walkabout column of 25/11/2015, has been completed. The results of this open event, aimed at introducing contestants to the practice of problem construction, were again very close. The top prize-winners are:

  1st Prize: Ralf Krätschmer (Germany)
  2nd Prize: Ilija Serafimović (Serbia)
  3rd Prize (equal): Dušan Mijatović (Serbia) and Andy Sag (Australia)

Ralf and Ilija were also the two top-scoring contestants last year but they have swapped their positions. Third place is shared by Andy and a new participant, Dušan. While Ralf and Andy are established problemists, Ilija and Dušan are both juniors who attend the Chess Academy run by the world-renowned composer, Marjan Kovačević. Congratulations to the winners!

Marko Lozajic of Serbia (another student of Marjan Kovačević) and Stefan Felber of Germany also deserve our compliments; both achieved scores very close to the above group. Special mentions go to two young entrants who have not attempted composing before: Danila Pavlov of Russia – a world junior champion in problem solving – who gave consistently good answers, and Erin Dullaway of Australia who is remarkably only seven years of age.

A document that provides the Tasks, Answers, and Results of the competition is now available for download. Although the set questions are generally simpler this time, two of them allow the entrants a lot of leeway in creating correct versions of existing problems. Consequently, a good variety of answers were received for these tasks, and they proved very interesting to compare. Indeed, the outstanding entry for Task 3, submitted by Ralf, is better than my own attempt at repairing the original problem!

The diagram below shows what I consider the best way to correct the unsound two-mover of Task 2 (which was quoted in the earlier column mentioned above). Like a few other entries, this position is economical in using a white knight and a black pawn to confine the black king. However, by rotating the board and placing these units on the d-file (so that the pawn does not prevent either knight mate), Ralf has produced the only setting with an attractive quasi-symmetrical feature.

Felix Seidemann
Teplitz-Schönauer Anzeiger 1931
Version by Ralf Krätschmer
Mate in 2

Nigel Nettheim has prepared an informative account of this event: GCPCC 2016 – Report, in which he shares his insights on the running of such an innovative competition. Note that all documents relating to the guided composing contests (for this year and the previous one) are available from the Events section of this site.

21 Feb. 2016 – What’s New

A complete run of the ‘Problem Potpourri’ columns from Australasian Chess is now available for download. This terrific feature of the national magazine was edited by Geoff Foster over a six-year period, from 2008 to 2013. In Geoff’s capable hands, it attracted high-quality originals in a variety of genres from around the world. Frequent contributors include, from abroad, Christopher Jones, Leonid Makaronez, Christer Jonsson, and Chris Feather, and local representatives Molham Hassan, Linden Lyons, and Ian Shanahan. A band of regular solvers, consisting of Andy Sag, Bob Meadley, Nigel Nettheim, Dennis Hale, and others, share their perspectives on the problems and liven up the proceedings. To view or download the full set of ‘Problem Potpourri’ in the PDF-format, use the link above or go to the Magazines and Columns page of this site.

Molham Hassan &
Geoff Foster
Australasian Chess 2008
Mate in 2

Let’s consider two problems that first appeared in the column. The joint two-mover has an excellent key, 1.Sc5! (threat: 2.Sb3), which by closing two white lines gives the black king access to e5 and c4. 1…Ke5 allows a battery mate, 2.Sxe6, while 1…Kxc4 leads to 2.Ra4. The white queen mates twice with 1…Rg3 2.Qe4 and 1…Bd5 2.Qxd5. A couple of knight mates round off the play – 1…Bxc4 2.Sf3 and 1…Rb8 2.Sxe6. In this well-constructed problem, every white piece (besides the king) is economically utilised to perform both mating and guarding duties.

Christopher Jones
Australasian Chess 2011
Helpmate in 5

The helpmate by the British Grandmaster presents an appealing geometric idea. 1.Be4 Bf3 2.Bh7 Bh5 3.Ke4 Ke2 4.Kf5+ Kf3 5.Bg6 Bg4. A sort of “dance” occurs as each black move is imitated by White using an equivalent piece.

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!”