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Chess and problem rambles by PW

28 Jan. 2018 – New digital subscription for ‘The Problemist’

The Problemist is undoubtedly one of the best chess problem magazines in the world. Produced by the British Chess Problem Society, each issue contains top-quality articles, news reports, original compositions (in six sections), selected problems (typically prize-winners), and tourney awards. Further, each instalment is bundled with The Problemist Supplement – also with originals and articles – which caters for newcomers to problems and is expertly edited by our own Geoff Foster. Starting from this year, you can subscribe to the electronic version of the publication at a greatly reduced rate. The annual membership cost is £5 (about AU$8.60) and it obtains six issues of the magazine in the PDF format. This is excellent value when you consider that the normal subscription is £25 for the hard copies (which is still available). Go to the British Chess Problem Society site for details on how to become a member.

Ilija Serafimović
Youth Chess Composing Challenge 2016
2nd Place, 1st Hon. Mention
Mate in 2

Here are two selections from the November 2017 issue of the publication. The first features in the inaugural C. J. Morse Award for two-move tasks and records, named in honour of the late Sir Jeremy Morse. Two-movers from any sources (not just The Problemist) that demonstrate a maximum effect of some sort were eligible for this tourney, which covers the 2012-2016 period. Instead of the award winner, I will quote one of the top eleven entries mentioned, by a young composer who was a successful entrant in our Guided Chess Problem Composing Competition. This delightful work by Ilija brings about a terrific number of knight promotions. The key is thematic, naturally – 1.g8(S)! with the threat of 2.Bg3. Two defences by the a8-rook allow White to deliver knight promotion mates: 1…Ra4 2.c8(S) and 1…Re8 fxe8(S). Black can also defend by promoting various pawns to knights, and these moves result in different queen mates: 1…f1(S) 2.Qd4, 1…gxh1(S) 2.Qg6, and 1…d1(S)+ 2.Qxd1. (Also, 1…Re7 2.Bxe7.) The total of six knight promotions (three white and three black) constitute a new record for single-phase two-movers.

Vasil Krizhanivsky
The Problemist 2015
1st Prize
Helpmate in 2
6 solutions

All originals published in The Problemist automatically take part in its (mostly) annual informal tourneys. Given the quality of the problems that such a prestigious journal attracts, the prize-winners in these tourneys invariably impress. The helpmate above won the 2015 two-move section by achieving what could be a first: a doubling of the cyclic Zilahi theme without the use of twins. In the first three solutions, the white officers rotate their roles in getting captured by the black queen and giving mate: 1.Qxe4 Rf6 2.d5 Sc6, 1.Qxd4 Bf5 2.Qf4 Rd5, and 1.Qxd6 Sc6+ 2.Ke6 Bf5. In each phase, the white piece that’s not part of the Zilahi scheme (i.e. it is not captured and doesn’t mate) always moves to guard flights. Hence there’s a formally perfect 3x3 cyclic change of functions (sacrificed/guard/mate) for the three white pieces. Such a theme rendered would be sufficient to make a very good helpmate, but here the composer has managed to produce another 3x3 cycle of function change that again incorporates a Zilahi. In this second triplet of solutions, it’s the black king that commences the cyclic play by making the thematic captures: 1.Kxe4 Re6+ 2.Kf4 Se2, 1.Kxd4 Bd3 2.Re3 Rxd5, and 1.Kxd6 Sb5+ 2.Kc6 Bxd5.