No.11 | by Peter Wong

The term echo is sometimes used in the problem context to describe various types of repeated effects, but primarily it refers to a specific visual idea, namely the recurrence of a mating configuration. In such a scheme, the black king at the end of two variations is attacked and confined in a similar fashion – its flights are controlled in the same way – but these mates take place on different parts of the board. Thus the mating arrangement is in effect shifted from one position to another, and such an occurrence we call an echo mate.

61. Bo Lindgren
Tidskrift för Schack 1944

Mate in 4

Echoes are categorised in a variety of ways. A chameleon echo, for example, results if the black king is mated on different coloured squares. Another kind of classification relates to the preciseness of the echo. When one mating position matches another completely (taking into account every piece on the board), the echo is regarded as exact. Such an exact echo, which is also a chameleon one, appears in Problem 61. The solution is 1.Kf2! Kh2 2.Bg3+ Kh3 (2…Kh1? 3.Bf3) 3.Kf3 f4 4.Bg4. This final position, including the pawn which does not take part in the mate directly, gets transferred down one square in the second variation, 1…f4 2.Bf3+ Kh2 3.Bg2 f3 4.Bg3.

62. Otto Wurzburg
American Chess Bulletin 1940, 1st Hon. Mention

Mate in 3

The main lines of Problem 62 conclude with three pairs of echo mates. After the waiting key 1.Rf5!, every black bishop move enables an immediate queen mate on b2 except for 1…Ba3. Now 2.Rf1+ leads to 2…Bc1 3.Qb2 (a pin-mate), 2…Ka2 3.Qxf7 (a model mate), and 2…Kc2 3.Qc3. These three mates are seen again, but reflected along the long diagonal, following 1…Ka2 2.Ra5+ Ba3 3.Qb2, 2…Kb1 3.Qf5, and 2…Kb3 3.Qc3. There is by-play, 1…Kc2 2.Rb5 (with various threats including 3.Qc3) Bb2/d2 3.Qb2.

This example brings us to yet another way of describing different types of echoes: the manner by which a mating configuration is shifted to its counterpart. Thus 62 depicts various reflection echoes, whereas the earlier 61 illustrates a translation echo. The latter indicates that the participating pieces are all transferred in the same direction and distance. A rotation echo is featured in the next problem.

63. Bernard Ivanov
The Problemist 1991

Helpmate in 2, 2 solutions

The helpmate 63 is solved by 1.Qe4 Qf7 2.Sd4 Sc4 and 1.Qd5 Qg4 2.Sd6 Sd7. The two final positions, apart from the white king, show a 90-degree rotation around the mid-point of e5. Notice how Black’s first move in each solution unpins the white queen, a fact that determines the order in which Black’s moves are played. Also, Black’s knight moves are self-interferences – they cut off the black queen’s control of the mating squares. Strategic effects like these unpins and interferences, though simple, are not commonly seen in echo problems, especially those employing very few pieces.

64. Sergel Rumyantsev
The Problemist 1995

Helpmate in 4, 3 solutions

In Problem 64, White’s options are quite limited; it takes three moves to promote the pawn and the new piece has one remaining move to give mate, starting from a8, b8, or c8. The white king is too far away to help arrange a mid-board mate, so Black has to prepare for a mate on the first rank, using the two rooks as blocking units. 1.Ba7 b6 2.Kf1 bxa7 3.Rf2 a8=Q 4.Rae2 Qh1. 1.Bc7 b6 2.Ke1 bxc7 3.Rf2 c8=Q 4.Rae2 Qc1. 1.Bd4 b6 2.Kd1 b7 3.Re2 b8=Q 4.Rad2 Qb1. The triple echo mates are enlivened by some variety in the play, viz. the change of promotion squares and the need for 1.Bd4! in one solution to shield the white king from check.

65. Reto List
Switzerland vs. Austria Match 1977, 1st Place

Helpmate in 3, 6 solutions

Multiple echoes are more frequently found in helpmates than other types of problems. Especially by using the device of twinning to vary the starting positions, a helpmate can render a large number of echo mates. Problem 65 incorporates six related parts, but remarkably without evoking twins. Three pairs of exact echoes are brought about, and that they all stem from the diagram position makes this a rare achievement. 1.Re8 Sg4 2.Ke6 Kc6 3.Ree7 Sd4 and 1.Rd7 Se1 2.Kd4+ Kb4 3.Rdd5 Sc2. 1.Re4 Sd4 2.Ke5 Kc5 3.Rf6 Sd3 and 1.Re3 Sd3 2.Ke4 Kc4 3.Rf5 Sd2. 1.Ref5 Sg5 2.Ke5 Kc5 3.R7f6 Sd3 and 1.Rf4 Sg4 2.Ke4+ Kc4 3.Ref5 Sd2.

66. Joralf Grande
Problem 1964,

Mate in 3

Have a go at solving the three-mover 66.


A fine key, 1.Rf5!, leads to two pairs of reflection echo mates. 1…exf5 2.g8=Q Ka6 3.Qa8, 2…Ka4 3.Qa2. 1…Ka6 2.Rf7 Ka5 3.Ra7. 1…Ka4 2.Rf3 Ka5 3.Ra3