‘FIDE Album 2001-2003’

25 Jun. 2011 | by Peter Wong

The FIDE Albums are anthologies of the world's best chess compositions (or at least that’s the aim of these collections!), brought out once every three years. The latest edition has just been published, covering the period 2001-03. Given that ten years have passed since the original appearance of some of the selected problems, most would agree that the timeliness of the Album's publication leaves some room for improvement. But the delay is partly explained by the massive tasks assigned to the expert judges, who undertook to appraise, in some cases, more than a thousand problems. At any rate, the wait is well worth it, as the book itself is a first-class production.

In the same polished format as the previous five volumes, this hardbound Album contains 1349 problems of all types (16% of submitted entries), with trilingual theme descriptions and detailed indexes. From the Australian perspective, only one home-grown work was selected, a fairy helpmate by yours truly, but it's a bit too unorthodox to discuss here. Instead I quote a two-mover by Viktor Chepizhny that scored the maximum 12 points, and hence has near-official status as a masterpiece. The scoring system for inclusion in the Albums is fairly straightforward. In each of eight sections divided according to problem genre, three judges separately give a score from 0 to 4 points to each entry (half-points are allowed), and a sum total of 8 or more points is required for the problem to be selected. It is rare to attain the maximum 12 points, and Chepizhny's two-mover is one of just two problems in that section to have achieved the feat. Yet this outstanding work is surprisingly accessible.

Viktor Chepizhny

A. Dombrovskis Memorial Tourney 2002, 1st Prize

Mate in 2

The problem involves two pairs of closely related phases of play, triggered by three white tries and the key. The four parts utilise the white batteries in different ways and show changed mates in response to two thematic defences, 1…Sxd3 and 1…Sxg4. The first try 1.Bf8? (threat: 2.Bc5), by guarding c5, permits 1…Sxd3 2.Qxd3 and activates the Q + S battery, 1…Sed7 2.Sc1, and 1…Ra5 2.Sdxe5; but there is no answer to 1…Sbd7! An analogous try 1.Bh6? (2.Be3) controls e3, enabling both 1…Sxg4 2.Rxg4 and the R + S battery to operate, 1…Sxc4 2.Sxh2; but 1…f1(S)! refutes. The third try 1.e7? (2.Rd6) prepares to fire the B + R battery when the black knight self-pins, 1…Sxd3 2.Rc6, and 1…Sxg4 2.Re6; now 1…Ra5! defeats the try. The key 1.Kg5! (2.Rf4) makes room for the B + R battery to fire again – against the same knight defences – but in a new direction, 1…Sxd3 2.Rf5, and 1…Sxg4 2.Rxf3; also 1…Sf7+ 2.Rxf7. A splendid rendition of the Zagoruiko theme, this two-mover shows helpmate-like congruity between the various phases.