Task and record problems – Part 2

3 Nov. 2013 | by Peter Wong

The artistic quality of chess compositions is generally considered primary in importance. In the field of tasks and records, however, the goal of achieving a maximum effect sometimes overrides artistic concerns. Hence it’s possible to find task problems with constructional weaknesses or defects that in most circumstances would not be tolerated. For example, some record two-movers entail a checking key or even, in exceptional cases, a first move that captures a piece (not merely a pawn).

B. J. da C. Andrade
London Evening News 1930

Mate in 2

Another kind of flaw affects the first selection shown above. This two-mover demonstrates a record number of tries that are defeated by pinning defences. One group of tries involve guarding f6 so as to threaten 2.e6, but in each case Black counters by pinning the e5-pawn: 1.Sg4? Rh5!, 1.Qf4? Rg5!, and 1.Bxd4? Qg5! Another quartet of tries aim to use the c4-rook to mate on the seventh rank, but the piece gets pinned on four diagonals: 1.Kb5? Bxd3!, 1.Kd5? Ba2!, 1.Rxb4? Ba3!, and 1.Rxd4? Qxe3! Thus we see a total of seven pinning refutations. After the key 1.Kb6! (threat: 2.Rc7), Black has only a couple of defences that enable the same mate, 1…Sg8/Sf5 2.Bg8. The intensive and strategically interesting tries are therefore accomplished at the cost of the perfunctory post-key play.

Nikolai Kosolapov
Svearmiyski konkurs 1967-68, 1st Prize

Mate in 2

The next problem renders an extraordinary amount of changed play without any serious drawbacks. It illustrates the Zagoruiko theme, which in two-movers requires – as a minimum – that two black defences each induces changed white mates across three phases of play. Here no less than four thematic defences occur in the three phases, the latter set off by two tries and the key. The first try 1.Bc1? (waiting) leads to 1…g4 2.Qd2, 1…dxc5 2.Rcd2, 1…d5 2.Bb2, and 1…dxe5 2.Red2, but it is defeated by 1…Kd5! The second try 1.Sc3? (waiting) removes one flight on d5 but grants another on c5. Now the four pawn defences are answered by new mates: 1…g4 2.Qe3, 1…dxc5 2.Re4, 1…d5 2.Sb5, and 1…dxe5 2.Be3; but 1…Kxc5! refutes. The key 1.Se3! (waiting) replaces the d5-flight with one on e5, and it produces four more changes: 1…g4 2.Qf4, 1…dxc5 2.Bc3, 1…d5 2.Sf5, and 1…dxe5 2.Rc4 (also 1…Kxe5 2.Qf6, 1…c6 2.Qxd6). Only a handful of problems have realised a 3x4 Zagoruiko, and this one is unique in showing the full complement of twelve different mates.