‘Problem Potpourri’ draws to a close, and two selections

28 Jan. 2014 | by Peter Wong

In a sign of the times, the magazine Australasian Chess has ceased publication at the end of 2013, apparently a print media casualty of the encroaching Internet. Regrettably this also means the closure of ‘Problem Potpourri’, the excellent column run by Geoff Foster that’s been showcasing new works from both Australian and overseas composers. Since we don’t have a successor to the column for now, I propose to use this site as an outlet for original problems, particularly from Australian composers. If you’d like to submit your work for publication as a Problem of the Week, please contact me. Solvers are also encouraged to send their comments on the problems, and I will start adding such feedback to the solution pages.

David Shire
Australasian Chess 2013

Mate in 2

Let’s look at a couple of highlights from the final year of ‘Problem Potpourri’. The most attractive directmate, in my view, is a two-mover by the UK problemist, David Shire. It combines two themes: multiple mates on the same square and the pseudo le Grand, the latter being a type of reciprocal change between try and key. The thematic try 1.Rf6? threatens 2.d6, and if 1…Rxe5 then 2.Sfd6. More virtual play follows with 1…Sd4 2.Sbd6, 1…Qa2 2.Qxc2, and 1…Sf4 2.Rxf4, but 1…Qd1! refutes. The try thus leads to three different mating moves on d6. These mates are seen again in the actual play, yet they function in new ways. The flight-giving key 1.Re6! threatens 2.Sfd6, and if 1…Rf5 then 2.d6 – the moves Sfd6 and d6 thereby reverse their roles as the threat and a mating response when compared with the try play. Strikingly, the third thematic mate 2.Sbd6 also recurs but is transferred to a new defence, 1…Kf5. There’s by-play with 1…Qf1 allowing 2.Qxc2.

Jorge Lois, Jorge Kapros & Christer Jonsson
Australasian Chess 2013

Helpmate in 3
(b) Kb4 to h4, (c) Kb4 to h8

Fittingly a trio of International Masters conceived the helpmate triplet, which features impressive cyclic play with perfect construction. In the three parts, White’s pieces on the first rank rotate their functions by taking turns to (1) be sacrificed, (2) guard flights, and (3) deliver mate. The solutions run (a) 1.dxc1=S Rd4+ 2.Ka3 Rb4 3.Sa2 Sc2, (b) 1.dxe1=R Bxe3 2.Rg1 Bf4 3.Rg4 Rh1, and (c) 1.exd1=B Sf3 2.Bb3 Sg5 3.Bg8 Bb2. Each time Black promotes to a different piece, one that matches White’s eventual mating unit. A spectacular composition and it’s a testimonial to the high standards of ‘Problem Potpourri’.