Solving a four-move directmate, and the ‘Check!’ magazine

15 Jun. 2014 | by Peter Wong

Two problemists who are regular solvers of the Weekly Problems, Dennis Hale and Nigel Nettheim, have sent in materials to share on this site. Dennis forwarded the four-mover below, composed by a Spanish expert (whose quality works have appeared in the FIDE Albums), for me to solve. The position looks rather heavy and daunting at first sight, but it turns out to be not too hard to unravel. And the problem has a sparkling main variation that makes it very quotable. I encourage you to try tackling it before reading on.

Valentin Marin y Llovet
Deutsche Schachzeitung 1902

Mate in 4

The black king has two orthogonal flights, suggesting that White will aim for a queen or rook mate on the h-file. The white queen seems out of play, and 1.Qa1! looks promising in view of 1…Bxa1 2.Rc1 and 3.Rh1. The threat is 2.Qxb1 Bc1 3.Q/Rxc1 and 4.Q/Rh1. Black’s defence 1…Rxd3 initiates the thematic variation, 2.Rc1 Bxc1 3.Rxg5 fxg5 4.Qh8. Five pieces are impressively diverted from the long diagonal, to allow the queen to pass through and mate with the longest possible move on a chessboard. If 2…Rd1, White answers with 3.Rxd1 and 4.Rh1. Notice how White cannot shuffle the move order, e.g. 1…Rxd3 2.Rxg5? fxg5 3.Rc1 is stopped by 3…Rd1! A second full-length variation goes 1…c5/c6 2.Qa7 Sc7+ 3.Qxc7 and 4.Qh7.

The Oz Archives section of this site brings together almost all of the problem columns found in early Australian chess magazines. Gaps exist, however, and Nigel has kindly offered to provide some materials that were missing and which he has scanned from his magazine collection. The first lot of these files is now available for download. It is a complete run of the problem columns conducted by Frederick Hawes in the magazine Check!, which appeared from July 1944 to December 1945. Check it out on the Problem Magazines and Columns page.