Corrections to ‘Chess Problems Made Easy’

22 Jun. 2015 | by Peter Wong

In the previous column I reviewed the free e-book, Chess Problems Made Easy: How to Solve, How to Compose by Thomas Taverner. This book was originally published well before the advent of computer-testing, so understandably it includes some unsound compositions. A proposal to repair these problems has been answered by Stefan Felber of Germany, who remarkably sends in sixteen corrections. He writes, “Being in the teaching profession, it seems natural to me to deal with and, if possible, improve somebody else's creative work. And correcting Taverner's faulty problems proved to be a very rewarding intellectual challenge. The new versions have all been tested by Fritz.” Great job, Stefan! Nigel Nettheim and Ralf Krätschmer also contributed a few additional or alternative versions, and the result is that only one problem in the book (No.114) remains uncorrected. You can download a list of all amended positions here: Errata for unsound problems.

Let’s consider a pleasing example of how a cooked problem is cleverly restored by Stefan. In the two-mover below (No.98 in the book), the black king has access to four diagonal flights, two of which are given set mates: 1…Kf5 2.Sexd4 and 1…Kd3 2.Rxd4. It seems that any move of the c6-knight could solve by guarding c6 and opening the long diagonal, and thus provide for the other two flights: 1…Kd5 2.Sf4 and 1…Kf3 2.Qb7. However, a random knight move would also allow the black king to escape to e5. This determines the fine withdrawal key: 1.Sd8! (waiting), which controls e6 in order to answer 1…Kxe5 with 2.Qxe6. (The try 1.Scxd4? also guards e6 but is defeated by 1…Kd3!) The problem hence shows the star-flights theme, unusually augmented by a fifth orthogonal flight.

Thomas Taverner

Chess Problems Made Easy 1924

Original source?

Mate in 2

Unfortunately, the position is spoiled by two cooks. 1.Sb4! attacks two flights and threatens 2.Sxd4, which remains effective after 1…Kf5 or 1…Kxe5, while 1…Kf3 2.Qb7 works as before. And 1.Qxe6! (waiting) leaves Black with only two defences: 1…Kd3 2.Rxd4 and 1…Kf3 2.Qd5. The first cook is prevented by placing the a4-rook on b4, a shift that carries no disadvantage. The second cook is much harder to deal with, since Qxe6 also occurs as a thematic mate and so it cannot be crudely disabled. To foil the cook by disrupting the ensuing variations also seems unlikely to work here, because they are too similar to the intended play. Stefan gets around these difficulties by adding a black pawn on b7 and a white one on b6. Now 1.Qxe6? fails to 1…bxc6!, while the key 1.Sd8! and subsequent play are unaffected.

Thomas Taverner

Chess Problems Made Easy 1924

Original source?

Mate in 2