‘Laimons Mangalis: Lover of Chess’

31 Dec. 2016 | by Peter Wong

Laimons Mangalis (1911-1982) was one of the best Australian problemists, who produced numerous top-quality compositions marked by sophisticated themes and strategies. His life and works are documented in a new e-book by Bob Meadley, titled Laimons Mangalis: Lover of Chess. It begins with a biographical article, with interesting details such as how in the upheaval of WWII, many of Laimons’ chess problems were lost forever in his native Latvia. We also learn that Laimons was a strong tournament player, with a win over the great Cecil Purdy! A short piece called ‘A Glimpse into L.M.’s Home’ follows, written by his daughter, Baiba Ford.

The book then presents 162 problems by Laimons, with full solutions and some solvers’ comments from the original sources. While he primarily composed two- and three-move directmates, the collection shows that he was also proficient in creating attractive selfmates. The next section, ‘Some Letters, Games, and Research’, covers various topics, such as Laimons’ association with The Australian Problemist and several South Australian publications. The book concludes with some photos and an extensive compilation of Laimons’ chess clippings. The latter includes scans of his Sunday Mail chess columns and an excellent Problemist article on him by Bob and Geoff Foster. You can download this free e-book using the link above or that on the Chess Problemists page of this site.

Laimons Mangalis

American Chess Bulletin 1957, 1st Hon. Mention

Mate in 2

Here are two selections of Laimons’ works. In the two-mover, the thematic try 1.Bd3? closes the third rank and threatens 2.Qxh3, leading to 1…Rxd3 2.Sxc5, 1…Bf5 2.Bxf5, 1…Bg4 2.Qxg4, 1…Sh6 2.Qxh6, 1…Sxe7 2.Rf6, 1…exd4 2.Qe2/Re2, and 1…Qxf7 2.Qxf7; but the knight correction 1…Sf6! refutes. The solution sees the white queen and bishop exchanging their roles with 1.Qf3! closing the rank to threaten 2.Bxh3. The key brings about an impressive number of “free changes”. 1…Rxf3 2.Bc4 (not 2.Sxc5? Kxf7!), 1…Bf5 2.Qxf5, 1…Bg4 2.Qxg4, 1…Ng-any 2.Qf6, 1…exd4 2.Qe4, and 1…Qxf7 2.Qxf7. I especially like the g8-knight’s completely dual-free play in both the try and post-key phases.

Laimons Mangalis

The Problemist 1955, C.S. Jacobs Memorial Tourney, 3rd Prize

Mate in 3

In the three-mover, note that if White places an extra guard on the f6-knight, then the queen has two potential mates on b8 (guarded by the b2-rook) and d5 (guarded by the d4-rook). The sacrificial key 1.Sd2!, by threatening 2.Rxh5+ Qxh5 3.Sxf3, aims to draw the black rooks away from their defensive positions. After 1…Rbxd2, which not only unguards b8 and but also self-pins the d4-rook, any move of the g6-bishop would (by guarding f6) entail a strong double-threat, 3.Qxb8/Qxd5. However, a random bishop move (e.g. 2.Bh7?) is defeated by the ingenious switchback 2…Rb2!, holding off both queen mates. Therefore White prevents this defence with 2.Bc2!, leaving Black with only 2…Bd6 to stop both threats, answered by 3.Nd7. After 1…Rdxd2, which self-pins the b2-rook, a random g6-bishop move threatens 2.Qxb8 only (since d5 remains guarded), but again a rook switchback 2…Rd4 would be spoiling. So White must preclude that move with 2.Bd3!, which generates the double threat; 2…Bd6 3.Nd7. A third thematic defence, 1…Rf4, unguards d5 and self-pins the other rook, and White similarly counters with 2.Be4! to prevent the 2…Rd4 switchback; 2…Bd6 3.Nd7. An inspired way to exploit the half-pin mechanism! In the fine by-play, the black rooks get decoyed on the second move: 1…Sh~ 2.Qe7 (threat: 3.Sd7) Rb7 3.Bxd4; and 1…Sxf6 2.Sxc4+ Rxc4 3.Qxb8, or 2…dxc4 3.Qxd4.