‘Alexander Goldstein: His Life, His Chess Problems’

2 Oct. 2016 | by Peter Wong

Alexander Goldstein (1911-1988) was one of the greatest Australian problem composers, best known for his three-movers. Bob Meadley has compiled all of Alex’s works in an e-book, titled Alexander Goldstein: His Life, His Chess Problems. (I helped with its editing process mainly by formatting the text and designing the layout.) This wonderful collection starts with ‘An Anecdotal Introduction’ by Ian Shanahan and ‘An Interview with Sophie Goldstein’, the latter a moving account of Alex’s life as conveyed by his widow. The next chapters feature more than two hundreds of Alex’s compositions – mostly directmates but also some helpmates and selfmates. These problems are accompanied by expert comments from Geoff Foster, Andy Sag, and Arthur Willmott. Alex’s chess writings are then presented, including a piece called ‘Miraculous Escape from a Siberian Mine’ which begins memorably with the lines, “Two chess problems saved my life. This is how it happened.” The book concludes with a large section of scans, comprising more of Alex’s articles and a variety of materials about him.

Alexander Goldstein

Chwila 1931

Mate in 3

To download this free e-book, use the link above or go to the Chess Problemists page of this site. Here are two splendid examples of Alex’s works from the compilation. In the first, White must be mindful of Black’s bishop or rook giving check if either is unpinned, e.g. if 1.Sc1? aiming for 2.Sd3 and 3.Sf2, then 1…Bxb6+! refutes. The key 1.Sc3! waits for Black to self-obstruct with a pawn move. 1…cxb6 allows 2.Sd1 and 3.Sf2 since 2…Bxb6+ by the freed bishop is ruled out. Likewise 1…b2 means White can unpin the black rook with 2.Se4, and 3.Sf2 is unstoppable as 2…Ra2+ is blocked. One more variation involves a nice switchback, 1…h3 2.Se2 and 3.Sg3.

Alexander Goldstein

Parallèle 50 1949, 1st Prize

Mate in 3

The second problem shows even more impressive strategy. First note that if White tries to unpin the d6-knight, then Sxb7 (a pin-mate) becomes a threat, but 1.Qf6? is defeated by 1…Bxd5! The key 1.Qf5! instead threatens 2.Qc8 and 3.Qa8. Black has three defences but they err by preventing …Bxd5, after which White’s unpinning plan becomes viable. If 1…Bh3, then White plays 2.Qe6 and 3.Sxb7 – not 2.Qf6?/Qg6? Bc8! After 1…e4, White chooses 2.Qf6 and 3.Sxb7 – not 2.Qe6?/Qg6? Bg7+! And 1…Rf3 must be followed by 2.Qg6 and 3.Sxb7 – not 2.Qe6?/Qf6? Rf6+! So three white queen moves with a similar motive are subtly differentiated. The by-play makes further use of the queen: 1…Sd7 2.Qxd7 and 3.Qxb5 – another pin-mate.

The two-mover by J.T. Eaton in the previous Walkabout column is solved by 1.Rb2! (releasing both black knights). However, Geoff Foster advises that this problem is exactly anticipated by Gerardus Drese, Elk Wat Wils 1935.