Australian problems in early ‘FIDE Albums’

23 Dec. 2020 | by Peter Wong

The FIDE Albums are a book series published by the World Federation for Chess Composition that aims to collect the very best chess problems. Some previous Walkabouts, such as a review of FIDE Album 2001-2003 and The greatest masters series, have looked at these important anthologies and detailed how their selected entries determine the titles conferred to composers. I have always been curious about which problems by past Australian composers had qualified for these collections. The FIDE Album Index 1914-2015 (provided by the WFCC) lists all represented composers, their number of selected works, and even which Albums and sections their entries appeared in, but I own only a limited run of the series from the 1971-1973 edition onward. Hence I couldn’t identify the problems in the earlier volumes, which began with three retrospective Albums that cover the period 1914-1944. Recently, however, I came across a site called PDF Drive that contains digital copies of many older Albums, and this has enabled me to find all Australian works selected.

Here is a complete list of FIDE Album problems by Australian composers, up to the 1968-1970 edition. The compositions are referenced by their numbers in the e-books or e-articles on the respective problemists, available from the Oz Archives but individually linked here for convenience. Many of these problems have also appeared on this site directly, as Weekly Problems (WP) for example, and in such cases, links to them are also given.

Alexander Goldstein
Alexander Goldstein: His Life, His Chess Problems
Mate in 3: 40, 46, 52, 53 [Problem World 16], 160, 175 (Whyatt joint).

Gordon Stuart Green
Gordon Stuart Green: A Brilliant All-Rounder
Mate in 3: 7 [WP427].

Frederick Hawes
Frank Ravenscroft and Frederick T. Hawes’ Chess Problems
Selfmate in 4: 92 (Ravenscroft joint, shown below).

Joseph Heydon
J. K. Heydon: Problemist, Solicitor, Businessman
Mate in 2: 8 [Walkabout 20/3/2017, 2nd problem].

Eric Duncan McQueen
“E. D. McQueen”
Mate in 2: 1 [WP73].

Laimons Mangalis
Laimons Mangalis: Lover of Chess
Mate in 2: 63 [WP360].
Mate in 3: 67 [WP287], 75 (shown below)

Arthur Mosely
“Arthur Mosely and the Brisbane Courier”
Mate in 2: 3 [WP338]

Frank Ravenscroft
Frank Ravenscroft and Frederick T. Hawes’ Chess Problems
Selfmate in 4: 92 (Hawes joint, shown below).

Charles Watson
C.G.M. Watson: Chess Master, Insurance Officer and Problemist
Mate in 2: p87, 2nd problem [WP324]

William Whyatt
“Selected Problems by Bill Whyatt (106 problems)”
Mate in 3: 86, 95, 96, 98, 102, 109, 127, 136, 152.
Mate in 4: 142.
“The Whyatt and Goldstein Partnership”
Mate in 3: 12 (Goldstein joint).

As expected, William Whyatt (10.5) and Alexander Goldstein (5.5) scored the highest number of entries, including a joint three-mover between them. Laimons Mangalis (3) was the only other Australian with more than one selection, and below I quote a lovely work of his that made the cut. Arthur Mosely created two undisputed classics but one of them, WP152 – achieving an eight-fold sacrifice of the key-piece – missed out because it was published in 1912, two years before the start date of the inaugural Album. (In the foreword to FIDE Album 1914-1944, Vol II, Comins Mansfield referred to another planned retrospective Album, intended to cover the period from the 6th century to 1913. How unfortunate that it never eventuated!) Frederick Hawes and Frank Ravenscroft produced the only selfmate on the list, and it’s examined below. The most surprising omission was J. J. O’Keefe who did not gain any official entries, although four of his problems (including WP76 and WP305) appeared in an Album’s Annex section, presumably meaning they almost qualified.

Laimons Mangalis
Shakhmaty 1963, 1st Prize

Mate in 3

If White moves either rook to b7, that will threaten a queen mate on the a2-g8 diagonal besides shielding the corner-piece from the c6-bishop. But Black can guard both a2 with 1…Rg2! and g8 with 1…gxh5! The set play sees these defences disabled by the h4-bishop, when it interferes with the rook along the g-file: 1…Bg3 2.Rab7 then 3.Qa2, and 1…Bg5 2.Rbb7 then 3.Qg8. The square-vacating key 1.b7! threatens 2.Sc8 and 3.Sb6, which the flight-move 2…Kc4 does not stop. The h4-bishop defends by targeting the f4-pawn, to answer 2.Sc8 with a check, and this leads to the interferences with the black rook just mentioned. However, because the key-pawn has obstructed b7 – preventing the rook moves to that square but also shielding the queen immediately – White’s second moves are changed from the set play: 1…Bg3 2.Ra1 then 3.Qa2, and 1…Bg5 2.Rh8 then 3.Qg8. Wonderful Bristol clearances that are both pure and of maximum lengths.

Frederick Hawes and Frank Ravenscroft
The Problemist 1958

Selfmate in 4

In this difficult selfmate, it’s unlikely that White will use a deflecting check like Qf3+ Sxf3 to force Black to mate, because the white king has too many flights on its original square. Castling to restrict the king seems promising, especially since Black’s only initial legal move, 1…Bh7, would control b1/c2. A premature 1.0-0-0?? mates Black, but suppose White starts with 1.Qf1+?, unpinning the knight to compel 1…Sxf1, then 2.0-0-0 re-pins the knight, which by guarding d2 helps to confine the white king. This try fails, though, as after 2…Bh7 White can make no progress against the mobile bishop, not to mention how the black king is freed to go to h2. The excellent key 1.Qh8! anticipates that 1…Bh7 will unpin the black knight, making 2.0-0-0+ Sf1 viable. Now that Black’s knight and bishop are both pinned, White continues with 3.Bd6 to trap the black king again and simultaneously release the a4-pawn. Black must play 3…a3 due to zugzwang, and after 4.bxa3, another waiting move, 4…b2 is forced. An attractive model mate is delivered by the innocuous b3-pawn.