Names of some Indonesian composers

30 Jun. 2021 | by Peter Wong

The Chess Problem Database Server (PDB)* is one of the best problem databases on the web, and recently I decided to tidy up my entries on that site. In doing so (completing basic tasks like adding missing solutions), I came across another composer who shares my surname, Wong Kong Weng. An Indonesian who was active in the 1960s, his name follows a Chinese convention whereby the family name goes before the given name. This variance from Western practices is the source of a common mix-up and the PDB records the problemist’s surname incorrectly as “Weng”, such that a search under that name is required to locate most of his compositions. Indeed, the same issue affects several Indonesian composers, including the grandmaster Touw Hian Bwee. In his Collection of Chess Problems, a free e-book available from the British Chess Problem Society (highly recommended), he wrote:

Firstly I would like to clarify the question of my name. Contrary to customs in Europe, America and other western countries, where first names precede surnames, my name is written in reverse order: surname followed by first name. My ancestors came from China to Indonesia some 200 years ago and this way of writing names has remained unchanged since then. Thus Touw is my family name and Hian Bwee is my given name.

Of the other two major online problem databases, the YACPDB contains a similar flaw and only MESON catalogues such composers’ names properly. Even a useful resource site like Chess composers’ names in various alphabets is marked by the same type of error. In the interest of promoting accuracy on these sites and elsewhere, I give below a small list of Indonesian composers mentioned in Touw Hian Bwee’s book, with their family names fully capitalised. Despite my Chinese background, I am no expert on these names and relied on their locations in the book’s index to confirm that each person’s surname is indeed placed first!

OEY Gien Tiong
SIEM Giok Liam (= Yanuarta Simadhinata)
TAN Hien Yan
TAN Hoe Oen
THE Hong Oe
TJOA Giok Hing (= Hidayat Maruta)
TOUW Hian Bwee
WONG Kong Weng

[* UPDATE. Thanks to Andrew Buchanan who quickly responded to my post and made the necessary adjustments on the PDB (with assistance from Webmaster Gerd Wilts). Now you can search for these Indonesian composers’ problems on the database under their correct surnames.]

Wong Kong Weng
Tidskrift för Schack 1964

Let’s check out a couple of representative works from our Indonesian friends. Tempo play in helpmates is one of my favourite themes, so I was amused to find that my namesake also took an interest in it. In this three-mover, if Black could pass a turn, then 1.pass Kd6 2.Kb5 Kd5 3.pass Bd3 would solve. But Black has to start and must use up the two spare moves in some way. 1.d1=Q/R? – potentially followed by unguarding d3 on the third move – fails as the promotee prevents 1…Kd6. 1.d1=S? seems promising as a waiting move but after 1…Kd6 2.Kb5 Kd5, Black is in zugzwang and any knight move will disable the bishop mate. Only 1.d1=B! succeeds because after 1…Kd6 2.Kb5 Kd5, Black has a follow-up tempo move 3.Bg4! that doesn’t impede 3…Bd3.

Touw Hian Bwee
Schach-Echo 1975, 3rd Prize

Mate in 2

The two-mover falls under the scheme of “destruction of two batteries,” in which two white batteries aimed at the black king are abandoned in turn by a try and the key. Here the idea is combined with a half-pin of two black bishops. The try 1.Qa7? removes the Q + S battery and threatens 2.Qc5. Black has two thematic defences, both bishop captures of a knight. 1…Bxd6 leaves the f5-bishop pinned and self-blocks on d6, allowing the battery mate 2.Sd2. 1…Bxe4 self-pins the e5-bishop and enables 2.Qd4. But 1…Bd4! defeats the try. The key 1.Bf1! removes the B + S battery instead and threatens 2.Bc4. Now the same capturing defences are effective against the threat but they lead to new mates. 1…Bxd6 2.Qxe6 – White exploits the f5-bishop’s pin and the opening of the e-file to regain control of the e4-flight. 1…Bxe4 2.Sb7 – White executes a battery mate that requires the pinning of the e5-bishop and the self-block on e4. An effortless blending of battery play with two pairs of changed pin-mates, where the analogy between the two phases is remarkably precise.