Chess Composers E. E. Westbury Problems


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Written by Michael McDowell   
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(This material was first published in The Problemist, January 2006)


1st HM.=, Strategie Ty., 1900-1902


Selfmate in 4

An early success. The rook does fine work, pinning on two ranks. There is a reciprocal change of functions between the black bishops, while each white bishop is sacrificed in turn.


Reading Observer Ty., 1907


Mate in 3

While he won a number of awards for his three-movers, Westbury was primarily a two-move composer. One example of the former will suffice. The Bohemian 2 was disqualified from its tourney because some of the content was anticipated by a problem by Pospisil; however Westbury’s version was viewed as a great advance on the earlier problem and entitled to a separate existence. There are two threats, but the only dual occurs after 1...d3.


1st Prize, Pittsburgh Gazette-Times Ty., 1911-1912


Mate in 2

Widely considered to be Westbury’s best problem. At the time of first publication Heathcote described it as “the finest two-mover of recent years”. Each of the five interferences also unguards the mating square. The underused a8 bishop is a slight pity, but unity is a strong feature.


v. 7th HM., Hampshire Telegraph and Post, 1915


Mate in 2

Half-pin, with each rook showing correction play (the f-rook playing on the file), as 1...Re6 and 1...Rf8 can be regarded as random moves.


1st Prize, Brisbane Courier 1st Half-Yearly Ty., 1916


Mate in 2

A nice blend of strategies follows a key which gives a flight and permits a check. I find it difficult to figure out the starting point for the composition of this problem.

(6) with G. Guidelli

1st Prize, Our Folder, May 1916


Mate in 2

An example of cross-checks from two directions, unusual in that both checking lines are lateral.


3rd Prize, L'Eco degli Scacchi 3rd Ty., 1917


Mate in 2

An unusual Albino. The star variation 1...d3+ 2.e4 features a selfblock allowing a cross-check mate with self-interference. 1...Qxg5 puts the queen out of range, allowing an interference, while the captures on d3 and f3 meet correction moves by the e5 knight. It was perhaps fortunate to win a prize, as the judges (V. de Barbieri and P. H. Williams) were aware of the following problem by Rudolf L’Hermet.

(7b) Rudolf L'Hermet

1st Prize, New York Staats-Zeitung, 1894


Mate in 2


1st Prize, Boston Transcript, 1917


Mate in 2

One of Westbury’s most artistic half-pins. The pair of reciprocal interferences plus shut-offs are particularly fine. The modern composer would probably move the Bg8 to h7 and remove f7, ignoring the dual after 1...Bg6.


Chess Amateur, November 1917


Mate in 2

5 half-pin variations from a light setting. All of the play is set, the key simply providing a threat. Good quality for an “ordinary“ contribution. The following month Ellerman won a prize with a version of the same matrix. Westbury’s setting is dual-free, while some moves in Ellerman’s allow the major dual 2.Bf4.

(9b) A. Ellerman

3rd Prize, Our Folder, December 1917


Mate in 2


4th HM., Our Folder, May 1918


Mate in 2

An original half-pin, with four variations from two pawns. Each pawn by departing its square allows two mates, which are separated by arrival effects. The white economy could be improved by moving f2 to h3, and replacing the pawns at b2 and c2 with a BPc2 and BRc1. The play is then completely accurate.


3rd Prize, Brisbane Courier 4th Half-Yearly Ty., 1917-1918


Mate in 2

A half-pinner with a fine thematic key which pins the queen in preparation for the matching bishop unpins. Note the set mate 1...c5 2.Bd5. Ellerman showed the same main variations in the following problem, but his key is inferior, and the major dual 2.Qb3 arises after some queen moves.

(11b) A. Ellerman

Our Folder, February 1918


Mate in 2


3rd Prize, Densmore Memorial Ty., 1918


Mate in 2

The two leading variations 1...Re4 and 1...Rf3 feature black line-opening and interference unpins, plus white line-closures. Again economy is sacrificed slightly to attain accuracy. The pieces on g1 and h2 can be safely removed.


L'Eco degli Scacchi, 1918


Mate in 2

A beautifully simple setting yielding 4 half-pin variations, three involving selfblocks and the other an interference. The only weakness is the e5 pawn, which is used solely to provide a key. Compare Mansfield’s dual-free Meredith, with a much better key but only three half-pin variations. I do not know which problem was published first.

(13b) C. Mansfield

1st HM., Good Companions 8th Meredith Ty., November 1918


Mate in 2

(14) with A. Ellerman

3rd HM. e.a., Our Folder, February, 1919


Mate in 2

Correction play, with the two leading variations show typical Good Companions complexity.


2nd Prize, British Chess Problem Journal, June, 1919


Mate in 2

Removing the d4 bishop allows both 2.Rg5 and 2.Qf4, which are separated by the arrival effects of 1...Bxb6 and 1...Bc5, while 1...Be3 eliminates both only to let in 2.Re4, which completes the half-pin.


1st Prize, L'Italia Scacchistica, 1924


Mate in 2

Complex interference play. The star variation is 1...Sd3, defending by unpinning the d4 knight, but also unpinning the c2 knight and interfering with the rook to allow 2.Sxe3. 1...Rd3 again unpins d4 and c2, and unguards b4 for 2.Sxb4. 1...Be5 unpins the queen, but unguards e7 for 2.Se7.


1st Prize, BCF Ty. No. 3, 1929-1930


Selfmate in 3

The white b-pawn blocks three squares. A widely-reproduced problem which I feel is somewhat overrated, as there are few possible ways for Black to reach the white king.


1st Prize, Bristol Times and Mirror, 1930


Mate in 2

Parallel batteries give cross-check pin-mates.


1st Prize, The Puzzler, 1933


Mate in 2

A tremendous variety of interference plus line-opening and closing effects. The force is fully utilised, and the play is completely accurate. My favourite Westbury problem. I wondered if the sequence 1...Rxd7 (=1...R random), 1...Rc6+ and 1...Rd5 shows tertiary black correction, but I have my doubts, as 2.Se4 exploits the secondary error (interference on the bishop) and not some new error introduced by 1...Rd5.


1st Prize, BCPS 34th Ty., 1938


Mate in 2

Less complexity, but a very artistic work. The bishop captures of Q and R force the unpinned knight to choose carefully in Java style to avoid self-interference. There is a nice contrast with the pair of knight selfblocks at f5 and f3 which allow self-interference mates! The b3 pawn ensures complete accuracy by confining the rook.

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