Review of the Year 2002

written by John Rice

British Chess Solving Championship, 2001-2002

A steady afternoon’s solving ensured first prize for FIDE Solving Master Michael McDowell in the Final of this event, held at Oakham School on 16th February. With Jonathan Mestel, Colin McNab and David Friedgood unable to attend, Michael was the clear favourite, but being in this position always brings extra pressure, especially in an event which generates tension of its own. So Michael did well to win the trophy, ahead of Ian Watson (2nd) and Bill Clark (3rd). Michael's score of 52/60 testifies to the difficulty of some of the problems set for solving. As usual, Brian Stephenson was in charge of the event, which had begun in the summer of 2001 with a starter problem published in the national press and specialist magazines.

World Chess Solving Championship, 2002

The seaside town of Portoro┼ż (Slovenia) was the venue for this event, held in early September. The British team of GM Jonathan Mestel, GM Graham Lee and FM Michael McDowell finished sixth in a strong field, a very creditable result. World Champions were Germany (not for the first time by any means), followed by Finland and Israel. Jonathan’s excellent score of 75.5 out of a possible 90 put him in third place overall. Because the time-limit for the acquisition of norms has now been abolished, Graham Lee has been granted the title of International Grandmaster for Solving, on the strength of norms gained over a period of nearly 20 years.

British Chess Problem Society

This Society, open to chess enthusiasts in all countries, has been in existence since 1918. Monthly meetings are held in London during the winter, and there is a Residential Weekend around Easter, usually outside the London area. The 2002 Weekend, held at the Carlton Hotel, Cheltenham, was attended by about 40 problemists, who took part in composing and solving contests and listened to lectures by (among others) Barry Barnes and Sir Jeremy Morse. Barry’s talk took the form of a tribute to former Society President Colin Vaughan, who died in July 2001 at the age of 84. One of the speakers at the London meetings during the 2001-2 season was Michael McDowell, who gave an illustrated talk on the problems composed by the late Lionel Penrose, whose son Jonathan was British Champion on many occasions. Here is one of the problems Michael discussed.

Lionel S Penrose

1st Prize, The Observer, 1920


Mate in 2

If White had already played, there would be a mate to follow every black move, e.g. 1...Rg2 2.Bf3; 1...Bg2 2.Qxe3. There are no pure waiting moves available, so White must play a move that changes these two mates, by giving the BK a flight-square and unpinning the WQ: 1.Kh5, waiting. The variations are: 1...Rg2 2.Qf3. 1...Bf2 2.Qg4. 1...Kxf5 2.Qf4. 1...Rxg3 2.Nxg3. 1...d2 2.Bc2. 1...e2 2.Qxd3 (changed from 2.Nd2). This is Lionel Penrose’s most famous problem, and arguably his best.

Members of the British Chess Problem Society can attend the London meetings, held at the Chadwick Street Recreation Centre, SW1, and may also borrow books from the extensive BCPS Library. Members receive two magazines, The Problemist and its Supplement, six times a year.

In addition to editing the Society's magazine, John Rice is also the British Delegate to the FIDE Permanent Commission for Chess Compositions. At the 2002 meeting of this Commission, held in September in Slovenia alongside the World Solving Championship reported on above, John was elected President for the next four years. This is the first time since 1974 that the British Delegate has been President of the Commission, and Great Britain is the only country to have provided more than one President (the late Comins Mansfield was the previous British holder of the post).

Composing Match v USA

The results of a composing match between teams of composers from Great Britain and the USA were announced during the year. The British team won the match by the convincing margin of 37 points (147:110), largely because British entries gained the first five places in the section for direct-mate 2- and 3-movers. The following problem took 1st place.

John Rice

1st Place, GB v USA, 2001-2002


Mate in 3

Solution: Not 1.Ke6? (threat 2.Nc4+ Kxe4/Kxc4 3.Qf5/Rxc5) g3+ 2.Nf5+ Kxe4/Kc4 3.Qf3/Rxc5, because Black can play 1...Ra5!, after which White has no continuation that will force mate on his third move. So correct is 1.Kc6! (threat 2.Nf5+ Kxe4/Kc4 3.Re8/Ne3) cxb4+ 2.Nc4+ Kxe4/Kxc4 3.Re8/Kb6. Much of the point of the problem lies in the recurrence of the white moves 2.Nc4+ and 2.Nf5+, and the differing mates after the moves of the black King.

Tourney Awards

British composers continue to gain awards for their problems in composing tourneys with international participation. One of Britain’s best known composers, R.C.O. Matthews, recently celebrated his 75th birthday, and it was fitting that another British composer, Don Smedley, should have won equal first prize in the tourney held to mark the occasion.

Don Smedley

1st Prize=, R. C. O. Matthews 75th birthday Ty., 2002


Mate in 3

Solution: 1.Nxd5 (threat 2.Bd3+ Nxd3/Rxd3 3.Nc3/Nf6) Nc4 2.Nc3+ Rxc3/Kf5 3.Bc6/Bd7. 1...e6 2.Nf6+ R,Bxf6/Kf5 3.Bc6/Bd3. 1...Kf5/Bxa5/Kxd5 2.Qxf7+/Qxe7+/Qc6#. Black’s main defences allow White to play the third-move mates of the threat as second-move continuations. The key (White’s first move) is top-class, in that it gives the black King freedom to move to two new flights.

Another very successful composer is David Shire, a specialist in 2-movers and helpmates. The following prizewinner is a good example of David’s style in this latter genre, in which Black plays first and helps White to reach a mating position in the number of moves shown.

David Shire

1st Prize, The Problemist, 2001


Helpmate in 2: 2 solutions

Solutions: 1.Bf4 Nd6+ 2.Kc5 Nb3, and 1.Nf4 Nb3 2.Kb5 Nd6. Black’s first moves are determined by the fact that the line a4-h4 must be closed in anticipation of the subsequent moves by both sides. The two white moves are interchanged between the solutions.

Developed and maintained by Brian Stephenson.