C. Mansfield

Written by Michael McDowell


Picture of Comins Mansfield

Comins Mansfield, the greatest British composer of directmate two-movers, was born on 14th June 1896 at Witheridge, Devon. He came to prominence during the Good Companions era (1913-24), and many of his early masterpieces were made while serving with the Royal Field Artillery in the trenches of France.

Throughout a problem career spanning seven decades he remained the master of the “traditional” style of two-mover where the interest lies in the post-key play, though his ventures into the realm of try play problems produced a number of memorable works. In 1944 he published Adventures in Composition, an attempt to teach the art of two-move composition.

Mansfield held the post of President of the BCPS between 1949 and 1951. He served as President of the FIDE Problem Commission between 1963 and 1971, and was one of the first four composers to be awarded the title of Grandmaster of the FIDE for Chess Composition in 1972. He died on 28th March 1984. The three-volume work Complete Mansfield, by Barry Barnes, contains his complete output of almost 1200 problems.


(A) C. Mansfield

1st Prize, Hampshire Telegraph and Post, 1915


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(B) C. Mansfield

1st Prize, Good Companions, 1917


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(C) C. Mansfield

1st Prize e.a., Australian Meredith Tourney, 1928


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(D) C. Mansfield

1st Prize, Evening Standard, 1930


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(E) C. Mansfield

1st Prize, German Chess Federation Olympic Tourney, 1936


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The story attached to this problem bears repetition.

Mansfield was informed that restrictions prevented the prize money being sent out of Germany, but that he could open an account with a bank in Berlin or give the money to someone in Germany. Neither alternative appealed to Mansfield, who was struggling like most other people with three young children. The German Consul in Glasgow was sympathetic, and recommended “go to the Frisian Islands for a holiday – your money will not go far, but it will help.” In desperation Mansfield wrote a carefully worded letter – “His Excellency Herr Hitler...” and after three months came a banker’s draft dated 19th June 1937 for the prize money, £20.4s.10d to the penny!

(F) C. Mansfield

1st Prize, American Chess Bulletin, 1948


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(G) C. Mansfield

1st Prize, Die Schwalbe, 1956


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(H) C. Mansfield

40 Double-Task Problems, 1962


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(I) C. Mansfield

4th Prize, The Problemist, 1970


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(J) C. Mansfield

2nd Prize, The Problemist, 1979/I


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