The January Problemist featured a report of a lecture by former editor John Ling on problems from the column he conducted in The Observer from 1955 to 1967.

Norman A. Macleod

3rd HM., The Observer, 1962


Mate in 2

The give-and-take key 1.Sd2, threatening 2.Rd5, sacrifices the knight to three pieces and allows the pawn to promote with check. The mate after 1...Kd3 is changed from the set 2.Rf4, and the four defences all lead to mates from the battery.

1...Bxd2 2.Rb5
1...exd2 2.Rf3
1...e1Q+ 2.Rf1
1...e1S  2.Rc5

A number of awards were published; Two-movers for 1999 (Judge: David Shire), Studies for 1996-97 (Judge: David Friedgood) and Kjell Widlert’s judgment in the tourney for ‘Helpmates Of The Future’.

Leonid Topko

2nd Prize, The Problemist, 1996-1997


White to play and win

Quoting from the award: “A ‘surprise mate’ study with perfect economy, good black counter play and an unusual denouement which increases the surprise element; a classical jewel! 1.Ba5+ (To win, White must increase his material advantage) 1...Kc2 2.Bh7+ Kc1 3.Sd2! (With the double threat of Sb3 mate and capturing on b1, while 3...Sxd2 results in instant mate) 3...Bg4+ 4.Ke1 (4.Ke3? Sxd2 5.Bxd2+ Kd1 draws) 4...Bd1 5.Bxb1 Bc2 (Black can spin things out a little with 5...Ba4 (b3)!? 6.Ke2 Bc2 7.Bb4 and if the bishop now retreats to a4 then 8.Kd3 wins) 6.Ke2! Bxb1 7.Sb3+ Kc2 8.Sd4+ Kc1 9.Bd2 mate. An interesting feature is that there has been a replacement of S by B on both sides!”

Franz Pachl

1st Prize, Helpmates of the Future Ty., 2001-2003


Helpmate in 2: 2 solutions
(b) black queen d4

(a) 1.fxe5 Rc5 2.exd4 Bc4
    1.Rxd5 Bf4 2.Rxd4 Re3
(b) 1.Ke3  Bg6 2.Qf4  Bd4
    1.Kc4  Rb8 2.Qc5  Rd4

The judge praised the harmony of the perfectly parallel play, both parts featuring a diagonal-orthogonal echo. The problem is built around two indirect batteries. In (a) one is opened by White and the other by Black, with blocks on the abandoned flight d4, while in (b) the king move changes one indirect battery into a direct one, and the remaining battery pieces perform guard duties.

John Beasley's In the Library article reviewed Troitzky’s classic Collection of Chess Studies from 1937.

Colin Russ contributed an article to the Supplement entitled “What’s in a name?”, clarifying some of the mysteries of problem terminology, while Mark Ridley presented the award in his 40th birthday tourney for problems involving Marine pieces.

Articles from the March issue included: The classical study: an introduction to the world of chess composition? by David Shire; an update on improvements to task records, by Sir Jeremy Morse; and a review by Colin Sydenham of the work produced by Barry Barnes, Michael Lipton and John Rice in the last fifteen years.

A Selesniev

Fizkulturnik Ukrainy, 1933 (version by A. van Tets, 1987)


Black to move: White wins

1...Ka6 prevents White from promoting to queen or rook. 2.b8B? leaves the wrong bishop for promoting the a-pawn, while after 2.b8S+? Kb6 both 3.Sd7+ Kc6 4.Se5+ Kc5 5.Sd3+ Kc4 6.Sb2+ Kb3 and 3.Kd7 Kc5 4.Sa6+ Kb6! lead to a draw.

White needs to attack the a7 pawn, hence the seemingly paradoxical 2.Kb8! There follows 2...Kb6 3.Ka8 Ka6 4.b8S+ Kb6 5.Sd7+ Kc6 6.Se5+ Kc5 7.Sd3+ Kc4 8.Sb2+ Kb3 9.Kxa7 winning.

M Winkler

Die Schwalbe, 1936


Mate in 2

A task problem showing four defences which combine unpin of Black with unpin of White. The thematic key pins both pieces which are subsequently unpinned.

1.Rf2   (2.Sh7)

1...Rcf3 2.Qxe5
1...Rhf3 2.Qxh4
1...Sef3 2.Qe7
1...Shf3 2.Qxf5

Michael Lipton & John Rice

1st Prize, StrateGems, 2000


Mate in 3

An original combination of the Grimshaw theme with castling.

1.f5    (2.Qe3+  Kg2    3.Qxe4)

1...Rd3  2.0-0   threat 3.Se1
1...Bd3  2.0-0-0 threat 3.Se1
1...Rd1+ 2.Kxd1 etc.

Also featured were the award in the Alex Casa 70th Birthday Tourney and the Norman Macleod Award for 2000-2001. The highlight of the Supplement was an article by Chris Reeves on his attempts to improve a classic Mansfield two-mover.

The May issue featured a lecture report by Michael McDowell on the problems of G.C. Alvey, a notable British composer who was active in the 1910s and 1920s. Odette Vollenweider celebrated the centenary of the birth of Israel Schiffmann with a review of the Schiffmann theme. Other reports covered the final of the 2002-2003 British Chess Solving Championship, won by Jonathan Mestel, the BCPS Residential Weekend at Pitlochry, and the Dutch Problem Society's meeting at Nunspeet. In the Supplement Barry Barnes presented some recently discovered problems by the late Grandmaster Comins Mansfield, while John Rice unravelled the mysteries of dual avoidance.

G. C. Alvey

The Observer, 1922


Mate in 2

A mutate whose key creates a striking change by altering the direction of the check.

1.Kh7 Waiting

1...f6+    2.Qe7 (set 2.Re6)
1...Q any  2.R or QxQ
1...Sb6    2.Bxc7
1...fS any 2.Qd4
1...B any  2.Qe7 or f4 accordingly

Dirk Borst & Hans Uitenbroek

2nd Prize, Pitlochry QCT, 2003


Helpmate in 2
(b) all units one rank up

(a) 1.Kg5 g4 2.Rh6 Be7
(b) 1.Kg4 Ra3 2.g5 Bd7

Stephen Taylor’s Quick Composing Tourney asked for helpmates with at least one twin “whose twinning mechanism contributes significantly to its artistic value”. Stephen praised the paradoxical element in the Dutch joint: while the pieces are shifted upwards, the mating picture is shifted downwards!

Comins Mansfield

Time and Tide, 1956 (version)


Mate in 2


1...Rxd7+   2.Sxd7
1...Bxd3+   2.Sxd3

1.Sc6!     (2.Qg5)

1...Rxd7+   2.Rxd7
1...Bxd3+   2.Rxd3
1...Be2,Bh3 2.Qc1

A corrected setting by Barry Barnes of a problem which was unsound on first publication. The mates after checks are changed. A simple mechanism, artistically set.

An obituary of the late Grandmaster of Composition Milan Vukcevich took prominent place in the July Problemist. In addition a collection of Milan’s compositions, which was published just a few days before his death, was extensively reviewed by John Rice.

Milan Vukcevich

2nd Place, 6th WCCT, 1996-2001


Mate in 5

Over the years Milan Vukcevich was a high scorer for the USA in the World Chess Composition Tournaments. Here White's surprising aim is Qd8 mate, and a series of checks must be played in the right order to clear a path. For example 1.Bxe3+? dxe3 2.Se4+ fails because of 2...Rxe4. Similarly 1.Se4+? and 1.Re5+? fail because Black retains a double guard on a checking square. One of the pieces on a5, b4 or c3 must be decoyed before the checks can start.

1.Kh2! threatens 2.Qg1 mate, giving the variations

1...Rb1 2.Bxe3+ dxe3 3.Re5+  Sxe5 4.Se4+  dxe4 5.Qd8
1...Rc1 2.Re5+  Sxe5 3.Se4+  dxe4 4.Bxe3+ dxe3 5.Qd8
1...Qa1 2.Se4+  dxe4 3.Bxe3+ dxe3 4.Re5+  Sxe5 5.Qd8

A report on a lecture by David Shire was illustrated with a number of examples featuring echoes, defined by David as “related features which are similar but at the same time different”.

Ernest Pogosyants

3rd Prize, Lokker Memorial Ty., 1974


White to play and win

Pogosyants shows a number of stalemate traps. 1.Rg1 a1Q 2.Bg6+ Kf8 3.Rxa1 e1Q (4.Rxe1? stalemate) 4.Ra8+ Ke7 5.Re8+ Kf6 (6.Rxe1? stalemate) 6.Sf2! wins by threatening 7.Rxe1 and 7.Se4.

Other articles included a lecture given by Klaus Wenda at Pitlochry on the fairy condition Anticirce, and reports on the problem meetings at Andernach and Messigny. In the Supplement Denis Saunders revisited some of his old compositions and John Rice presented a selection of problems by the greatest composer of the Good Companions era, Arnoldo Ellerman.

Arnoldo Ellerman

1st Prize, Guidelli Memorial Tourney, 1925


Mate in 2

1.Rd7       (2.Qf4)

1...Qd4      2.Sd6
1...Qe5      2.Sc5
1...Qh8+,Qf2 2.Sd8
1...Rd4      2.Re7
1...Bf3      2.Qd3
1...Bf2      2.Qxh1
1...Qxb7+    2.Bxb7

Arguably Ellerman's greatest problem. Complex interference play shown with perfect construction. Note that 1.Rd8? fails because after 1...Qf2! the rook blocks the knight’s potential mating square!

The September issue contained a full report on the 46th World Congress of Chess Composition at Moscow, detailing the results of the World Solving Championship and various composing tourneys. An article by Nils Adrian Bakke examined the AUW theme in maximummer selfmates. John Rice presented some recent Russian prizewinners, while an assortment of book reviews included John's personal collection Chess Problem Spectrum. John Beasley's “In the Library” article looked back at the work of a past BCPS President, Brian Harley.

T. R. Dawson

1st Prize, The Gambit, 1928


Selfmate in 3: Maximummer


1...fxe1Q 2.b8Q Qa1  3.Qe5+ Qxe5
1...fxe1R 2.b8R Ra1  3.Rb1  gxh5
1...fxe1B 2.b8B Bxg3 3.Bxg3 gxh5
1...fxe1S 2.b8S Sxg2 3.Rxg2 gxh5

The first example of the Babson task in a maximummer (Black must play the longest move available), composed by the inventor of the form.

John Rice

2nd Place, GB v Hungary, 1993-1995


Serieshelpmate in 7

Over thirty years ago John wrote a definitive work on the serieshelpmate. Here is an example of his skill in that genre. White would like to play Sxd6 mate, but how can the knight be unpinned. 1.O-O 2.Rxd8 3.Kf7 4.Rh8 5.Qg8 6.Rf8 7.Ke8 Sxd6.

Brian Harley

Chess Amateur, 1922


Mate in 2

The variations 1...exf2+ 2.Bxf2 and 1...exd2+ 2.Kxd2 are set.

The key 1.Kd1 gives one change: 1...exf2 2.Kc2.

Not 1.O-O-O+ Kxf2 2.Rf1? as the white king had to vacate e1 in order to let his counterpart pass behind the unmoved pawns. The pioneer example of a standard idea.

The November issue included an article by David Shire on the work of our helpmate editor Christopher Jones, and a brief examination by John Rice of the fairy condition Transmuting Kings. The deaths were recorded of two friends of the Society; American composer Edgar Holladay and chess historian Ken Whyld. Retrograde analysis featured prominently as Belorussian composer Valery Liskovets presented a number of retros with appropriate mottoes taken from Orwell’s 1984, while in the Supplement Brian Stephenson contributed the first part of an article on how to solve proof games. Brian Edwards examined the 1908 collection of 200 problems by 19th century giant Frank Healey.

Christopher Jones

StrateGems, 2003


Helpmate in 3: 2 solutions

1.Qf5 d6 2.cxd6 Se5  3.dxe5 Bd5
1.Qe5 g6 2.hxg6 Bf5+ 3.gxf5 Sg5

In each solution the queen would guard the mating square but for the arrival of a black pawn on the relevant line. This determines the logic of converting white guards into black selfblockers. A characteristic Jones helpmate.

Frank Healey

1st Prize Set, BCA Tourney (Bristol), 1861


Mate in 3

1.Rh1! Be8 2.Qb1 (threat 3.Qb4) 2...Bb5 3.Qg1

Healey’s most famous problem, winner of the composing tourney run in conjunction with the British Chess Association meeting at Bristol in 1861. The idea of a piece moving along a line to allow a second piece to follow (the first piece having no function after the clearance) became known as the Bristol theme. For a note on the problem’s origins see this lecture by B.G. Laws.

Anatoly Kuznetsov

Sp. HM., 64, 1996


Mate in 2


1...Kxc6 2.a8Q;
1...Kxe6 2.Bh8;
1...Kxe4 2.Qh1;
1...Kc4  2.Sa1

The starflights are countered by mating moves to each corner of the board. An amusing idea well worth quotation!

Developed and maintained by Brian Stephenson.