This year's starter round has now finished and no more entries will be accepted. The solution to the starter problem has now been sent out to all entrants and those who got it right have also been sent the postal round. The solution to the starter problem and the ‘periodical table’ (listing the number of entries encouraged by the various sources that printed the starter problem) are now posted here.
This month I have chosen a study selected by director Axel Steinbrink for the 7th European Chess Solving Championship, which was held in Lowicz, Poland at the beginning of April. It is by the great Georgian composer Gia Nadareishvili, who lived from 1921 to 1991. It proved a tough challenge for solving in limited time with only 3 of the 75 competitors earning the full 5 points for their efforts. The average solver’s score for this study was only 0.89, making it the toughest of the three studies in the event.
1st Prize, Chavchavadze Memorial Ty.
White to play and draw
The struggle is all about Black’s three connected passed pawns in the middle of the board. 1.Ne4! The only other way to attempt to stop the d-pawn leads to a quick victory for Black. 1.Rb1+? Nc1 2.Ne4 (2.Ba3 Ned3 0-1) 2...Ned3 0-1 1...d1Q Falling in with White’s idea, but taking the offered piece doesn’t win either. 1...Nxc6 2.Bc5 c2 3.Rh3+ Kg2 4.Rg3+ Kf1 5.Nxd2+ Kf2 6.Ne4+ Ke2 7.Rg2+ Kd3 8.Rd2+ Kxe4 9.Rxc2 Nc3 10.Bxd4 Kxd4 11.Rxc3 = 2.Nf2+ Kg1 If 2...Kg2 White can exchange off into a dead draw. 3.Nxd1 Nxc6 (3...c2? 4.Rb2 1-0) 4.Nxc3 dxc3 5.Rxc3 Nxc3 = 3.Nxd1 c2 If 3...Nxc6 White can again exchange off. 4.Nxc3 dxc3 5.Rxc3 Nxc3 = Now, with Black threatening promotion, White puts another knight en prise – 4.Nc3! Nxc3 Taking with the pawn instead draws too – 4...dxc3 5.Nd4! Ng6+ (5...c1Q 6.Ne2+ Kg2 7.Nxc1 Nxc1 8.Rxc3 Ng6+ 9.Kg7 Nxe7 10.Rxc1 =) 6.Kh7 Nxe7 (6...c1Q 7.Ne2+ Kh1 8.Nxc1 Nxc1 9.Rxc3 Nxe7 10.Rxc1+ =) 7.Nxc2 Kf2 8.Ra3 Nc1 9.Rxc3 =, while taking the other knight loses – 4...Nxc6? 5.Nxa2 Nxe7 6.Rd3 Nc6 7.Nc1 Kf2 8.Kg7 Ne5 9.Rxd4 1-0 5.Bg5! Guarding the promotion square from this direction is the only way. If the bishop tries the other side, then this happens - 5.Ba3? Nxc6 6.Bc1 Ne5 7.Rb8 Kf2 8.Kg7 Nd3 9.Bh6 Nc5 10.Kh7 d3 11.Kg6 N5e4 12.Rb3 Ke2 13.Rb2 Nd1 14.Rxc2+ dxc2 15.Bc1 Ne3 16.Bb2 Kd2 17.Ba3 Nc4 18.Bb4+ Kd3 0-1. Taking the knight to unguard e2 for a later fork also loses – 5.Rxc3? dxc3 6.Nd4 Ng6+ (6...c1Q 7.Ne2+ Kf1 (7...Kf2 8.Nxc1 Ng6+ 9.Kg7 Nxe7 10.Na2 c2 11.Nb4 =) 8.Nxc1 Ng6+ 9.Kg7 has transposed to the position after 9.Nxc1 in the containing line.) 7.Kg7 c1Q 8.Ne2+ Kf1 9.Nxc1 Nxe7 10.Kf6 Nc6 11.Ke6 c2 12.Kd5 Na7 13.Kd4 Ke1 14.Kc5 Kd1 15.Nb3 Nc8 16.Kd5 Ne7+ 17.Kd6 Nf5+ 18.Kd5 Ng3 19.Kd4 Nf1 20.Kd3 Nd2 0-1. 5...Nf7+ Taking the knight doesn’t work for Black this time either – 5...Nxc6 6.Rb2 d3 7.Rb3 Ne2 8.Rxd3 Ne5 9.Rd5 Nf7+ 10.Kg7 Nxg5 11.Rxg5+ Kh1 12.Rc5 = 6.Kg8! The white king has to tread carefully. If 6.Kg7? then 6...Nxg5 7.Nxd4 c1Q 8.Rxc3 Qxc3! and the knight is pinned and Black wins. 6...Nxg5 7.Nxd4 The sequence 7.Rxc3? dxc3 8.Nd4 c1Q 9.Ne2+ Kf2 10.Nxc1 might stop the front pawn, but the other one will win - 10...c2 11.Kg7 Ke1 12.Kf6 Nf3 13.Kf5 Kd2 14.Na2 Ng1 15.Ke4 Ne2 16.Ke5 Nc3 0-1. Now though, the forking square is guarded and Black can promote. 7...c1Q 8.Rxc3! White removes the guard and attacks the queen, who has few places to go. None of them bring her any joy. She can go into the fork – 8...Qxc3 9.Ne2+ =, or the pin followed by the fork – 8...Qf1 9.Rc1 Qxc1 10.Ne2+ =, or the delayed pin – 8...Qd2 9.Rc1+! Kf2 10.Rc2 ½–½
The composer of our study for solving is from Azerbaijan and I had the pleasure of meeting him last year at Sunningdale, when he attended the European Chess Solving Championship. He gave me a copy of one of his chess columns in an Azerbaijani newspaper. It filled an entire page and the newspaper was of broadsheet dimensions. The subject was the award in a study composing tournament. To have an entire page of a newspaper dedicated to chess is not something we in this country are used to, though we may have heard of such a thing. I had not for a moment imagined though that newspaper pages full of endgame studies were possible!
White to play and win
This article first appeared in CHESS in May, 2011 and is republished here with permission.