Oldrich Duras, the subject of last month's column, is well esteemed by his countrymen. Over the years there have been at least 3 composing tournaments in his honour: one jubilee tourney (in 1943) and two memorial tourneys (in 1959 and 1982). All three events inspired many entries. I thought it appropriate to quote an entry by another Czech player and composer Frantisek Prokop, who was as well known for his selfmates as he was for his studies. This entry came in the middle of the award, but it seems perfect for quoting.
5th HM., Duras Jubilee Ty., 1943
White to play and win
White has a pawn for a minor piece, but the bad positions of Black's king and knight enable him to forge an accurate win. He starts by fixing the position of the black king. 1.a7+ Ka8 Now the play is all about White trying to get his knight to c7 with mate and Black's attempts to stop him. 2.Nf5! Threatens both 3.Nd6 Ng3 4.Nb5 Ne2+ 5.Ke5 & 6.Nc7# and 3.Nd4 Nf2 4.Ne6 Nd3+ 5.Ke3 & 6.Nc7# 2...Be8! The most interesting way of stopping both threats. (If 2...Nf2 3.Nd4 Nd3+ 4.Kg5 Nb4 5.Nb5 Nd5 6.Nc7+ Nxc7 7.bxc7 1-0) 3.Nd4! [3.Kf3? Bc6+ 4.Ke3 Bd7=; 3.Ng7? Bf7! 4.Kf3 Bd5+ 5.Ke3 Bf7 6.Nf5 Be6 (6...Be8?? 7.Nd4 Bd7 8.Ne2 1-0 as in the main line) 7.Nd4 Bc4=] 3...Bd7 4.Kf3! Black has got the knight's approaches covered, so time for White to attack Black's knight. If White can capture that knight, Black's bishop (being the only black piece able to move) will not be able to defend the white knight's multiple routes to mate. 4...Bc6+ 5.Ke3! [5.Nxc6? bxc6 6.Kg2 c5= (7.Kxh1?? c4 0-1)] 5...Bd7 6.Ne2! This now works as the white king has left f4 allowing the threat 7.Nf4 Ng3 8.Nd5 Nf5+ 9.Kd2 & 10.Nc7#. We now see that 4.Kf3! was a tempo-gaining manoeuvre to get the white king off f4. 6.Kf3 Bc6+ 7.Ke3 wastes time and is therefore a very unimportant dual. 6...Bb5 (6...Be8 and 6...Ba4 lead to the same thing.) 7.Nf4! Bc4 8.Kf3! and now Black can't defend his knight as his bishop has been decoyed away from access to c6. 1-0
Of course it isn't just as a chess composer that Duras is remembered. The year before this study tourney, an otb tournament to celebrate his 60th birthday was held in Prague. Alekhine and Klaus Junge jointly won the event with 8½/11. Prokop came last, scoring 2½, though he did beat both Josef Rejfir and Friedrich Saemisch.
Our study for solving is taken from a recent solving tournament.
Prize, Zvezda, 1994
White to play and win
Black has very strong threats, so white has no choice. 1.Nf6+ Kf7 2.d8N+ Kxf6 3.Rd1+ d4 4.Rf1+ 4.Rxg1?? Ng8# 4...Nf5+ 5.Rxf5+ Bxf5 5...Ke7 6.g8Q 1-0 6.Bxd4+ Qxd4 7.e5+ Qxe5 7...Kxe5 8.Nc6+ Kf6 9.Nxd4 Kf7 10.Nxf5 Kg8 11.Ne7+ 1-0; 7...Ke7 8.Nc6+ Kf7 9.Nxd4 Be4 10.e6+ Kg8 11.e7 Bg6 12.Nb5 Be8 13.Nd6 Bg6 14.Ne4 Be8 15.Nf6+ 1-0 8.g8N# Each square next to Black's king is either blocked by one of his own pieces or guarded only once by White and all White's pieces are used, a mate that study enthusiasts and problemists describe as a 'model'. Not only has the black king been forced into this position, but so have the two blocking black pieces. Elegant!