Chess, September, 2007

John Beasley

Last month I made passing mention of John Beasley, the librarian and archivist of the British Chess Problem Society (BCPS). This month he is the main subject of the column. The range of John's talents is very wide, so these few words will hardly do justice to his achievements. Apart from his duties as librarian, John does a great deal to encourage chess composition in Great Britain. Some readers will recognise him as the author of a regular column about endgame studies in another place, where he once also wrote the problem pages. A smaller number of readers will recognise him as the editor, producer and distributor of British Endgame Study News (BESN). For many years, John also edited the endgame study column of diagrammes, a French magazine devoted to chess composition, submitting his text in French.

French is not the only language talent that John possesses. Some years ago he learned Czech and has used that knowledge to translate portions of several Czech booklets about Czech study composers, so making their output more available to the English speaking world. He has been the author of many books and booklets about chess problems and endgame studies; far too many to list here. Most familiar to readers will be Endgame Magic, which he wrote with Timothy Whitworth. Batsford published that book in 1996.

John also has an interest in unorthodox forms of chess and, following the death of variant chess expert David Pritchard in 2005, it was John who completed and edited his unfinished work, the Classified Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, which was published earlier this year.

When he has the time, John composes studies. Our first study was John's submission to the Harman Memorial Tourney of 1988, an event I wrote about here some months ago.

John Beasley

Harman MT., 1988


White to play and draw

Black has three dangerous pawns on the seventh rank and 1.g8Q? leads to 1...b1Q 2.Qd5 Qg6+ 3.Ke7 Kg1 0-1, so 1.f4! By clearing f3, White threatens perpetual check - (2.Bf3+ Kg1 3.g8Q+ Kf1 4.Qc4+ Kg1 5.Qg8+ =). 1...b1Q doesn't stop the threat and 1...Kg1?? walks into 2.g8Q+ Kh1 3.Bf3#, so 1...f1Q is the only real possibility. 2.Bxf1 b1Q 3.g8Q 3.Bg2+? isn't good enough - 3...Kxg2 4.g8Q+ Kf3 0-1 3...Qb8+ Black has other moves, but with his king stuck in the corner, his unsupported queen can make no progress. For instance - 3...Qxf1 4.Qg4 Qe1+ 5.Kf7 Qe4 6.Kf6 =. 4.Kf7 Qxg8+ 5.Kxg8 Kg1 White can't stop black promoting, so what comes next? The Nalimov tablebases confirm that pushing the pawn loses (6.f5? h1Q 7.f6 Qa8+ 8.Kg7 Qa1 9.Bc4 Kf2 10.Kg6 Ke3 11.f7 Qh8 12.Kf5 Kd4 13.Bb3 Qh6 14.Ba2 Kc5 15.Ke5 Qd6+ 16.Ke4 Qe7+ 17.Kd3 Kd6 18.Bb3 Ke5 19.Kc3 Qf8 20.Kd3 Qc5 21.Kd2 Ke4 22.Be6 Qe3+ 23.Kc2 Qf3 24.Kb2 Kd4 25.Bb3 Kd3 26.Ka3 Qf4 27.Kb2 Qf2+ 28.Ka3 Kc3 29.f8Q Qxf8+ 30.Ka2 Qb4 31.Ka1 Qa3+ 32.Kb1 Qb2#) and that the text move is the only way to win. 6.Bg2! Kxg2 Without his bishop, White can now walk into the familiar queen v. bishop's pawn draw - 7.f5 h1Q 8.f6 = - details of which can be looked up in any good endgame primer.

Our study for solving is one John provided for use in the World Chess Solving Championship (WCSC) of 1996. As a previous director of that event himself, John has always been ready to make suitable material available.

John Beasley

WCSC, 1996


White to play and draw

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