Chess, April 2008

Israeli compositions

I recently acquired a copy of an endgame study book I had been seeking for some time – Endgame Virtuosity: A Selection of 222 Israeli Chess Studies, written by the composers whose studies are included within, and published in 1996 by the late Friedrich Chlubna of Vienna. Israel’s reputation in the world of chess composition is high, both for composing and solving and they have many active study composers. From amongst such a collection of first class material it has not been easy to select what to show here. In the end I have chosen one study that won an award, and one that didn’t.

Gady Costeff, the composer of our first study, has been very successful. This is one of his more subdued productions.

Gady Costeff

1st Prize, Israel Ring Ty., 1986


White to play and win

White has two pieces under attack and is threatened with 1...d2. Two other bishop moves only draw - 1.Bc5? Rxe2 2.Rxe2+ dxe2 3.Bf5+ Kd1 4.Bb4 e1Q 5.Bxe1 Kxe1=; 1.Bxa6? Rxa7 2.exd3 Rxa6+ 3.Kb4 Kxd3= 1.Be3! Rxe3 Pushing the pawn doesn't work - 1...d2 2.Bf5+ Kc3 3.Rb1 Rb7 (3...Bc4 4.Bd3! Bxd3 5.Rb3+ Kc2 6.Rb2+! 1-0) 4.Rd1 Rb3+ 5.Ka4 Rb2 6.Bxd2+ Rxd2 7.Rxd2 Kxd2 8.Bg4 1-0 2.fxe3 d2 2...Bxc8 3.exd3 Kd2 4.Rg1 Kxd3 5.Rg3 1-0 3.Bf5+ 3.Rg1? Bxc8 = 3...Bd3!! Playing for stalemate. Another losing alternative is 3...Kc3 4.Rb1 Bc4 (4...Bxe2 5.Rb3+ Kc4 6.Bc2 1-0) 5.Bd7 Kc2 6.Rb2+ Kc1 7.Ba4 d1Q 8.Bxd1 Kxd1 9.e4 1-0 4.Bxd3+ Kc3 Now 5.Rd1 is stalemate, and so are lines like 5.Rb1 d1Q 6.Rxd1 =. 5.Ra1!! This move wins because a1 is the only square from which the white rook can get to b1 after Black promotes. 5...d1Q 6.Rb1!! Qd2 Of course, anything else also loses, but this blocks the black king from access to d2, leading to mate. 7.Rb3# As the judge, Amatzia Avni wrote - "A black stalemate combination meets with an astonishing white reply. The last three moves feature such composition motifs as loss of move, capture avoidance and selfblock. Rich contents in a light setting - a beauty!"

Our study for solving, which is a version of one published in 1975, is by Ofer Comay, who has twice been World Chess Solving Champion, in 1985 and 1999. Like many very fine solvers, Ofer also composes.

Ofer Comay

Tidskrift för Schack, 1975


White to play and win

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