Chess, April 2009

Paul Cumbers & John Nunn

Our first study today has two composers, a situation that is not unusual in the world of chess composition. Just like postal chess, composition can be carried out by post, or these days, more likely by email, and the two (or more) composers need never meet. In the present example though, the two composers did meet, and because others were present when the germ of the study’s idea was first expounded, the story of this study can be told.

During the inaugural European Chess Solving Championship in June 2005 at the Hotel Qubus in Legnica, Poland, John Nunn was showing an idea that he had had for a study, but for which he had been unable to create a satisfactory introduction. I, and several other solvers and composers, were sitting around the chessboard when this happened and one of them was Paul Cumbers, solving for Great Britain in his first international event. Paul plays on a high board for Sheffield Nomads CC in Division 1 of the Sheffield and District Chess Association league and has been a keen competitor in the British Solving Championship for many years.

A few months later, Paul came up with an introduction, which he sent to John, and, after some further work, their joint composition was finished and sent to The Problemist for publication, where it appeared in 2006 and took part in the study composing tourney for 2006-2007. That award, judged by Russian composer Oleg Pervakov, has just been published and Paul and John’s efforts were rewarded with the first prize. Pervakov said that, with the exception of the Mark Dvoretsky Jubilee Tourney, he had not had such a strong competition to judge for a long time. So, Paul’s first composition gets a first prize! Not an unknown event for a new composer, but certainly a very rare one.

Paul Cumbers & John Nunn

1st Prize, The Problemist, 2006-2007


White to play and win

The notes following are taken from those given when the study was first published in Yochanan Afek’s study column in The Problemist in May, 2006.

1.Nf4+ 1.Bxe2+? Kh6 2.Nf4 Qxf4 3.gxf4 = (stalemate) 1...Qxf4 1...Kh6 2.Nxe2 is a win on material due to the strength of the e-pawn; for example 2...Qf8 3.e5 Qf5+ 4.e6 Qb5+ 5.Ke7 Qg5+ 6.Ke8 Qb5+ 7.Rd7 Kxg6 8.Nf4+ Kh7 9.Be2 Qb8+ 10.Ke7 1-0 etc. 2.gxf4 2.Bxe2+? Kh6 3.gxf4 = as before. 2...Kh6 3.Rd2!! e1Q 4.Rh2+ Kxg6 5.Bh5+ Kf6 6.Rg2 Qh4 6...Qh1 is met the same way. There is no safe square for the black queen. 7.Rg6+ Kf7 8.Rh6+ Rook discovers attack from bishop on the black king, and then ... 8...Kg8 9.Bf7+ Bishop discovers attack from rook on black queen. 1–0

Judge Oleg Pervakov wrote - “A fine, sharp, combinational study by the debutant composer and the otb grandmaster. Black’s stalemate counterplay is refuted by the fantastic move 3.Rd2!! with subsequent play by two white batteries. A memorable fight!”

Our study for solving is probably another product of a sleepless night in Moscow. It was used in a recent solving tourney run by ARVES (Alexander Rueb Vereniging voor SchaakEindspelStudie - a Dutch association for endgame study enthusiasts - to be found at in Nunspeet in the Netherlands.

Ernest Pogosyants

2nd Prize, Shakhmaty (Riga), 1967


White to play and win

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