I have quoted several studies from the New Statesman in this column, all of them published there during the tenure of Assiac - real name Heinrich Fraenkel (1897-1986) - as chess columnist. The column ran from 1949 to 1976 and was probably the most important column in a general magazine in Great Britain publishing studies in the latter half of the twentieth century. Fraenkel wrote inspiringly and collected together a loyal band of solvers and composers. In 1972 a jubilee tourney was run to celebrate his 75th birthday. Our first study is a game-like and traditional one from the award and was produced by an American composer.
A. H. Branton
5th Prize, Assiac Jubilee Ty., 1972
White to play and draw
To draw this, White must stop the passed pawn, and this must be a job for his knight, but the knight needs support before it can approach the action. 1.Kb3 h5 1...Kxe3 2.Kc2 h5 3.Nc3 has transposed to the main line. 2.Nc3 Kxe3 Pushing the pawn leads to 2...h4 3.Nd5 Ke2 4.Nf4+ Kxe3 5.Ng2+ Kf2 6.Nxh4 e3 7.Ng6 e2 8.Nf4 e1Q 9.Nd3+ = and White has some choices along that way. 3.Kc2 h4 4.Kd1! The knight must not go to d1 yet, as this follows - 4.Nd1+? Kf3 5.Kd2 h3 6.Ke1 e3 (6...h2? 7.Nf2 =) 7.Kf1 e2+ 0-1 4...h3 And now Black must push his pawn, else - 4...Kf3 5.Nxe4 h3 6.Ng5+ = or 4...Kf2 5.Nxe4+ Kg2 6.Ke2 h3 7.Nf2 = 5.Ke1 h2 6.Nd1+ Kf3 7.Nf2 e3 Now what? Moving the knight to the promotion square doesn't work - 8.Nh1? Kg2 9.Ke2 Kxh1 0-1 8.Kf1! Kg3 8...exf2 stalemates White. 9.Nh1+ Kf3 10.Nf2 Kg3 11.Nh1+ Now, to avoid repetition, Black tries something else. 11...Kh3 12.Ke2 Kg2 13.Kxe3 Kxh1 14.Kf2 with a draw because Black is stalemated.
o popular and influential was Fraenkel’s column in New Statesman, that when it came to an end Gerald Abrahams was quoted in EG (January 1977) - “... I am not the only one to feel regretful at ASSIAC's departure. There are many who have learned much from his column including the fact that a chess column can be a literary tour de force. Chessically ASSIAC brought to Britain the treasures of European endgame composition. Untaught by ASSIAC the unsophisticated player would have told you that Bron was a town in Czechoslovakia, that Troitzky created the Red Army (that was Bronstein!), that Zakodyakin was some place in Siberia. Not only did ASSIAC bring these characters into our homes, he challenged them to enter his composition tournaments. They did so, and what higher praise can be awarded than that, in an ASSIAC tourney, the great Kasparyan emerges from the land of Noah's Ark to struggle to find a place among the prizewinners?”
Our study for solving is even more traditional, having been first published in an American chess magazine in the nineteenth century. It shows an idea that has been much worked and extended ever since.
B. S. Barrett
The Dubuque Chess Journal, 1874
White to play and win
1.Qc3 Kb1 2.Qd3+ Ka1 3.Qd4 Kb1 4.Qe4+ Ka1 5.Qe5 Kb1 6.Qf5+ Ka1 7.Qf6 Kb1 8.Qg6+ Ka1 9.Qg7 Kb1 10.Qh7+ Ka1 11.Qh8 Kb1 12.Qh1# 1–0 The white queen climbs the staircase to h8, from where she can swoop down to her first rank, and mate. This is a forced mate in 12. Would you have found it any easier or difficult to solve if I had set it as a chess problem with a stipulation of ‘Mate in 12’? Or would you not have looked at it at all if I had done that?
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