Chess, March 2010


One option that the study composer has that the player hasn’t is that he can sometimes correct his mistakes. As long as his mistakes are discovered in his lifetime (and many aren’t) and are brought to his attention, the composer can at least attempt to make a correction, should one be possible. Our first study this month is one such - a correction of a study by Alexey Troitzky, the composer introduced last month. As far as I know it was Troitzky himself you made this version, though I have not been able to trace the original setting.

Alexey Troitzky

Shakhmatny Zhurnal, 1901 (version)


White to play and win

White's rook is attacked and Black has a pawn about to promote. White can't stop the pawn by moving his rook, so his first move is clear. 1.Na5+ Ka7 Other moves allow White to cover his first rank - 1...Ka8 2.Rxa6+ Kb8 3.Rb6+ Kc8 4.Rb1 1-0; 1...Kb8 2.Rb6+ Kc7 3.Rb1 1-0 2.Rc7+ Ka8 Again, the only move that doesn't give White time to cover his first rank. 2...Kb8 3.Rb7+ Kc8 4.Rb1 1-0; 2...Kb6 3.Rb7+ Kxa5 4.Rb1 1-0 3.Rc8+ Ka7 Checking again will lead to only a draw, so to try and win, White is forced to plunder what he may. 4.Rxf8 h1Q Now the instinctive check on a8 is covered by the new black queen, so White has be more subtle. 5.Rb8! Threatens to promote. 5...Qd5+ Taking the profferred rook leads to a slower loss - 5...Kxb8 6.f8Q+ Kc7 7.Qc5+ 1-0 6.Kb2! The only way to avoid further checks, but now Black can stop the promotion that White threatened. 6...Qxf7 The black queen has been decoyed to a very bad square - 7.Rb7+ Ka8 8.Nc6! Threatening two mates and forcing Black's reply. 8...Kxb7 9.Nd8+ Rounding up the queen. 1–0

I selected this study for the World Chess Solving Championship (WCSC) in 2004. At the end of the study round one very good and very experienced solver said to me on his way out of the hall, “That Troitzky study is unsound!”. When I came to his paper during the marking, I expected to meet with a claim of a cook, or some black refutation, but no, he gave the intended solution and I awarded him full points for it. Solvers are only given the composers and sources of the problems and studies they have been asked to solve when they are given the solutions, so to say what he had, the solver must have known the original version, but, because he thought it was unsound, not the correction. Before selecting material by such a well-known composer as Troitzky I had checked all the anthologies that I could, including a collection of studies by Troitzky, but had not found it and so had considered it fair game. The incident showed me, not for the first time, that (1) many experienced solvers are very knowledgeable and (2) there are not enough books in my library. I hope the solver didn’t waste too much time trying to prove this very nice study unsound! He certainly never mentioned it to me again.

Our study for solving was also used in a WCSC - in 1990.

Abram Gurvich

1st Prize, Alma-Atinkaya Pravda, 1959


White to play and win

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