Readers will have read in this magazine last month about the victory of the Great Britain solving team, and of John Nunn individually, at the European Chess Solving Championship (ECSC) that took place at De Vere Venues’ conference centre, Sunningdale Park on 9th and 10th of April 2010. That venue, as a regular host of the 4NCL, has seen chess before, but probably nothing like this, which looks more like an examination than a chess competition. This was the first such competition to be held in Great Britain since the World Chess Solving Championship (WCSC) was last held in this country (in Bournemouth) in 1989.
The event was run by a team from the British Chess Problem Society that was headed by Paul Valois, ably assisted by Ian Watson, Michael McDowell, Nigel Dennis and others. 55 solvers from 13 countries attended, and the event would have been judged a complete success, but for one thing, which was the absence of a 14th country - Russia. They were invited and they assembled a team, which, on the day of travel, was told that their visas would not be issued until the following week! The reason for this failure is currently unknown. All other nationalities requiring visas successfully acquired them in time, which makes the Russian case an embarrassing exception. A further Russian national, resident in Belgium, also failed to get a visa in time to travel.
Another event that gave the meeting a sombre tinge was the terrible air crash in which a great number of Polish dignitaries died. This occurred on the Saturday of the event. We held a minute’s silence before solving started on the Sunday morning and it was clear that the Polish team were much affected by the disaster.
Enough of the bad news and onto the chess. There were six timed rounds of different types of composition to be solved, the format being very similar to a World Championship. The problems and studies were tough and the competition was fierce. The solving director, Pavel Kamenik from the Czech Republic, selected all the material, and for the third round, chose three recent endgame studies. Solvers had 100 minutes to solve them. The first featured a fight for and against promotion, in which White plays a mysterious bishop move.
The Problemist, 2010
White to play and draw
1.Nc3 Kb2 2.Nxa2 2.Nd1+? Kc1 3.Bxa2 e2 4.Nf2 Kd2 5.Ne4+ Ke3 0-1 2...e2 3.Nb4 threatening a fork if Black promotes. 3...Kc3 4.Nd5+ Kd4 5.Nb4 The fork is threatened again. 5...Kc3 6.Nd5+ Kd2 6...Kd4 would repeat, so Black tries another square. 7.Bc8! Black's move away from the knight allows this move, but what is its purpose? 7...e1Q 8.Bb7! and it’s a draw because the white pieces are invulnerable and the white king can't be winkled out of the corner. For instance - 8...Qf2+ 9.Ka8 Qf8+ 10.Ka7 Qa3+ 11.Kb8 = So, White's mysterious move is explained.
The second study has equal forces with no pawns, and White can win, but only by sacrificing his rook in two variations.
5th Prize, Shakhmatnaya Nedelya, 2003
White to play and win
1.Qh7+ 1.Qg7+? Ka6! and Black wins, as White can't get to check on d3 as in the next note. 1...Ka8 1...Ka6? 2.Qd3+ Qxd3 3.Ra2+ mates in two more moves. 2.Qg8+ Rb8 3.Qa2 3.Qd5? Qa6+ 4.Kc7+ Qb7+ = 3...Rb3 3...Rc8+ 4.Kd7 Rc3 (4...Qxa2 5.Rxa2+ Kb8 6.Rb2+ Ka7 7.Kxc8 1-0) 5.Qd5+ Ka7 6.Ra2 1-0 4.Rh8+ Ka7 5.Qf2+ Re3 6.Rh7+ Ka6 6...Ka8? 7.Qg2! Rf3 8.Rh8+ Ka7 9.Qg7+ 1-0 7.Qf1+. At this point the solution splits into two thematic variations.
7...Qd3 8.Qa1+ 8.Ra7+? Kxa7 9.Qf7+ Re7! 10.Qxe7+ Ka6 = 8...Qa3 9.Ra7+ Kxa7 10.Qd4+ wins, for instance - 10...Ka8 11.Qd8+ Ka7 12.Qc7+ with mate next move.
7...Rd3 8.Ra7+ Kxa7 9.Qf7+ wins, for instance - 9...Ka6 10.Qb7+ with mate next move.
The third study has much more material. If you play through the solution you fill find that (with the exception of the white pawn at g3, which is clearly needed for soundness) it all plays a part in fulfilling the composer’s intention, which includes White sacrificing all his pieces. Black has many alternatives throughout, but most of them lead to White hunting the black king down to various parts of the board. At the end Black has to chose between losing his queen or his king.
4th Comm., Moderny sach, 2009 (version)
White to play and win
1.Be6+ 1.Qxh3? Rb6+ 2.Bb7 Rbxb7+ = 1...Rexe6 1...Rgxe6 2.dxe6+ Kxe6 3.Qg6+ Ke5 4.Rd8 Rd7 5.Rxd7 Qh8+ 6.Kc7 Qf6 7.Qe8+ Qe6 8.Qh8+ Qf6 9.Re7+ Kd5 10.Qxf6 1-0; 1...Kf6 2.Rf8+ Kg7 3.Qxh3 Rb7+ 4.Kxb7 Kxf8 5.Qh8+ Ke7 6.Kc7 Rg8 7.Qxg8 Kf6 8.Qf7+ Kg5 9.Qg7+ Kh5 10.Bf7#; 1...Kg7 2.Rg8+ Kf6 3.Rf8+ has transposed to the previous line. 2.dxe6+ 2.Qxh3? a1Q 3.Qxf5+ Qf6 4.dxe6+ Kg7 = 2...Ke7 2...Kg7 3.Rg8+ Kf6 4.Qxg6+ Ke5 5.Qg7+ Kxe6 6.Re8+ Kd5 7.Qd7+ Kc5 8.Rc8+ 1-0; 2...Kf6 3.Rf8+ Kxe6 (3...Kg7 4.Rf7+ Kh8 5.Qxh3+ Rh6 6.Qxh6+ Kg8 7.Qg7#) 4.Qxg6+ Kd5 5.Rd8+ 1-0; 2...Rxe6 3.Qxh3 a1Q 4.Qh5+ Ke7 5.Qh7+ Kf6 6.Rf8+ Ke5 7.Qc7+ Kd4 8.Rd8+ Rd6 (8...Ke3 9.Qf4+ Ke2 10.Rd2+ Ke1 11.Qf2#) 9.Qxd6+ 1-0; 2...Kxe6 3.Qxg6+ Kd5 4.Rd8+ Kc5 5.Rc8+ Kd4 6.Qd6+ Ke3 7.Rc3+ Kf2 8.Rc2+ Kg1 9.Qd4+ 1-0 3.Re8+ Kxe8 3...Kd6 4.Qf4+ Kc6 5.Rc8+ Kd5 6.Qd2+ Ke5 7.Qa5+ Kf6 8.Qd8+ Ke5 9.Rc5+ Kxe6 10.Qe8+ 1-0; 3...Kf6 4.Rf8+ Ke7 5.Qxg6 Kd6 6.e7+ Kd5 7.e8Q 1-0 4.Qxg6+ Ke7 4...Kd8 5.Qf6+ Ke8 6.Qf7+ Kd8 7.Qd7# 5.Kc7 Qxg3+ 6.Qxg3 a1Q 7.Qd6+ Kf6 8.e7+ Kf7 9.Qe6+ Kxe6 10.e8Q+ Kd5 10...Kf6 11.Qh8+ 1-0 11.Qc6+ Ke5 11...Kd4 12.Qf6+ 1-0 12.Qd6#
As our study for solving this month, here’s one by Aleksandr Grin, who was Aleksandr Gulyaev (mentioned last month) composing under a pseudonym.
Aleksandr P Grin
Shakhmatnaya Moskva, 1971
White to play and draw
1.Rb5 1.Rb8? Be4+ 2.Kh8 e2 3.Rg8 Bg6 0-1 1...Be4+ 1...e2 2.Rc5+ Kb2 3.Rb5+ Ka2 (3...Ka3 4.Ra5+ Kb4 5.Ra1 =) 4.Ra5+ = 2.Kh8 e2 3.Rg5 e1Q 3...Bg2 4.Re5 = 4.Rg1 Qxg1 is stalemate.
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