Award of 37th TT Chess Composition Microweb C 9.9.2015
The tourney was for problems with antagonistic stipulations (direct, self, reflex, semi-reflex) where black
checks are met with moves by the white king (or another royal piece).
There's no denying the fact: the tourney was a disappointment. I had not expected original orthodox twomovers,
but I had hoped for threemovers with three interesting variations or with reciprocal change between
two variations, or moremovers with interesting reasons for white K walks while under permanent fire from
Black - and of course in fairy chess the possibilities are endless. But what I got was only 6 entries, none of them
of a prize-winning level.
As there were so few entries, I can comment also on those that do not appear in the award:
Kb7-Kh1 has four trivial variations (stalemate by capturing Black's only mobile piece) and
a single good one - too little for a distinction.
Kf7-Kh5 has only this type of trivial variations.
Ka6-Kh4 has quite weak justification for the fairy piece employed: it has hardly any active
function, it is just for blocking a Circe rebirth square for another. And the wK walk is
disappointingly short. (Also, I would have preferred to move Pg2>f4 and replace Pg3+g4+g5
with a wRg6.)
Kc4-rGd7 has unclean variations: one is just a prolongation of the short threat, and
the other is also a full-length threat.
1st Commendation: 37-2 - Ivo Tominic
This is the only problem that closely corresponds to my mental picture of a possible prize-winner in the
tourney - but for one small detail...
Black has two 1st-move checks, both answered by wK moves that form direct batteries masked by the checking
piece, and those batteries produce two more thematic checks in each 2nd-move variation. Best of all:
both variations are Romans, as we have the tries 1.Kxd2? Ba5+! replaced by 2.Kxd2 Bc3+, and 1.Kxf3? Rf5+!
replaced by 2.Kxf3 Rf4+.
The small detail that pushes the problem down to the commendation level is of course the check in
the diagram position. This provides another thematical effect as the check is met by a wK move
(making 7 thematic checks in my count; the composer comes to 11 by counting also wK moves that do not work).
But it also makes the problem seem more like a curiosity than a serious composition.
It would be possible to change to a normal key 1.b2-b3, replacing the actual check on the wK with
threatening checks. But we also lose the Romans, as 1.Kxd2/Kxf3? are no longer good tries.
So I wouldn't propose that change.
2nd Commendation: 37-3 - Neal Turner
Neither the composer nor WinChloe has pointed out the correction structure, which is actually the most
interesting feature of the problem - more interesting than the two thematic checks by themselves.
Any move of Bd6 will defend the threat by making 2. - rGf5?? illegal (hole on d5). 1. - Bf8,Bb4 are
primary defences, with the error of opening d7-d3 allowing 2.rGd3+. 1. - Ba3,Bb8,Bxe5! are corrections,
defending the secondary threat by a hole on a3 (2.rGd3+?? illegal) but allowing 2.Se2+ rGf1# by that
same hole on a3 (3.rGd3?? illegal) - motive inversion! Unfortunately this has the same W2 move as
the primary threat, obscuring the correction logic (and causing solving programs not to give this
important variation). 1. - Be7+! is another correction, cleverly defending the secondary threat
by guarding f6(!) for 2.rGd3+ Rc5+ 3.rGa6! The correction simply allows 2.rGf7+ with a forced mate
by 2. - Rc5#. 1. - Bc7+! is a third degree correction of Ba3! etc, compensating the error of
giving a3 by a check (2.Se2?? illegal) but also allowing 2.rGb7+ rGf5#. The remaining move 1. - Bc5?? is
illegal (hole on d5).
With the five central pawns, this may not be the most elegant s#2 SAT with royal Gs we have seen in
recent years (many by you-know-whom), but like most of them it is interesting to see how many widely
dispersed flight-squares are guarded or non-guarded at just the right moment by a relatively slender
force. In a free tourney, I would have placed this before the other awarded problem - but
the stipulated thematic motif doesn't stand out very clearly here.
One last detail: why bPd7? The problem is equally sound without it. I believe the composer wanted
to avoid a threatening black check in the diagram: without Pd7, 1. - R~+ is legal, but with the P
it isn't. This is probably worth a P-capturing key, even though threatening checks are not such
an obvious flaw in selfmates SAT.
Stockholm, October 2015
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