Reflections on section G of WCCI 1998-2000

(If you aren't interested in my ideas and you just want to look at some good problems, click here. :o) )

On the Marko Klasinc's page he recently published preliminary results of fairy section of World Composing Championship for Individuals for years 1998-2000 As I am competitive man and fairy chess is my main field of interest, I participated in it. Let me present now some my views as I have been thinking about the outcome of the competition a bit.

If you by chance don't know the results, here are the names of the winners and the points they got: 1. Petko Petkov 47 (of 48 possible), 2. Reto Aschwanden 35, 3. Tadashi Wakashima 35, 4.Venelin Alaikov 35, 5. Juraj Lörinc 35, 6. Václav Kotesovec 32, 7. Sergej Smotrov 32, 8. Frantisek Sabol 29.5, 9. Alexandr Shvichenko 28.5, 10. Tode Ilievski 28.5, etc.

My first reaction was very negative. Not because of beeing placed "only" 5th, not because of beeing the most unfortunate of 4 composers getting 35 points and with the worst tie-breaker. No! I was happy to finish 5th, it is no shame to end behind aces as Petkov, Aschwanden, Wakashima and Alaikov. I finished just above other two very experienced and respectable fairy composers, Kotesovec and Smotrov. And the matter of tie-breaker... someone must be the one with bad luck, this time it was me, other time it will be someone else. It is no problem.

The problem is... how in the hell I can be so high? If top composers didn't ignore the competition I'd hardly enter Top ten. What about Michel Caillaud, Christian Poisson, Juraj Brabec, Franz Pachl, Klaus Wenda, Unto Heinonen, Kjell Widlert, Hans Peter Rehm, Yves Cheylan, Hans Gruber, Hubert Gockel, George Sphicas (previous World Champion based on 1989-1991 FIDE Album), Erich Bartel, Torsten Linß, René-Jean Millour, Ronald Turnbull (to name just some of my personal fairy stars)? In fact just after publication of participants list I knew I'd be almost surely among Top 10.

It was their personal decision not to compete. They don't need any title nor any high place. It is not critics on their heads. Rather it is directed to PCCC - is there any way to motivate the composers to take part in the competition? They (almost) all send their works for Album FIDE selections - there is some crucial difference between FIDE Album and WCCI. It should be found and removed, I think.

So I see my personal result from two perspectives. It will have no impact on my "professional" reputation. Everyone "in" knows that the competition was weak in the sense of portion of top fairy composers that took part in it.

On the other hand, it can (and already did) improve my reputation among outsiders, people having nothing to do with chess composition. Firstly, shortly after the result publication I tested it with very difficult test. I let my sisters know about results web page. They are already used to hear about my publications abroad and winning the distinctions there, there is very little left that can excite them. Nevertheless, reading I was 5th in World Championship, it shook them. Secondly, a few people already congratulated me, including one colleague from my bank who positively didn't know I do chess composition (How did he find out I finished 5th? It is a mystery for me...). I can well understand the reason for running the world championships in chess composition - if the reaction is the same or even stronger for higher placed (but dependent on material conditions) composers, they can possibly find some sponsors motivated by their success in WCCI.

The system of points that was used, is in my opinion flawed. Again, I don't know the reason, but the outcome is strange. How in the hell :0) I can have as many points as Reto Aschwanden? I am sure he is at least one class above me. I see the only one possible reason - he sent only fairy twomovers and they competed among themselves, losing points that would be surely earned if there was only one such twomover. I selected my problems with a wish to prevent that situation, I competed with the following problems:
  1. h#2 with grasshoppers and nightriders
  2. #2 with Kamikaze chess, vaos, paos, camels
  3. s#32 with One-way chess and various forced squares
  4. #2 with paralysing units
  5. h#11 with grasshopper, nightrider-hopper, moa and royal units
  6. h#2 with orphans
Strangely enough, they surely aren't my best compositions, due to two reasons: 1. in WCCI wasn't allowed joint compositions and a lot of better my works I did in collaboration with various composers. 2. The period 1998-2000 was for me a bit weaker than 1995-1997.

Last critical remark. It is questionable whether 1.33 composition per year is enough for a composer to qualify for title of World Champion. Of course, it didn't happen this time, but theoretically it can be enough to compose 4 compositions in 3 years and gain very high placement. In the former Czechoslovakia the Championships were run for 3-year periods too, composers were allowed to submit 8 compositions and 6 best were counted. I think it was better balance between quality and quantity required.

One interesting piece of information. Did you notice that there are 3 composers in fairy Top ten that gained exactly the same places in selfmate section? 1. Petkov, 4. Alaikov, 7. Smotrov. :o)

Now, enjoy the works of fairy Top ten composers that could have competed in the just finished WCCI, the compositions that possibly secured them this success.
Petko A. Petkov
1st Prize Probleemblad 1998

1.b5! th. 2.Na4+ Kxd5 3.Qc5+ Ke6 4.Qg5+ Kd6 5.Qd8+ Bxd8#
1...e3 2.Ng5+ Kxd5 3.Qe4+ Kd6 4.Qe6+ Kc7 5.Qd5+ Bxg5#
1...Sb6 2.Nb1+ Kd4 3.Qc3+ Kxd5 4.Qb4+ Ke6 5.Qe7+ Bxe7#

Perfect collaboration of white N and Q. In 2nd move wN fires battery with wQ as a rear piece and they switch they roles in the course of the threat and two variations.

s#5 (13+10)
2+0 nightrider

Reto Aschwanden
1st Prize idee & form 1999

1.b5? zz
1...LIxd4 2.Qc3(NHe5)#
1...LIxd2 2.Qc1(NHe1)#
1...fxe3 2.Qb4(NHe5)#

1.Qa2! A zz
1...LIxd4 a 2.Qb3(NHe5)# B
1...LIxd2 b 2.Qb1(NHe1)# C
1...fxe3 c 2.Qc2(NHg3)# D

1.Qb3! B zz
1...LIxd4 a 2.Qa2(NHc3)# A
1...LIxd2 b 2.Qc2(NHe1)# D
1...fxe3 c 2.Qb1(NHe1)# C

1.Qb1! C zz
1...LIxd4 a 2.Qc2(NHe5)# D
1...LIxd2 b 2.Qa2(NHc3)# A
1...fxe3 c 2.Qb3(NHe5)# B

1.Qc2! D zz
1...LIxd4 a 2.Qb1(NHc3)# C
1...LIxd2 b 2.Qb3(NHc3)# B
1...fxe3 c 2.Qa2(NHc3)# A

One of the nicest Reto's problems showing 4x4 themes. Relatively light position, only 19 units for Zagorujko 5x3 including cross of wQ, 6 Salazars and 6 reciprocal changes (latter 2 between every pair of 4 solutions).

#2 (12+7)
Circe Parrain
3+2 nightrider-hopper, 2+1 lion
4 solutions

Tadashi Wakashima
4th-5th HM StrateGems 2000

1.g1=Q+ Sf1+ 2.Qe3+ Rxe3(b) 3.Re1+ Bxe1(b) 4.Bd2+ Sxd2(b) 5.Sb3+ cxb3(b) 6.b2+ Kd1 7.b1=Q+ Bc1 8.Qd3+ Bd2#

During the solution white sacrifices all his units except two. This allows Black to keep on (obligatory) checking and finally to obtain ideal mate specifical for Andernach chess.

h#8 (7+2)
Andernach chess, Ultraschachzwang

Venelin Alaikov
5th Prize StrateGems 1999

1.b8G! zz
1...gxf6 2.Bg3+ Kh3 3.Nd5+ axb1N#
1...gxh6 2.Be3+ Kxf3 3.Gb3+ axb1G#
1...g5 2.Be5+ Kf5 3.CAc4+ axb1CA#
1...g6 2.Bg5+ Kh5 3.Ze3+ axb1Z#

A mix of 4-fold formal themes, typical for Alaikov. We have here: Pickaninny in 1st black move, star of wB in 2nd white move, star of bK in 2nd black move and mating fairy AUW in 3rd black move.

+++ Composition In the Spotlight (CIS) No. 27 +++

Spotlight comment by Juraj Lörinc:

Similar syntheses of formal themes are today shown usually in the helpmate form. But as I have recently started small private campaign for re-popularization of problems with antagonistic aims of sides, like direct mates, selfmates, reflex mates, etc. Two latest CCM TTs are dedicated to them and I plan to continue in this direction even if this might mean less popularity among composers. And that is also the reason for pushing the present fairy selfmate into spotlight. Enjoy and think about the genres.

s#3 (16+10)
3+0 zebra, nightrider b4, camel d1, grasshopper g8

Václav Kotesovec
3rd Prize Thema Danicum 1999

1...Kf4 2.Kd4 Kg3 3.Ke3 FEf3 4.Gf4 Sg7 5.Gd2 Sf5#

1...FEf5 2.Gf6 FEe4 3.FEc4 Kf4 4.Kd4 Sg7 5.Gc3 Se6#

1...FEf3 2.Gf4 FEe4 3.FEc4 FEd5 4.Gb4 Sf6 5.FEb5 Sd7#

3-fold echo with very limited material, not only by counting the units on the board, but also considering they moving abilities. Very well done.

h#4,5 (3+3)
1+1 fers, 0+1 grasshopper

Sergej Smotrov
1st HM Springaren 2000

White would like to force mate by 1.Ne8+ Bxe8 2.Rc6+ Bxc6 3.Nh8+ Rxh8??, but bph4 prevents that. That's why he must execute the long preparatory manoeuvre, removing the pawn in question.

1.Ra6+! Ke5 2.Nc6+ Kd6 3.Nb4+ Ke5 4.Ra5+ Kd6 5.Nb5+ Ke5 6.Nc3+ Kd6 7.Ra6+ Ke5 8.Nc6+ Kd6 9.N6e2+ Ke5 10.Re4+ Kf5 11.Rxh4+ Ke5 12.Na7+ Kd5 13.Ba2+ Kc5 14.Rc4+ Kd5 15.Rc3+ Ke4 16.Bb1+ Kd5 17.Ra5+ Kd6 18.Nb5+ K~ 19.Nc7+ Kd6 20.Ne8+ Bxe8 21.Rc6+ Bxc6 22.Nh8+ Rxh8#

Typical long Smotrov's selfmate with short idea that requires long preparation consisting of many switchbacks.

s#22 (6+7)
2+0 nightrider

Frantisek Sabol
5th HM MT M. Grudzinska 1999

1.g3 d8S 2.Sfxd8(Sg1)+ Sxf3(f7)#
1.Re2 d8Q 2.Scxd8(Qd1)+ Qxd3(d7)#
1.Rd1 d8B 2.Bxd8(Bc1)+ Bxe3(e7)#

Frantisek is one of the biggest world experts for various Circe forms. No wonder he is able to produce such a typical Circe strategy in 3 solutions: promoted white piece is transported to rebirth square by battery check that is parried by rebirth of black pawn.

h#2 (6+16)

Alexandr Shvichenko
3rd HM JT Feenschach-50 1999

1.Kg7 2.Sxf6(w) 3.Kf8 4.Bxf6(w) 5.Ke8 6.Rxf6(w) 7.Kd8 Rf8#

A problem that is in some sense complementary to that of T. Wakashima. Black sacrifices all his pieces to allow own king to pass through mine field. Fresh idea.

ser-h#7 (2+5)
Andernach chess

Tode Ilievski
HM Ideal-Mate Review 1999

1.c1S 2.Sd3 3.Sxe5 4.Sd7 5.Sb6 Se6#

1.c1R 2.Rg1 3.Rxg5 4.Rg4 5.Rd4 Sd7#

At last something typical for Tode Ilievski - series helpmate with two phases, promotions and Zilahi.

2.1.1... (7+2)

Comments to Juraj Lörinc.
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