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Chess Problem 1996d2f501


3rd HM., The Problemist, 1996



1.Ke2!   ()

1...cxb4 2.Sd4+  exd4 3.Re4  &   4.Se7#
1...Sf8  2.Sxh4+ gxh4 3.Bxh6 &   4.Se3#
1...h3   2.Se3+  Kf4  3.Sf1+ Kf5 4.Sg3#
1...a2   2.Sxe5       (3.Bg6,Bg4#)
                 fxe5 3.Bb2  &   4.Rxe5#
1...Sb6  2.Sxb6  &    3.Sc8  &   4.Sd6#
1...Sc7  2.Sxc7  &    3.Se6  &   4.Sg7#
                      3.Sb5  &   4.Sd6#

In 1996 I directed my first World Chess Solving Championship (WCSC) in Tel Aviv, Israel. Most of the effort in directing a solving tournament is expended before any solving starts – in selecting the problems and endgame studies to be solved. Rather late on in the process that year, I was short of a suitable #4, and so sat down one Friday morning to compose one. It took all day and this problem is the result.

The main idea is the theme displayed by the first two variations: a knight is sacrificed to clear a black pawn off a line so that a white line piece can make a critical move along that line, so threatening mate by the other white knight. This being a problem intended for a solving tournament, I was very pleased to be able to work in the 1...a2 variation, with its difficult, quiet play. For the same reason, the lack of a threat was also very pleasing. The key is not of the best, but the best that could be provided in the circumstances. At the WCSC I was gratified when several very strong solvers, though able to solve most of the problem, were stymied by the 1...a2 line.

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