Here is one of my first award winners - 2nd HM in the The Problemist. The problem is a modern try problem and is overall very clean with the Albino, Sushkov, and Barnes themes. The problem also features wonderful line play and obstruction tries. Notice that if we remove the wP then there is a double threat by the R+S battery.
1...f2 2.Sxd3 1.e4? (>2.Sxd3/Sxf3) 1...d2 2.Bxa6 1...f2! (2.Sxd3?) A nice try that closes an already closed line of guard of wB a7. 1.e3? (>2.Sxd3/Sxf3) 1...f2 2.Sxd3 1...d2! (2.Bxa6?) Here the try grants a flight by closing the other wB's line, but this turns out to be a problem later on. 1.exd3? (>2.Sxf3) 1...Bxd3+ 2.Sxd3 1...f2! This time the check granting try is defeated not by line closure but because of square obstruction: d3 is the only place for the wSe1 to go after f2. 1.exf3! (>2.Sxd3) 1...Sxf3 2.Sxf3 1...d2 2.Bxa6 1...Sxg2 2.Sxg3 This is a personal favorite that has a funny story associated to it. Do you notice anything suspicious about the problem? That's right the wBb7 is promoted! I originally had a wS on g2 but switched last minute. Of course this has an easy fix: shift the pieces in the d-h files left one file and bring the cluster of bishops down a rank. David Shire writes: 1.e3?, 1.exd3? and 1.exf3 defines a Barnes pattern, 1.e4? completes the Albino set. The pre-closing of b7-g2 is exquisite; indeed the line-effects across the entire solution are quite admirable. |

I consider this beauty to be my best problem. It only won a commendation, but I am still extremely proud of it. This is still a feat in the high quality French magazine. Again we have a light and fluffy 13 pieces. A square vacating move of the wRd5 induces 2 threats: 2.Qxb4/Qd5, but the wR also controls the flight b5 so it should probably stay on the 5th rank. The tries 1.Ra5,Rb5,Rc5+ have trivial defeats and so the rook must head east. Let's try to move the wR all the way to g5.
1.Rg5? (2.Qxb4/Qd5) 1...f5! The bP shuts the door on the wR and defeats both threats. Now the fun begins. The only two squares left for the wR to go are e5 and f5 but these will interfere with the wBs. Let's try e5. 1.Re5? (2.Qxb4) 1...Rc3 2.Qd5 1...f5 2.Bg8 1...Ra4/Rxa6 2.Qd3 1...Bc5 2.Rxc5 1...Rb3! This blocks the wBh8's guard on c3 so only the threat 2.Qxb4 works because the wQ must retain guard of c3. We say that 2.Qd5? is an avoided threat. However, the bR can block the wQ's path 1...Rc3 but selfblocks leading to the avoided threat 2.Qd5. I also absolutely love the defense 1...f5 which closes the other wB's line hence defeating the threat, but opens the way for the wBh7. Finally, the f5 square should do the trick. 1.Rf5! (2.Qd5) 1...Rd3 2.Qxb4 1...f6 2.Bg8 1...Ra5 2.Qc2 1...Bc5 2.Rxc5 1...Bd4 2.Qxd4 This time the wR closes the other wB's line to d3 thus threatening the avoided mate (2.Qd5) from the try and avoiding the original threat (2.Qxb4?) from the try completing the Barnes theme (1st try makes a double threat A and B, 2nd try threatens A only, and third try threatens B only). In addition, the threat from the try 2.Qxb4 becomes a variation after 1...Rd3 now selfblock a square that had triple guard in the diagrammed position. This completes a special form of the pseudo Le Grand theme known as the Sushkov theme. The mate Bg8 is transferred to the different defense 1...f6. I still cannot believe I made such a beautiful problem. By the way, in the original version I have wK on h1 and bB on b6, but this version avoids the dual try 1.Rg5,Rh5? |

This problem arise from my studies in to changing a check. We have a complete half-pin set up with convincing set play.
1...Qxe4+/fxe4 2.Rxe4 1...f4 2.Shf6 Notice that the double check Sef6 is lurking after any unpin of wSe4. Let's try to unpin wSe4 by moving the wK which has 3 reasonable moves. 1.Kf1? (>2.Sef6) 1...Qc4+! 1.Ke1? (>2.Sef6) 1...Qb3+! 1.Kd2 (>2.Sef6) 1...Qa2+! We have a little wK vs bQ duel. Some would say that the checking refutations are strong, but they are an integral part of the problem. Instead, the key completely abandons the half-pin and set play. 1.Qb5! (>2.Qe2) 1...Qxe4+ 2.Qe2 (threat) 1...Qc4,Qb3,Qa2 2.Sef6 1...f4 2.Qxg5 Now those same moves that defeated the tries threatening 2.Sef6 allow it as a variation - the Dombrovski paradox! The judge Barry Barnes had the following: Persistence with an old idea of a threat becoming a changed mate (by interposal) after a self-pinning Black check has led to a bizarre but most worthwhile problem. A complete half-pin is abandoned, and WK tries (to threaten 2.Sef6#[A]) are refuted by BQ checks a/b/c. This is a new slant on the Dombrovskis theme in part – a black defense which defeats a threatened mate in the try gives that very same mate after the key. It‘s an excellent construction enriched by the changed mate after 1...f4. |

Another light weight, in fact a Meredith. Again an abandon half-pin - this time incomplete. It is a traditional problem but it has some excellent mates. There is relevant set play:
1...Qxe4+ 2.Bxe4 1...Rxe4 2.Qxd3 The wQ's position is obviously instrumental in these mates - both pin mates. 1.Qc5! (>2.Qf5) 1...Qxe4+ 2.Qf5(threat) 1...Rxe4 2.Qf2 1...Re2 2.R2g3 1...Qd5/Qb5/etc 2.Sd2 1...e6/e5 2.Qf8 1...hxg4 2.Rf2 A fine blend of selfblocks, self pinning, unpinning and gate opening. |