The half-battery is the version of the half-pin for White. Whereas in the half-pin, two black pieces are on a line aimed at the bK. When black piece moves off the line it leaves the other black piece pinned. In the half-battery two white pieces are blocking a white line piece. Tries and key by each of the white pieces allow the battery to function.
The classic book Black to play by Christopher Feather taught me some of the basics about quality helpmates. The book begins with this a wonderful quote from Jean Oudut:
"Chess art is one degree of abstraction higher than the game of chess. In one sense we can say that the helpmate is the purest of all the chess arts, the nearest to art for art’s sake. If there exists somewhere, on an unknown planet, a race of beings who play chess and whose artistic inclination is stronger than their aggressive instincts, then it is probable that they will have invented the helpmate before the direct mate"
As of now I am just giving a collection of some of my favorite helpmates. In a later post I may go into specific helpmate themes. While I wouldn't consider myself a natural helpmate composer, I have been fortunate enough to compose a handful of decent number of helpmates.
My last post was on the ubiquitous Le Grand theme which features a reversal of threat and variation. The Odessa theme is named after the Ukrainian city because of the composers that cultivated the idea during the late 1960s. Technically speaking the Odessa theme is a double threat version of the pseudo Le Grand, i.e., it has a pattern as follows:
Notice that the defenses do not need to be the same between phases.
In general I don't compose a lot of pattern play problems. In fact almost all of the pattern play problems I have composed have been by accident. This is not to say that I do not appreciate such problems. The Le Grand theme, named after the Le Grand brothers Piet and Henk is a basic example of a reversal pattern. The pattern is a simple reversal of threat and variation after the same defense. In algebraic form
If the defense is not the same then the theme is said to be a pseudo Le Grand which is also a popular theme.
Awhile ago I published a couple of traditional problems that featured some nice battery play and cross-checks. They were both Meredith's with open positions and both used unpinning by the bQ to set up the batteries. Both problems are personal favorites. I returned to one of them after two years to find that there was a significant improvement.
Maybe it's the novice in me, but I have always found problems that feature promotion play appealing. In this blog I will take a look at some of my favorite compositions with that seventh rank magic. Recall that the usual convention in these settings is to ignore promotions to a R or B and only focus on Q or S.
The disappearing Novotny or Romanian Novotny is one of my favorite ideas. A piece stands at the intersection of bishop and rook lines threatening two mates. However the captures of this piece, which usually allow only one of the mates, defeat both threats only to allow new mates. In the pure form the new mates must utilize the mutual interferences. I would say that I am somewhat of an expert on the idea after writing a series of articles that appeared in the Problemist Supplement.
Some people just operate at a higher level with their craft. The Serbian grandmaster is one of my favorite two-move composers. If I could only use one word can be used to describe his creations it would be artistic. His problems are spread throughout this blog, but I wanted to make a special post. It was difficult to pick favorites, but here is my attempt at the impossible.
Twin chess problems happen by slightly altering the position to obtain a new problem that requires its own solution. The diagrammed position is regarded as part (a) while each new position formed is denoted (b), (c), etc. In general the rules for twins must be a single change to the matrix such as: shifting a piece, removing a piece, adding a piece, substituting a piece, rotating, or reflecting the board itself. To date, about 10% of my problems have included a twinning. Twinning is a very common mechanism in helpmates but less so in direct mates.
The Zagoruiko theme is named after the great Belarus composer Leonid Zagoruiko. A Zagoruiko requires at least two Black defenses to be met by different mates across at least three phases. For example, a 3x2 (3 phases) and (2 defenses) Zagoruiko could have the pattern of set, virtual, and actual play as follows:
There are thousands of 3x2 Zagoruikos in existence, but fewer 3x3s, and even less 3x4s, 4x2s, etc.
On the side I like to dabble in chess problem composition. I am mostly interested in two and three move direct mates. I hope to convey the beauty and logic of chess problems with this blog. In the entries are some of my favorite problems and my own problems. Before looking at the problems I suggest reading this introduction to the chess problem world by the British Chess Problem Society. Also, here is a list of terminology and themes. Here is a link to my problems on yacpdb.
1. "Choose wisely" The Problemist Supplement, Sept. 2016
2. "Double checking white in a two mover" StrateGems July 2016
3. "Double check without capture" The Problemist Supplement, January 2018
4. "The disappearing Nowotny: Part I" The Problemist Supplement, March 2018
5. "The disappearing Nowotny: Part II" The Problemist Supplement, May 2018
6. "The disappearing Nowotny: Part III" The Problemist Supplement, July 2018
7. "Castling with half-battery and Fleck themes" StrateGems, July 2018
8. "The Baku Nowotny" StrateGems, January 2019
9. "The Romanian Nowotny with Fleck" The Problemist, March 2019
10. "Mirror Image" The Problemist Supplement, May 2019
11. "White King in Check" Problemas, July 2019
12. "A Simple Mechanism", StrateGems, July 2019
13. "Miniatures with castling and (partial) Fleck" Problemist Supplement, September 2019
14. "Taking the Straitjacket off the Fleck" The Problemist Supplement, November 2019
15. "Unforced threats" The Problemist Supplement, May 2020
16. "Ojanen in Miniature" The Problemist Supplement, May 2020
17. "Developments in the Finnish Nowotny" The Problemist, July 2020