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.
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.
Miniatures are not in general my flavor. Just a reminder, a miniature is 7 total pieces or less. Don't get me wrong I love an elegant miniature with beautiful mates but there is generally not a lot of strategy. Here are some of my favorites including some of my own.
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Correction play is not just for defense. White correction is a try-play idea in which a random move creates a threat. However Black has a defense for this threat. White can correct and prevent or provide for this defense only to commit other errors.
Black correction is not a theme in itself it is a mechanism that can make for complex effects. A random move of a Black piece creates a secondary or contingent threat. However, the specific moves of this piece correct and defeat the contingent threat, yet make additional errors.
Usually problems that carry more than one threat (double, triple, etc.) are considered to be flawed. However, if the threats are uniquely forced then interesting effects can happen. In the Fleck theme, the key makes multiple threats (3 or more) and the moves of Black force each of threats. The point is that the Fleck theme is a dual avoidance theme. In the pure form there should be no duals. The Fleck theme was named after Ferenc Fleck who created several examples in the mid 1900s. Interested readers please see David Shire's review of Ian Shanahan's collection of miniature ideal Fleck. We begin with one such problem.
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