Wednesday 28 January 2009

The Problemist

On the way back from the last Olympiad I had a 7 hour wait at Frankfurt airport. For some of that time I tried to solve a number of chess problems that IM Stephen Solomon had in one of his problem magazines. Not only is Stephen an enthusiastic (and strong) chess player, but he is also a strong (and enthusiastic) problem solver.
The problems were of sufficient interest that I spent some time trying to solve them, but of sufficient strength that I failed every one. So when I returned to Australia I spent some time searching for problem solving resources.
One excellent web site is , which is the home page of the British Chess Problem Society. It has a large number of links concerning chess problems, including an excellent section on how you go about solving them. Not only you garden variety mate in two's but longer direct mates, self mates, help mates, studies and retro analysis.
The problem in the right is taken from the page concerning helpmates. If you are not familiar with help mates Black plays first and works with White to achieve a mate on Whites move X. In this case it is a helpmate in 3 (ie White will mate on his third move, with black moving first).
The trick to solving these sorts of problems is to visualise a mate on the board, and see if you can arrange the pieces in the required number of moves.

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