Awards 1st Retro List Quick Composition Tourney

Retro Mailing List, 1997

This composition tourney was held interactively through the Internet Retro Mailing List.

The tourney called for helpgames (aka SPGs) which include one or more series of moves in which the two kings move in consecution. (See announcement elsewhere.)

The Award, by Gianni Donati

I begin the award with thanks to all who submitted problems. I enjoyed every entry, even the few that fell to cooks. Thanks, too, to cook-finders Henrik Juel, Olli Heimo, and Peter van den Heuvel, and to Pascal Wassong, who tested a problem or two with his astonishing Natch program. Finally, thanks to Philippe Schnoebelen for running the tourney and the retro group that has given so many of us such pleasure.

The theme was for helpgames (or proof games) which include one or more series of moves in which the two kings move in consecution. The announcement encouraged a liberal interpretation of "helpgame," and composers obliged with a number of fairy entries, some of which were cooked. The survivors have been considered.

One contributor submitted a splendid problem which did not fit the theme as I understood it, i.e., there was no series of moves in which the two kings moved consecutively. This was pointed out and another problem was solicited. The replacement problem, still more spectacular, also did not meet the terms of the theme. (This was surprising in that during the solution the two kings switched places!) My delay in issuing the award resulted largely from my doubt whether the theme was clear enough, i.e., did it permit a WK series with no BK moves, and a BK series with no WK moves? Try as I might, I could not convince myself, and I have concluded that I must disqualify the problems. I have refrained from quoting them, in order that they may perhaps be entered elsewhere.

I have included in the award one problem which went through several cooked versions and was finally made sound (I believe) after the official tourney deadline. With Philippe's consent I have included the problem in the award. It might have placed higher had the final version been posted earlier.

The tourney announcement encouraged commenting on and correcting or improving entries submitted by others; thus, we expected some entries would evolve as "joint" compositions by virtue of the interaction of the participants. This proved not to be the case. Cooked problems were fixed, if at all, by their original composers, and no one commented on possible improvements to problems submitted, at least not publicly in the retros list forum. In this respect the tournament did not live up to a potential which is particular to the Internet medium. If there was another small disappointment, it was that no "beginners" entered the fray. Overall, though, I am happy to say the tourney produced some very nice problems, which I hope others will enjoy as much as I did.

As with all art, personal taste factors heavily. Others could easily order the problems differently; I might too on a different day in a different mood. I have applied no strictly objective criteria; I believe efforts to rate chess problems on a "point" system are misguided in any event, except with task problems where there may be a clearcut "winner". By its terms, this tourney was not for task efforts, so I have been guided by malleable principles such as originality of idea, pleasure of solving (as opposed to difficulty), attractiveness of position, and "memorableness."

11 - Unto Heinonen
Retros List, 21 May 1997
1st Prize Retros-List Quick Comp. Tourney

[r4b1k/pnppppp1/2p5/5np1/1qb5/1P1N2P1/PQPPPPP1/4RBNK] [Solution]

14+15. Shortest proof game in 25.0 moves

The kings work their way to the center of the board from the west and then swing to the eastern corners with the help of 3 screens, two by the WN and one by the bBc4. The screen switch (20.Ne5 Bc4) is particularly appealing, and the timing throughout works like a charm.

7 - Noam Elkies
Retros List, 20 Apr 1997
2nd Prize Retros-List Quick Comp. Tourney

[KnQ1kbnr/1p1ppppp/p1p5/2B5/8/1PP5/P1P1PPPP/RN3BNR] [Solution]

16+13. Shortest proof game in 14.5 moves

Some problems seem to happen; this is such a problem. The WB uses its time well to close the d-file in anticipation of the WK's exit and march toward the far corner, and the three moves it requires to reach c5 nicely complement the tempo-losing trek by the bK. Noam ends things in his preferred manner: checkmate!

10 - "L. Strangebeast" (aka Olli Heimonen)
Retros List, 1 May 1997
1st Hon. Mention Retros-List Quick Comp. Tourney

[3K2nr/2pppppp/2p3br/8/6P1/1PB5/P1PPPP1P/RN1QNk2] [Solution]

14+12. Shortest proof game in 25.0 moves

White's queenside pieces cannot step aside fast enough for the WK to exit via the queenside, so the he goes around the long way. The bQ's scheme to give herself up (8... Qb8 and 9...Qb3) and the need to keep the b3 square open are nice touches. I was not fully confident that more could not be done at the end (e.g., could the play finish 24.Ke8 Kxh2 25.Kd8 Kg1 26.Kc7 Kf1?).

1.g4 a5 2.Bg2 Ra6 3.Kf1 Rh6 4.Bc6 bxc6 5.Kg2 Ba6 6.Kf3 Bd3 7.Ke3 Na6 8.Kd4 Qb8 9.Kc3 Qb3+ 10.Kxb3 Kd8 11.Ka4 Kc8 12.b3 Kb7 13.Bb2 Kb6 14.Bc3 Kc5 15.Kxa5 Bg6 16.Kxa6 Kd5 17.Kb7 Ke4 18.Kc8 Kf4 19.Kd8 Kg5 20.Ke8 Kh4 21.Nf3+ Kh3 22.Kxf8 Kg2 23.Ne1+ Kxh1 24.Ke8 Kg1 25.Kd8

3 - Henrik Juel
Retros List, 15 Apr 1997
(After Tinigonad)
2nd Hon. Mention Retros-List Quick Comp. Tourney

[r1b1qb1r/pppp1ppp/3p4/6N1/P2nQ3/2P5/K1PPPPPP/R2k2NR] [Solution]

14+15. Proof game in 23.5 moves

This is one of two problems Henrik submitted with the same prelude (through move 13). This one is the richer: the WK goes to c4 to make way for the bK, then returns to the first rank to screen the WR, and finally discovers check at the end. A nice point is the determination of the WQ's moves to e4.

1.Nc3 Nf6 2.Ne4 Nd5 3.Ng5 Nc3 4.bxc3 Nc6 5.Ba3 Nd4 6.Bd6 exd6 7.Qb1 Ke7 8.Kd1 Kf6 9.Kc1 Ke5 10.Kb2 Kd5 11.Ka3 Kc6 12.Kb4 Kb6 13.Kc4+ Ka5 14.Qb6+ Ka4 15.Qc6+ Ka3 16.Qe4 Kb2 17.a4 Qe8 18.Ra2+ Kc1 19.Kb4 Kd1 20.Ka3 Ke1 21.Kb2 Kxf1 22.Kb1 Ke1 23.Ra1 Kd1 24.Ka2+

16c - Henrik Juel <>
Retros List, 5 Jun 1997
3rd Hon. Mention Retros-List Quick Comp. Tourney

[rn2Kbnr/ppppp3/8/6pp/8/N2R1P2/PPPPP1P1/R2k2N1] [Solution]

12+13. Proof game in 16.5 moves

A nice clean position ending in a pretty model mate.

1.h4 f5 2.Rh3 Kf7 3.Rd3 Kg6 4.f3 Kh5 5.Kf2 Kxh4 6.Ke3 h5 7.Kf4 g5+ 8.Kxf5 Kg3 9.Kg6 Kf2 10.Qe1+ Kxe1 11.Kf7 Qe8+ 12.Kxe8 Kxf1 13. Kd8 Ke1 14.Kxc8 Kd1 15.Kd8 Kxc1 16.Ke8 Kd1 17.Na3++

14 - Olli Heimo <>
Retros List, 28 May 1997
Comm. Retros-List Quick Comp. Tourney

[b4BQb/1Pp1pRr1/3pP1k1/1p3p1p/7P/1PpP1p2/2P2P2/N3K3] [Solution]

12+12. Ortho-Reconstruction
(a) White to move in 22.5
(b) Black to move in 23.5

The solver immediately suspects a triangulation idea, but that's not it at all. In the two parts, the WK wanders the board in different directions to return home with the player "on move" switched.

White to play: 1.Kd1 Kh6 2.Kc1 Kg6 3.Kb1 Kh6 4.Ka2 Kg6 5.Ka3 Kh6 6.Kb4 Kg6 7.Ka5 Kh6 8.Ka6 Kg6 9.Ka7 Kh6 10.Kb8 Kg6 11.Kc8 Kh6 12.Kd8 Kg6 13.Kd7 Kh6 14.Kc6 Kg6 15.Kd5 Kh6 16.Kd4 Kg6 17.Ke3 Kh6 18.Kf4 Kg6 19.Kg3 Kh6+ 20.Kh2 Kg6 21.Kg1 Kh6+ 22.Kf1 kg6 23.Ke1

Black to play: 1...Kh6 2.Kf2 Kg6 3.Kg1 Kh6+ 4.Kh2 Kg6 5.Kg3 Kh6+ 6.Kf4 Kg6 7.Ke3 Kh6 8.Kd4 Kg6 9.Kd5 Kh6 10.Kc6 Kg6 11.Kd7 Kh6 12.Kd8 Kg6 13.Kc8 Kh6 14.Kb8 Kg6 15.Ka7 Kh6 16.Ka6 Kg6 17.Ka5 Kh6 18.Kb4 Kg6 19.Ka3 h6 20.Ka2 Kg6 21.Kb1 Kh6 22.Kc1 Kg6 23.Kd1 Kh6 24.Ke1 Kg6

2 - Henrik Juel <>
Retros List, 15 Apr 1997
(After Tinigonad)
Comm. Retros-List Quick Comp. Tourney

[r1bq1b1r/pppp1ppp/3p4/6NK/3n4/2PQ3N/P1PPPPPP/4k2R] [Solution]

13+15. Proof game in 21.5 moves

This cousin of Henrik's Third Honorable Mention above makes nice use of the bN at d4 and the WN at g5, to control the WK's journey all the way to h5.

1.Nc3 Nf6 2.Ne4 Nd5 3.Ng5 Nc3 4.bxc3 Nc6 5.Ba3 Nd4 6.Bd6 exd6 7.Qb1 Ke7 8.Kd1 Kf6 9.Kc1 Ke5 10.Kb2 Kd5 11.Ka3 Kc6 12.Kb4 Kb6 13.Kc4+ Ka5 14.Kd5 Ka4 15.Qb5+ Ka3 16.Qd3 Kb2 17.Rc1 Kxc1 18.Ke4 Kd1 19.Kf4 Ke1 20.Kg4 Kxf1 21.Kh5 Ke1 22.N1h3++

1 - Henrik Juel <>
Retros List, 14 Apr 1997
Comm. Retros-List Quick Comp. Tourney

[5bnr/p1ppp3/K7/6pp/8/3R1P2/2PPP1P1/1k4N1] [Solution]

8+10. Proof game in 19.0 moves

Henrik submitted this problem early in the tourney, and I could not solve it. Other than the WRd3, WPf3, and WPh4, there seemed to be no "guideposts" to suggest where to begin. Then he submitted another version (Second Honorable Mention above), which I managed to solve. When the similarity of the problems dawned on me, the solution to this version followed immediately.

1.h4 f5 2.Rh3 Kf7 3.Rd3 Kg6 4.f3 Kh5 5.Kf2 Kxh4 6.Ke3 h5 7.Kf4 g5+ 8.Kxf5 Kg3 9.Kg6 Kf2 10.Qe1+ Kxe1 11.Kf7 Qe8+ 12.Kxe8 Kxf1 13.Kd8 Ke1 14.Kxc8 Kd1 15.Kxb7 Kxc1 16.Kxa8 Kxb2 17.Kxb8 Kxa1 18.Kb7 Kxa2 19.Ka6 Kxb1

9 - Timothy Luffingham <>
Retros List, 21 Apr 1997
Comm. Retros-List Quick Comp. Tourney

[rnb3n1/pp1pp2p/8/K4p2/k4P2/8/1P1PP2P/RNB3N1] [Solution]

10+11. (Monochromatic chess) Shortest proof game in 23.5 moves

The monochromatic condition (i.e., a unit may not move to a square of a different color) forces, and permits, two interesting king journeys, with one uninterrupted 20-king-move sequence. I found this the most difficult problem to solve.

1.f4 f5 2.Kf2 Kf7 3.Kg3 Kg6 4.Kh4 Kh5 5.g4+ Kxg4 6.Bh3+ Kxh3 7.a4 g5+ 8.Kxg5 Bh6+ 9.Kxh6 Kg2 10.Kg7 Kxh1 11.Kxh8 Kg2 12.Kg7 Kh3 13.Kh6 Kg4 14.Kg5 Kh5 15.Kh4 Kg6 16.Kg3 Kf7 17.Kf2 Ke6 18.Ke3 Kd5 19.c4+ Kxc4 20.Qb3+ Kxb3 21.Kd4 c5+ 22.Kxc5 Kxa4 23.Kb4 Qa5+ 23.Kxa5

20 - Juha M Saukkola <>
Retros List, 15 Jun 1997
Comm. Retros-List Quick Comp. Tourney

[r1b2bnr/pp1ppppp/1q6/2p5/4n2k/RQP5/PP1PPPP1/RNB2BNK] [Solution]

15+16. Shortest proof game in 13.5 moves

Seventeen consecutive King moves in a surprisingly simple position. The only "defect" in the problem is that it solves itself.

1.h4 Na6 2.Rh3 Nc5 3.Ra3 Ne4 4.c3 c5 5.Qb3 Qb6 6.Kd1 Kd8 7.Kc2 Kc7 8.Kd3 Kd6 9.Ke3 Ke5 10.Kf3 Kf6 11.Kg4 Kg6 12.Kh3 Kh5 13.Kh2 Kxh4 14. Kh1

18ccc - Goran Wicklund <>
Retros List, June 1997
Comm. Retros-List Quick Comp. Tourney

[rnbq1bnr/1pp1pppp/p7/3p3N/2P1Q3/N7/PP2PP2/k3K2R] [Solution]

10+16. Shortest proof game in 19.5 moves

The WK loops around clockwise to allow the bK to enter the first rank, then returns home. The WN at a3 performs a switchback (a3-c2-a3), and the WR at h1 is not the King's Rook. What more could one ask for? A delightful problem.

1.Nh3 d5 2.Nf4 Kd7 3.Nh5 Ke6 4.c4 Kf5 5.g4+ Kxg4 6.Bh3+ Kxh3 7.Qc2 Kg2 8.Kd1 Kxh1 9.Qe4+ Kxh2 10.Kc2 Kg1 11.Kd3 Kf1 12.Ke3 Ke1 13.Kf3 Kd1 14.Kg2 Kxc1 15.Na3+ Kxd2 16.Rh1 a6 17.Kf1 Kc1 18.Nc2 Kb1 19.Na3+ Ka1 20.Ke1

Gianni Donati
Princeton, NJ, USA