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When Mansfield began composition the conventions of the English school prevailed,
particularly the stress on accurate play. The desire to avoid dual mates placed
restrictions on the complexity of strategy which could be incorporated, and Mansfield was
one of the few who could combine accuracy with complexity. A was an early experiment
with what became one of his favourite themes, the half-pin. The strategy in the leading
variation 1...Bc3 or Bc5 2.Rb3, where the bishop’s interference allows White to
unpin the rook, is called a Goethart unpin, after the Dutch composer G. H. Goethart
who investigated the idea.
A magnificent key gives a flight and unpins the knight. To quote Alain White: “This
problem may well be taken as the standard cross-check problem of the 20th century. It would
have been a physical impossibility for a composer to turn out such a work fifteen years
ago.” The problem shows Mansfield placing economy and beauty of presentation ahead of
accuracy by refusing to add material to prevent duals. He wrote: “This problem was
made in the trenches near Ypres during World War 1. I found my pocket board a great boon in
helping to while away the midnight hours, and to keep me awake when on telephone duty which
was part of a Signaller’s work. We had to lay and man perilous telephone wires to
maintain communications with the infantry in the front line.”
1st Prize e.a., Australian Meredith Tourney, 1928
Mate in 2
1...S random 2.Qb5
1...e any 2.Rxd8
A perfect lightweight showing tertiary black correction. Any move of the knight
loses control of d7, a random move allowing 2.Qb5. 1...Sd3 corrects by closing the
queen’s route to b5, but unpins the bishop for 2.Bc6. 1...Sd7 again corrects by
closing the white diagonal, but by blocking d7 allows 2.Bf7. As with so many Mansfield
problems a flight-giving key is incorporated, and there is a set mate 2.Qa4 after some
knight moves to mislead the solver.
Another fine key leading to a pair of variations where the knight must carefully select the
square from which to reclaim a flight, in order to avoid unpinning the bishop. The captures
on c6 are followed by a pair of queen mates at either end of the diagonal. Said Alain
White: “ A geometric demonstration, with the ease and finality of a proposition by
1st Prize, German Chess Federation Olympic Tourney, 1936
A famous study in the cutting of black lines controlling a queen from the rear.
The story attached to this problem bears repetition.
Mansfield was informed that restrictions prevented the prize money being sent out of
Germany, but that he could open an account with a bank in Berlin or give the money to
someone in Germany. Neither alternative appealed to Mansfield, who was struggling like
most other people with three young children. The German Consul in Glasgow was sympathetic,
and recommended “go to the Frisian Islands for a holiday – your money will not
go far, but it will help.” In desperation Mansfield wrote a carefully worded letter
– “His Excellency Herr Hitler...” and after three months came a
banker’s draft dated 19th June 1937 for the prize money, £20.4s.10d to the penny!
Mansfield had achieved the task of combining half-pin with six king battery mates 22 years
earlier, but the 1948 problem attained absolute perfection of construction, with 8 half-pin
mates in total and an extra mate at h1 to make full use of the white queen.
1st Prize, Die Schwalbe, 1956
Mate in 2
1.g4? (2.Qd1 and 2.Qxe4) 1...Sxf2!
1.g3? (2.Bxb3 and 2.Qe3) 1...Sc2!
1.f4? (2.Qxe4 and 2.Bxb3) 1...e3!
After over 40 years of composing in traditional vein, Mansfield showed that unlike some of
his contemporaries he was open-minded enough to embrace the increasingly popular try play
style with G, which he regarded as possibly his best problem. The black organ pipe
arrangement of rooks and bishops is employed to show a series of Nowotny tries, each
setting up a pair of threats. The problem is raised to a different level by the pair of
post-key Grimshaw interferences at f4.
A humorous setting with a blocked knight which needs to be released to discover mate.
Skilful construction ensures unique refutations for 7 tries. Amazingly the key changes the
set mate 1...exd4 2.Qf4.