White is to play and mate in two moves. Have a go at solving this first and then, when
you are ready, click the button below to see the solution and a commentary explaining
what the problem is all about.
The bK has two flights and only one is set with mate; 1...Kd5 2.Sxd4. A move by
wBc5 appears to be indicated for this pins the bQ, potentially extends the reach
of wRg5 to b5 and releases wSe4 from the need to guard c5. The Q+S battery will
clearly fire; those wPs on f2, g3 and f6 can only be present to prevent unwanted
moves of the wSe4! Key 1.Bf8! (>2.Sc3) It will be noticed that the threat unpins
the bQ but that as things stand Black cannot take advantage of this fact. So,
1...Qc4 2.Sxd4 (2.Sc3? Qd5). Similarly 1...Qc5 2.Sed6 (2.Sc3? Qd5) The bQ moves
along the line of pin to a square where the unpinning threat will allow her to
defend successfully. The weaknesses of these defences are interference with bRb4
and self-block of c5. Another related black defence is 1...d2 2.Sxd2 (2.Sc3? Qe4)
. Black strengthens his position by opening c2 to e4 but weakens himself by
opening a white line of guard from f1 to b5. These three variations represent a
variety of Schiffmann strategy. The date of the problem is interesting. In 1928
Schiffmann, the great Romanian composer, had published an article entitled
“Une nouvelle defense dans le deux coups” in De Problemist in which he expounded
his ideas. There is good by-play in Gavrilov’s setting. 1...Rb5 (self-block)
2.Sc5, 1...Kd5 2.Sc5 (a changed mate), 1...Kb5 2.Sxd4 (a transferred mate) and
1...Sxf6(Se7) 2.S(x)e7. This last variation is important for it explains why
the key bishop must go all the way to f8 and not stop short at e7. 1.Be7? is a
good try defeated uniquely by 1...Sxf6! There are clearly no other possible
openings by wBc5. A modern composer would probably try to expand the try-play
by removing bRb4...
Mate in two
1.Ba3? (>2.Sc3/2.Sed6) Rb4! 1.Bxd4? (>2.Sc3/2.Sed6) Kb5! (2.Sxd4?) 1.Be7?
(>2.Sc3) Sxf6! 1.Bf8! (>2.Sc3). Note that it has been possible to dispense with
bBa8 since an immediate 1.Sc3+? does not cook... 1...Kxc5 2.Qd5 Kb4! The
removal of bRb4 has unblocked that square but clearly Gavrilov valued the
self-blocking variation, 1...Rb5!
While preparing David’s copy for the website I found the following problem
by Hannes Haumann, composed, as far as I know, without knowledge of the Gavrilov.
It is mostly anticipated, of course, but it is very interesting to see how a third
composer approaches the same basic idea. This time (at the price of the loss of the
1...d2 variation) the emphasis is on provision of both king flights and changed mates
for them. - Brian Stephenson
Mate in two
1...Sf7, Sg6 2.S(x)f7#