This site now hosts a complete archive of PDF versions of The Problemist Supplement, from 1992 to the current year. This magazine is aimed mainly at newcomers to chess composition, so it is recommended for those who want to find out more about chess problems. You can find the archive here.
Last Saturday, I hosted a thoroughly enjoyable BCPS Library Day at my home in
Rochester. Amongst the problems shown was this superb and little-known twomover,
demonstrated by Britain’s new Solving IM, Michael McDowell.
Solution to be published on Friday 12th September.
We have relatively mundane set play with 1...gxf6 2.Rxf6, but the real action happens after the
key. The problem combines a half-pin with an idea very popular at the time, Four-Way-Play. In
this, a single black defence simultaneously opens a white line, closes a white line, opens a
black line and closes a black line.
The key 1.Sh5 threatens 2.Sf4. Any move by either black knight will defeat the threat
by guarding f4, but will also open the white line e2-e6, turning the half-pin into a real pin.
A random move of the Se3, eg. 1...Sf1 allows the queen guard of f4, but undefends f5,
allowing 2.Bxf5# The knight can correct with 1...Sc2, which is a four-way
defence: the move opens the black line d2-f4 and the white e-line but closes the white b1-f5
line and also, crucially, closes the black line d2-a2, allowing the half-pin mate 2.Ba2#.
A random move of the Se5, eg. 1...Sf3, opens the black line c7-f4 and the e-file, again
allowing 2.Bxf5#, this time another half-pin mate. The correction 1...Sd3 opens
e2-e6 and closes b1-f5 for White, and opens c7-f4 and (crucially) closes d2-d5 for Black,
allowing a third-half-pin mate, 2.d5#. This is not quite a four-way variation, as the
knight guard of f4 makes the opening of c7-f4 irrelevant. The four-way defence 1...Sf7
prevents 2.Bxf5# by closing the line f8-f5 but also closes e7-g7, allowing 2.Sxg7#, and
finally 1...Sd7 is a third four-way-defence with no less than five line effects,
opening of c7-f4 and the e-file, closure of d8-d5 preventing 2.Bxf5#, opening of h2-d6 and
closure of e7-c7, allowing 2.Sxc7#. There is one byplay variation, 1...Qxd4 2.Sxd4#.
A superb problem.
Any comments or questions on this problem should be addressed to
Steve Giddins, our Librarian and Archivist, using the 'Contact'
item in the menu on the left.