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One basic technique for solving two-movers is to determine the set play, in other
words the black moves in the diagram which would allow mate if played immediately.
That way the solver can identify variations which are likely to be retained, and
which defences need to be provided for. This problem is a good example of the English
School of composition, a style which aimed to combine a number of accurate
variations, with no black defence allowing more than one mate.
Solution: Much of the play is set: 1...Rxe8 2.Qxe8; 1...Rc7 2.Sxc7; 1...Rg7 2.Sxg7;
1...bS any 2.Rd6; 1...hS any 2.Qf5; 1...c5 2.Qd5; 1...b2 2.Ba2. Only 1...Rd7 and
1...Rf7 lack set mates. Both moves are selfblocks, which free the d2 R or the Q to
mate if the K vacates e2, hence the key 1.Ke1, avoiding checks or a pin on the
adjacent files. A good example of the style of two-mover which dominated British
newspaper columns in the early 1900s
Any comments or questions on this problem should be addressed to
Michael McDowell using the ‘Contact’ item in the menu on the left.