Selfmates & Reflexmates

Written by Michael McDowell

In a selfmate White plays and forces Black to deliver mate in the stipulated number of moves. Some players find the concept bizarre, as it turns the aim of the game on its head, however selfmates have long been recognised as an orthodox genre capable of showing effects which are not possible in the directmate. Selfmates, particularly of the shorter variety, tend to be heavy, as both kings need to be controlled, but are popular with solvers because their solutions are clear-cut. Dual mates, which are considered a defect in directmates, are perfectly acceptable in selfmates, because White is the side fulfilling the stipulation.

(1) G. F. Anderson

5th HM., BCF Ty. No. 55, 1946-1947


Selfmate in 2

(2) D. G. McIntyre

Alain White Album, 1920


Selfmate in 3

(3) Yochanan Afek

The Problemist, 1982


Selfmate in 2

(4) J Sledziewski

1st Place, Warsaw v. Silesia, 1959


Selfmate in 2

Modern directmate themes based on relationships between moves have been transferred to the selfmate. In the Dombrovskis theme, defences which defeat try threats lead paradoxically to those very white moves after the key (for an example in a directmate see problem 8 in the article on three-movers).

(5) Shlomo Seider

2nd Prize, Bulgaria 1300 Years Tourney, 1982-1983


Selfmate in 2

The logical school which dominates directmate more-movers has its equivalent in selfmates (for an explanation of logical problems see the article on more-movers).

(6) F. Hoffmann

1st Prize, DSV-Problem Tourney, 1979


Selfmate in 7

(7) G. F. Anderson

Natal Mercury, 1915


Selfmate in 4

(8) Bo Lindgren & Hans Peter Rehm

1st Prize, Probleemblad, 1980


Selfmate in 13

The Bohemian style (see the article on three-movers), which aims to combine aesthetic mates, finds ample scope in the selfmate.

(9) F. J. Prokop

British Chess Magazine, 1951


Selfmate in 8

A reflexmate is a selfmate with the added condition that either side must mate on the move if possible.

(10) C. G. Rains

The Problemist, 1972 (version)


(a) Selfmate in 2
(b) Reflexmate in 2

Reflexmates are often more economical than selfmates, because there is not the same need to control the black king.

(11) G. F. Anderson

The Problemist, 1970


Reflexmate in 3

Many modern reflexmates present complex variations, abandoning tries which fail because White must give mate.

(12) N. A. Macleod

4th HM., Anderson Memorial Tourney, 1986


Reflexmate in 2

In some problems the reflex condition is applied only to black. Such problems are called semireflexmates.

Developed and maintained by Brian Stephenson.