The Master of the Task: The Life and Work of Sir Jeremy Morse

Written by John Rice.

After this period Jeremy turned his attention more and more to tasks, composing them — often to fill gaps in the records — and writing some 70 articles about them in The Problemist and elsewhere. These articles and the correspondence they have brought him have formed the basis of the book referred to above. In 2006 Jeremy was granted the title of Honorary Master of the FIDE for Chess Composition. This is a title that is bestowed on those who have made a significant contribution to chess problems and their development in ways other than purely composing, and there is no doubt that in his case it is very well merited. He is one of only three living holders of the title.

You might think that a full-time career in banking coupled with a dedication to chess problem tasks might have left Sir Jeremy Morse with little or no time for much else. But he is a great family man. He and his wife Belinda have three sons and a daughter, who between them have produced 14 grandchildren. They divide their time between a house in Kensington and another one set in the Gloucestershire countryside, where they spend much of the summer away from the bustle of central London. Among Jeremy’s other interests he counts poetry, classical music, family history, golf, and “keeping the Classics alive”, this last a praiseworthy effort to help ensure that the study of Latin and Greek is not neglected in our materialistic age. He shares this aim with another chess problemist, Colin Sydenham, who is likewise distinguished in the classical field.

Let’s now look at some more of Jeremy’s problems.

10. C. J. Morse

problem, 1965


Mate in 2

No. 10 appeared in that fine Yugoslav magazine problem, edited by Nenad Petrovic. It shows 15 mates by two wSs, after a rather indifferent key 1.Ra3 (>2.Sc~).

11. C. J. Morse

The Problemist, 1975


Mate in 2

The point of no. 11, solved by 1.b4 (>2.Sb6), lies in the defence 1...Sf3, which carries seven line-effects: opening of g1-b6 to parry the threat, opening of d2-d5 apparently to allow the secondary threat 2.Bd5 but simultaneously closing g2-d5 to defeat it, and closing four black lines to permit the mate.

12. C. J. Morse

2nd Prize, The Problemist, 1990


Mate in 2

No. 12 is a “blend record”: 11 mates by the wQ plus four promotions by a wP. 1.Qe3 (-), and in addition to the 11 variations leading to wQ-mates we have 1...Qxb8/Qd7/Qf5/Qxd8+/Rd5 2.cxb8Q/c8S/c8Q/cxd8S/Rxd5.

13. C. J. Morse

Comm., The Problemist, 1995


Mate in 2

Can the black K provide correction play? Look at no. 13 and decide for yourself! The key 1.Sg7 threatens 2.d8Q and 2.f8Q. A random move of the bK (to d8 or f8) allows 2.e7, but capture of the Rs on d6 and f6, while still allowing 2.e7, invalidate the move as a mate. Instead we see 1...Kxd6 2.Qc5 and 1...Kxf6 2.Bh4. The two threats are separated by the moves 1...Bxf7,Bxg7 (2.d8Q only) and 1...Qxd7,Rxd7 (2.f8Q only).

14. C. J. Morse

The Problemist Supplement, 1999


Mate in 2

In no. 14 each square within the bK’s immediate field, including the square on which the bK stands initially, is occupied by a mating unit in answer to Black’s nine thematic defences, the threat square being outside that field. 1.Rc4 (>2.cxb8S) Rb7/Rd8/Re8/Sxc7/Kc8/Be7+/Rc8/Bxd6/Rxe6 2.c8Q/cxd8Q/fxe8Q/Rxc7/d7/dxe7/Qc6/Qxd6/Qxe6. Like most of the problems in the present selection, this one is dual-free, a feature to which the composer attaches considerable importance.

15. C. J. Morse

Suomen Shakki, 1999


Mate in 2

The admittedly obvious key of no. 15 introduces a 10-fold Fleck (10 threats fully separated) combined with 10 threat-defeating (Karlström) variations, a record blend achieved, as ever, without duals. 1.Rxe5 (>2.Re~) Sxh5/dxe5/Rc1/Rd1/Rxa8/Ra~ 2.Rxh5/Bxe5/Qxc1/Qxd1/bxa8Q/RxR.

16. C. J. Morse & J. M. Rice

1st Special Comm., The Problemist, 2004


Mate in 2

I was privileged to have a hand in the construction of no. 16, though I must confess to being largely responsible for the cluttered position and the lazy Bb8! The wP on f4 gives seven different mates spread over three phases, without promotion — again, a record. 1.Qf3? (>2.e4) Sg3/e4/exf4 2.fxg5/Qg4/Qd5, but 1...d5! 1.fxe5? (>2.exd6) Bxd7/Qxf6/Sf4/dxe5 2.e6/exf6/e4/Qxe5, but 1...Sg6! 1.fxg5! (>2.g6) Sg6/Qxf6/Qg6,xh5/Sg3/Sf4/hxg5 2.gxh6/gxf6/Bxe6/Qf3/e4/Rhxg5.

17. C. J. Morse

2nd Comm., Problem Observer, 2004


Mate in 2

No. 17 shows four double-checks by Black over set and actual play. The price to pay for this achievement is a fair number of unprovided checks! Set 1...Rxc3+/Rxd4+ 2.Kxc3/Kxd4. 1.Kc2 (>2.Kd1,Qd3) d1Q+/dxc1Q+ 2.Kxd1/Kxc1, and also 1...Rxc3+/Rxd4/Rc5/Sg3 2.Kxc3/Qc8/Qxc5/Rxf2.

18. C. J. Morse

4th Comm., The Problemist, 2005


Mate in 2

The wK in no. 18 is busy, providing 8 tries, each refuted by check from a bP. The wQ is no slouch either, making 5 tries and the key 1.Qg3! (>2.Qe1). 1.Kc5?/ Kd5?/ Ke5?/ Ke4?/ Kxe3?/ Kd3?/ Kc3?/ Kc4? b6+!/ fxe6+!/ f6+!/ f5+!/ e1Q+!/ e1S+!/ axb4+!/ b5+!

19. C. J. Morse

4th HM., BCPS 2012 Tourney


Mate in 2

A 5-fold cycle of black line- and square vacations is seen in no. 19. 1.Sc8 (>2.g8Q) f5/B~/Rxe3/Kc4/d6 2.Sb6/Qxe4/Sxe3/Ba2/Sb6, and also 1...Bd4/Sc5,c7 2. Ba2/Q(x)c5. The tourney in which this problem competed asked for “imaginative interpretations of the Olympic symbol” (the 5-fold interlaced rings).

20. C. J. Morse

The Problemist, 2014


Mate in 2

In the diagram position of no. 20 the black defences 1...c1~ and 1...Qxh8 are not provided with replies. So White tries 1.Qc8? (-) c1~/Qxh8 2.Qxc1/Qxh8, but 1...Rxa7! refutes. Likewise, 1.Qc7? fails to 1...Qxh8! 1.Qa6? (>2.Qxa2) looks better: 1...Ra3/Ra4/Ra5+/Rxa6 2.Qxa3/Qxa4/Qxa5/Rxa6, but 1...c1S! is too good. 1.Qa8? fails to the same refutation. With 1.Qg7? (>2.Qxb2) White tries a different line of attack: 1...Qc3/Qd4+/Qe5+/Qf6/Qxg7 2.Qxc3/Qxd4/Qxe5/Qxf6/Bxg7, but now 1...c1Q! is Black‚Äôs effective response. Correct is 1.Qh7!, with no threat but answers to all Black’s moves: 1...Ra3/Ra4/Ra5+/Ra6 2.RxR, 1...Qc3/Qd4+/Qe5+/Qf6 2.BxQ, and finally — a lovely addition! — 1...c1S 2.Qb1 and 1...c1Q 2.Sb3. The column editor, David Shire, was quite rightly enthusiastic: “This change play task is expressed with supreme economy and artistry”; and solver Michael Lipton wrote: “A magnificent find! The key is the last move I tried, yielding 5 changes on the file and 4 on the diagonal. The exquisite final touch is that dual avoidance follows the promotions 1...c1S/Q. Thanks to the brilliant use of the bP and the ambush key, Jeremy has made a real chess problem out of this matrix, far superior to earlier attempts.”

Developed and maintained by Brian Stephenson.