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Milan Vukcevich, 1937 – 2003

5/14/2003 – He was a professor of metallurgy who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Also an over-the-board International Master in chess, playing at Olympiads and US championships. But Milan Vukcevich was best known as a grandmaster of chess problem composition. He died at 66 this weekend. We bring you a short biography and examples of his compositions. More...
 

Milan Vukcevich, 1937 – 2003

Dr. Milan Vukcevich was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, on March 11, 1937. After receiving the International Master title in 1958, and representing his native Yugoslavia in the 1960 Chess Olympiad, he emigrated to the U.S., where he has lived in northern Ohio for many years.

Dr. Vukcevich earned a Ph.D. in metallurgy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University and became a chief scientist for General Electric Co. He has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His duties as a scientist limited his ability to play in chess tournaments. He won third place in the U.S. Championship at Oberlin, 1975, ahead of Reshevsky, Lombardy, R. Byrne, and many of the country's other top players. He had the title of International Master for over the board play

Dr. Vukcevich was one of the world's most respected chess problem composers. He has been awarded the FIDE title Master of Composition and is an editor of StrateGems, the publication of the Society of U.S. Chess Problemists.

Milan R. Vukcevich died of complications of a metastatic tumor on Saturday, May 10 2003, at his home in Shaker Heights, Cleveland. He was 66.

International Composition Grandmaster

The Permanent Commission of the FIDE for Chess Compositions publishes collections of the best chess problems from three year periods, in "FIDE Albums". In 1991 there were 16 such Albums and the total amount of problems is 15104. International titles for composers are granted according to the Album points. One point is given for each Album problem (1,67 points for endgame studies). In joint compositions the points are divided by the number of composers. The requirements are:

Grandmaster:          70 points
International master: 25 points
FIDE-master:          12 points

After the publication of the 1989-91 Album Dr Milan Vukcevich had collected a total of 119.67 points.

A selection of Vukcevich problems

Milan Vukcevich, Politika Meredith Tourney, 1998

Mate in three moves

A stunning example of unpinning and selfpinning, with three pin-mates: 1.Ra6 (threat 2.Ra5+ and 3.Qa6#) 1...Qd4 2.e8Q+ Qd6 3.Qee3# or 2...Kd5 3.Qee4#. The second defence is 1...Qc4 2.e8N+ Kb5 3.Nxc7#.

Milan Vukcevich, The Problemist, 1972

Mate in three moves

Another very impressive mixture of cross checks, pins and unpinning moves. 1.Qe2 Rxd4+ 2.Kf3+ Re4 3.Nf4# or 2...Kxd5 3.Qa2#. The other defence is 1...Bxd5+ 2.Kf4+ Be4 3.d5#.

Milan Vukcevich, Politika Meredith Tourney, 1998

Mate in two moves

Here the beauty lies in why one line works and the other doesn't. We have two "tries": 1.Qa3 with the threat 2.Qf3# and 1.Qa5 with the threat 2.Qf5#. In each case Black has the defensive moves 1...Ke4, Kg4, Bxh4 and Bxb4. So which of the two first moves do you chose to mate in two? The solution is given below.

Milan Vukcevich was a prolific "fairy chess" composer, specializing especially in two-move helpmates (with "set play"). Here is a pretty little duplex for you to solve:

Milan Vukcevich, CHM avec 6 pieces Bad Pyrmont, 1996

Helpmate in two moves (duplex)

In a helpmate Black moves first and helps White to mate him (Black) the the required number of moves. In a duplex the sides are reversed, i.e. in the above example there are two problems: Black moves and helps White to mate him (Black); and White moves and helps Black to mate him (White). The artistry of this problem is that all four promotions occur in the solution ("Allumwandlung"). Solution:

I. 1.Ng6 f8Q 2.Ne5 3.d8N#

Black is mated

II. 1.f8R Nf7 2.d8B Nd6#

White is mated

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