Problem chess: Forgive me interfering, won't you? (part two)

8/15/2011 – In his previous instalment on chess problems Steve Giddins looks at a famous theme in problem chess: the Grimshaw interference, named after the 19th century English composer who first showed it. In the second part he shows us four more examples illustrating the theme, with full explanations of all aspects of each problem. Enjoy.

ChessBase 14 Download ChessBase 14 Download

Everyone uses ChessBase, from the World Champion to the amateur next door. Start your personal success story with ChessBase 14 and enjoy your chess even more!

Along with the ChessBase 14 program you can access the Live Database of 8 million games, and receive three months of free ChesssBase Account Premium membership and all of our online apps! Have a look today!


Forgive me interfering, won't you? (part two)

By Steve Giddins

Following on from the first part, we are still looking at the R+B interference themes, known as Grimshaw and Novotny. The next example shows a set-up which has become very famous in problem chess:

Comins Mansfield , 1st Pr, Die Schwalbe 1956

Mate in two

The line-up of black rooks and bishops down the h-file is known in problem parlance as the "Organ Pipes", and was first show by the legendary Sam Lloyd in 1859. It offers a matrix of four possible R+B interferences, here on the squares g3 and g4. Of White's four attempts to exploit these interferences, three fail to a single black defence, and are therefore called tries. Thus: 1.g4? has the idea of 1...Bxg4? 2.Qxe4 mate, and 1...Rxg4 2.Qd1 mate, but Black has the defence 1...Nxf2! Likewise, 1.g3? intends 1...Bxg3 2.Qe3 mate and 1...Rxg3 2, Bxb3 mate (because now Black does not have 2...Bd6), but 1...Nc2! defends.; The third try 1.f4? sets up the Novotny mates 1...Bxf4 2.Qxe4 mate and 1...Rxf4 2.Bxb3 mate, but is refuted by 1...e3!

The key is 1.f3! (threat 2.Qd1 mate or 2.Qe3 mate), after which we have the lines 1...Bf4 2.Qxe4 mate and 1...Rf4 2. Bxb3 mate, plus the by-play variation 1...Kd4 2.Qe3 mate. This superb use of the Organ Pipes to give a fourfold Novotny produced a sensation in problem circles when it appeared, and deservedly won first prize that year in the prestigious German problem magazine, Die Schwalbe. Comins Mansfield was one of the greatest two-move composers of all time, arguably THE greatest. He is also the answer to the trivia quiz trick "Who was the first British holder of the GM title?" - he was awarded the GM title for Problem Composition before either postal GM Keith Richardson or OTB GM Tony Miles got their titles!

The next example shows both sides using the Novotny and Grimshaw ideas, in moremover form (when it comes to length, there are three types of direct-mate problem – twomovers, threemovers and moremovers).

Hans-Peter Rehm,
1st Prize, Themes-64, 1959

Mate in four

Here, the try is 1.Be8? threatening mates by 2.Bxb5 and 2.Rc4. However, Black defends with the Novotny 1...Nc6! the square c6 being the intersect square for the WB and WR. Now after both 2.Bxc6 Rg5! and 2.Rxc6 Bxe6! Black staves off the mating threats.

White reacts to this by provoking a black Grimshaw. The key is 1.Bh5! threatening 2.Bd1 mate. Now Black can only defend by putting something on g4, but then White returns to the try idea and it turns out that the Novotny defence no longer works: 1...Bg4 2.Be8 Nc6 and now 3.Bxc6 forces 4.Bb5 mate next move, since the Bg4 prevents the previous defence with 3...Rg5. Likewise, after 1...Rg4 White again switches back to the try-move 2.Be8 and this time, after 2...Nc6 he plays 3.Rxc6! and now the Rg4 prevents the previous defence 3...Bxe6, so White will mate next move with 4.Rc4 mate!

Grimshaw and Novotny are primarily direct-mate themes, but they can occur in other genres as well. Here is a simple selfmate example:

Michael McDowell & John Beasley
23rd Place, 5th WCCT, 1993-7

Selfmate in three

It is clear that the mating idea will involve forcing Black to discover check and mate along the first rank, but how? The key is the waiting move 1.Rh7. Now there are two lines. After 1…Ne6 there comes 2.Rh5+ Ng5. Now the pinned BN shuts off the Rg8 from controlling g1, so all White has to do is shut off his Bishop's attack on the enemy Ra1: 3.Rg7 forcing a bishop move, mating. 3...B-any#.

Likewise, after 1...Ne8 (1...Nh5 is the same)2.Rf7+ Nf6. This time, the pinned BN shuts off the WB's attack on the Ra1, so White now needs to shut off his Rg8's guard of g1: 3.Bg7, again forcing a bishop move, mating. 3...B-any#. In each line, the pinned BN shuts off one White piece, and a white Grimshaw shuts off the other.

Finally, here is a neat and economical double Grimshaw in a helpmate:

Christopher J Feather, Moultings 3, 1991

Helpmate in two, two solutions

In the two solutions, we see a double Grimshaw each time (remember, Black moves first):

1.Re5 Rh1 2.Rc4 Ra1#
1.Be5 Rhxb7 2.Bc4 Ra5#

In the first solution, the black rooks shut off the black bishops, and in the second solution, the roles are reversed.

I am greatly indebted to Michael McDowell and Chris Feather for their assistance in the preparation of this piece. See you in two week's time!


Previous columns

Problem chess: Forgive me interfering, won't you?
31.07.2011 – In the new instalment of his series on chess problems, Steve Giddins looks at one of the most famous themes in problem chess: a particular type of interference that is known as the Grimshaw, after the 19th century English composer Walter Grimshaw, who first showed it. He illustrated the theme with some remarkable problems for you to enjoy.
Problem chess: pacifists and masochists
10.07.2011 – In the second instalment of his new series on chess problems, Steve Giddins moves away from direct mates and looks instead at helpmates and selfmates. Helpmates represent all that is best and most elegant about cooperation on the chessboard, whilst selfmates are the problemists' equivalent of Suicide Chess. Don't miss some absolute beauties!
Problem chess: Bringing back checkmate
24.06.2011 – Ask even a non-chessplayer what the object of the game is. Clearly it is checkmate. But be honest, now: how often do we actually see a king checkmated in a game of chess? There is a branch of chess, however, where mate occurs all the time, in virtually every position. We are talking, of course, of problem chess. Steve Giddins starts a new column on the subject. Prepare to be amazed!

Copyright ChessBase

Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register