Anirudh: In Boden’s Den

by Anirudh Daga
12/26/2023 – Playing chess is an immensely popular activity. Solving chess problems is also very enjoyable. But how about composing problems? During our revived Christmas Puzzle week, we want to discuss different methods of how to compose your very own chess problem! We ask you to give it a try yourself. Submit your own composition and win some great prizes!

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In charge of this Composition Competition is Anirudh Daga, whom you may know from this previous article. He has volunteered to assist in our Christmas Puzzle Week. Here is what we intend to do, described by Anirudh in this five-minute video:

The first instalment of our composing competition looks at a beautiful mating position that occurred 180 years ago, and how it can be developed into a short and sweet composition. Let me tell you about my attempt to use it to construct a nice (and sound!) helpmate problem.

My idea was sparked when I saw a beautiful game between Horwitz and Popert, 1844, where the combined forces of the bishop pair weaved a spectacular mating position! I wanted to find a helpmate in which it occurred. And so my journey began! Since both Black and White are helping each other, I wondered whether under-promotions could be forced.

This was my first try - a helpmate in three:

The solution goes like this (remember Black starts first!): 1.g1=R! (What’s the problem if the pawn is promoted to a queen? Well, it is a check to the white king) f8=B! (again a similar problem if promotion to queen) 2.Rg8 Bd6 3.Rd8 Ba6#.

And so we have it – Boden’s mate! At first glance, it looks unique (i.e. no other solutions) but then I discovered it contained alternate solution lines that spoilt it.

When dealing with under-promotions, there is a high possibility that a promotion to queen can result in unintended solutions since the queen is the most powerful piece on the chess board. And so, here are some of the “cooks” which we must try and avoid.

Let’s go one-by-one for each of the cooks that are occurring:

  • Solutions that are similar to 1.g1=R Be2 2.Rc1 Bf3 3.Rc7 f8=Q# can be prevented if we remove the white bishop’s access to the h1-a8 diagonal, which can be done by adding a wP on d5. This ensures that f8=Q will not be checkmate since the King can escape to b7.

  • Solutions that are similar to 1.Kb7 f8=Q 2.Kb6 Qb8+ 3.Ka5 Qb5# can be easily averted by adding a black pawn on a5 which would result in the black king not being able to go to a5 and thus no mate!

  • Solutions that are similar to 1.d6 f8=Q+ 2.Kb7 Qxd6 3.Kc8 Ba6# can be stopped by simply adding a black pawn on d6, so that Black’s first move will not be possible. As a result in the mating position the black queen will not have access to the d8-square and so 4.Kd8 will be possible.

​Such a process is always helpful in removing cooks. By classifying all cooks that are similar together you can understand the easiest way to remove them! Thus we get a sound position with one solution only!

You can move the pieces on the diagram and work out the solution. Remember, Black makes the first move.

Now the challenge is yours! Make a helpmate in any number of moves with the theme of Boden’s mate! The compositions will be ranked based on

  1. The process and idea behind it

  2. Aesthetics and harmony

  3. Economy (lower the piece count, better it is)

Please submit your compositions here

The prizes, products in the brand-new and exciting ChessBase interactive book format, will be specified at the end of the week. 

Good Luck & Happy Composing!

Anirudh was born in Delhi, India, and now lives in Singapore. He is one of the world's most promising young problem composers, specializing in positions that are fascinating and unconventional. He became interested in chess composition after winning the Christmastide Solving Contest, at the age of twelve. Anirudh grew from strength to strength, competed at the World Chess Solving Championships, and composed numerous problems that have all found their due place in reputable problem magazines. It is his goal to spread the joy of chess composition and solving!


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Aniedg Aniedg 12/26/2023 02:11
Dear @Inspirus18, you are completely right that the position you provided will be more economical! However, the article entails to provide a chronological order as to how the cooks can be eliminated! Thank you for your interest!
Inspirus18 Inspirus18 12/26/2023 11:40
There is an idle white pawn there.
Why don't you use the following setting?
Same solution, more economical position.