Bo Lindgren – Swedish grandmaster of composition

by ChessBase
4/16/2013 – Bo Waldemar Lindgren (1927–2011) was one of the most versatile chess problem composers with awards in many genres. He was, as David Friedgood recalls, a friendly, serious character who had many interests, including science, literature and poetry. He composed around 500 problems and published an anthology in 1978. Here are examples of his creativity, and two problems for you to solve.

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Bo Lindgren – Swedish grandmaster of composition

By David Friedgood

One of our readers, Bengt Ulin, of Sweden, has requested a piece on his late compatriot, Bo Lindgren (26.2.1927 – 4.6.2011), a Grandmaster of Composition. I am happy to oblige, with the aid of John Rice’s articles in The Problemist of November 2011 and January 2012 and a contribution from Harold van der Heijden, the Dutch endgame study supremo.

Bo Lindgren’s father Frithiof was an accomplished problem and study composer and Bo evidently followed in his footsteps with regard to an enthusiasm for composing. However, we suspect that he tended to avoid areas in which his father excelled, such as studies, for some time. Nevertheless, Bo developed into one of the most versatile composers, winning awards in many genres.

Bo Lindgren and Norman McLeod Benidorm 1990

I have had the pleasure of meeting Bo on a few occasions, finding him a very friendly, serious character who had many interests including science, world literature and poetry. He composed around 500 problems and a few studies and published an anthology Maskrosor (Dandelions) as long ago as 1978. It is impossible to do justice to such a multi-talented composer in such a small space. My little selection emphasises his ability as an artist within as well as outside of the fashionable thematic interests of his era.

The following is a typically original puzzle from Bo. You have to work out why the continuation in one line does not work for the other.

[Event "Prize, Skakbladet"] [Site "?"] [Date "1947.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Bo Lindgren"] [Black "Mate in 7"] [Result "*"] [Annotator "David Friedgood"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/7K/8/8/8/1P2p3/2Q1P3/k7 w - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "1"] [EventDate "1947.??.??"] 1. Qc3+ {In longer problems a checking key move is often acceptable. In this case, the fact that the stalemated king is being given the freedom of two flight squares serves to reduce the aesthetic crudity of the check.} (1. Qc3+ Ka2 2. Kg6 Kb1 (2... Ka3 {makes no difference}) 3. Kf5 Ka2 4. Ke4 Kb1 5. Kd3 Ka2 6. Kc2 Ka3 7. Qa5#) (1. Qc3+ Kb1 2. b4 Ka2 3. b5 Kb1 4. b6 Ka2 5. b7 Kb1 6. b8=Q+ Ka2 7. Qbb2# {Of course other mates are available. The charming point of this problem is that White appears to have two methods of delivering mate, but the timing is such that the correct one needs to be chosen depending on Black's first move, otherwise stalemate will result.}) *

In a serieshelpmate, Black begins and makes n moves consecutively, of which only the last may be a check; Black may not move into check either. At the end of the black sequence, White mates in one move. This problem by Bo has two solutions, each showing a sequence of eight moves by Black followed by White mating instantly. The following is one of Bo's best known problems, showing Allumwandlung ("all the promotions"), a favourite theme of his. In one solution Black promotes to bishop and rook; in the other to queen and knight. The economy is impeccable. Don't miss replaying the solutions – they will take your breath away.

[Event "Mat"] [Site "?"] [Date "1984.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Bo Lindgren"] [Black "Serieshelpmate in 8 2 solutio"] [Result "*"] [Annotator "David Friedgood"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "7B/8/8/8/8/5k2/pR4p1/4K3 b - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "16"] [EventDate "1984.??.??"] 1... g1=N (1... g1=B 2. -- Be3 3. -- Bc1 {Preventing the next move from being check} 4. -- a1=R 5. -- Ra4 6. -- Bf4 {This self-blocking move has to be made before the next move cuts the diagonal from c1} 7. -- Ke3 {And this move has to be made before the rook self-blocks on e4, which would be check if played now} 8. -- Re4 9. Rb3#) 2. -- Ne2 3. -- Kg2 {Using the knight as a shield from the rook} 4. -- Kg1 5. -- Nc1 6. -- a1=Q {Again the knight is used as a shield, this time to prevent the queen promotion from giving check} 7. -- Qa8 8. -- Qh1 {Two nice long moves complete Black's contribution with a self-block on h1} 9. Bd4# *

Harold van der Heijden selected this item from his famous database of endgame studies. I suspect that it started life as a problem, which Bo then decided was of greater interest when presented as a study. It is a little odyssey, in which the lone rook eventually checkmates against the odds.

[Event "64"] [Site "?"] [Date "1976.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Bo Lindgren"] [Black "White to play and win"] [Result "*"] [Annotator "Harold van der Heijden"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "k7/1p6/1K5n/7p/1R3p2/pb2p2r/8/8 w - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "21"] [EventDate "1976.??.??"] {Despite the large material disadvantage, White is able to win this position.} 1. Re4 {threatens mate in one} (1. Rd4 $2 Nf7 $19 {e.g.} 2. Re4 Nd6) (1. Rxf4 $2 {e.g.} Nf7) 1... Bf7 (1... Ba4 2. Rxf4 {and mate on f8 cannot be avoided anymore.}) 2. Rd4 {Now the bB blocks square f7 for the knight. The only move to prevent the mate on d8 is.} (2. Kc7 $2 {e. g.} b5) 2... Bd5 3. Rxd5 {and after the bishop sacrifice square f7 is available again to the black knight.} Nf7 4. Kc7 {Now threatening mate on the a-file.} b6 {only move.} 5. Rd4 $1 { renewing the mate threat on the a-file.} b5 {only move} 6. Rd3 e2 {Now we understand the purpose of the black rook at h3.} (6... b4 7. Rd5 {and mate on a5.}) 7. Rxh3 f3 (7... b4 8. Rxh5 {and mates on a5.}) 8. Rxf3 b4 9. Rf5 Ne5 10. Rxe5 e1=Q 11. Ra5# {The Pb4 has been encouraged to interfere with the queen's protection of a5.} (11. Rxe1 $2 Ka7 $11 {e.g.} 12. Re5 Ka6 13. Kc6 a2) *

The following problem by Bo is for readers to solve. In a two-mover, all you have to do is to find White’s unique first (“key”) move, which forces mate on the second move, regardless of what Black may do. In this particular problem, there are a number of “tries” – attempts at a key move – which have a similar aim as the key but can all be refuted by Black. Why does the key work and the tries do not?

White to play and mate in two moves

Here's another Lindgren problem for readers to solve, this time a three-mover. Again there is a key move to be found and this time all Black’s defences should be met by mate on White’s third move, at the latest. This problem’s solution has a thematic idea in common with that of the serieshelpmate.

White to play and mate in three moves

Solutions to the problems will appear in approximately one week. Any queries or constructive comments can be addressed to the author at

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