Christmas Puzzle Contest 1 + solutions

by Anirudh Daga
1/26/2024 – In the recently concluded ChessBase Christmas Composition Contest, we received many entries, and thus the decision-making was much harder! The problems submitted were tested upon the criterion of economy, harmony and aesthetics. We decided to make three articles on it, with the final one being about the prize-winners! Hope you have fun replalying these very nice little puzzles!

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The following are some of the honourable mentions and commendations that deserve to be highlighted – they are in no specific order! 

The solutions to the puzzles will be provided at the end of the article – tomorrow! That will give you a chance to try solving the problems yourself. You know you can move the pieces on the diagrams.

This position has a “twin” (move the pawn from g2 to g3 and solve the h#3 again!) and overall, a beautiful theme that connects the two unique solutions together. You should ask yourself why the white pawn being on g2 or g3 can produce completely different solutions.

All four promotions occur in the solutions combined, which is a famous theme known as AUW (abbreviated for “Allumwandlung”). A criss-cross mate can be seen in both, with the queen in the diagrammed position and a bishop in the next! Overall, a beautiful position though it is a pity that the black rook on h2 is necessary to stop unintended solutions!


A rather long helpmate though it can be solved quite quickly once the idea is known. We can see that the two lone bishops cannot checkmate the black king by themselves and will thus require some external help!

Hint: the problem involves a very amusing return of the white bishop to its starting square after capturing a few pawns to ensure the black rook can safely come out, after which a classic Boden’s mate occurs. Specific attention should be paid to the first move which is a waiting (tempo) move which cannot be any other (for instance 1.d3? would interfere with Bf1 later). An interesting realization of the theme!


There is a high likelihood that the composition may be anticipated but nevertheless, since it was the author’s first attempt at composing a problem, it gets to be featured here! The composer had sent two similar versions to the problem, however I liked this one the most, due to the active sacrifice of the white knight, while the other one delivers a mate.


Another long but solvable helpmate, which shows the Epaulette mate (though not obvious at first sight). The white bishop on d8 is a clue as to how the solution proceeds!

The uniqueness of the solution is interesting, since Black first needs to capture the white bishop, before preparing the final mating position! Of course, the promotion must be a black rook since a black queen will interfere with the mate with 6.Qe2. I do wonder, however, whether a black bishop promotion could be added? Maybe improvements for the future?

Solutions

Nallusamy Velmurugan:

1.b1=R b7 2.Rf1 b8=Q 3.Rf4 Qb1#
1.b1=Ne7 2.Nd2 e8=B 3.Nf3 Bg6#

Henry Tanner: 1.Ka7! Bf1 2.Kb7 Bxh3 3.Kc8 Kg2 4.h1R Bxg4 5.Rh8 Be2 6.Rd8 Ba6#

Richard S. L. Stein: 1.Ka8 Sdb2 2.axb2 Ke6 3.b1=R Kd7 4.Rb7+ Kc8 5.Ra7 Sb6#

Justus Zimm: 1.c2 c5 2.Ba5 c6 3.Bxd8 c7 4.c1=R cxd8=Q 5.Rf1 Qd2#

Replay the solutions

Hope you enjoyed reading the article and stay tuned for the next articles (about the contest) along with the prize-winners!

These are the prizes to be won in our Christmas Puzzle Contest


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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Frederic Frederic 1/27/2024 10:00
In the coming week you can watch a super-smart (quantum physicist) chess amateur struggle with out problems. It is quite encouraging to watch.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 1/26/2024 02:15
I wouldn't call myself an expert solver. In fact, I almost only solve problems here, around Christmas.
Are the composers also all 'beginners'? If so, hat off! Can't wait for the prize winning entries.
Frederic Frederic 1/26/2024 01:56
Fritz, we are trying to encourage amateurs -- to solve and in fact compose chess puzzles. Experts, to whom you clearly belong, should look away from the notes below the diagrams. Amateurs, who are nowhere near solving them, can use the little bit of help we are providing.

That said: I thought the problems submitted by our readers were really quite beautiful -- and challenging!
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 1/26/2024 01:08
A bit too many spoilers... Without them, I wouldn't know whether I could have solved them.

Maybe an idea for next Christmas (as I suggested before): combine a composing tournament with a solving competition. That gives composers a well-visited stage and makes it impossible for solvers to look up the solutions in the problem databases.
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