ChessBase Puzzle Competition winners

by Anirudh Daga
2/12/2024 – In the concluding article for the Christmas Composition Contest, we see the final prize-winning compositions, which were a touch ahead of the others! Like always, all compositions were evaluated on the basis of economy, harmony and aesthetics! We also included a special prize for the best story behind the composition, and the cook-stopping that took place! Hope you enjoyed reading the article and playing through the excellent compositions.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


The compositions presented below are in no order, but are the top three puzzles submitted! We also had a special prize (the fourth puzzle listed!) for the best story to make their composition, which was quite inspiring to read. 

The solutions to the puzzles are provided at the end of the article. There are hints and description of the solutions present in the text following the diagrams – where you know you can move the pieces! And remember: in helpmates Black has the first move (with one exception as specified below).

This position has four twins which are harmoniously connected. We see, in the diagrammed position, that the two white bishops will be the checkmating pieces, but understanding where is interesting to solve! Here is the solution:

a) Diagram 
b) Move a4 to f3 
c) Move g4 to c4 
d) Move a4 to g3

The black king gets mated on four different squares. All four are Boden's mates and model mates too. And there is a fabulous cycle of the white moves in the pattern AB-BC-CD-DA when each white move is represented as an alphabet! It’s also interesting to not why it must be Bd4 or Rd4 for the black moves when the black king is on e5 and e4 respectively.

In the starting position, we see two pinned bishops, which are most likely going to be the checkmating piece for the Boden’s mate. Visualising the checkmating position is especially tough since the none of the squares in the black king’s field is covered! Beautifully connected solutions! We see White unpinning one of the bishops with his first move and Black doing the same to unpin the other white bishop, along with guarding one of the squares for the mates. And then of course, the white bishops move around and give the criss-cross mate!

A miniature with two solutions, each containing the Boden’s mate, was a pleasure to receive! We see that the white bishop is pinned in place, but in each of the two solutions, it is unpinned in a different way.

Special Prize

This composition gets the special prize, not just because of the content, but also the cook-stopping that took place in making this work! This was by far the best composition submitted by a beginner who has never made any other chess puzzles. On top of it, his story behind making the composition was indeed quite inspiring. We will tell it to you in a separate article – which will hopefully inspire you to compose little chess puzzles yourself.

All prize-winners will be contacted separately for their respective prizes. Hope you enjoyed the ChessBase Composition contest, and we welcome any and all feedback pertaining to it!


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!


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register

Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/16/2024 07:12
As a last suggestion, could you next time add something in the title like 'update: solutions'? I've been waiting for them when they possibly have been there for a few days.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/16/2024 06:13
Manikumar's problem is a real tour de force, but I guess it's a 'problemist's problem'. For a not-too-regular-solver like me it lacks difficulty. This is partly because it's a quadruple; with a pawn changing places, you immediately think 'flight squares'. With the pawn on a4, it is clear the king should go to c4 (b5 being covered), so the mate must be Bf7, only leaving the question what to do with flight square d3. That gives a clue to the three remaining positions.
The same counts for Paavilainen's work. Both bishops need to be unpinned, so it is quite obvious that the Rh1 and the Qa7 must be used as square blockers, and that the two knights should block the other squares follows from that. I liked however the way he made a twin by letting white start.
Harkola's problem at least has a false trail, black getting in Zugzwang after 1... g5?. Boden to the basics!
Antal's problem also was, like Vulmurugan's (I guess that's the name by which he is called), quite difficult. Could have been my favourite as well.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/16/2024 05:51
Still missing: the second solution to Velmurugan Nallusamy's problem from the second installment:

1...c3 2.bxc3 Kg5 3.Kb2 Kf4 4.Bh2+ Ke3 5.Bf4+ Kd3 6.Bf1#

Like in Antal's problem, the white king serves as board side. This one caused me the most problems (and therefore was my favorite!)
iustz iustz 2/14/2024 09:59
Dear Aniedg,

thank you very much for your kind answer and acknowledging my improvement suggestion. Please forgive my previous negative comments.
I wish you the best for all your future enterprises and hope that you will always enjoy composing, publicizing and solving chess problems.

I wish you all the best and best regards!
Aniedg Aniedg 2/14/2024 01:41
Dear @iustz, thanks a lot for the feedback and we will keep this in mind for future contests if they were to happen. After all, it was the first time we have organized a composition contest in ChessBase and so there will be improvements that can be made!

Regarding the not-acknowledged compositions, you can indeed send it to other magazines/websites/contests since they are not present in a public forum. Thanks a lot for your interest and we hope to see you take part in future chess composition/solving contests in ChessBase or elsewhere!
iustz iustz 2/13/2024 05:25
@Aniedg: Thank you again for your fast and kind answer!

Let's just agree that our standpoints differ. I always used to enjoy studying great compositions by expert composers and learning from them. I also enjoyed solving the winning compositions. That wasn't my point at all... but I guess, it is what it is and I will leave it with that. There are other and more rewarding things to invest time in.

One last constructive piece of advice for future contests: Yes, there should be more clarity and communication. It would also be nice if there were at least a short mail (could just copy-paste contain "Thank you for the submission of your composition! Best regards, Chessbase" confirming the submission of a composition. I was never sure if any submission was successfully accepted or not.

Is it possible to resubmit not-acknowledged compositions to some other website, magazine or contest? Or are they publicly saved as "Name, ChessBase 2024" somewhere? I wouldn't want to leave them buried in my computer.

Best regards to all and sorry for all my grumpy posts! :)
Aniedg Aniedg 2/13/2024 04:55
Dear all, only those who have never composed a helpmate were allowed to be eligible for the Special Prize! Our intention was indeed for the novice to get more than one special prize, however this proved to be difficult seeing as the number of entries which were sent.

Nevertheless, I would take this as feedback for future contests to ensure there is more communication as to how the contest is being run! We have tried initiating something new here and so we would need your co-operation, to keep this an ongoing and recurring thing!

Newcomers, however should of course look at how the prize-winners were crafted, to make improvements further. After all @iustz, if Medvedev or Djokovic do show up, I'm sure a tennis-lover would try learning tricks rather than thinking about prizes!

Thank you all once again for your interest and I would prompt you all to continue composing problems. :)
iustz iustz 2/13/2024 03:43
First of all, thank you @Aniedg for your kind answer and the effort to organize this contest! :) I've decided to delete two of my comments from yesterday, since they appeared a little too emotional in retrospect.

In order to echo the comments of delpraub and htcone (which show me that I was not the only one misunderstanding this contest) I wanted to provide the following explanation for my confusion and initial disillusionment:

In the three articles, in total 12 studies were presented: Only 4 of them were by novices (Stein, Antal, 2x Zimm). Of them, only one (Antal) was rewarded with a special prize. All other 8 were composed by accomplished (and prize-winning) helpmate composers (3x Nallusamy, Tanner, Maldonado Roland, Manikumar, Paavilainen, Harkola), among them all 3 official contest winners.

This just doesn't feel right for a contest that has been repeatedly advertised to be for novice composers. Special prize"s" (Plural) also strongly suggested that more than just 1 novice composer would find some prospect of winning anything or more than 2 others getting at least a recognization for efforts. I do not know how many submissions by novice composers there were, but only 1 special prize and recognitions of only 2 other novice composers just seems false to me.

When a tennis contest with recognition and special prizes for first-time players is being announced and then Zverev, Medvedev and Novakovic turn up and win everything, it feels neither right nor fair nor encouraging to novices. Instead, it leaves behind a rather foul and bitter taste, like being deceived and chanceless in a way. But that is just my personal opinion.
delpraub delpraub 2/13/2024 11:51
I echo htcone's comment.
I submitted my helpmate via the "" page, and I understood that it would have been evaluated separately from the Christmas Composition Contest.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the helpmates presented and commented (both those who won and those who did not win), I am still a bit confused about outcome the first competition (for novice composers and limited to the Boden's mate). Will there be one or has it been merged with the Christmas Composition Contest (and therefore, all the entries to Boden's theme competition have been included in the evaluation)?
htcone htcone 2/13/2024 10:32
There surely are two separate competitions, as suggested by iustz:
Announced on the 27th of December, for novice composers and for either direct mates or helpmates, with only one solution.
"Would you like to try your hand at composing a chess problem? It can be a direct or a helpmate. For the best submissions by an amateur reader we have special prizes. Submissions must be accompanied by a statement assuring us you have never published a helpmate before."
Later, there was a reminder of this competition, see

Announced on the 26th of December, only for helpmates, open for all composers and asking Boden's mate.

I would also be very interested in the results of the first competition!

By the way, what is Boden's mate? Is any mate with two Bishops, one giving mate and the other guarding squares around the King, Boden's mate? Apologies for my ignorance:( This has certainly been mentioned somewhere recently and I have missed it.
Aniedg Aniedg 2/13/2024 03:43
Hi @iustz,

Firstly I would like to thank you for your interest in the contest. It was the first time we had been organising a composition contest in ChessBase and so there are bound to be improvements that can be made. Hopefully, we will have more contests like this one in the future with the desired changes you want!

Now, regarding the one solution for a helpmate, it is certainly not compulsory to have more than one solution and if you had seen the previous articles about the contest's honourable mentions and commendations, you would have seen many problems with only one solution! Cook-stopping involves removing all solutions which are not intended! That does not mean that only one solution is allowed, but rather only the "intended" solutions to be present! Hope you understand how it works now.

I would recommend you to try your best at composing more problems, and if you want any feedback or improvements, just contact me through the feedback form -

Don't make such harsh steps about quitting this beautiful field, because after all, chess composition (and solving!) is for enjoyment purposes. Hope to see you trying your hand at making more puzzles too in future contests! :)
iustz iustz 2/13/2024 01:20
@ Frits Fritschy:
My personal favourite of today's winners was Mr. Antal's one. The second (the g-pawn) solution was very pleasing and I had to smile about the nice unexpected mating pattern, as I had hoped I would do more often. It's particularly pleasing that this problem only has the second unique solution if you leave away the c-pawn, I think. That one was a nice joy to me and felt very organically composed, like a novice stumbling upon a nice idea while composing another one and trying to combine both with minimal additional pieces. That is one of those nice little, very memorable chess artpieces that I am looking forward to showing in my local club. Very well done!

The other ones, from what I've solved... I don't know. They appeared very technical to me, like masterfully well thought-through systematic constructions. Huge respect for the skilled composers to make them work!

Yet, Mr Antal's second solution and the simplicity of adding a mere c-pawn for a totally different one still makes me smile, while the other ones were a little too technical for my personal taste. But I do understand how an initiated problem chess afficionado would marvel about the respective symmetries.

It was kind of weird to me that while solving Mr. Antal's charming composition I fully knew that he was an amateur struggling with one or two beautiful ideas. The stunning, technical compositions of Mr Paavilainen and Mr Manikumar, however, were something no amateur would ever compose, imho. It just made me realize how completely differently experienced composers approach tasks compared to unexperienced ones. Mr. Harkola's composition was pretty unspectacular imho, although Bc4 in one of the two solutions was a very nice move and I liked that there were no superfluous pieces on the board. So yes, imho the winners all won deservedly!
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/13/2024 12:23
I saved the second problem for last, but again was slightly disappointed by the simplicity of the solutions. I can understand that a real problemist savours the ingenious construction, and solving might be quite a bit harder when you haven't heard about 'Boden', but it's all just a bit too mechanical for me.
This one took me about two times two minutes; in contrast the second solution to Antal's problem took me two hours – and in the end gave much more pleasure having managed to find it. The same with Velmurugan's problem from the second installment.
I wonder how other solvers think about it (if they are there).
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/12/2024 09:59
Got it, eight down, two to go. No Boden this time.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/12/2024 09:46
By the way, judging by the few minutes I needed to solve the quadruple solutions of the first problem, the last one would deserve the 'solver's prize' - again one that drives me mad. I guess 'professionals' value the thematic more than the solving, as the last should be easy for them. But maybe I have a blind spot again for that second solution.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/12/2024 09:37
Thanks for making me acquainted with the Schwalbe database. But: I don’t see your problem. ‘For the best submissions by an amateur reader we have special prizes.’ This is won by Mr Antal. It has a header ‘Special prize’. And the text beneath is clear enough.
Also, ‘Helpmate problems are very strict about purity: there must be no deviations - a single unique line of play must solve the problem’ pertains to one, single problem. If the stipulation says there are to be two solutions, you have two problems, each with a single solution.
The reason this is used very often with helpmates is that unlike standard problems, helpmates lack variations. By accepting multiple solutions, you make the problem richer. An item by which such problems may be judged in a composition tournament, is that there should be some connection between the different solutions. As it is clearly with the first ‘professional’ winner. And maybe as well with the ‘amateur’ winner, but I haven’t yet figured out the second solution...
iustz iustz 2/12/2024 07:12
Congrats to the expert winners of the first Christmas puzzle contest!

@Frederic: When are the winners of the amateur helpmate contest (from your post "Composing chess problems" on 27th December 2023) going to be announced? In the mentioned article you wrote: "Helpmate problems are very strict about purity: there must be no deviations - a single unique line of play must solve the problem." and "For the best submissions by an amateur reader we have special prizes. Submissions must be accompanied by a statement assuring us you have never published a helpmate before."
Since all three winners (except for Mr Antal!) have already published numerous (even prize-winning) helpmates before (according to the Schwalbe database) and all winning entries have multiple lines of play that solve the problem, I assume that there are two contests - one for amateurs (first-time helpmate composers) with unique lines of play and another for experts (composers who've already publicized multiple, even prize-winning, helpmates) with multiple lines of play.

Since the winners of the latter contest have been announced today, I humbly wanted to ask when the winners of the first contest are going to be announced?

Thank you and best regards! :)
Frederic Frederic 2/12/2024 05:22
@Frits Fritschy: Send us your email address (using the Feedback to the editors link above), and Anrudh will send you the entries. He has been managing everything.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/12/2024 03:42
Will there be a full report with all entries, maybe downloadable? I would be very interested.

For the moment, I'm on seven out of ten for this round; it's again endangering my work...
Michael Jones Michael Jones 2/12/2024 01:54
Disappointed not to win, but I had fun entering! Congratulations to the winners.