Christmas Puzzle Contest (2)

by Anirudh Daga
2/1/2024 – In the second instalment, we see some more compositions submitted to the Christmas Contest that are worthy of a mention but missed out on the prizes by a whisker! Though some are by beginners, others are by well-seasoned experts. But all problems were evaluated through economy, harmony and aesthetics. Hope you have fun reading these!

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Below are four more puzzles that deserve to be highlighted. Some are simple and give a sense of satisfaction while solving, others are more profound and have hidden motives present!

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, though there are hints and description of the solutions present in the text following the diagram. You know you can move the pieces on the diagrams! And remember: in helpmates Black has the first move.

A neat idea in a very economical setting. In the position itself, one gets the idea that Black castling will occur in one of the solutions, which is indeed the case! Another interesting detail is the placement of the white king, which ensures the uniqueness of some of the solutions!

Echo mates occur with different positions of the black king. All checkmates are model mates (i.e. the checkmated king and all vacant squares in its field are attacked only once) and two black pawns are used as cook-stoppers. Overall, a fabulous idea in a pleasant setting

Another interesting idea presented in a longer setting. Once the solution’s final position is visualised, the rest is rather simple to understand! A double switchback and pendulum is a pleasant surprise to see in the solution! There is only one place, where the black king can be checkmated, and thus the five moves are occupied by that. However, the white bishop on h2, must pave the road for the king and thus moves back and forth to ensure it does not get in the way.

A very economical position, with a rather simple and straightforward solution. There are no unwanted pieces present in the diagram with all pieces having a part (except maybe the white king on h5 though it acts as a cookstopper).

This problem deserves a mention due to the ease with which everything occurs. Though there is a high chance of anticipation, this was the composer’s first attempt at making a helpmate!

Another long helpmate but with two decently interesting solutions. A very economical setting with two Boden’s mates shown on the board albeit in different positions with different-coloured bishops!

It’s interesting to see why all the pawns are important in eliminating the unintended solutions, and what effect removing one has on the cooks! A pity is, of course, that the black king moves are repeated in both solutions.

That’s it for this article, hope you enjoyed reading it! In the next one, we are going to reveal the prize-winning compositions!

And here now are the solutions


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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Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/4/2024 10:26
Ah, now I see! My blind spot was how to get the white king to the party. There goes Frederic's 'experienced solver'...
In comparison, the first solution is rather dull, in my opinion, although it is needed to highlight the idea of the second one. The best so far!
Zvi Mendlowitz Zvi Mendlowitz 2/4/2024 07:28
@Frits Fritschy

The problem does have a second solution. Hint below...
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Black makes four king moves and one pawn move
Thomas Beuman Thomas Beuman 2/3/2024 10:51
I too couldn't find the second solution to the last problem. However, I checked with my computer and it did find it. A hint: as the hint the text already infers, the king is mated on a light square. A second hint: the solution features two pawn moves.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/3/2024 09:48
And after you presenting the solutions, I'm still left in the dark. The header speaks of two solutions, but only one has been given. A wild goose chase?
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/3/2024 09:44
[I accidentily hit the black cross, deleting my earlier comment. Those damned touchscreens! I wrote:] I solved the problems without too much effort, but couldn't find the second solution to the last problem. I even thought there might be something wrong in the stipulation, like 'for the second solution move the a2-pawn to d3'. But that would be a very clumsy problem.
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