Friedgood: Solutions to the self-block problems

by ChessBase
2/28/2012 – The self-block occurs when Black (the defending side) is forced to block flight squares in the king's field and thus enable mate. David Friedgood explained this very important theme in problem chess and gave our readers two self-block problems to solve. In addition he challenged us to find an active self-block in actual tournament play. So far with modest results – so we must keep searching.

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David Friedgood: Problem Chess Solutions

The solutions to the two problems set for solving in Problem Chess: The Self-Block are as follows:

The Challenge to Readers has brought forth some interesting contributions and comments. However, very few of the examples submitted showed what I was hoping for. I am keeping the challenge open in the hope that I will receive examples showing either or both of the following features:

  1. A quiet move (non-checking and ideally non-capturing) that forces black to self-block
  2. An anticipatory self-block, i.e. the self-blocking move occurs a number of moves (the more, the better) before the mate that takes advantage of it.

An illustrative example was one of a number sent in by Joose Norri (Finland):

This does not altogether meet the requirement of (1), because one of the threats is 33.Rg4, which would force 33...Rg8 anyway, and thus force the dénouement seen in the game. In other words, 32...Rg8 deals with only one of the two threats.

The example does meet the requirement (2) with a sequence four moves long, albeit impure, as the second move already takes advantage of the self-block. Of course it is also very much a stock combination.

Let’s see what you can come up with now! Please send PGNs to

Copyright in this article David Friedgood 2012/ChessBase

The British Chess Problem Society (BCPS), founded in 1918, is the world's oldest chess problem society. It exists to promote the knowledge and enjoyment of chess compositions, and membership is open to chess enthusiasts in all countries.

The Society produces two bi-monthly magazines, The Problemist and The Problemist Supplement (the latter catering for beginners), which are issued to all members. Composers from all over the world send their problems and studies to compete in the tourneys run by the society.

The BCPS also organises the annual British Chess Solving Championship, and selects the Great Britain squad for the World Chess Solving Championship. The Society holds an annual residential weekend, with a full programme of solving and composing tourneys and lectures; this event attracts an international participation. Members are also entitled to use the resources of the BCPS library, and the Society book service, which can provide new and second-hand publications.

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