Problem Chess Solutions – Schiffman Theme Problems

8/14/2012 – In his previous article our problem expert David Friedgood looked at the major thematic ideas that involve pins – usually in the form of pieces being pinned against the king of the same colour. In the first instalments he dealt with with black pieces being pinned, explaining the theme with two examples and giving us two problems to solve. Did you succeed?

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Problem Chess Solutions – Schiffman Theme Problems

By David Friedgood

Two problems showing the Schiffman theme were set for solving last time. Here are the solutions with explanatory comments.

[Event "1st Prize, Skakbladet"] [Site "?"] [Date "1957.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "H Knuppert"] [Black "Mate in 2"] [Result "*"] [Annotator "Friedgood,David"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "Nq6/3pr3/2p3p1/2BkP1NR/1P2p3/1P1n4/6B1/1K2RQ2 w - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "2"] [EventDate "1957.??.??"] {In solving this problem, the main thing you would note is the flight square that the black king has on e5. If it were Black's move, then White would have no mate in response to 1...Kxe5, which is indeed a blemish. You might also investigate the three self-blocks on the flight square, which provide excellent compensation to the solver and we will return to this later. In the meantime, the key to the problem is the radical} 1. Nxe4 {taking away the flight square from the king but giving him one on e6 (a 'give-and-take key'). The threat is 2.Ng5#, a switchback mate, i.e. the knight returns to its original square in the diagram. Black has three thematic defences, all of which have the same motive. Let's see:} -- (1... Qxe5 {This is a self-pin and is very closely related to the Nietvelt defence. Just as in the Nietvelt, Black allows a piece to be pinned in such a way that, if White executed the threat (2.Ng5), the piece would be unpinned and would be able to interpose itself to cut off the check. However, this time it is not White's pinning piece (the h5 rook) that threatens the mate, but a different piece, the e4 knight. This is known as a Schiffman defence and has been popular amongst composers for many decades.} 2. Nc7# {White takes advantage of the queen being pinned to give mate on a square that she no longer controls. Note how the mating move guards the the e6 flight square.}) (1... Rxe5 {The second Schiffman defence, preparing to interpose on e4 if White should try 2. Ng5+, but:} 2. Qf7#) (1... Nxe5 {The third Schiffman defence, this time hoping to interpose on f3, but now the knight is pinned and a diagonal has been opened for the queen:} 2. Qc4# {The reason this problem received the First Prize in the composing tourney in which it was entered, is that it has Set Play as well as showing three Schiffman variations. If you consider the three thematic black defences as being played in the diagram position, before the key move, you will notice that each has a mate set for it. 1...Qxe5 is met by 2.Nb6#; 1.. .Rxe5 by 2.Qxd3# and 1...Nxe5 by 2.Bxe4#. A very attractive set of 'changed mates', which amply compensate for the lack of a set mate for 1...Kxe5.}) *

[Event "Revista Romana de Sah"] [Site "?"] [Date "1928.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "I A Schiffman"] [Black "Mate in 2"] [Result "*"] [Annotator "Friedgood,David"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "k2r2qR/1R6/8/N2P4/Q1P5/1K3B2/7B/8 w - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "3"] [EventDate "1928.??.??"] {The key is} 1. Rc7 $1 {threatening 2.Nc6#. The rook has to move to the right so as to keep a7 guarded, but any move further than c7 will permit the black rook to cut the line to a7 by 1...Rd7! But on c7 the rook interferes with the h2 bishop, giving the black king a flight on b8. There is also the little matter of a check becoming available to the black rook, so the key move is pleasingly paradoxical. Let us look first at the two Schiffman variations:} Qxd5 {self-pins the queen, but defeats the threat, which would unpin her and allow the check to be met by 2...Qa5. But now the queen loses control of the d8 square and allows} ({The second Schiffman defence leads to the same effect: } 1... Rxd5 2. Rxg8#) ({The only distinct non-thematic variation is} 1... Rb8+ 2. Nb7# {as, in giving check, the rook has blocked the b8 square}) 2. Rxd8# { to be mate. A neat, lightweight demonstration of the theme by its originator.} *

Next time we will be looking into one of the most fertile of all traditional themes, the half-pin. Any queries or constructive comments can be addressed to the author at david.friedgood@gmail.com.

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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