World Solving Cup: Titles for Piorun and Sidiropoulos

by ChessBase
3/21/2023 – The series of open national competitions for the World Solving Cup 2022/23 continued this month, with events in Poland and the Netherlands. Kacper Piorun won the Polish competition, while Nikos Sidiropoulos (Greece) was the winner in the Dutch event. In Poland, eight minutes decided the winner; in the Netherlands, one subtle endgame study made the difference.

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Championships in Poland and the Netherlands

Report published by the International Chess Federation

In Poland, eight minutes decided the winner; in the Netherlands, one subtle endgame study made the difference.

The series of open national competitions for the World Solving Cup 2022/23 started in October 2022, when the Swiss Championship was won by Martinas Limontas (Lithuania). Then, in February, Dolf Wissmann (Netherlands) came out on top in Finland, while March began with the win for the Nikos Sidiropoulos of Greece in the Netherlands.

The Polish Championship, held in Sękocin Stary, the suburbs of Warsaw, was the test for domestic pride. Will the most successful nation in chess solving, with 12 titles in World Championships (WCSC) and 5 in European Championships (ECSC) since 2009, allow any foreigner to win on Polish soil?

It was the strongest national tournament since 2020, with the top ten solvers averaging a rating of 2425 points. A total of 28 participants registered, from Great Britain, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Poland. Many titled solvers took part in this competition: Valery Kopyl, Martynas Limontas and Piotr Górski with single medals from the World Chess Solving Championship; and two multi-medalists in Piotr Murdzia (8 times world champion, 16 medals altogether) and Kacper Piorun (5 times world champion, nine medals altogether). Vasil Ďačuk from Ukraine, the current individual world champion composer, selected the 18 problems to be solved during six rounds. He also conducted the competition.

World Solving Cup 2022/23

Solvers focused before the first round: Kacper Piorun (left) and Piotr Górski (right) in the first rows | Photo: Piotr Górski

In the end, as many expected, it boiled down to the battle between Murdzia and Piorun. On the first day, both gained equal points after solving all the two-movers and three-movers perfectly and getting the best (but not maximal) result in the round of studies. Kacper was ahead by 14 minutes. 

On the second day, both had identical results in help-mates, more-movers and self-mates. Thus, time became the decisive tiebreaker. Piotr, the record holder with 22 domestic titles, managed to catch up by 6 minutes, but it was not enough to close the gap. The total available time was 360 minutes, and Kacper Piorun became the Polish Solving Champion thanks to an 8-minute difference!

After the first day, no less than 11 solvers had about the same chances for the third place on the podium. While the first two were not a surprise, no one expected 17-year-old Kevinas Kuznecovas from Lithuania to get the bronze medal. On the way to getting it, Kevinas obtained his final FIDE Solving Master norm (to get it, a solver needs a performance rating of at least 2450 and a highest rating of at least 2350 points).

He was followed closely by another Lithuanian, Martynas Limontas, the current leader in the WSC standings. The 2019 world champion, Piotr Górski, was only 11th after the first day, but on the second day he climbed to 5th place and allowed him to get the bronze medal in the Polish national standings. As one of the main organizers, he was under triple pressure, expecting the birth of his sixth child. The happy event came already the next day, and Piotr Górski became the “kids’ champion” among the world champions in solving, surpassing the record of the German Michael Pfannkuche.

World Solving Cup 2022/23

Best Polish juniors: Szymon Boryna (bronze), Michał Koziorowicz (gold), Radosław Psyk (silver), with the main judge, Vasil Ďačuk

Another exciting rivalry was seen among the top Polish juniors. In November 2022, Radosław Psyk and Michał Koziorowicz became the Polish OTB U20 champion and vice-champion, respectively. In solving, it was Michał who successfully defended the junior gold medal, and the bronze went to Szymon Boryna. 

In the following table, you will find the results of the top 10 solvers. 

World Solving Cup 2022/23

The full results are available here

The next two problems were among the hardest nuts to crack:


In the starting position, white has the strong move 1.Bf5. This kind of sacrifice with a double threat, known as Novotny interference, stops Black's f8-rook from preventing 2.gxf4# and the h3-bishop from averting 2.Nd7#. Taking White’s bishop on f5 does not help. However, 1. Bf5? is not a solution because of 1...dxc4!

Hint: Can we allow Black’s king to move to d4?

This year, even for some of the best solvers in the world, 100 minutes not enough time to solve three endgames completely. The best result saw a player getting 6 points out of the possible 15, and each of the medal winners got full 5 points for a different endgame! The next one was fully solved only by the overall winner, Kacper Piorun, and Jakub Marciniszyn (10th place), with all the rest not even getting a single point: 


White is two knights down, but Black’s king can be trapped using the white pawns. The first move seems natural: 1. d3+. How should White proceed later? For instance, 2.Bd8 (threatening 3.Bb6#) is met with: 2...Ng4+ 3.Ke2 Nf4+ 4.Kd2 Nd5! (and even stronger is 2…Qf7+!). Black’s knight on d5 stops all checkmate attempts.

Hint: How can White prevent the black knight from reaching the d5-square?

The Dutch Solving Championship took place the same weekend as the Polish event, but the overall atmosphere was very different. In the nice town of Nunspeet, in the middle of the Netherlands, more than 30 people participated in the yearly gathering of Dutch problemists, where the national championship was only a part of an extensive program that included lectures, composing tourneys, and unofficial solving competitions.

World Solving Cup 2022/23

Nicely decorated solving hall in Nunspeet | Photo: Luc Palmans

The 28th edition of the Dutch Open Solving Championship brought together 18 participants in the A-group and 9 in the B-group. The conditions were perfect: big tables, spacious room, no disturbing noise and refreshments at hand. 

Nikos Sidiropoulos from Greece, who resides in Belgium, has been improving consistently as of late. This time, he managed to edge out the favourite Eddy Van Beers. Third place went to the Slovak Richard Dobiaš, who lives in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, followed by two-time world champion Michel Caillaud of France, a regular participant at Nunspeet. The Dutch solvers also fought for their national championship, and Peter van den Heuvel proved to be the best, ahead of Joost Michielsen and Dirk Borst. The B-tournament was nicely won by local youngster Jim Wittebol.

World Solving Cup 2022/23

The winners in the Netherlands: Richard Dobiaš (Slovakia, 3rd place), Nikos Sidiropoulos (Greece, 1st place) and Eddy Van Beers (Belgium, 2nd place) | Photo: Hans Uitenbroek

In the end, the decider for overall first place was the following endgame, with subtle play and hidden resources for both sides. Nikos was the only participant to find all nine moves for the maximal 5 points; Joost got 4, while no one else scored more than 2 points.


The tournament ran very smoothly, without any protests or complaints. The only thing to regret was the absence of the current champion of Finland, Dolf Wismann, who didn’t feel well and had to withdraw from the competition.

The copious dinner on Saturday evening was followed by a speed-solving tournament with 15 participants. It consisted of two rounds: first 12 two-movers (all with 14 pieces) in 30 minutes, then 12 studies in 30 minutes. The second stage looked daunting, but these were the final combinations of longer studies (‘The Punch’, as Yochanan Afek calls them), and only the first move had to be given.

World Solving Cup 2022/23

Wine and books waiting on the table | Photo: Luc Palmans

Eddy Van Beers was extremely fast in the first round, solving all 12 two-movers in 27 minutes! In the second round, he kept his lead and emerged as the winner. The podium was completed by Richard Dobiaš and Dmitrijus Chocenka. The readers are kindly invited to try to solve the problems themselves, using one hour for this speed competition.

The weekend finished on Sunday morning with a studies-solving tournament organized by ARVES, the Dutch-Belgian society for endgame lovers. Two hours for six studies seems hard work, but traditionally the studies in this tournament are solver-friendly with clear main lines. The scores are always high, and the time factor can be decisive.  

But not this time! Although the studies were much praised (after the tournament...), it was a significant challenge for everybody to score some points. Again, our readers may try to solve the studies themselves. Dmitrijus Chocenka was the winner with 15 out of 30 points; followed by Eddy Van Beers and Richard Dobiaš with 11; and by Dutchmen Wouter van Rijn and Harold van der Heijden with 10 points each. 

The main hero of the Nunspeet competitions was FIDE Solving Judge Luc Palmans. Can you imagine the amount of voluntary work needed to select and prepare all 54 problems for four different competitions (bringing to the place some 700 copies)? And then running competitions, marking solutions, administration, reports, handling discussions... That is real love for chess composition!


1. Michael Herzberg, idée & form, 2016: 1.Rd4! (2.Rxd5#) The only proper defense is: 1…Kxd4 2.Rb4+ (2…Kxc5 3. Be7#) 2…Ke5, and now White can play 3.Bf5! because there is no dxc4 anymore. After the only defence to the double threat (4.gxf4# and 4.Nd7#) 3…dxe4 4.Bg6! White creates a new threat of 5.Rxe4#. Earlier, with 3.Bf5, White tried to close the lines of the black pieces, and now, the black pieces will go to f5 themselves: 4…Rf5 5.Nd7#, or 4…Bf5 5.gxf4# - Grimshaw interference.

2. Virgil Nestorescu, 5th HM E. Dobrescu 80 JT 2014: 1.d3+ Kd4 2.Bg3! Ng4+ 3.Ke2 (3…Qc6 4.Kd2! +- and Black cannot stop a checkmate without giving away his queen) 3…Nf4+! 4.Bxf4 (the knight won’t reach the square d5) 4…Qc6 5.Qa7+! Kc3 6.Qa3+ Kd4 7.c3+! Qxc3 8.Qd6+ Bd5 9.Qe5+! Nxe5 10. Be3#! White made three black pieces move and self-block, sacrificed a queen in the process, and finally checkmated the opponent. 

3. Mario Matouš, 2nd Prize Subotnyaya Gazeta, 1991: 1.Ka4! Nc4 2.Rb5+ Kg6 3.Ne3! (3.Nf4+? Kf7 4.Rb7+ Ke8 5.Rb8+ Kd7 6.Rb7+ Kc8 -+) Rh5 4.Rb3 Rh3 5.Nd1! Rxb3 6.Nxb2! Nd2! 7.Nc4! Rd3 8.Ne5+ Kf5 9.Nxd3 =

The next legs of the World Solving Cup 2022/23 will be the open championships in Latvia (April 8), Serbia (April 29-30) and Lithuania (May 6-7).


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