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KoBulChess - Helpmates 2013 Award (Part 1 - H#2)

logo(03.07.2014) Here is the Award of KoBulChess Helpmates (in two moves) 2013. Many thanks to the judge Mario Parrinello for his quick work and detailed award which will be open for claims for 1 month period. The second part of the award for Helpmates in more than 2 moves will be published very soon.



KoBulChess 2013 Helpmates Award


My hearty thanks go to Diyan Kostadinov who kindly invited me to act as judge of the 2013 informal tourney of KoBulChess.

My thanks go also to the readers whose comments I have often found appropriate and useful; this fact proves the viability of a tourney runned on an excellent web site such as KoBulChess.

There were 55 problems to be judged, 33 in 2 moves and 22 in more than 2 moves. I decided to split the award into two sections because of the small number of participating and selected problems in the h#>2 section. As a general remark, in my opinion the quality level of the h#2s was superior in comparison to longer problems.

H#2 2013 Award

There were 33 problems (including a couple of versions) to be judged; the average quality level was very good and this explains why I have excluded some interesting problems. There were problems, though to some extent enjoyable, showing weak strategy: no.146, no.149, no.164, no.218 (the version 218.1 proves that other thematic motifs can be added), no.234, no.261 (compare to PDB P0535130 or PDB P0562465) and no.293.

The following problems were excluded for various reasons: no.110: very well-known creation of B/S batteries (compare to PDB P0524253, PDB P0551650 or A.Pantkratiev Springaren 2006 White Kd8 Ba7 Ba8 Sd4 Sd5 pc3 e4; Black Kd3 pd6 e5 b4 c4 h# B) Kd3e5) and moreover the B1 moves are unhomogeneous (tempo in A and selfblock in B); no.124: if the author had shown a pure dual avoidance at B2 the problem could enter the award (compare to PDB P1189656 which shows the same idea and the same drawback but in a twin-less rendering); no.136: very well-known anticipatory selfpins but the twinning is very weak since it involves the thematic white piece; no.152: anticipated by PDB P1005099; no.161: neat pin mates on the same square but the play is unexciting; no.162.1: nice miniature with mates on the same square but the unaesthetically price to pay is the idle bSb3 in the real play; no.190: anticipated by M.Witztum HM Vodka Ty Wageningen 2006 (White Kh2 Rf2 Ra5 Bb7; Black Kd4 Qd5 Be3 h#2 2 sols.); no.198: capture of two white pieces in each solutions and Zilahi but the play is routine; no.218.1: interesting tempos and dual avoidance but pin mates only in one solution; no.220: interesting HOTF but the rendering is not satisfactory: the dual avoidance is not convincing (the bRf6 can be replaced by a black pawn and moreover 2.Be6? fails also for check to wK) and the repetition Rxd3 (by the way two time as mating moves) detracts a lot; no.224: the motivations of the black moves are unhomogeneous; no.242: compare to PDB P1078943 which shows all the white pieces taking part in the play; no.244: the unpins seem more a technical trick to force the move order than a thematic motif; no.274: this combination, although extremely economical, is very well-known (compare to PDB P1271932); no.287: the unpins by White are not pure since the white Rooks must go to d3 in order to guard the bK’s field, irrespective of the unpins (a reader rightly quotes the following version: White Kg1 Rd2 Rd6 Se4; Black Kc4 Qa7 Re3 Bh6 Sd3 pb5 e5).

1st Prize no.215 F.Abdurahmanovic & Z.Janevski:

1.Ke4 Bc3! (Be3?) 2.Rxf5 Re8#, 1.Kd6 Rb5! (Rc8?) 2.Bxf6 Bxf4#

This problem shows a very interesting and paradoxical strategy. Who could imagine that the wQg6 does not move at all and is used instead as pinning piece? The black King moves in order to reach his final destination but at the same time opens not one but even two black lines guarded by two black pieces. White at this point has to close one of them but what about the remaining one? The black piece which still guards the mating line must selpin itself exploiting thus the line opened by the bK; the most valuable thematic feature is the fact that the black selfpins occur on the square which is behind the bK in diagram position, making them more hidden. This combination has already been shown by one of the authors (Z.Janevski 6th HM Orbit 2001-I White Kf1 Rh6 Rd8 Bf2 Bc8 pf3 b5 e6 f6 e7; Black Ke5 Re2 Bh2 Sg2 Sg1 pb7 c4 d4 d2 h#2 B) +bPd6) but the present problem is clearly superior thanks to the presence of the dual avoidance (1…Be3? or 1…Rc8?) which makes it an outstanding achievement. A worthy winner.


2nd Prize no.166 J.Csak:

1.Re2 Rd1 2.Rxe3 Rd4#, 1.d6 Rc7 2.dxe5 Rc4#

1.d5 Rd1 2.Kxe3 Bd4#, 1.Rd2 Rxd7 2.Kxe5 Sc4#

An original Helpmate Of The Future (HOTF) and surely the best in the tourney. The entire strategy is based on two different white batteries already set in the diagram position and whose front pieces are pinned. In one pair of solutions Black must capture one of the front piece in turn in order to perform a square-block since the rear piece of the relevant battery has to reach the mating square; while the static white battery is used for guarding purposes with excellent reversal of functions. The second pair of solutions shows instead exchange of roles between the rear piece of one battery and the front piece of the other in such a way that Black unpins at B1 the front piece while the rear piece of the second battery moves in order to guard the bK’s field; after the bK’s moves White mates by double check. Worth noting the same black piece (bRg2 and bPd7) performs the B1 moves enhancing the homogeneity. The only slight blemish is the repetition 1…Rd1 but entirely acceptable in the light of the fact that this move shows different motivations.

3rd Prize no.258.1 V.Medintsev:

1.Scb6! (Sc~?) Rg4 2.Sb4! (tempo) Ra1#, 1.Sdb6 (Sd~?) Rg5 2.Sa5! (tempo) Rb1#

This problem has nothing particularly complex in comparison with the previous ones but its strategy is very appealing. At B1 moves one of the black Knights in turn opens a line in order to allow a white Rook can reach its destination for guarding purposes while at B2 moves the other Knight performs an unexpected tempo move; in the second solution these thematic pieces interchange their roles. But what is more interesting is the virtual play which emphasizes the strategy and it is based on the “tries” 1.Sc~? and 1.Sd~? according to which the black moves cannot be reversed since Black has to wait for vacations of the initial diagram square occupied by the wRs since it is the only right square the bSs can go to at B2. An elegant and airy Meredith.

1st HM no.246 Z.Janevski:

1.Qf4 Rc6+ 2.Ke5 Bxf6#, 1.R5f4 Qh4 2.Kf5 Qxf6#

The author has recently produced several interesting problems (including his 4th HM) showing the idea of square vacation by black pieces which allow flights for the bK and the present problem is a good example and the best in the tourney. The thematic black pieces are bQe5 and bRf5 which vacate their squares for their own King who then selfpins one of them in turn after moving on the 5th rank; one of the most appealing motif is the fact that the B1 moves occur on the same square and this feature fits well with the mating moves which occur on the same square as well. Since the emphasis is put on the black strategy, the W1 moves seem more prosaic, showing by the way not entirely balanced motivations (in one solution guard and in the other the wQ allows the bK’s flight); moreover the black interferences by the bK claimed by the author seem unconvincing since the bBa1 can be replaced by a bPb2. Despite the basic black strategy is known (compare among others to PDB P0576323) this problem deserves this high place thanks to the attractive hideaways at B1 moves on the same square and pin mates on f6.


2nd HM no.126 J.Csak:

1.Sf7 Rd3 2.Sd5 dxc3#, 1.Sfg6 Bf3 2.Sg4 e3#

Two white batteries set in the diagram position are ready to fire but it is needed a complex strategy before one of them could mate. First Black has to unpin the rear piece which must move along the battery line in order to find the appropriate square from which it gives mate. A black Knight occupies the square vacated by the rear piece of the white battery in order to close a black line and thus the B2 moves show Follow-My-Leader effect. This combination is not entirely new (it recalls PDB P1070249 which can be rated as a task, though with significant differences) but no.126 shows also  exchange of functions between the black Knights and what is more intrersting is the fact that they cannot reverse their functions (unpins/ closing lines) during the solutions (1.Se6? or 1.S5g6?) and this feature enriches the value of the black strategy.

3rd HM no.177 F.Simoni:

a) 1.Rxd3 (Bxc4?) Be3 2.Rd5 Bxf4#

b) 1.Bxc4 (Rxb6?) Bxb7 2.Be6 d4#

c) 1.Rxb6 (Rxd3?) Be6 2.Rd6 Re4#

This problem shows a difficult cyclic Zilahi combination which deserves recognition. The thematic white pieces are passively captured on the way by the black blocking piece which must reach its final destination since one of three squares (d5, e6, d6) must be blocked, hence the interesting cyclic interchange of functions between the white pieces which act as captured, supporting or mating piece. It is not easy at all to show this cyclical play as some drawbacks prove; first the dual avoidance (1.Bxc4? in A, 1.Rxb6? in B and 1.Rxd3? in C) is not convincing in the first phase since 1.Bxc4? fails not only by 3.Kxf4! but also by 3.Kd4! Moreover homegeneity of effects is an important feature in cyclic Zilahi and here the black “tries” show very different motivations; finally the twinning mechanism seems rather weak and technical.

4th HM no.235 Z.Janevski:

1.Bg5 d3 2.Kf4 Sg6#, 1.Sd5 d4+ 2.Kf6 Rg6#

Another interesting problem whose strategy is based on square vacation by Black. Similarly to the 1st HM the B1 moves allow the bK can reach his final destination but they are not hideaways since they show unexpected check avoidance; this is the main feature of the problem shown here in pure form, since sometimes this kind of anticipatory black line closings are also selfblocks.  Here too the emphasis is mainly put on the black strategy but the white one is not prosaic at all; the always attractive one-double step by the wPd2 for guarding purposes and the exchange of function between the thematic white pieces resulting in mates on the same square enrich the strategy. A very clear and interesting Meredith.


5th HM no.223 Z.Janevski:

1.Sd3 Bd6+ 2.Ke4 Re5#, 1.Sf3 Bxd4+ 2.Kf4 Be5#

1.e6 Be7+ 2.c5 Rxc5#, 1.Kd5 Rf4 2.e5 Ba2#

another HOTF showing very interesting points but also some blemishes. In one pair of solutions the problem shows an excellent strategy based on anticipatory selfpins and mates on the square vacated by the bK, hence Follow-My-Leader effects; this result has been achieved by the good exchange of functions between the white battery pieces which work as guarding or mating piece. In the second pair of solutions the main strategy is based on attractive one-double step by the bPe7 while the remaining white pieces guard the bK’s field. The construction without white pawns in good. Ideally any good HOTF problem should show a balanced and or equivalent quality among solutions/phases but unfortunately this problem suffers from the fact that the play of the first pair of solutions is much more interesting than the other.

1st Commendation no.253.1 V.Medintsev:

1.Sxc3 Rb7(exd6?) 2.Sd5 e6#

1.dxe5 Rc7(Rb7?) 2.e4 Rf2#

1.Rxb2 exd6(Rc7?) 2.Rbb7 Rf3#

Interesting cyclic Zilahi based on annihilations captures of one of three white pieces in turn placed on the long diagonal and closings of black lines at B2 performed by the capturing black piece. Unfortunately the dual avoidance quoted by the author is unbalanced since it shows unhomogenoeus motivations and another unconvincing feature is the fact that 2.e4 is not a pure closing of black line. Moreover this combination is very well-known (compare among others to PDB P0520162 which by the way shows pure closings of black lines in all phases).

2nd Commendation no.292 Z.Janevski (version by N.Predrag):

1.Sxd6 Kd6 2.Kf5 Rd5#, 1.Qf4 gxf4 2.Se3 Rd4#

1.Bxc2 Rd5 2.Bd3 Re5#, 1.Re3 Ba4 2.Bxd3 Bc6#

The version provided by a reader is obviously superior in comparison to the original one and shows a HOTF strategy based on a single white battery: in one pair, both pieces are captured for blocking purposes, hence the Zilahi, in the second pair after black sacrifices the white battery mates by double check.


3rd Commendation no.150 R.Vieira:

a) 1.Be7 (Sf6?) Se6 2.Sf6 Bf4#, b) 1.Sb7 (Se6?) Sf6 2.Se6 Sc4# 

Black has to close an own line pointed at the mating square but cannot do it immediately due to an undesired pin of the wS, thus the attractive anticipatory unpins of the thematic white Knight; the twinning mechanism, swapping places between the wS and bS, is ingenious.

4th Commendation no.208 A.Stepochkin:

1.Rg7 Rd1+! (0-0-0+?) 2.Sed2 Bxf5#, 1.Qa8 0-0-0+! (Rd1+?) 2.Scd2 Bxa6# 

A neat problem which shows dismantle of black batteries in order to avoid an undesired check to the wK; but the most interesting features are the hideaways at B1 moves, pin mates and the dual avoidance based on the right guard of the squares e2 or d2 (showing the well-known castling/non castling mechanism). The slightly symmetrical play is unescapable.


5th Commendation no.121 Z.Janevski:

1.Sd5 Bd2 2.Kd4 Rg4#, 1.Se4 Rc8+ 2.Kxd3 Rd2#

Anticipatory selfpins performed by the same black piece on two adjacent square of the long diagonal in order also to unpin the mating piece. Not a new combination of course but a pleasant and especially very economical and aristocratic realisation.


Mario Parrinello, International Judge of FIDE for chess composition

Marcaria, June 2014



+1 #1 Vitaly Medintsev 2014-07-03 09:10
Diagram and solution of 258.1 (3rd Prize) are wrong! An improved version was published. Please, correct the report.


+2 #2 Diyan Kostadinov 2014-07-03 11:58
Sorry for the mistake Vitaly. Now the diagram and solution are correct.
+2 #3 Vitaly Medintsev 2014-07-03 13:04
Thank you, Diyan! It is all right now :-)
+1 #4 Nikola Predrag 2014-07-03 14:34
A nice and well explained award, except for the corrupted/banalized meaning of dual avoidance. If nothing is avoided, where is the avoidance? If something is necesary for the solution, it must be achieved. If something is not enough, it is not avoided, it's simply not good. The "bad" moves might be considered as an artistic virtual feature, but their thematic significance depends on their complexity and originality. Unfortunately, it has become a habbit to overestimate the value of trivial virtual content.

1...Be3?/1...Rc8? in 1st Prize are just the bad moves which are mentioned to emphasize the necessity of line-interference (beside the flight-guard). This "bad" moves show the partial PURITY of the "good" moves 1...Bc3!/1...Rb5! That purity gives the additional quality to that problem.
+3 #5 Nikola Predrag 2014-07-03 14:34
A true dual avoidance is shown in 3rdHM, where the duals are actively avoided by the play. In each phase, two black pieces could block the same flight but one of them would annihilate a "wrong" white piece on its route. This problem shows not only cyclic Zilahi, but also a beautiful double cyclic shift (from the tries to the solutions) of the relations among 3 black pieces and 3 flights.
a)Rc3-d5!, Ba6-d5?
b)Ba6-e6!, Rb7-e6?
c)Rb7-d6!, Rc3-d6?

And the richness of true dual avoidances in the 3rd Prize is unbelievable. The complexity of the idea and the amazing change of logic/strategy makes this problem worth of "Superprize", exactly due to the original effect of dual avoidances.
0 #6 Vitaly Medintsev 2014-07-03 15:24
Well Nikola, I have to agree with you since I'm the author of h#2 which won the 3rd Prize :-) ... but I never argue with a judge ;-)
+1 #7 Nikola Predrag 2014-07-03 16:08
Oh, I don't argue with the judge. I try to explain to the less experienced visitors what is a true meaning of dual avoidance.
In case of 1st prize there are actually tries with the proper flightguards, showing the need to interfere with the piece that in the other phase selfpins itself. If the only way to guard a flight would automatically interfere with that piece, that would not be tematically pure.

True dual avoidance is a result of the play. If it is well done, I would evaluate it highly. In your problem, the result is amazing.
The judge certainly may have different criteria for evaluation. However, he should be fully aware of the content before the evaluation.
Since the comments were available, I believe he is aware of the content described there.
Unfortunately, the most amazing feature was not explained clearly. That is a fault of the author and the commentators :-)
0 #8 Vidadi Zamanov 2014-07-03 19:32
Congratulations to all the participants place. I wish good luck to the participants failed.
+1 #9 Mario Parrinello 2014-07-04 08:18
Nikola, if your remarks were official claims I would have rejected them, sorry; I try to explain my point of view.
What is dual avoidance in helpmates? I try to avoid ( :-) ) theory and thus the following definition is made by general agreement. The definition of this term can be extrapolated from the direct #2 where a try apparently works but fails due to a given (unique) refutation. This transposition to helpmate field is very tricky but it can be useful nonetheless. Therefore: in helpmate, dual avoidance is a manoeuvre/idea which apparently works but fails due to a given (unique) reason; by the way when I refer to manoeuvre/idea I refer to a single move or a sequence of moves.
According to the above definition every manoeuvre which apparently works but fails due to a unique reason is a “true” dual avoidance or better a pure dual avoidance.
0 #10 Mario Parrinello 2014-07-04 08:19
the 1st Pr. the dual avoidance is shown in a single move (B1): the “tries” 1…Be3? or 1…Rc8? have to guard the bK’s field as in the solution (the wB guards the square d4 and c5 respectively) and apparently work well but fail due to a unique reason, there is the need to close a black line; therefore the dual avoidance is pure and convincing. The same applies to the excellent 3rd Prize.
But in the 3rd HM, as I mentioned in my comments, the dual avoidance (here too shown as an entire sequence of moves) is not pure in A.
The fact that the dual avoidance is more or less complex, more or less original and so on is another story and it is only a judge’s duty.
0 #11 Mario Parrinello 2014-07-04 08:19
Surely, another judge would have made a different ranking.
As general remarsk, in all my award I try to explain my decisions (right or wrong they are) and always I try to comment analitycally the problems instead to provide only a trivial descriptive comments such as the following: 1st Pr. X. Yyyyyy: it shows Ruchlis, anticipatory selfpin, Zilahi and dual avoidance and so on, so on, and so on.
As another general remark judging is not an easy task since opinions differ, the judge has the tricky task to compare pieces of art (as someone said, the value of a problem is not affected by the judge’s opinion) and probably nobody agrees with judge’s ranking, except for the winner.
All the above is of course only my personal opinion.
+1 #12 Nikola Predrag 2014-07-04 13:47
Mario, my remarks are not the claims of any kind. Actually, the award is excellent in all details!

When No.258 was published, I've analyzed it and for all I've seen then, the 3rd Prize is a perfect placement.

The general agreement about dual avoidance has some weak points, as it often happens with "general agreements". In principle, the weakness is that various misinterpretations are possible. There are some deep logic or esthetic reasons why we " agree " about something, but with time these reasons fade from memory and new generations see only a formal side of the "agreement".
And a transposition from one genre to another, results with much greater potential for misinterpretations.
0 #13 Nikola Predrag 2014-07-04 13:51
You have a well balanced feeling about what has a certain thematic value, but many inexperienced visitors did not develop such a feeling.
I think that such non-reciprocal "dual-avoidances" are a trivial feature in helpmates, and that the name is wrong and misleading. But what can I do, if a "general agreement" says that the Sun revolves around the earth, then it must be so.
But I'm not happy about the overestimation of trivialities. I tried to explain why these "dual avoidances" are important and not trivial. I would call them attempts which ensure the thematic role to bBa1&bRa5 in both phases.
0 #14 Nikola Predrag 2014-07-04 13:52
Anyway, whatever we call it, this doesn't affect the award.
But the thinking about the terminology has accidentally revealed an original new detail in No.258. Only due to that accidental discovery, I MIGHT consider that problem as the best entry. And first I would have to think about it very carefully because I'm fully aware of what you've mentioned - the value of a problem is not affected by the judge’s opinion.
0 #15 Nikola Predrag 2014-07-04 13:53
To make it clear, if I were the judge, I would be proud to produce such a perfectly balanced award!
The only other thing which I might hypothetically consider difficult for ranking is 3rdHM.
Personally, I would not consider the impurities in the Zilahi cycle as very relevant, because I don't consider such Zilahi as interesting, or at least as a main original content. White pieces are here just the "technical" elements which support the beautiful black cycles.
But if I would rank it as a Prize, I would have to admit that my personal criteria were decisive :-)
+1 #16 Elmar Abdullayev 2014-07-06 04:58
Uvajaemiye ucastniki
konkurs prosol na visokom urovne no k sojaleniyu za 2013 god bili zadaci kotori moqli pretendovat ns otliciye no ix net v itogovom otcote. Konecno kak govoryat o vkusax ne sporyat. Scitayu cto ryzd xoroshox zadac moqli bit otmecennimi.
+1 #17 Juraj Lorinc 2014-07-06 10:21
Even in direct twomovers the views on the dual avoidance differ.

As a beginner I was taught that in #2 dual avoidance was introduced by identifiable motifs in the black defences. E.g. in Stocchi blocks (blocking of flight in at least three variations with dual avoidance) random block would allow any mate from the given set. But specific black blocking defences carry additional motifs - we call them dual avoidance motifs - that prevent all of mates from the set except one. Example by Lev Loshinsky with Stocchi dual avoidance in five variations: www.yacpdb.org/?id=15233.
+1 #18 Juraj Lorinc 2014-07-06 10:35
For a proper transfer of dual avoidance to the helpmate genre, for me it is important, that the reason preventing some of the continuations is introduced by the preceding play. In the 1st Prize bR/bB attack e5 from the beginning. If there was their line opening in the B1, that would motivate dual avoidance. Without line opening for me it is only a choice of move, not dual avoidance. It still has its value, but I would not call that dual avoidance.

Example of dual avoidance (as I understand it) introduced by Black play: jurajlorinc.com/.../.... Random move of bS opens line of bR and allows all three continuations. But specific moves carry additional motivation as explained in the commentary. This is pure dual avoidance in three solutions.
+1 #19 Juraj Lorinc 2014-07-06 10:41
Example of dual avoidance introduced by White play (this is hardly conceivable in direct #2, where dual avoidance is about fight): jurajlorinc.com/.../... Here after black block on g3 and closing of a2-f7 White could mate by Sf7~. However as White has to do closing duty on e6, this leads to the loss of guard. It has to be restored by specific battery opening, thus it is for me dual avoidance.

It is interesting to see that there is also already mentioned choice of move. It is perhaps not noticeable, but it is there. In the first solution white could restore guard of g4 by 2...Sfh6 and 2...Se5. White chooses naturally 2...Sfh6# as 2...Se5 interferes with Re6. But this line is there from the beginning, it is not a part of dual avoidance, just addition. Similarly, 2...Sxg5 is not chosen in the second solution due to unblock.

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