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KoBulChess Helpmates 2013 Award (Part 2 - H#n)
logo(06.12.2014) This is the second part of the KoBulChess Helpmates 2013 Award which is for helpmates in 2.5 and more moves. Many thanks to the judge Mario Parrinello for his educative and well presented award, which remains open for one month period. Congratulations to all awarded composers!
KoBulChess 2013 H#n Award
22 problems took part in this tourney and as mentioned above the average quality was inferior in comparison to that of the h#2 tourney; this is why I have awarded some problems which normally I would have excluded in a stronger tourney but luckily the prizewinners are good.
Despite the fact that I always try to judge separately problems of different lenght, here I could not do so because of the relatively small number of participating problems and fewer selected works.
The following problems were not selected for various reasons: no.125: the black switchbacks show unbalanced motivations (selfblocks in one solution and closing of black line in the other); for a better rendering of this idea compare to PDB P1187989; no.144: it shows weak strategy; no.146: interesting creation of white battery after unpins of the wS which will become the front piece but unfortunately the rest of the play is routine and moreover the unpinning 1.Rc5 is not pure since it is also selfblock; no.184: the repetead 1…f7 is definetely a serious drawback and for better renderings compare to PDB P0550045 or to 2nd HM A. Zhuravlev Shakhmatnaya Kompozitsiya 1996 (White Kh1 Rh3 pd6 ; Black Kc5 Qg4 Rc7 Rd5 h#3 3 sols.); no.226: the bQc6 and the bBd7 can be replaced by black pawns;  no.233: an interesting rendering of an idea proposed by the author in Batumi (1st Azemmour TTy: “ two white pieces A and B improve their position of guard.”) whose main interest lies here also in the opening of black line at W1 and closing of black line at W2; unfortunately the latter motif has not been shown in pure form (the black line closing after 2…Sc2 is not pure since the wS can guard the squares e3 and d4 only from c2); if this motif, which by the way has not been shown by any problems in the aforementioned award, were pure the problem could earn a distinction; moreover a slightly better black economy can be achieved by the following version: White Kh8 Bb7 Se3 Sb4; Black Kd4 Ra7 Ra2 Bc2 Bc1 pb5 e5 c3; no.238: substantially anticipated by PDB P0546501; no.243: substantially anticipated by A.Pankratiev Chess Leopolis 2008 (White Kc5 Rb1 Bc1 Bh1 Sd3; Black Kh8 pd5 e4 e3 g3 b2 c2 h#3 2 sols.); no.257: the crude captures are very unpleasing; no.264: this difficult task of three echo model mates performed by a white Knight suffers from some repetitions and moreover the idea is not new and it has been shown even in miniature though with repetitions too [compare to PDB P1233038 or B.Horstmann Rochade Europa 2011 (White Kh1 Se4; Black Kc6 Qg4 Rg2 Be5 Bc4 h#6 B) Bc4 to h3 C)=B) Qg4 to c3)]; no.289: despite the intensive “Bishops show”, the result seems forced and aesthetically unpleasing; no.296: it lacks of significant interplay and the manoeuvre is rather boring.
1st Prize no.225 V. Paliulionis: this aristocratic miniature shows many interesting points and all of them make it a very convincing strategical problem. As expected the wK will control the bK’s field and his necessary support implies a complex manoeuvre which bring the white Monarch to the South-West side of the board. The first white move 1…Sd3 has not only the aim of placing the wS on the square from which it could mate but it will condition also the bBh7’s manoeuvre which has to block the square b1; in effect the bBh7 could immediately block b1 but the W1 move leads to a nice alternative route. This pericritical manoeuvre has also the purpose to allow the wK could reach his final destination and therefore the bBh7 cooperates with the bQf7 in order to give freedom to the wK and as a consequence there are subtle moves such as 3.Qh8! (with the aim to selfblock a1) and 4.Bg8!; this latter manoeuvre shows a surprising black Indian and a formal but enjoyable interchange of place between the wK and bQ.
1…Sd3 2.Qe8+! Kg7 3.Qh8+! Kf7 4.Bg8+! Ke8! 5.Ba2+ Kd76.Bb1 Kc6 7.Ka2 Kb5 8.Qa1 Ka4 9.Bb2 Sb4#
2nd Prize no.232 Z. Mihajloski: long helpmates with only black and white pawns often show promotions and this problem is no exception. To allow White could promote to Queen, Black has to make a preparatory manoeuvre involving three minor black promotions but what is more interesting is the circuit performed by the wK which allows the promotion of the bPa3 and then he must return to his diagram square since the 1st rank is forbidden due to the black Rook promotion. The author has rightly choose to show this very beatiful wK’s manoeuvre instead of a fourth promotion leading thus to the very well-known AUW (many examples with only black and white pawns exist, even in miniature); this is the novel motif in this context which allows the problem to earn a prize. The first black move, though not entirely justified, makes more hidden discovering the mating net from the diagram position.
1.Kh8! Kb1 2.a2+Kc1 3.a1S!Kb1! 4.Sxc2 Ka2!5.Se3 fxe3 6.f2 e4 7.f1R! exf5 8.Rf4 f6 9.Rh4 f710.Rh7 f8Q#!
3rd Prize no.141 R. Vieira: as mentioned above, it is not appropriate to compare problems of different lenght since longer problems have more thematic space (let me paraphrase that sometimes time is strategy); among the shorter problems this one stands out for a very rich content. One can immediately argues from the diagram position that there is the need to have some openings of lines since a masked royal battery is present in both phases, but this is not the only thematic motif. In order to activate the royal battery Black has to open a white line to allow the wBf7 or wTe7 in turn to guard the bK’s field and at the same time White has to get rid of own disturbing pawn (wPe4 in A and wPd5 in B). But the white pawn, at W1 moves, as negative effect (AntiZielement), occupies the mating square which has to be vacated at B2 by sacrificing the black pawn which also opens a white line. This is the most interesting motif of the problem, showing the paradoxical Zaijc theme in white form; worth noting is the fact that this strategy has been shown in pure form since the alternative B2 moves 2.g6? or 2.c6? fail because there is the need to vacate the mating square as mentioned above. There is good exchange of functions between the thematic white pieces and the only slight prosaic but perfectly matched motif is the choise of the piece which blocks the square d3.
a)1…exf5 2.gxf5 Bh5 3.Rd3 (Bd3?) Kxf5#b)1…d6 2.cxd6Rb73.Bd3 (Rd3?) Kxd6# 
 4th Prize no.137 D.Turevski & B.Shorokhov: To better appreciate the clever motivations of the manoeuvre we must think that first White can mate only by a royal battery and that the mating net must show the bK on e8 and the square f7 blocked by the bBe6. But the bK can reach e8 only after the wK has reached c6 and at this point White is ready to fire his battery but there is the need of a black move more in order to block the square e6 and White cannot pass the move. And then? The cooperation between both sides is here at very high level: before blocking e6 the black Bishop captures the wPa4 in order to allow surprisingly a white tempo move (4…Ba4!). This tempo idea has already been shown (PDB P1072447 which shows Black allowing a black tempo move or PDB P1071488 in which White allows a white tempo move) but the present problem is to my knowledge the first one showing a white tempo move allowed by Black.
1.Bb3 Ke4 2.Bxa4 Kd5 3.Bb3+ Kc6 4.Ke8 Ba4 5.Bf7 Kc7#
HM no.241 A. Stepochkin: despite the position is not very elegant due to the presence of many pawns, the strategy is interesting. The main actor is the wBf4 which before mating has first to allow his own King to move and guard the bK’s field and afterwards it has to hide himself behind the bBb6; this pericritical manoeuvre is very appealing especially thanks to the fact that the white Bishop paradoxically goes away and then comes back. Though rather technical and less interesting, the black strategy shows a nice exchange of place between the bRg2 and bBh1 and finally the bB’s  sacrifice on the mating square.
1…Bxd2 2.Rg1Bf4 3.Bg2Bb8 4.Rh1Ba7 5.Kg1Ke1 6.Bxf2+Bxf2# 
1st Commendation no.199 T.Ilievski: Rundlauf by the wSb3 which performs the circuit to make an annihilation and then returns to its diagram square to allow its capture by the bPa4 which sacrifices itself on the mating square. This idea in not new [compare to C.Jonsson The Problemist 2006 (White Ka6 Sb5 pa4; Black Kc4 Qc7 Rd7 Rd3 Bd6 Bf1 pa7 a5 c5 e2 h#4,5)] and this predecessor shows a more paradoxical strategy involving a check to wK and bB sacrifice instead of sacrifice of a less mobile black pawn as shown in no.199.
1…Sd2 2.Kd3 Sxe4 3.Kc4 Sc5 4.Bd3 Sb3 5.axb3 axb3#
2nd Commendation no.286 N.Joksimovic: This enjoyable problem shows white Excelsior and a surprising initial sacrifice by the WBf4; another nice touch is the need to avoid an undesired check leading to a minor promotion. Surprisingly I have not found any specific anticipation.
1...Be5 2.d6 f4 3.dxe5 fxe5 4.Kf2 e6 5.Kg3 e7 6.Kh4 e8R 7.Kh5 Rh8#
3rd Commendation no.129 F.Simoni: a sophisticated dual avoidance idea based on the need to block the bK’s field and to unpin one of the black Rooks in turn; the latter motif is achieved thanks to a royal white battery whose play is the core of the problem. In effect the play by both sides has to be choosen carefully in order not to have an undesired selfpin of the mating piece, hence the dual avoidance. Unfortunately the stipulation in not justified since the play is essentially a h#2 idea as the version in brackets, by the way more economical, proves (White Kc2 Lb1 Sf3 Se6; Black Kf5 Dh3 Td4 Te1 Lf8 Lf7 Se8 pf6 g6 g4 c3 b2 h#2 2 sols.).
Set: 2.Rf4 Kc8+ 3.Ree4 Sde5#(... 2.Re3? Kc8+ 3.Rae4 Sge5??)
Sol: 1…Kc6 2.Re3 Kd6+ 3.Rae4 Sge5# (1…Kc6 2.Rf4? Kd6+ 3.Ree4 Sde5??)
4th Commendation no.266 A. Pankratiev: Normally I would not have awarded this problem due to a partial anticipation but I decided to give it a distinction all the same for the following reasons: first, the rather low average quality of the tourney and secondly, the problems shows a few novel aspects, admittedly very few. The latter reason gives me the opportunity to underline some concerns about originality in the orthodox helpmates, and this is particularly true in h#2s but also to some extent to h#3s as well. Since the orthodox helpmates are well explored, sometimes the novel aspects are seen only on details, as here. The basic strategy is very well-known [compare for a two-phases rendering to P1276314, P1098928, P1073934 or for a more complex and extended strategy to M.Kolesnik & A.Semenenko 1st-2nd Pr. ex aequo Kozyura-55 JT 2010-11 (White Ka7 Re8 Ba8 pb3; Black Ke4 Qa4 Rh7 Rd5 Bf7 Be5 Sd8 pa6 h6 d4 g3 d2 g2 h#3 B) b3 to g4 C) d4 to e3 D) d4 to f3)]; the novel motifs here are the elegant annihilation captures by White which opens black lines allowing a black piece to perform a selblock (3.Rc5 and 3.Be4). This more hidden motif and the more economical setting made me prefer it instead of n.267 which shows more prosaic self-blocks and closing of black lines.
1.Kc4 Bxe5+ 2.Rb5 Bb2 3.Rc5 Rd4#,  1.Ke3 Rxd5 2.Bf4 Rd1 3.Be4 Bd4#
Mario Parrinello - International Judge of the FIDE 
Marcaria, June 2014

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