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The Independent Culture
THE WORLD problem-solving championships, which were held in Bonn, Germany, at the end of August, were disappointing for the English team, who finished seventh. The Russians won the title, with Finland second and France third. The best individual result for England was that of Graham Lee, who came sixth overall; unluckily, his score did not count towards the team performance, since he was officially a reserve.

It was the longer mates, in three, four, five and six moves, that really killed off the English chances. With 140 minutes to solve six problems, the team's efforts merited only 26 out of a possible 90 points.

The diagram shows what was perhaps the easiest problem in the competition, with White to play and mate in two. It was composed by D Pirnie in 1915 and seems to have been selected for its misleading qualities.

With the rook on e6 covering the sixth rank and b4, c4 and d4 controlled by minor pieces, the rook on h5 seems the key. If White's king could get out of the way, it would be instant mate.

The next natural thing to notice is that, if it is Black's move, everything leads to instant mate: any bishop move allows Bb4; Nxe6 is met by Kxe6; any other move of that knight allows Rc6; moving the other knight allows Be3; h6 is met by Kg6; and Rxg4 allows Kxg4. All White needs is a good waiting move. But he hasn't got one. The solution is quite banal compared with all the fine thoughts above. (Answer tomorrow.)

(Graphic omitted)