Chess: Mestel solves the big problem

JONATHAN MESTEL retained his title at the British Chess Solving Championships at the weekend, edging ahead of John Nunn by the smallest possible margin. As usual in this competition, the player- problemists easily outpointed the specialist problem solvers with the grandmasters Mestel, Nunn and Colin McNab the highest placed of the British contestants.

The presence of two German guest participants, however, suggested this may be a purely British phenomenon. Both Arno Zude and Michael Pfannkuche are practically unknown as players, yet Zude won the overall competition, a point and a half ahead of Mestel, and Pfannkuche finished in fifth place.

He is, incidentally, the reigning problem-solving world champion, thus adding support to the theory that the English do not win things because their names are insufficiently romantic. Could an Englishman called 'Pancake' ever win anything?

The competition itself, which was sponsored by East-West Consultants, began with a set of three 'White to play and mate in two' positions for which the solvers were given 20 minutes. The next round, lasting 50 minutes, comprised a three-mover and a four-mover, while rounds three, four and five featured an endgame study and more exotic beasts such as self- mates (where White forces Black to mate him) and help-mates (where the two sides conspire to reach a mating position).

The two-mover round is usually seen by experienced solvers as an easy warm-up, but this time several fell at the earliest hurdle.

ch09out-harts-nws The diagram position was the one that caused the trouble. It came at the end of the set, when many solvers, pushed for time, rushed into the wrong answer. The first thing to note is that White has a mate ready in reply to almost every Black move: if the rook moves, then Re5 is mate, since c4 is now covered by the white bishop; if the bishop moves, then Rd4 is mate (e6 is protected from h6); cxd2 is met by c4 mate; knight moves are met by Nxc3 mate; c5 allows Bb7; d6 is mated by Nc7 or Nf6; and dxe6 again allows Rd4. The only move not allowed for is 1 . . . fxe4.

The next thing to see is that the white queen does not seem to play a part in any of these mates, except occasionally to protect the rook on e4. So all we need is a queen move that rules out the defence with fxe4.

So we may now conclude that the answer is 1. Qh5, stopping fxe4, meeting Kxe4 with 2. Qh1, and cheerfully ignoring Bxh5 because 2. Rd4 is mate. Many solvers did indeed conclude that 1. Qh5 was the answer, and they were wrong. After 1. Qh5 cxd2, White has no mate. 2. c4 fails to the reply Kxe4.

Since this does not work, White needs a queen move that provides mates after fxe4 and, if he renounces protection of the rook on e4, after cxd2. What should make the answer easier to find is that the mate after cxd2 is unchnaghed from that provided in the starting position. The solution is 1. Qb1] when 1 . . . fxe4 is met by 2. Qb3 and 1 . . . cxd2 2. c4 leaves the rook protected from another direction.

Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits