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
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Latest stories from i100
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.

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?