Chess

TODAY A couple of studies by one of the most prolific study composers ever: Ernest Pogosyants. Although I had of course heard of Pogosyants and seen some of his compositions, I knew nothing about him personally until a booklet on him, A (First) Century of Studies, arrived recently. Selected and edited by the English study expert John Roycroft, it's published in the US by Russel Enterprises Ltd - who incidentally have an excellent web site "The Chess Cafe" http://www.chesscafe. com - priced there at $9.95; and should be hitting the usual chess outlets here soon, though when I spoke to Roycroft, even he hadn't yet received copies!

Born in 1935, Pogosyants joined the Communist party as a young idealist, but his outspoken comments led to him being arrested and sent for some months to a mental hospital as a result of which he suffered from insomnia right up to his death in 1990. It was during those sleepless nights that he composed many of his lifetime output of an estimated 6,500 compositions, both studies and problems of which nearly half were published (the difference is that studies have a natural requirement - White to play and win, or draw: whereas problems specify mate in a fixed number of moves or something more recondite such as helpmates in which both sides cooperate).

Roycroft has chosen 100 studies from the 404 which the composer sent to him in correspondence up to 1979, 11 years before his death. While some of these have rather "heavy" initial positions, the majority, as players including myself usually prefer, are pretty "natural looking". Here are two: White to play and win - Shakmatnaya Moskva, 1962

The solution goes: 1 g7 Bf7! 2 Kxf7 b2 3 g8N+! Kh7 4 Bg7! b1Q 5 Nf6 mate! Along the way if 1...b2 2 g8Q b1Q 3 Qg7 mate; or 3 g8Q? b1Q is only a draw; while 4 Bxb2? would have been stalemate. Kommunisti 1973 - received "3rd Honourable Mention" 1 Nh6+ Kh7 2 Qc2+ Kh8 3 Qc8+ Nf8 4 Qxf8+ Kh7 5 Qg8+! Qxg8 6 g6+ Kh8 7 Nf7+Qxf7 8 gxf7 g6+ 9 Kh6 g5 10 f8Q mate. Not 1 Qxd5? Nf4+; while 3...Nd8 4 Qxd8+! Qxd8 5 Nf7+ is simple; and not 9 Kxg6? stalemate.

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