Chess

One of the most scholarly, authoritative, definitive and, indeed, expensive chess books of all time is published this month. Chess Problems: tasks and records, by Jeremy Morse (Faber & Faber, £30), has finally revealed to me the sort of thing great problemists are really trying to do. Take the first diagram, for example, composed by J C van Gool in 1977:

,fVs,g,

, , , ,

, , , B

b , z ,

H,h, , ,

X Z Nh,

B , V ,

CD,d,f,

It is White to play and mate in two. The solver's eye should be drawn to the bishop on a1, which would be pointless if it did not participate in a mate. So, unless the composer is being unfair, the first move must be with the rook on b2 or the king, to ensure the opening of the diagonal from a1 to e5.

The answer turns out to be 1.Kxc4! remarkably moving the king from total safety to expose him to 14 checks: Nb6, Qb5, Qxa4, Rxa4, Bb3, Nd2, Be2, Nxe3, Rc5, Nd6, Qc6, Qe6, Qf7 or Rg4. White's replies - you can work them out yourself - provide 13 different mates, only1...Qxa4 and Rxa4 having to share the reply 2.Rb4.

Those 14 checks and 13 mates are one of the many records detailed in this extraordinary collection of over 800 problems. Its completeness in detailing every record task, solved or unsolved, will make this book a problemists' bible.

If you want a two-mover in which a white pawn promotes to queen and knight on each of three different squares to give six mates, this is the book for you. Personally, I find it all rather over-technical, until we reach the humour of the last chapters on pawn promotion and length records. There is Blathy's mate in 257, and this one by Z. Maslar is a delight:

, , , v

, , , ,

, , , ,

, , , ,

, , , b

, , Zh,

hnhnhN n

zscd, ,

It's a helpmate in 8, which means that Black moves first and both players conspire to let White mate at move 8. The solution goes: 1.h1(R)! Kxf3 2.e1(N)+ Kg3 3.Bg4 f4 4.d1(B) f5 5.Bh6 f6 6.c1(N) f7 7.Qh7 f8(Q) 8.b1(B) Qf6 mate!

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project