No.634 (LG)
No.634 by Lev Grolman – Four fold cyclic white batteries’ creation! (JV)
Definitions:
Grasshopper(G): Moves along Qlines over another unit of either color to the square immediately beyond that unit. A capture may be made on arrival, but the hurdle is not affected.
Nightrider(N): (1,2) Rider. Operates along straight lines with squares lying a Knight`s move away from each other.
Locust(L): Moves along Queen lines only by capturing an enemy unit, arriving on the square immediately beyond that unit, which must be vacant.
PAO(PA): Chinese piece operating along Rook lines: moves as Rook, but captures only by hopping over a hurdle to any square beyond.
No.634 Lev Grolman Russia original – 30.10.2014

Solutions: (click to show/hide)

White Kc8 nc7 pab5 gh5 lc1 pd5
Black ke4 Qa8 rd4f7 ba6b4 sd1g8 pc3 na2b7b8d3 gb1 lf6f3
h#2,5 4 solutions (6+16) Grasshoppers: h5, b1 Nightriders: c7, a2, b7, b8, d3 Locusts: c1, f6, f3 PAO b5

1...Gh5e2 {(A)} 2.Bb4d6 Lc1*d1e1 {(B)} 3.Bd6f4 Ge2c4 # {(A)}
1...Lc1*c3c4 {(B)} 2.Bb4d2 PAb5b4 {(C)} 3.Bd2g5 Lc4*d3e2 # {(B)}
1...PAb5c5 {(C)} 2.Nb7f5 + Nc7*a6 {(D)} 3.Qa8*d5 PAc5c4 # {(C)}
1...Nc7e6 {(D)} 2.Nd3e5 Gh5e8 {(A)} 3.Gb1f5 Ne6c5 # {(D) (C+ by Popeye 4.69 & WinChloe 3.29)}
(ENG transl.): Fourfold cyclic battery quartet of different white fairy pieces. With a play of formed battery tandems four different mates with double checks by fairy pieces А B C D in a closed cycle, where each of them had to play as the front and rear ambush piece preserving the sequence of its moves in all phases. Mating pictures created with a participation of all white fairy pieces. A complex difficult to implement  too many squares need to be controlled by the black pieces, it seemed that nothing changes a replacement of each of the three black riders Na2, Nb8, Nd3 to the black knights, but the duals would appear in this case. (Author) (RUS orig.) Четырёхтактный циклический батарейный квартет из белых разных сказочных фигур. При игре формируемых батарейных тандемов четыре различных мата двойными ударами сказочных фигур А B C D по замкнутому циклу, когда каждая из них побывала в роли передней вскрывающей и тыловой засадной фигуры с сохранением последовательности своих ходов во всех фазах. Матовые картины созданы при участии всех белых сказочных фигур. Сложный для реализации комплекс  слишком много полей необходимо контролировать чёрным фигурам, казалось ничего не меняет замена каждого из трех черных всадников Na2, Nb8, Nd3 черным конем, однако в этом случае появляются дуали. (Автор)

No.634 Grolman – Generally speaking the Four fold cyclic white batteries’ creation is a super theme. Therefore, the author is worth of admiration for his ambition and diligence! I understand quite well how difficult it is to compose such a Task. On another hand, I know very well the works of Grolman – an original and profound fairy composer who never develops simple themes! BUT…
In my opinion, there are no grounds to evaluate No.634 as a super problem. In aesthetic aspect the problem creates a depressing impression. There is a huge number of very strong black static technical figures on the board (cook & dual stoppers, etc…) and also strong pieces playing in only one solution. A complete thematical identity between the four solutions doesn’t exist as well. Thus, after 1…PAc5 2. Nf5+ there is a rough nonthematic capture of Ba6 – here the play of black N/B battery is de facto a bad random element that does not exist in the other solutions. The only nice model mate there is in the last solution ( after 1…Ne6 ).
I believe, that author can try creating a better version with 4 solutions – I’m not convinced that No.634 is an optimal constructive achievement! Perhaps, at least some partial improvements are possible here because the constructive wonders are obviously impossible..
But it seems to me that in such cases a better version can be obtained using the twins! After some experiments, I actually have found some versions where the twinform gives much better results than No.634.
As a composer, I am opponent of the principle “Task at any cost” – without paying attention to the large number of minuses in the construction. The form is an important criterion for the aesthetic evaluation of the work of art.. In many taskproblems some technical compromises are eligible (because they are inevitable!) but these compromises should exist in the aesthetically acceptable limits. It is not permissible to almost completely ignore and to deteriorate the form because of the content – whatever it is!
Fair criticism, even if a little harsh !
Even without the analysis, the realization seems very “expensive”. It’s not only about 16 black pieces but about how they are used, especially the fairy pieces.
A very expensive realization might suggest that the idea itself is not naturally suitable for the chosen genre.
However, that might exactly be a challenge for a composer, how to construct a correct problem, despite all difficulties.
Although the esthetic impression is questionable, the task is achieved. The constructional creativity should be thoroughly analyzed and compared with the constructions of similar tasks.
There are orthodox helpmates showing 4fold cycle of batteries. Here, all 4 white thematic pieces participate in the mates. That is achievable in orthodox h#2 with twins, even in Meredith.
4solutions are certainly a great bonus but only if it is not too expensive.
bK doesn’t change his square, that is another feature of the task, perhaps justifying the fairy pieces.
4 different thematic fairy pieces should not be a minus because the author’s intention should be respected as the primary esthetic criterion.
How these pieces are used? – that is the question for the commentators.
Evaluation of any task requires a comparative analysis of the similar tasks, to see what was already done and how it was done.
There is exactly one orthodox problem with 4fold cyclic battery play:
Vasil Krizhanivsky
Probleemblad 2014
White : Kb7 Re8f6 Bc6h6 Pd6g6e3f3c2
Black : Ke2 Rc8 Pg7h5c4h4g3
h‡3 (10+7)
1.Txc6 Ff4 2.Rxf3 Fe5+ 3.Rxe3 Fc3‡
1.gxh6 Fe4 2.Rxe3 Ff5+ 3.Rxf3 Fh3‡
1.Txe8 Fxg7 2.Rxe3 Rb6 3.Rd4 Te6‡
1.gxf6 Fd7 2.Rxf3 Te6 3.Rg4 Txf6‡
And it has its own set of drawbacks: parasitic additional batteries in some phases, symmetry, and low unity of play. At the same time there is a kind of cyclic Zilahi added to the bunch. (This criticism should only be considered as comparison feature – Krizhanivsky’s problem is fantastic.)
In No.634 we see that the batteries are fully bulit, that is, both front and rear pieces arrive to needed places. At the same time comparison with Krizhanivsky’s problem makes one to think that there should be better schemes allowing to reach the same result in better form. Knowing Lev Grolman, I am sure he will try to achieve it.
Here are some examples of his similar works.
Lev Grolman
1° Prix, Shakhmatnaya Poeziya 2002
White : Kb2 Bg5 Nb3 Gg7
Black : Kc7 Qe7 Rc6d6 Bb5h4 Sf3 Pb6f5g4d3 Nf4e2 Gc8h7h1
h‡3 (4+16)
1.Cd4 Nc5 2.Sb7 Sc3 3.Dd7 Na6‡
1.Nd8 Fe3 2.Nb7 Nf1 3.Td8 Ff4‡
1.Tf6 Se5 2.Dd8 Fxf4 3.Sb7 Sa5‡
Cycle of three fully built batteries
Lev Grolman
The Problemist 2008
White : Kh3 Qf3 LEc6 ROe7f4
Black : Ke5 Qe3 Rb7c5 Bd7 Pe4d2 Nh8d6h6 LEf5a3b3d1 ROf8a4
h‡2 (5+16)
1.LEfe6 ROb8 2.Nd4 LEc7‡
1.ROg6 Dg3 2.Dd4+ ROd3‡
1.Dd3 ROe1 2.e3 Dxe3‡
1.Fe6 LEe8 2.ROf6 ROc6‡
Cycle of four batteries with arrival of only rear piece.
Lev Grolman
Shakhmatnaya Kompozitsiya 2007
2° Prix
White : Kg2 Pb6d5a2 Ne7 PAf2 ROd4
Black : Kb4 Rd1 Ba4c3 Sb2 Pb7d6b5g5g4a3d2 Na5 PAc4 ROc5
h‡2 (7+15)
1.Fxd4 Nh1 2.Fc3 PAf4‡
1.ROxf2 ROh4 2.ROc5 Nh1‡
1.Nxe7 PAf4 2.Na5 ROh4‡
Cycle of three batteries with arrival of only rear piece, plus cyclic Zilahi and black switchback