Julia's Fairies

No.286.1 (GG&JL)

Gani Ganapathi (India) &
Juraj Lörinc (Slovakia)


Original Problems, Julia’s Fairies – 2013 (II): May – August

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No.286.1 by Gani Ganapathi & Juraj Lörinc –  This joint problem is an improved version to No.286 – an elegant and difficult for solving! As No.286 relates to the previous tourney, JF-2013-I, it will be excluded from there; but this new version participates in JF-2013-II. (JV)


Anti-Circe: After a capture the capturing piece (Ks included) must immediately be removed to its game array square (necessarily vacant, else the capture is illegal). R, B & S go to the square of the same colour as the capture; Ps stay on the file of capture.

Nightrider(N): A Rider along a straight line on squares lying a Knight`s move away from each other.

Rose(RO): (1,2) Octagonal Rider (extents the move of the Knight on a circular path e.g.  a4-b6-d7-f6-g4-f2-d1-b2 or a4-c5-e4-f2)

No.286.1 Gani Ganapathi & Juraj Lörinc
India / Slovakia
Version of No.286 – 07.05.2013
hs#3              2 solutions             (4+4)
Roses: c3, f6
Nightrider f3
Solutions: (click to show/hide)

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May 9, 2013 07:22

Excellent modification adding change of function of the two Roses. Very nice ! They look so different, not at all like versions !

Nikola Predrag
Nikola Predrag
May 10, 2013 06:11
Reply to  seetharaman

It looks nice, the question is what is a helpselfmate? Is it a genre in which we can use pieces for any purpose or even for no purpose? wRf4 is a strong piece, completely superfluous in 2nd solution. And in 1st solution it is too strong, guarding e4, so wRe8 acts only as a Dummy.
It would be more sensible and closer to the truth, to put indeed a Dummy on e8 with twinning b)wRf4>e8.
wNf3 is a fairy piece, also with a final role of a Dummy. The moves 1.Nd7/Nb5 show the “harmoniously” poor use of a Nightrider.
Of course, it is not easy to imagine and construct a mechanism with all pieces employed but there is the point and a challenge of composing.
A rough example might illustrate this but there must be much better possibilities.
RN is a Rose-Lion, EQ is an Equihopper
White EQe8 Kb7 Ba5
Black Pe6 ROf6 Kd5 Ph5 RNg4 ROc3
Stipulation Hs#3
Condition AntiCirce
Twin Move g4 h5

a) 1.Bb6 ROa2 2.Kc7 ROa6+ 3.Kd6+ ROxe8[bROe8->e1]#
b) 1.Bc7 ROh1 2.Kb6 ROd1+ 3.Kc5+ ROxe8[bROe8->e1]#

Hurdle-effects of 1.Bb6/Bc7 are perhaps not very convincing but they show a possibility for strategical enrichment of white play.

May 10, 2013 15:34

The thematic play has been greatly improved compared to No.286, but the Rf4 is indeed expensive. Nikolas version is very good.

Nikola Predrag
Nikola Predrag
May 10, 2013 19:53
Reply to  seetharaman

Thanks Seetharaman, but it is really only an illustration. My intention was not to criticize the original, I am interested to understand what might be acceptable in hs#, because various approaches could be seen. This genre still lacks a clear basic distinctiveness.

Juraj Lörinc
May 10, 2013 22:33
Reply to  Nikola Predrag

I think that everybody could agree with me that the best form of hs# is to have all white and black pieces excluding pawns having active role in weaving the net around the opposite king. Still if this is not possible, general (but not universal) view was that as black is mating in hs#, it is important to have black pieces economy perfect and white is slightly less important (like black economy in h#). Most competitors in WCCT seem to share these principles, for example.

In this specific case there are a few points I’d like to explain.

Original version of Gani has the same mating move. In the meantime there were composed many versions provoked by our mutual discussion. Quite a few different fairy pieces were tried and the presented version is the most economical found so far with reciprocal exchange of functions of two black pieces and no idle black pieces (ph5 not considered).

White economy is far from perfect and here I can share my feeling that it really might be possible to do better. Note that in the original version wK and bK were placed one square up compared to the present version. I think it should be possible to find perfect position by research of other board placement possibilities of the wK/bK skeleton and change of playing black pieces.

Two weak points are: use of single wR in each solution (still better than twins with similar defect) and use of nightrider. The nightrider troubles me more than the rooks. Yet, with given placement of bK/wK and above explained constraints it was the best choice. Note that N and RO are very similar pieces, both riders with unit move of S.

So definitely there is room for improvement of presented position in my view.

(Exceptions to my explanations apply as usually.)

May 10, 2013 22:46
Reply to  Juraj Lörinc

Thanks Nikola and Juraj for sharing your views on this important and interesting topic of economy in helpselfmates. Hopefully judges will take a similar view of our otherwise excellent entry in the WCCT which had less than ideal white economy ! 🙂

Nikola Predrag
Nikola Predrag
May 11, 2013 16:42
Reply to  seetharaman

There are few points which I understand right or wrong

1. Economy of material, white in the first place
In a selfmate, White must FORCE Black to mate wK. Generally, this task is easier for achieving when the material advantage of White is greater. The skill and thrill grows with less white pieces. The aesthetics requires some clear idea realized with minimal white and black material, but still white material has a priority. A complex mechanism where few white pieces can control and govern the play of many black pieces is by far more interesting, thrilling and aesthetic than many white pieces against few black pieces. That is in general, the thematic content is decisive about a perfect balance of the material, of course.

2. In hs#n, after n-1 cooperative moves, White n-th move “almost” mates or stalemates Black. “Almost” means that the only legal n-th black move is a mate to wK. The task of the cooperative play of n-1 moves is to arrange the proper “cages” for both Kings and to prepare the final:
A – “almost (stale)mating” move by White and
B – mating move by Black
Generally, A and B look equally important and make a motivation for the thematic play. Probably, the best distinctiveness of the helpselfmate genre lies in the perfect balance of A and B.
If B (mate to wK) is already prepared on the diagram, the play arranges only A [“almost (stale)mate” of Black] – this is the essence of a helpmate with an artificial extension.
If A [“almost (stale)mate” of Black] is already prepared on the diagram, the play arranges only B (mate to wK) – this is the essence of a helpmate with reversed colors.
Nevertheless, in both of these (extreme) cases, there could be some specific features which might surpass the helpmate genre. Most simple helpselfmate-specific features only help the composer to avoid many cooks and duals which would occur in a helpmate. If such technical reasons might justify the choice of hs# genre, the benefit should be a possibility of perfect economy, at least.

3. The economy is not a mechanical counting of the pieces, the economy and funcionality of the pieces participating in a thematic mechanism makes the problem. Economy of technical pieces comes in the second place.

Concerning No.286.1, the following positions should be considered:
White ROa7 Kd4 Ph4 ROf3
Black Rf5 Kb2 Nd2 Re1
Stipulation H#2
Condition AntiCirce

White ROh8 ROc6 Kd4 Ph4
Black Rf5 Nb4 Kb2 Re1
Stipulation H#2
Condition AntiCirce

Kostas Prentos
Kostas Prentos
May 12, 2013 10:32
Reply to  Nikola Predrag

This is an interesting discussion about economy in helpselfmates. I generally agree with Nikola’s view. I consider helpselfmates primarily as helpmates (with the small, but fruitful difference that instead of #1 at the end, it is s#1), where the economy of white’s force is imperative. I used to be more flexible with black’s economy, but a discussion with Vlaicu Crisan and Petkov’s articles made me reconsider. If complete economy is impossible, as is often the case, then I would make sure that white’s force is as economical as possible (maybe not all pawns, but definitely all pieces must be useful in all phases) and I would accept a slightly less economical black force. Exceptions are, of course, possible, like accepting a superfluous white piece in a helpmate in certain rare examples, but the nature of helpselfmates and the possibilities they allow, make me more strict regarding the use of white force in a hs#, rather than in a helpmate.

Georgy Evseev
Georgy Evseev
May 12, 2013 12:16
Reply to  Kostas Prentos

This is a very interesting discussion and maybe it is worth moving to a separate thread (if Julia can do it).

For me the “correct” answer is reasonably easy.

In the case of helpplay the goals of both sides are more or less the same. This is even more so in helpselfmate, because the play is generally finished by “double mate” (that is white almost mate, forcing the only black continuation which really mates).

In this case the color of technical pieces (if they are needed anyway) affects really only the quality of mating position.

As the “real” mate is given by black, black economy is more strikingly obvious in this case, while technical white pieces seem more pardonable. At the same time, the opposite view should be almost as acceptable (because of mentioned “double mate” effect).

Dmitri Turevski
Dmitri Turevski
May 12, 2013 13:47
Reply to  Nikola Predrag

Although i very often (silently) agree with Nikola, i find the below generalisation questionable:
A complex mechanism where few white pieces can control and govern the play of many black pieces is by far more interesting, thrilling and aesthetic than many white pieces against few black pieces.
In direct play problems the White have a monstrous disadvantage of having a fixed number of moves to fulfill the stipulation. This disadvantage renders any material advantage insignificant in respect to aestetics. The real aestetics is often (and in short genres almost always) achieved by the paradox that despite having such a (sometimes huge) material advantage solver has to find precise, well-hidden and logically interconnected moves.
And it seems that the topic has very tangent relation to the material economy principle (which is about how well the pieces are used throughout the solution), but rather to the mating position economy principle (as has been already noted by Georgy).

Nikola Predrag
Nikola Predrag
May 12, 2013 16:50

The mate itself is not the (main) content of a chess problem. Even if some mate alone is very interesting, it might be shown on a diagram without any stipulation and preceding play.

It is surely important and nice to achieve the economical mates but the economical play is more important because it makes the true content and originality of some problem. Mates are stipulated to motivate the play which reveals the content. And the content might require many pieces, so it is all about the optimal economy for achieving the original and complex content.
Helpmates are rather strict about the pieces which don’t participate in mates, despite their possibly important function in the thematic play.

In genres where White delivers mate, White WANTS to mate bK and the challenge is to use a minimal white material which is needed for the thematic content.

In selfmates, Black DOES NOT WANT to mate wK, he must be forced to do it.
The challenge is greater if Black is stronger. It is about the economical white mechanism which could control and govern all black pieces to play as White wishes. With more black pieces, the white mechanism is more complex and beautiful. Of course, the THEMATIC optimum of w&b material is crucial for the aesthetics.
In longer selfmates, Black is often rather weak, with very limited possibilities for the play which sometimes looks as a help-play. The content of such s# perhaps might be presented in hs# with better economy.
Anyway, when the black play is very limited and thematic only in some detail, the importance of economical mates by Black becomes significant.

hs# contains mainly a help-play but still in the end, it is WHITE who must fulfill the stipulation against the will of Black. Therefore, the challenge is to use a minimal white force. Since there is a crucial help by Black during n-1 moves, black economy is also significant.
The main idea which shows the original and complex motivations for w&b play, realized through a good economical mechanism – that should be the first thing in the analysis.
The second thing is a question about genre: “Is it a true, genuine hs#?”
When these 2 issues are clarified, the essencial functionality of both w&b material coud be analyzed. Only then we would be able to see the priority of white or black economy. From some general aspect, without a particular example, I tend to slightly prefere the white economy.

Nikola Predrag
Nikola Predrag
May 13, 2013 01:20

Well Dmitri, I didn’t actually answered your remark about my “questionable generalization”. I don’t believe much in generalization, especially when particular examples could be so very different. I agree with your remark, after all, my intention was not to proclaim some general principle. I question any generalisation which tends to ignore dogmatically the specific features of some particular problem.

Few black pieces could create a rich thematic content, defending against many white pieces, it all depends on the idea and the mechanism.

The purpose of generalized principles is to summarize shortly the experience through a simplified logic. They should not be taken strictly but only as a help for perceiving the essential points for a deeper analysis.

Georgy Evseev
Georgy Evseev
May 13, 2013 08:55
Reply to  Nikola Predrag


I think that some generalization is good, because, for example, we had to actively discuss these questions when preparing problems for 9 WCCT. And as I can see from the problems sent there, many other countries had to go through similar discussion and had come to different conclusions.

As I see, the main difference between our opinions is that I see as “final” the position after the mate, while you seem to consider as critical for the final the position at the end of helpplay, that is before the black mating move.

Well, there is no way to prove your or my position, but unfortunately it is quite possible that a judge in a tournament will consider one of these opinions incorrect and heavily penalize the problems which do not fit into his logic.

Nikola Predrag
Nikola Predrag
May 13, 2013 12:29
Reply to  Georgy Evseev

I think that your and my position are very close. Petkov’s article about hs# gives the basic principles, it is a genre where both white and black economy is very important, including the functions in mates.
A possible difference in our opinions is about the imperfect economy – what is a bigger weakness, white or black non-economical material?

It is not a big trouble as long as the final evaluation is not significantly different. Very roughly, consider a penalization on a percentage scale of 100 points. One judge penalizes some white weakness with 10 points and a similar black weakness with 8 pts. The other judge does the opposite. One or two small weaknesses may result for instance, with 80 or 84 points for the same problem by different judges.

Troubles come if white weaknesses are tolerated too much and black weaknesses are too severely punished. So far, I think that the helpselfmate genre should treat the white and black economy pretty equally.

Generalization may certainly bee good but also misleading, if it is carelessly applied.
A value of some general principle depends on the relation to other general principles. And they all come from “more fundamental” and “more general” logic principles.

The statement -“Black economy has a priority in selfmates because Black mates” is wrong, it forgets that White must fulfil the task. “Dead reckoning” would even completely disallow the mates as logically meaningless. Chess composition still cares about the aesthetics and logic of the very mates, but we must be aware that this aesthetics simply has not the same logic weight and depth as the main task which WHITE must carry out. But again, it depends on the particular content of a problem.

I repeat, we should be careful about generalization. There are usually “more general and fundamental” principles behind principles.

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