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MatPlus.Net Forum Helpmates Test your composing imagination

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What is unusual about the following problem?

(The answer has nothing to do with its similarity to a problem I composed for the Ukrainian tourney at Rio)

M.McDowell
The Problemist, March 2010

(= 7+7 )

Helpmate in 3 (2 solutions)

That's nice. The construction seems clever, showing 1.Ra7+?, 1.Bg7+?, and e1=Q+?. Well done!

That you only built two thematical variations, while the theme itself would require four?

I can only "imagine" you are going to claim to have achieved the complete theme, based on two suspicious tries.

Beautiful problem, Michael! I agree with Guy's assessment: 3 distinct dual-avoidances from an "idle" wK is very good.

But... not a record. :-) Here's one with 4, my first published series problem:

DM, 4th Pr, SG 2002
(= 5+9 )

ser-h=14 (5+9) C+

Solution hidden:
1.Rf3 2.Sf6 3.Qh8 4.Bd3! 6.Bh3 7.Sg4 9.Qh1 10.Sc1! 12.Sg1 13.e2 14.f1B Rg5=
avoided: 1-3.Bd3+?; 4.Bb5+?; 1-9.Sc1? (Qa1+) 10.Sc3+?

I'll post the answer in a couple of days, to give time for more opinions. The responses so far have been fascinating, and not at all what I expected!

Excellent problem !! Having composed a few H#3's I appreciate the guts of having a WQ on board. Especially when two WQ's can be available for a H#2. Superb placing of the pieces allows this to work.

There's at least one unit on every rank and file, seems "unusual" for a helpmate. :-)

Is it that White has a material advantage to Black?

I like the problem. But that's not so unusual...

It's not unusual for White to be without both of his rooks,
na na na na na,
It's not unusual to have the white king preventing cooks,
And when I see Black capturing pawns to free the queen,
It's not unusual,
It happens every day,
No matter what they say,
You'll find it happens all the time,
Pieces will never do,
Just what you want them to,
Why can't this fine problem be mine?

Suppose the state endeavors to test the limitless imaginations of all their subjects, using multiple choice questions...
What person, after matching exactly the state's answer-key, could be so foolish as to think this validation of a "highly imaginative" nature?

My point being...
Maybe there's an exact Proofgame here.
Maybe it has two unique solutions, and when conjoined with the two helpmate solutions, it realizes a Babson Task in quadruple-Vallado form.
Would I go turning over rocks, expecting I may find such a thing? Not at all.
I don't calculate that the likely reward warrants chasing my imagination in such a direction.

I am skeptical that this "test" will provide any measure of our "composing imagination."
Much more likely, it will measure some very specific pattern matching trait.
But, I'll reserve judgment until I see what it is that I might have overlooked...

Meanwhile, I'm still quite puzzled what it is that you find so unusual in this rather nice helpmate that you've composed.

Great, Geoff! Just allow me suggest to replace the second verse by something like this: "And bishops,knights,you cannot say this was not ever seen". Sounds good?...

The unusual point is that I had a choice of where to place the thematic black pawn. On e2 the problem shows matching promotions, on f2 they become reciprocal promotions (of course the full idea is matching (or reciprocal) promotions with echoed queen releases and mates). I don’t think either is better than the other, but ideally I would have liked the problem diagrammed with the pawn sitting partly on e2 and partly on f2, and the solver told - "take your pick"!

The comments have been interesting, especially those that assumed that AUW must feature somewhere. I quite often see solvers’ comments about “incomplete AUWs” when it’s clear that the promotions are only part of the idea that the problem is showing. We’re in trouble if every problem containing some promotions is expected to show them all! As for the “distinct wK dual avoidances”, if that counts as thematic content then it’s completely unintentional!

Thanks to all, not least Australia’s answer to Tom Jones.

Nice that the problem could be published. Your problem reminds me the story of the Buridan's ass.

There are various possibilities which would leave the choice to put bP at e2 or f2 and it's not unusual for such a scheme. Actually, reciprocal change is bS+wB in one phase and bB+wS in the other. That is the basis for a cyclic change (bS+wB->bB+wR->bR+wS) or (bS+wB->bB+wR->bR+wQ->bQ+wS). Reciprocity and full cycles make complementarities themselves, regardless of 2,3 or 4 pairs of promotions. Matching promotions do not lead from one phase to another and do not end where they started, so the natural sense for complementarity asks for the Babson.
Of course, 2 phases with matching promotions are quite enough for a good problem, as you have presented.
For the full idea (of matching promotions with echoed queen releases and mates) would be enough 10 pieces, but the clever construction of additional selfblock well justifies 4 extra pieces.

OK... this e2->f2 possibility was noticed immediately, so my imagination may prove to be functional (on some level).
However, this phenomenon is not entirely uncommon (I considered it too obvious to mention).

I bow to your superior knowledge. Sorry to have wasted your time.
Maybe you could post a few examples.

In a direct #3, You can show respectivelly echo Q/Q, N/N, and reciprocal Q/N and N/Q promotions in meredith form, using one white and two black pawns

We're talking about helpmates here, not directmates.