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MatPlus.Net Forum General " The famous Babson conditions – Who can light up the dark? "
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(1) Posted by Zalmen Kornin [Thursday, Jan 15, 2015 08:49]

" The famous Babson conditions – Who can light up the dark? "

First when the term started to be mentioned , and second when Babson (or somebody else !?) formulated the task in theory ...
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(2) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Thursday, Jan 15, 2015 16:00]; edited by seetharaman kalyan [15-01-15]

well... the famous Bettman selfmate problem I think won the Babson theme tourney in 1926. Pauly composed his 3/4 Babson in 1912. The name should have gained currency between these. Emmanuel Manalos writes that the name was proposed by Babson in 1925, (perhaps triggering the theme tourney).
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(3) Posted by Zalmen Kornin [Saturday, Jan 17, 2015 13:38]

seeth > unfortunately the internet is full of such lagged stuff ... Just for a start, Babson delivered already in 1913 this one here
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(4) Posted by Olaf Jenkner [Saturday, Jan 17, 2015 18:23]

It is cooked. The correct version was in 1914:
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(5) Posted by Siegfried Hornecker [Saturday, Jan 17, 2015 20:27]; edited by Siegfried Hornecker [15-01-17]

So what is the cook?

1.b8S! h1Q 2.a8B Q:h7 and then?

EDIT: Thanks, Vlaicu! For some reason I had not seen that the Pa4 was missing in the original setting. But that would have been enough to correct it also, no need for the other key move...
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(6) Posted by Vlaicu Crisan [Saturday, Jan 17, 2015 21:48]

3.Bxb3+ Sxb3# (Qh7 guards now d3)
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(7) Posted by Cornel Pacurar [Sunday, Jan 18, 2015 10:46]

I researched this very topic about three years ago, while preparing an article about Pauly for the (now defunct?) magazine "Componist". To my knowledge, the short answer to both your questions is “1913”. I will post the long answers later today or tomorrow.
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(8) Posted by Cornel Pacurar [Sunday, Jan 18, 2015 20:31]; edited by Cornel Pacurar [15-01-19]

Now the (very) long answers!

Babson’s interest in task-problems began even before being the editor of the “Brentano's Chess Monthly” at the beginning of 1880s. It was, however, during the Brentano’s years when his imagination started to produce some incredible tasks (e.g. “The Obelisk”: White to mate in 1220 moves, after compelling Black to make three successive, complete Knight’s tours - unsound, though). When it comes to the so-called ‘Babson task’, the roots of the long journey were planted by Brentano's Chess Monthly promotion-task challenges announced by Carpenter in the 2nd issue (Babson succeeded Carpenter starting with the 3rd issue). The second of those challenges asked for “the advancement of a White Pawn in four different variations, in one of which the Pawn must claim Q, in one R, in one B, and in the other S” (task achieved by Shinkman in 1883), and the third one for “the advancement of a Black Pawn to eighth rank, creating four different variations according to whether said Pawn claims a Q, R, B or S” (task achieved by Heathcote in 1907). In 1907 A. C. White published “200 Bauernumwandlungs-Schachaufgaben”, then in 1912 the much superior 2nd edition, “The Theory of Pawn Promotion”. And there, squeezed at the end of the volume in an Appendix instead of in the body of the work (the two problems first went under with the Titanic and new, last-minute, copies needed to be obtained by White), was published Pauly’s four-mover partial (QQ-RR-SS) ‘Babson’, together with Herland’s QS-RB-SQ, who (almost certainly) worked together on the same matrix.

As Rafael Kofman noted in his “Рекорд ХХ Века” article in “Шахматы в СССР”, July 1983, it is clear that Pauly wanted to achieve the full (and yet unnamed) “Babson task” (“Ясно однако что Паули стремился именно “таску Ъабсона”!” and “ясно отсюда сколъ осторожными надо бытъ с “именной” терминологей”). Did Pauly’s problem trigger A. C. White and Babson’s attention? No doubt about it! Did Babson (or somebody else) formulate the task before 1912? Most likely not. Was there any related correspondence between Pauly and White (or even Babson) between the end of 1912 and May 1913? Quite possibly (see below), but as Pauly’s correspondence before 1916 was lost during WWI, a decisive answer might only be found on this side of the ocean. What we know for certain, is the following:

On June 1st, 1913, in The (Pittsburgh) Gazette-Times, Alain C. White announced

“A Challenge to the Sui-Mate Club

The following task, wearing the Babson colors, will meet all members of the Sui-Mate Club for the heavyweight championship for 10 weeks from date. Anyone throwing him the mat will be awarded a suitable memento. Come on, everybody, and send in your three-mover sui-mates, possible in actual play, with a promotion key, four promotion defenses on one square by Black, with four corresponding White promotion continuations. Nine in all. Babson has improvised No. 1 as a pattern, but the pawns are outlawed by the “Referee”. Pauly offers No. 2, but this fails to parry one of the champion’s thrusts. Next!”

This is quite telling! Introduced by White, formulated by Babson and exemplified by two problems, one by Babson and one by Pauly, here we have the original ‘Babson task’, about half year following the publication of “The Theory of Pawn Promotion”. While limited to selfmates in three moves, it also presents the extra requirement of a promotion key, therefore, 9 promotions in total.

Dawson, Dobbs, Johnson, Keeble, Keeney, Meyer, Pauly, Wainwright, Woodard and Babson responded to the challenge. In the July 20, 1913 issue, the column is labelled “The Babson Promotion Theme”, then “The Sui-Mate Challenge” on August 24, 1913. On August 31, 1913, Babson writes “I am pleased to see the interest that is being manifested in my reciprocal promotion scheme”, and on September 21, 1913, solutions to two earlier problems (1036 - Woodard and 1037 - Keeble) are each identified as “Babson Task.”! The October 5, 1913 issue includes the colourful “Babson Task Award”, by Alain C. White:

“The Babson Heavyweight Championship is over! Joseph de Ney retains the title, having thrown all corners to the mat, including Dawson, Dobbs, Johnson, Kane Keeble, Keeney, H. F. L. Meyer, Pauly, Wainwright and Woodard – all told some twenty bouts with these experts. The umpire is dizzy from following the subtleties of the sparrers, and if you want further information as to any of the rounds look up the Brother Dolde’s spicy accounts in his sporting column. Some of the boys went down in the first round of their trials (key-moves), and a few lasted till the fourth round (Knight Promotion), and some wisely said they knew they couldn’t do it and would just call their bouts exhibition fights. As to Babson himself, he handed out No, 1056 himself, with only a little eccentric action in the shape of a second White Bishop at c5. And in case anyone thinks this is a little irregular, he now offers the following tidbit to close a pleasant evening. Come again, everybody, when the next challenge from the Pacific is announced!”.

Further, on October 19, 1913, a portrait of Joseph Ney Babson is published in the same (Pittsburgh) Gazette Times:

“He appears to be a century ahead of his time. […] He recently challenged the chess world to compose a sui mate problem in three moves in which the key is a promotion (pawn to its eight square), black to reply with a promotion, claiming either queen, rook, bishop or knight, and white’s second move to be a corresponding promotion. A dozen of the world’s best composers tried it. Mr. Babson alone produced a version satisfactory to the judge.”

On November 23, 1913, J. C. J. Wainwright writes: “That Babson task is surely a hummer, and I am anxiously awaiting the first correct rendering of it. I feel sure it is possible.”

Finally, A. C. White also contributed to the Pittsburgh Gazette-Times “The Problemists' Jabberwocky”, later also reproduced in the December 1914 issue of the American Chess Bulletin with an explanation about what the “Babson-task” is, and the rest is history.


It is strange that Lewis Carroll, who based his immortal "Alice Through the Looking Glass" upon a chess problem (an eleven-mover, you remember), should have made that terrible monster, the Jabberwocky, have no connection whatever with chess! This was clearly an oversight, and we think if he had been living to-day that he could have imagined no monster more manxome, as he calls it, than the famous "Babsontask," which ranges unconquered the columns of "The Gazette-Times." He very possibly would have mastered the task himself and sung of it as follows; but, alas, we have no such champion among us as the Conqueror of the Jabberwock, and the following exciting narrative must remain a dream:

'Twas brillig, and the Keeney Laws
Did Meyer and Windle on the board;
All Pauly were the Carpenters,
And Rice Dobbs out-Rohr-ed:

"Beware the Babsontask, my son!
The knights and rooks, the queens and
pawns! [......]"
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(9) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Sunday, Jan 18, 2015 21:01]

Wow! Great article.

That was more than a century ago!. No wonder Petkov stopped composing selfmates !
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(10) Posted by Zalmen Kornin [Monday, Jan 19, 2015 09:00]; edited by Zalmen Kornin [15-01-19]

Nice research,Cornel! "exemplified by two problems, one by Babson and one by Pauly" This one was >> We could believe that the other source Magyar Sakujsag, 1913"could be a reprint but Stere in Challenge of a Legacy gives March 10th for the publication in Hungary and no mention of the Pitts G Ts ...

You wrote: (...)" a decisive answer might only be found on this side of the ocean." But where besides Brentano, The Pittsburgh Gazette Times and the Am C Bull ?! - For instance, where we could find A C Whites and Babson letters and papers !?
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(11) Posted by Vladimir Tyapkin [Tuesday, Jan 20, 2015 12:40]

My article on the early history of Babson task (in Russian)
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(12) Posted by Cornel Pacurar [Wednesday, Jan 21, 2015 04:03]; edited by Cornel Pacurar [15-01-21]

@ Zalmen: Yes, that is the composition. There is, however, a bit of mystery around this as well, and once again Pauly might have had the upper hand!

In The Gazette Times, on June 1st 1913, Pauly’s selfmate is presented as original: “Problem No. 960 (Composed for The Gazette Times by W. Pauly Bukarest, Rumania)".

In the Challenge of a Legacy it is included as nr. 682 and Stere gives "593 Magyar Sakkujsag, 10.iii.1913” as source and date of publication. This is (almost) as given in 1948 by Niemeijer in “Zo Sprak Wolfgang Pauly”: "No. 593 Magyar Sakkujsag 10-3-1913". Segal also gives in his July 1956 Thèmes-64 3 article (XXX p.31) "Magyar-Sakujsag 1913" as the source.. I have asked Marian Stere to inform me which source he used for his book - “Zo Sprak Wolfgang Pauly”, “Magyar Sakkújság” or Pauly’s own notes.

It is possible that it was first published in “Magyar Sakkújság”, and the label from The Pittsburgh Gazette-Times comes from Howard L. Dolde, the Chess editor. For instance, Miroslav Havel’s #603 Magyar Sakkújság was published on April 10, 1913 and Pauly did publish there six or seven problems. Either that or it was at one point somehow mistaken for Pauly's QQ-BB-SR fourmover, published in Magyar Sakkújság in 1913. In any case, a bit of more digging is needed here!

With regard to the correspondence between Pauly and White: I would start with the Cleveland Library in Ohio. Part of White’s correspondence at least up to 1910 is housed there. There are 10 volumes of correspondence covering the period 1903 – 1910 (vol. 1 to 11, with vol. 5 missing), which are also available on microfilm at the Cleveland Public Library Preservation Office. There are also earlier letters of Alain C. White in John G. White’s collection (they were given by A. C. White to John G. White in April 1912), also at Cleveland Library. In the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands) it seems that there are just two letters exchanged by Pauly and White: one from 1909 (in M. Niemeijer’s collection - letter from Pauly to White) and one from November 5, 1923 (letter from White to Pauly, in Stere’s collection – which certainly contained more, but most likely none from 1912-13).

I can provide you with more details privately.
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(13) Posted by Zalmen Kornin [Wednesday, Jan 21, 2015 17:52]; edited by Zalmen Kornin [15-01-21]

" (...) Beware the Bettmann bird, and shun
The Kohtz and Kockelkorns!

He took his Shinkman board in hand;
Long time the Dawson foe he sought -
So rested he by its Wurzburg tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in Barry thought he stood,
The Babsontask, with eyes of flame,
Came Kipping through the Winter-Wood,
And Arnold as it came!"

@Cornel: Maybe Stere can clarify something about the publication of the Pauly s#3, thanks for Your attention...

@Vladimir, Cornel: I will write You PMs here in MP.

***** In the meantime this thread is still open, there's always a lot of puzzling points, and every contribution is welcome.
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(14) Posted by Cornel Pacurar [Wednesday, Jan 21, 2015 19:44]

Here is a very interesting note from American Chess Bulletin, November 1913, regarding Babson’s example (No. 959 The Gazette Times, June 1, 1913), with illegal position, and the contest itself:

“Some months ago the ‘Gazette-Times’ instituted a self-mate composing tourney, known as ‘The Babson Heavyweight Championship Contest ”. In order that our readers may thoroughly understand the import of this affair, let us relate a brief tale, to wit: About a year ago Brother Joseph Nay Babson, chief of the self-maters, assured the writer (N.B.: the Problem Editor Henry W. Barry) that he had eventually succeeded in composing a self-mate, of which the solution ran thus: 1 P—S, P Queens. 2 P Queens, etc If 1 P Rooks, then 2 P Rooks. If 1 P Bishops, 2 P Bishops. If 1 P Knights, why then 2 P Knights! Such mimicking of one’s defensive maneuvers should prove very riling to a placid disposition were it not that White eventually commits hari-kari in order to square matters.
Brother Babson, however, cheerfully suggested that we synthetically reconstruct the position, which we accordingly did in an offhand manner, finding, however, that in doing so the position arrived at was an impossible one. We don’t know how much of the above Brother B. will credit; but, be this as it may, the fact remains that the intended position, as eventually printed in the ‘gazette-Times,’ proved to be ingenious - but ‘impossible!’
The above occurrences led to the inauguration of “The Babson Heavyweight Contest” - the object being to construct a legitimate three-move self-mate position, solved by the moves given above. […..]”
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(15) Posted by Zalmen Kornin [Thursday, Jan 22, 2015 10:25]

This is already a great discovery Cornel! ""About a year ago" would be in 1912 ...
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(16) Posted by Cornel Pacurar [Friday, Jan 23, 2015 01:54]

It could have been late 1912 or, most likely, early 1913 - the tendency is to round up not down. H. W. Barry did that more often than not, see for instance his "couple of years ago" remark about The Theory of Pawn Promotion in the June 1914 issue of the ACB.

Generally speaking, I take H. W. Barry's note (certainly written after October 5, 1913, when White's award was published) with a grain of salt.

As an example, I don't think that the Gazette Times challenge was really known as "The Babson Heavyweight Championship Contest" or "The Babson Heavyweight Contest", as Barry writes. In the Gazette Times, the only time "Babson" immediately preceded "Heavyweight Championship" was in the award's introductory phrase. As far as I know, it was never mentioned exactly as quoted by Barry, but: "Challenge to the Sui-Mate Club", “The Babson Promotion Theme”, “The Sui-Mate Challenge”, “Babson Task”, "The Babson Heavyweight Championship" (without "Contest" and only in the 'Babson Task Award' written with a boxing match theme flavour). He gets more accurate toward the end of his note, when quotes are properly used: "Now, as we understand the story, a noted bevy of self-mate enthusiasts [..] competed for the Babson "heavyweight championship" and prize".

The bragging about the synthetics "offhand" reconstruction result is quite interesting, and begs the question why did Barry not know "how much of the above Brother B. will credit"?
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(17) Posted by Zalmen Kornin [Saturday, Jan 24, 2015 12:04]

Well; should we consider White's announcement of "Task wearing Babson colors" as the first 'open' mention of the B-T'!?
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(18) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Saturday, Jan 24, 2015 14:10]; edited by seetharaman kalyan [15-01-24]

@ Cornel Pacurar
Superb research.... I am amazed by the details and depth! Thanks for the information & entertaining article.
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(19) Posted by Zalmen Kornin [Thursday, Jan 29, 2015 13:38]

"how much of the above Brother B. will credit"? Barry could probably be exaggerating about his own skill in rebuilding the Urbabsontask
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(20) Posted by Zalmen Kornin [Saturday, Feb 7, 2015 14:21]

a new thread with some resources not available here in MP
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MatPlus.Net Forum General " The famous Babson conditions – Who can light up the dark? "