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MatPlus.Net Forum General Parasitic set play!?
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(1) Posted by Neal Turner [Friday, Jul 26, 2019 09:16]; edited by Neal Turner [19-07-26]

Parasitic set play!?

So we have the preliminary results of Internet Composing Tourney (section B).
The theme was enormously difficult so it's no wonder there were only 12 entries.
The judge's comments were of the kind that would be expected, until we come to the entries which take up the final two places.
Here he refers to 'parasitic set play' which 'assassinates' one and is 'the main blemish' in the other.
The authors it seems make no mention of the set play, so what's going on?
Do we now have a situation where unmentioned accidental set play in helpmates is considered equivalent to unprovided flights/checks in direct mates?
Do composers need to add material to prevent such set play?
This is a new concept to me, but maybe I'm just outdated - can anybody shed light on it?
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(2) Posted by Nikola Predrag [Friday, Jul 26, 2019 12:41]


Imagination and thinking is not anymore for the humans, the machines take over.
The "Helpmate analyzer" tells absolutely everything, the judge is there only to 'humanize' the judgement by misinterpreting the facts and emphasizing something irrelevant or wrong.
In the passed obsolete obscure times, one could find the whole main point in 'how to provide a tempo-play?'.
Luckily, now the machine doesn't fall for such a 'foolish delusion' :-(

In these times of the transition, the judge is still needed for adding a bit of human imagination and invent some beautiful concept, such as that 'parasitic set play'.
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(3) Posted by Frank Richter [Friday, Jul 26, 2019 14:30]; edited by Frank Richter [19-07-26]

Deleted due to blindness ...
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(4) Posted by Georgy Evseev [Friday, Jul 26, 2019 20:31]


There is a number of composers/judges, who think that in helpmate any solution in lesser number of halfmoves than required is a defect, and it does not matter which side in intended by the author to play first. I know of at least three names. And there is no way to prove them wrong.
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(5) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Saturday, Jul 27, 2019 07:46]

So in helpmates you can never have a tempo first move, is that their view?
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(6) Posted by Dmitri Turevski [Saturday, Jul 27, 2019 08:37]

There was a couple of articles published online (in Russian) as well as a few discussions in RuChessArt about this "concept".

in helpmates you can never have a tempo first move

If I remember correctly, the proponists consider it's okay if either the side to play can be deduced retroanalitically (so the setplay is illegal) or the first move is a hesitation (so there is no setplay - eg
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(7) Posted by Rajendiran Raju [Saturday, Jul 27, 2019 08:54]

Here is one h#2 from recent Problemas....

Alexandre Pankratiev 🇷🇺 (Russia)
Problemas Apr - Jun 2019

(= 3+3 )

H#2**  2 Set Plays & 2 Solutions
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(8) Posted by Jakob Leck [Saturday, Jul 27, 2019 13:42]

"There is a number of composers/judges, who think that in helpmate any solution in lesser number of halfmoves than required is a defect, and it does not matter which side in intended by the author to play first. I know of at least three names. And there is no way to prove them wrong."

Let me try. Firstly, in helpmates the role of set play is to provide additional solutions as stipulated by the composers. In direct mate problems it is, even without a * added to the stipulation, quite natural to study set play to find defensive resources. As the competitive element is missing, this does not apply to helpmates. So as long as the * is not added to the stipulation there should be no reason whatsoever to consider a set play.
Then, of course, short solutions like a #n being solved in n-1 moves are defects. But in set play the stipulation is changed, or rather the side making the first move has changed. So I don not think that they can be regarded as short solutions.

Now, after having argued against a general rule of considering set play (as defective) without it being stipulated exceptions should be considered: The problem by Pankratiev cited above is a good example for this. Personally I would never add the ** to the stipulation of this problem because the set play does not add anything whatsoever to the content of the problem and actually makes it worse through the many repetitions. But let's consider the problem with just the stipulation 'h#2, 2 solutions'. Now the mere existence of the set play to me is no defect at all, however, it can be used to show that the tempo move, which is part of the main thematic content, has a rather shallow motivation. (Compare to the nice and deeper motivation in the Kricheli problem mentioned by Dmitri.) It is a "weak tempo" in the sense of the judges of TT-212 on So here the set play is used to show a thematic weakness, but the fact that it exists should not be considered a defect.

In the ICT problems mentioned my opinion is that the existence of the set plays should not be a defect, but it shows the difficulty of enforcing the ambitious thematic content on the position. The problem may seem less light or natural. And then the rest is up to your/the judges taste....
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(9) Posted by Nikola Predrag [Saturday, Jul 27, 2019 14:29]; edited by Nikola Predrag [19-07-27]

Set-play is just a play from a TWIN-POSITION, where the alteration is not about the placement of the pieces but about the side having the move.
Should we judge all the various possibilities of 'parasitical twins', although the author never mentioned them?
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(10) Posted by Neal Turner [Saturday, Jul 27, 2019 14:37]; edited by Neal Turner [19-07-27]

"And there is no way to prove them wrong."

Yes there is!

neal turner
Die Schwalbe 1989
(= 3+3 )

1.Sbd2 Bc2 2.Sb1 Ba4 3.Sfd2 Sb3 4.Kc2! Sc5+ 5.Kc1 Sd3#
White performs an Indian manoeuvre to allow the black tempo move.

But our friends would say:
No! No! In the set play there's no need for the tempo move and we have 197 ways to reach the same mating position!
197 parasitic set play lines renders the problem invalid - it's got no right to exist!

As this conclusion is plainly ridiculous, their arguments must be wrong.
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(11) Posted by Rajendiran Raju [Saturday, Jul 27, 2019 14:46]

Machines make everything perfect.

But it is imperfection that makes life beautiful..!!
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(12) Posted by Dmitri Turevski [Saturday, Jul 27, 2019 15:43]

I think "no way to prove them wrong" referred not to the lack of a good argument, but rather to the lack of comprehension at the receiving end.
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(13) Posted by Nikola Predrag [Saturday, Jul 27, 2019 17:16]

"lack of comprehension" comes out of the attempt to match a 'machine's perfect comprehension', never mind the absurdity of that very notion.
In Neal's problem, the machine recognizes 4.Kc2 as 'Tempo' and so 3...Sb3 as 'Allowing of tempo'.
In the mentioned Klasinc's problem (ICT/B 2019, No.3), 2.Kxe1 is formally not 'Tempo' and so 2.Qe1+ is not 'Allowing of tempo'.

The poor machine cannot 'comprehend' that bQ must perform the sacrificial part of 'Chumakov' PURELY for 'Allowing of tempo', DESPITE the lack of an actual formal/bureaucratic 'Tempo'. Paradoxically, the judge complains about the 'parasitic set play' (1... ... 2.Qa1/Qg1) which actually PROVES the purity of tempo-motivation.

Machine cannot comprehend the difference between an effect and a motivation. People are too intimidated by the phantom of 'machin's perfection' and don't question its 'perfect verdict'.
That much about the comprehension.
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(14) Posted by Viktoras Paliulionis [Sunday, Jul 28, 2019 02:22]

Of course, the Helpmate Analyzer cannot be a judge, it can be only his assistant. The Analyzer only reflects my personal knowledge that I gained from other sources, as well as my personal experience in composing. Without human knowledge, a machine cannot do anything; it cannot think for itself. If the Analyzer doesn’t show something, it’s not his fault, it means that either I did not have this knowledge, or I could not formalize and program them, or it was just bug in the program.

Identifying the tempo play is one of the more difficult tasks, and I have not fully implemented it. The Analyzer cannot yet identify some types of tempo-maneuvers, as well as tempo moves, such as in the second variation of the Klasinc's problem. If the Analyzer saw a try 1...f4 2.Qa1/g1? ?? 3.Be2 Kxe2 … , it could detect tempo move Kxe1, but it analyzes only the solution provided by Popeye. Unfortunately the Popeye is not searching tries in the helpmates, so the Analyzer cannot identify such tempo so far.
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(15) Posted by Nikola Predrag [Sunday, Jul 28, 2019 11:21]

Viktoras, Helpmate Analyzer is a beautiful creation, a piece of art for itself. It gives the illusion as if it was a living creature.
And it is very useful as a great tool BUT ONLY if the user treats it as a 'mere tool' that must be managed by a HUMAN mind.

Human mind 'sees what is not there' and creates the 'whole picture' and meaning by interpreting the interweaving of the existing and non-existing features, i.e. the 'reality' and illusion. There's where the richness of our world lives.
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(16) Posted by Neal Turner [Sunday, Jul 28, 2019 11:36]

It's unfortunate we haven't had anybody coming on to defend the idea of 'parasitic set play' and to explain the logic of its defectiveness.
If it was just about composing it wouldn't matter so much, as of course authors are free to make their own decisions about their own work.
However with judging it's a different story, especially if this obscure and controversial concept is going to affect the status of entries in awards.

We need a ruling!

The United States Supreme Court or the European Court of Justice would be acceptable arbiters, but I suppose their schedules are quite full at this time, but all is not lost - we have the WFCC Codex Committee!!
Kjell - are you there?
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(17) Posted by Kostas Prentos [Sunday, Jul 28, 2019 13:46]

I am not in favor of the concept of "parasitic set play" and I read all comments with interest. However, Neal's last reply intrigued me enough to respond. The question is how much importance we give to what we do.

It is obvious from the award that the so-called "parasitic set play" is not considered a cook by the judge, despite the strong language used: "assassinated" or "the main blemish". Maybe it is just one of the little things that the judge dislikes, but not strongly enough to disqualify the two problems from his award. In any case, this is not the point of this comment. I wonder whether it is time to create an Appeals Committee for all of us, who at one point or another, felt our brainchildren have been wronged. We have seen many examples of composers complaining about judgments with which they disagree. More often, the composers suffer in silence. It is the judge's destiny to make people unhappy. However, each award is signed. The judge can be subjected to criticism or (less frequently) to praise. Do we really need an official third party, like an Appeals Committee to resolve these issues, especially for casual composing tourneys?

Perhaps, these matters can be answered once and for all, by including a line or two in the Codex. I remember a discussion on this forum about different mating moves on the last move of a selfmate. Or the discussion about the proof game No.1316 at Julia's Fairies website: Even so, there are long resolved issues, like the legality of an orthodox chess problem, which are still subject to controversy. A more detailed Codex might be a good start. But, as a wise man once said (just today on a Greek forum) and I waste no time to quote: "Of course, chess is insignificant, but it is the most important of all the insignificant things in the world."
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(18) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Sunday, Jul 28, 2019 21:52]

We practice art - this is the price we pay. If you feel
wrongdone, being vindicated by history is the best you can hope for.
At most we can agree on an "epoch style" (but there always will
be dissenters). Still, a higher court is a fun idea :-)
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MatPlus.Net Forum General Parasitic set play!?