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MatPlus.Net Forum General Black "Nightwatchmen"?
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(1) Posted by Ian Shanahan [Saturday, Dec 29, 2012 05:41]

Black "Nightwatchmen"?

A "nightwatchman" - the English translation of the German Nachtwächter - is defined in the recent "Encyclopedia of Chess Problems: Themes and Terms" thus:

"A close synonym to superfluous force. A white piece (other than [a] Pawn) that is not needed in the post-key play, i.e. it would be correct without it. Comparable to night watchmen are white pieces that merely block a square or cut a line. Night watchmen in the virtual play or in set play are not considered serious flaws, whereas a superfluous piece in the actual play nearly always disqualifies a composition."

My question is this: (in a #2) can Black men (besides Pawns) also be nightwatchmen? (That is, Black men that have a function in virtual- or set-play but serve no purpose whatsoever in the actual play. Such men often occur in problems showing Total or Radical Change.)
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(2) Posted by Sven Hendrik Lossin [Saturday, Dec 29, 2012 22:19]

I think that this very interesting thread will answer your question:

Especially the No. 16 by Hartmut Laue is very elaborate.
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(3) Posted by Ian Shanahan [Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 04:06]

Thank you Sven Hendrik!
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(4) Posted by Ian Shanahan [Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 04:07]; edited by Ian Shanahan [12-12-30]

That thread is a truly fascinating and edifying discussion.
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(5) Posted by Ian Shanahan [Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 04:07]; edited by Ian Shanahan [12-12-30]

Harmut Laue's contribution in particular was very helpful. As I thought, there is a delicate balance between artistic goals and considerations of economy.
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(6) Posted by Kevin Begley [Sunday, Dec 30, 2012 07:17]; edited by Kevin Begley [12-12-30]

In the context of competitive art, one wonders: are philosophical questions posed to discover objective truth, or to debate subjective preferences?
Having no interest in the latter, my best answer would be to share an encounter which revealed the profound absurdity of a question I had once posed.

My early encounters with the inevitable philosophical questions surrounding trade-off options in chess problem construction -- though quite primitive (compared to the question posed in this thread -- or any from the aforementioned "Procrustean Bed Thread") -- often led me to seek the counsel of respected problemist friends.

Luckily for me, among my mentors, then, was the late Dan Meinking, who had the most elegant expression for his Socratic philosophy of chess composition (to which, I expect, many might subscribe): "Theme is King," he used to say.

Somehow, it went without saying that his intended meaning was paradoxical (the same way you just knew he was smiling).
By theme, of course, he meant: whatever artistic pattern(s) the composer intends to express (anything -- even economy itself could be an intended theme).
The composer's intent, then, was similarly considered to be that which the problem itself had demonstrated worthy of appreciation.
We might easily perceive this to be an obvious tautology (or worse: a self-referencing absurdity); but, to me, on a subconscious level, deep beneath the propensity to test a mentor's resolve, I immediately accepted this answer as a profound truth.
I still do.

First, because any other answer could (and eventually would!) be successfully challenged.
Light from the truest star is either pending revelation, or beyond perception faint; and, here were my philosophical questions, absurdly asking Dan to demonstrate the truest path by providing a proper direction in the night sky!

Asking absurdly impossible questions, I suppose I deserved to receive an absurdly thoughtless dodge (e.g., "it is what it is").
But, Dan's reply provided an invaluable navigational tool: target thematic intent, as if the enemy's King (nothing else won is victory).
The truest art will reveal its own light.

Dan knew just what direction to point you in.
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MatPlus.Net Forum General Black "Nightwatchmen"?