29 November 2010

Why composing?

Here and there, you can read about people's beginnings as solver of chess problems. Sometimes they tell at least when they started. In some other cases you even learn why/how they began. I like to read such things. I'm always interested in getting to know some more about how other people approached this hobby.

Now, what about the composers? You may ask yourself the same questions: Why did they become a composer? When was that? What were their first steps? I tried to find information about the why on the net. But I often just read things like "I am / He was / is a solver and composer." Well, that's not so thrilling. I stopped googling after some attempts. The best I could find was this: "Immediately I started solving and composing chess problems." Wow! Magic! How did he do that? When I saw a chess problem for the first time, I didn't have the faintest idea about how to solve not to mention how to compose nor did it come to my mind (yet) to try to construct a chess problem myself.

So, I am left quite clueless. It looks like several people met a fairy who transmuted them into a composer overnight. They must have woken up one day and thought "I am a composer. Today, I'll construct my first chess problem." Seriously, this is so puzzling! Anyway, I can think of the following: There is a solver who thinks he (or she, but I'll stick to the masculine pronoun) can do it better and searches for ways to improve a problem, e.g. using less pieces. Or he even cooks a problem and attempts to find a correct version. Maybe someone has a – as he thinks – totally new idea/scheme/theme which he wants to demonstrate. Another possibility is that he is not satisfied with just solving and starts to experiment with board, pieces and stipulations. Exactly this last scenario applies to me. But it took at least two or three years until I was ready for this step. And about two more years passed by until I dared to show a highly-respected problemist one of my works.

26 November 2010

Let's get started

What makes people deal with chess problems? What is the trigger? My guess: in most cases, it's pure chance. Maybe, there is a friend who is a problemist (you're so lucky!). Or someone at the chess club comes up with a chess puzzle. You might see a diagram of a problem in a newspaper which makes you curious. You're fed up with the game of chess (only temporarily, of course) and want to try something new. — Those are just a few situations that come to my mind.

In my case, it was a little bit different and probably not the usual way. I was about 10 years old, when chess aroused my interest. I taught myself the rules and some more beyond the basics. Unfortunately, there were only a few to give me a game and none of them was a good player. Therefore, and as I was soaking everything up that was related to chess, I turned my attention to problem chess, as well. I studied the chess column of the local newspaper and bought chess magazines, slowly getting familiar with it. That's how it all started for me. I wonder how many problemists made a similar experience, starting to explore the world of chess problems on their own at the of age 10. And, of course, it's always interesting for me to learn how others became acquainted with chess problems.

30 years later, the magical attraction of chess (problems) is still there. I played OTB chess in a club for over 20 years, am a correspondence chess player since 1993, have fun with online chess, enjoy all kinds of chess problems. While I never gave up solving, there was a longer break without composing activities until 2010. But now I'm back with new energy.