27 May 2011

The Coal-Box Family

I dug out another book by T. R. Dawson. This time, it's C. M. Fox, His Problems, published in 1936. As one might correctly guess, it's a collection of the best problems composed by Charles Masson Fox.

After many years as chess player, Fox took to fairy chess in 1921-22 and his very first published problem won a first prize. What a start! He became a renowned fairy chess expert.

I selected his "coal box" family from the book. Dawson was sure that it's "never likely to be forgotten by any solvers". He further explicates: "The problems in it are some of his earliest efforts in 1921, but they show him extracting ideas one from another in his most familiar style. The general idea is to fix the black king at g6, surround him with heavy artillery, and lead the White infantry to a successful assault. In some cases the enemy forces zig-zag round their king; in others the latter attempts flight from his encampment only to fall into worse hands. Besides choice of mating square — the black king gets a wide range — there is a wealth of delicate timing, surprising loss of a white pawn sometimes, Black interferences including critical moves, and a fair choice of mating "pictures" — and it is all done with the most deceptive appearance of ease."

All problems have the same stipulation: helpmate in 3 moves. All of them were published in The Problemist Fairy Chess Supplement, October 1932. Just in order to save space, only the relevant right part of the board is shown. If you rather prefer to see the whole board, you may click on the respective diagram.

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And here are the solutions:
1 1. Be7 g4 2. Kf6 gxf5 3. Qf7 hxg5#
2 1. Be3 fxe3 2. Kg5 e4 3. Qg6 h4#
3 1. Kf5 Kh2 2. Kg4 Kg2 3. Nf5 f3#
4 1. Nh5 g3 2. Qg7 g4 3. Bf6 gxf5#
5 1. f4+ Kd4 2. Kf5 Kd5 3. Qg6 g4#
6 1. Re6+ Kf4 2. Kf6 gxh5 3. Nc7 hxg5#
7 1. Kg5 Kf3 2. Kh4 Kf4 3. Bxh3 g3#
8 1. Bg4 Ke4 2. Kh5 Kf4 3. g5 hxg4#
9 1. Qd2+ Kxd2 2. Kh6 h4 3. Bg6 g5#
10 1. Rxh3+ Ke4 2. Kh5 Kxf5 3. Bh4 g4#
11 1. Rh4 gxf5+ 2. Kh5 h3 3. Rg4+ hxg4#
12 1. Qh8 gxh5+ 2. Kh7 hxg5 3. Bg8 g6#
13 1. Bg8 hxg5 2. Qh8 Kh4 3. Bh7 gxh5#
14 *1. - g4 2. Ne4+ Ke5 3. Nf6 gxf5#
1. Rg8 g4 2. Bg7 gxf5+ 3. Kh6 hxg5#
15 1. Qe7+ Kd5 2. Kf6 g4 3. Bg6 g5#
16 1. Re5+ Kf3 2. Ne6 gxh5+ 3. Kf5 g4#

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