24 February 2012

The American task composer

The last part of this month's series deals is about Henry Wald Bettmann (1868-1935) from Cincinnati, Ohio. Together with his brother Edgar and his cousin Jacob he composed chess problems. As teenagers they worked together, in later years only Henry continued to compose, but his professional activities limited his problemistic work.

Bettman was especially interested in task compositions in which some particular feature is presented in maximum or manifold repetitions. Considering the variety of the tasks of which he composed notable illustrations, he may well be regarded as the most outstanding American task composer.

One famous example is the Babson task. Bettmann showed the first problem in which a single black and single white pawn were involved in the promotions. You can have a look at it here.

1
More White Rooks,1911
[8/1PP1nP2/3k1K2/8/2P5/8/4P3/8]
  #4(6+2)  

2
Deutsche Schachblätter, 1914
[Nk5K/1B5R/P7/8/7B/8/r7/r6b]
  #3(6+4)  

3
Tasks and Echoes, 1915
 
[8/K1p2N2/8/1p1rp2b/nPrkP2R/2N1p2q/1PQP4/4B3]
  #3(10+10)  

4
Densmore Memorial, 1918
2nd Prize, Class B
[1B6/K3p3/P1N2p2/2kB3Q/1pP1n3/2p1b1p1/N7/rn6]
  #3(8+10)  
Solutions
11. c8=R! Nxc8 2. bxc8=R Kd7 3. f8=R Kd6 4. Rfd8#
1. - Nd5+ 2. cxd5 Kd7 3. f8=R Kd6 4. Rfd8# and 2. - Kxd5 3. b8=Q K~ 4. Qe5#
Three successive rook promotions in the main variation plus another in the side variation.
21. Nb6! (threats 2. Bg3+ Ka7 3. Nc8#)
1. - Rc1,2 2. Bc6 Rxc6 / Bxc6 3. Rb7 / Bg3#
1. - Rd1,2/Ra5 2. Bd5 etc.
1. - Re1,2/Ra4 2. Be4 etc.
1. - Rf1,2/Ra3 2. Bf3 etc.
1. - Rg1 2. Bg2 etc.
1. - Ka7 2. Nc8+ Kb8 3. Bg3#
Economical construction with Nowotny interferences on five different squares.
31. Nd8! (threats 2. exd5+ Qxh4/e4 3. Ne6/Qxe4#)
1. - Rcc5 2. Nxb5+ Rxb5 3. Nc6#
1. - Rdc5 2. Nc6+ Rxc6 3. Nxb5#
1. - Qg4 2. Ne2+ Qxe2 3. Ne6#
1. - Bg4 2. Ne6+ Bxe6 3. Ne2#
Probably the first published example of the doubling of a Wurzburg-Plachutta interference.
41. Qf3! (threats 2. Qxe3#)
1. - Bc1 2. Na5 (3. Nb3#) Nd2 3. Qe3#
1. - Bh6 2. Nd8 (3. Ne6#) Ng5 3. Qe3#
1. - Bg1 2. Naxb4 (3. Nd3#) Nf2 3. Qe3#
1. - Bd2 2. Na5 etc.
1. - Bg5 2. Nd8 etc.
1. - Bf2 2. Naxb4 etc.
This one shows an unusual theme. Black bishop obstructs black knight when moving to d2, f2, or g5. On the other hand, black knight interferes on these squares when the bishop moves beyond them.

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