Chess Composers and Problemists
Compositions, or chess problems, are chess positions other than which arises during a chess game, usually, but not necessarily, composed for solving. The chess problem and the composed chess ending are the true art forms of chess. Orthodox compositions consist of direct mate problems or an ending with the demonstration of a win or a draw. Many times it calls for mate in a specified number of moves. A chess composition consists usually of a position on the chess board, a stipulation in the form of words by the composer (or problemist), and a solution. It may also have the element of difficulty, a theme, and judged on originality.
Unorthodox compositions, known as Fairy Chess, may have no relationship to the real game of chess. It has invented pieces such as Grasshopper, Camel, Zebra, Nightrider, etc. It may even use unorthodox chess boards.
Retrograde analysis is a branch of composition based on determining the play leading to the given position.
Studies are positions in which White (who usually plays first) has to reach a clearly won or drawn position following the best play from both sides.
Chess compositions can be classified into groups such as direct mates (two-movers, three-movers, and more-movers), selfmates, helpmates, etc. A selfmate is a composition in which White is to play and force Black to deliver mate. A helpmate is a composition in which Black and White cooperate to reach a mate for White.
A chess composition is called cooked if it has a solution that differs from the author’s solution or intention.
Fadil Abdurahmanovic (1939- ) is a Bosnian problemist, an International Judge of Composition (1972) and Grandmaster of Composition (1992). His best work is in the form of helpmates and fairy problems.
Edith E. Helen Baird (1859-1924), born Edith E. Winter-Wood, was the most famous female chess composer. She published her problems using the name “Mrs W. J. Baird.” She composed over 2,000 problems in her lifetime. In 1893, she took 1st place in the Hackney Mercury three-mover tournament. In 1902 she wrote 700 Chess Problems.
Pal Benko (1928- ) is an International Grandmaster (1958) and composer of endgame studies and chess problems. He was born in France, grew up in Hungary, and settled in the USA. He was awarded the title of International Master of Chess Composition.
Vladimir Bron (1909-1985) was a Soviet master and top chess composer. In 1969 he wrote Selected Studies and Problems. He won 31 first prizes in composing tournaments. He was awarded the IM title for chess composition in 1966 and the GM Composer title in 1975.
Andre Cheron (1895-1980) was the chess champion of France in 1926, 1927, and 1929. He wrote the four-volume Lehr- und Handbuch der Schachendspiele from 1952 to 1971. He is one of the most famous endgame composers.
Eugene Cook (1830-1915) was the first American chess composer of note. In 1868 he wrote American Chess Nuts, a collection of over 2,400 positions. He was President of the New Jersey Chess Association and was the Problem Editor of the Chess Monthly. He personally composed over 800 chess problems.
Thomas Rayner Dawson (1889-1951) was the Problem Editor for the British Chess Magazine and the Fairy Chess Review. He was considered the father of Fairy Chess. He composed over 5,000 fairy chess problems and over 6,500 problems total. He invented the Nightrider and the Grasshopper. The Nightrider moves like a knight, but then can continue to moves as a knight as long as the spaces visited by all but the last jump remain empty. The Nightrider is denoted as an inverted knight. The Grasshopper is denoted as as an inverted queen. It moves as a chess queen, but must jump exactly one piece when it moves, and it stops, directly at the square after the piece it jumped. Pieces jumped by a grasshopper are not captured.
Vincent Lanius Eaton (1915-1962) was one of America’s greatest chess composers. He graduated from Harvard at the age of 18. He worked as a scholar at the Library of Congress. From 1939 to 1941 he was the Problem Editor of Chess Review.
Edgar Holladay (1925- ) conducted the problem department in the American Chess Bulletin.
Henrikh Kasparian (1910-1995) was one of the first Grandmasters of Chess Compositions. In 1980 he wrote Domination in 2545 Endgame Studies.
Cyril Kipping (1891-1964) composed over 7,000 chess problems.
Karl Leonid Kubbel (1891-1942) was a Russian endgame composer and problemist. He composed over 500 endgame studies.
Sam Loyd (1841-1911) was known as the Puzzle King. He produced over 10,000 puzzles in his lifetime. He was the most famous American chess composer. He composed over 700 chess problems.
Comins Mansfield (1896-1984) was one of the most famous of all problem composers. He composed chess problems for 72 years. In 1972 he was one of the first four to be awarded the title of Grandmaster for Chess Compositions. The other three were Genrich Kasparyan, Lew Loschinsky, and Eeltje Visserman.
William Meredith (1835-1903) was a problem composer. A problem in which there are from 8 to 12 men on the board is called a Meredith.
Geoffrey Mott-Smith (1902-1960) was a prolific chess problem composer
Joseph Peckover (1897-1982) was the best known American chess composer in the early 20th century. He was born in England but emigrated to New York in 1921. He was the endgame editor for the American Chess Quarterly from 1961 to 1965. He composed over 100 endings.
Vasily Platov (1881-1952) and Mikhail Platov (1883-1938) were brothers that teamed together to compose endgames. In 1928 they wrote Selection of Chess Studies.
Henri Rinck (1870-1952) was a French endgame composer. He settled in Spain in 1910. In 1952 he wrote 1414 Fins de Parties. He is considered one of the founders of modern endgame composing.
Aleksei Selesniev (1888-1967) was a strong Soviet endgame composer and chess master.
William Shinkman (1847-1933) was one of America’s greatest chess composers. He published over 3,500 problems.
Alexei Troitsky (1866-1942) is regarded as the greatest chess composer of endgame studies. He has over 1,000 studies to his credit.
Milan Vukcevich (1937-2003) was an International Master and International Composition Grandmaster. He was editor of StrateGems, the publication of the Society of U.S. Chess Problemists.
Alain Campbell White (1880-1951) was an American problem composer and chess patron. For 32 years, from 1905 to 1936, he published the Christmas series of chess problems. He did more than any other player to promote worldwide interest in chess problems.
– Bill Wall