Israel - Serbia Match (2008-2009)


Section B - Helpmate in Three Moves

Judge: Mario Parrinello


First of all I would like to thank the organizers for giving me the honor to be one of the judges of this composing match. I received in anonymous form 24 problems by the Director, Harry Fougiaxis, to whom my thanks go for his excellent work.


The proposed theme was as follows: “A H#3 of at least 2 phases is required. On the 1st move of each phase a white piece (not pawn) evacuates square X. On the 3rd move the black king occupies square X. The phases can be of any kind (set, multiple solutions, twins etc.) but zeroposition settings are not allowed.


I think that the idea underlying this very interesting theme, which by the way was not chosen by me, is the paradox, surely one of the most appealing concept in chess composition; in this specific case, it is surprising that the mate occurs only after the black King occupies a square which White evacuates at W1. And it is even more paradoxical that in most cases, despite the fact that the thematic white pieces are placed on adjacent squares around the BK and thus they are already in a promising and strong position, White can mate only after changing this apparently good mating net. But in order to better appreciate the paradox, the motivations of those evacuations are really important; in fact it is more interesting what the thematic white piece does when it goes away, justifying thus its initial position on the thematic square. On the other hand, the fact that the BK has to move to the squares evacuated by the white pieces has implied a challenging task for the composers since they had to pay attention to economy of means, namely the diligent use not only, obviously, of the white pieces but also of the black ones due to the fact that the BK is necessarily placed on different, sometimes distant, areas of the board. Another difficulty faced by the composers is to justify the B1 moves since  in theory the proposed theme can be shown only in 2,5 moves; this extra move has therefore to be inherent in the strategy. Except for very few cases, most of the entries have shown good strategy also at the B1 moves, changing this difficulty in an opportunity to add more strategy. To conclude these general considerations, it has to be said that the theme is not new since has been shown several times in the past but luckily most of the problems have presented novelty and variety.


I propose the following award:



1st Place: B22 Milomir Babić & Rade Blagojević (Serbia)

There were only two problems to show the theme in three phases which represents an excellent result in itself. The first aspects which attract the attention is the presence only of the three thematic white pieces and the absence of white pawns; generally speaking, this constructional feature often makes the problem more clear and does not distract from the thematic play. The strategy of evacuation involves the thematic squares d3, f3 and f5 and the motivations for allowing the BK can enter them are critical moves in two solutions (1.Rg4 and 1.e6) so that the black Queen can interfere with one of the white Rooks in turn, showing therefore an anticipatory selfpin. In the third solution the WSf3 evacuates its diagram square in order to capture the disturbing BPd4 which guards the mating square and also to place itself adequately in order to control e3; here too a pin mate appears after the homogeneous manoeuvre by the BQ which selfpins herself. Perhaps at first stage of the composing process the author has composed the two homogeneous solutions, which admittedly show some degree of simmetry, and then succeeded in finding the third one; the preceding considerations may create a sense of unbalance but we must take into account that with orthodox means it is impossible to show a perfect analogy in the manoeuvre by the BS too (in an ideal world it would be very nice if we had another line-piece on f3 which could show the same critical moves as the white Rooks did) and I think the author has achieved the maximum from this difficult idea.



Milomir Babić

Rade Blagojević (Serbia)

1st Place

h#3      (4+15)




 1.Rg4 Rd1 2.Qd2 Rxe5+ 3.Kd3 Se1#

1.Qf4 Sxd4 2.Se3 Sc2 3.Kf3 Rxe3#

1.e6 Rh5 2.Qg5 Rxd4+ 3.Kf5 Sh4#


 2nd Place: B9 Marjan Kovačević (Serbia)

Another entry with only the thematic white pieces and without white pawns. This elegant problem shows not only interesting motivations for the evacuation of the thematic squares but also additional good features. The mates, provided by one of the white Knights in turn after the BK’s flights on f3 or d4, must occur on the squares h4 or b3; but the thematic interest lies on two “tries”. The high degree of appeal is that the white Knights could reach the mating squares only in two moves via f5 or d2 but this promising plane fails because White has not a tempo move at the W2 moves (1…Sf5 2.Kxf3 ?? 3.Qf4 Sh4# and 1…Sd2 2.Kxd4 ?? 3.Qd3 Sb3#). It implies a radical change of the white strategy and leads also to paradoxically prolong the manoeuvres of the WSs to three moves in order to reach those very mating squares! Because of the exchange of the mating piece between the try play and solutions, in the latter phases the white Knights have to perform other duties on the route due to the fact that the vacation of the flight square and consequently its control prevents the immediate moves of the BK on it; on the other hand Black must block f4 or d3 in any case, hence the unpinnings of the BQ. At the B1 moves Black captures one of the WSs in turn, causing therefore the exchange of functions between the WSs not only in the solutions but also between the solutions and the tries, leading to model mates and to a very nice Zilahi which appears also in the try play. A very original concept and an excellent problem as a whole whose strength is its cerebral appeal.


Marjan Kovačević (Serbia)

2nd Place

h#3      (4+13)





1…Sf5+ 2.Kxf3 ?? 3.Qf4 Sh4#

1.Rxd4 Se5 2.Qf4 Sg6+ 3.Kf3 Sh4#


1…Sd2 2.Kxd4 ?? 3.Qd3 Sb3#

1.gxf3 Se6 2.Qd3 Sc5+ 3.Kd4 Sb3#



 3rd Place: B4 Emanuel Navon & Uri Avner (Israel)

It is only fortuitous that three problems in a row have only the thematic white pieces on the board along with the aestethic appeal of absence of the white pawns; besides those constructional aspects, this problem too shows rich strategy and a very good interpretation of the theme. As seen in two solutions of B22, the motivations for the evacuations of the thematic squares are centred on critical moves by the white line-pieces with subsequent anticipatory selfpins, a strategy shown only by three problems in this tourney. But unlike the 1st Place, here the critical moves show additional strategy; in fact in part a) the WRh5, when abandoning its square and moving along the 5th rank, has to choose carefully its destination since has also to perform other duties, namely the interference with the BRf7 [1.Rg6 Rf5 (Rxe5?)]; the same applies to the WBe4 in part b) [1.d3 Bg6 (Bxh7?)] when the shut off involves the BRg8. Those black line closings are one of the most remarkable and original features of the problem and there are not only closings of black lines by White but also by Black himself;  in fact there are Holzhausen interferences by the BQ in such a way that the self-pinned Queen interferes with the Rg8 in part a) and with the Rf7 in part b) preventing the black Rooks could parry the mates; as a consequence, there is an appealing exchange of interfering functions between White and Black. Here too the model mates are a nice feature, though not an essential one, and surely a bonus if they are combined with a good strategy as B4 shows. Although the captures of black pieces which control the mating square are crude, but it is very difficult to find something more interesting in this contex, and the remote self-blocks at B1 are rather colourless, the problem shows a well engineered strategy whose richness recalls that of the H#2s.


Emanuel Navon

Uri Avner (Israel)

3rd Place

h#3   b) Qf4<>Kg4     (3+14)








a) 1.Rg6 Rf5 (Rxe5?) 2.Qg5 Bxd5 3.Kh5 Bxf3#

b) 1.d3 Bg6 (Bxh7?) 2.Qf5 Rxh6 3.Ke4 Rxh4#




4th Place: B19 Zdravko Maslar & Marjan Kovačević (Serbia)

The evacuations of the thematic squares have the purpose here to cross the critical square d5 but instead of shut offs of the white line-pieces by a black one with anticipatory selfpins as seen in the 1st and 3rd Place, there are reciprocal white interferences leading thus to a white Grimshaw which is a logic, though not new, alternative as mechanism for the thematic requirement [from the constructional point of view 1…Rc5 in part b) is also closing of a black line, not matched by the other phase, but it is not a serious blemish in my opinion]. This strategic element is nicely combined with an identical black motif, namely critical moves and as a consequence a black Grimshaw which fits very well with the white one, with exact correspondence of the Rook’s and Bishop’s manoeuvres. The black strategy is motivated by another interesting element which represents the black counterpart of the white evacuations; in fact there is the need to vacate the mating squares for the WPd2 so that the thematic black pieces have to be reciprocally interfered with each other in turn since the departures from their initial squares have the undesired effect of the mating square’s control. This leads therefore to the Follow-My-Leader effects (here delayed) which, by the way, was the theme of the latest WCCT. The technical control of the BK’s diagram square is cleverly achieved by a direct white battery which becomes an indirect one in the course of the play. The combination of a critical black and white Grimshaw, and even the present theme itself, is not new (compare to PDB P0575928) but B19 is a much better rendering of the theme since the black Grimshaw is pure (the predecessor shows also square-blocking function), the twinning mechanism is much nicer and especially it adds additional strategy.


Zdravko Maslar

Marjan Kovačević (Serbia)

4th Place

h#3      b) Pe2>c3       (6+13)





a) 1.Bb5 Bxc6 2.Rc4 Rd5 3.Ke4 d3#

b) 1.Rb4 Rc5 2.Bc4+ Bd5 3.Ke5 d4#

5th Place: B2 Shaul Shamir & Paz Einat (Israel)

It does not happen very frequently that a distant shifting of the black King as twinning mechanism produces an entirely satisfying strategy but fortunately this is the case; moreover the shift of the BK is associated with that of the WK and therefore there is their exchange of place which is strongly thematic and with no doubt an ingenious device. Here too the white line-piece abandons the thematic square and cross a critical one in order to be interfered with by a black piece, allowing the BK enters its final destination, resulting therefore a black self-pin. But the purpose of the white manoeuvre does not stop here, since the white line-piece also captures the disturbing BPf4 in order to open a line for the pinned white piece and, after its stop on f4, completes its duty by performing an unpin at W2. There is an amusing exchange of function between the white pieces in the unpinning and annihilation play, which is evident also by the inversion of the W2 and W3 moves. This strategy has been achieved thanks to the clever exchange of place between both Kings in such a way that in one phase the free white line-piece provides the evacuation of the thematic square, the annihilation capture on f4 and finally the unpinning of the other white piece whereas in the other phase there is the reversal of this strategy. Another interesting motif is the black Grimshaw at B1 which is integral part of the problem since the BRh2 and BBe1 alternately act as the pinning piece or as the piece which has to be interfered with; moreover the double control of the mating square in each phase does prevent the need to limit the freedom of the BRh2 and BBe1, providing therefore an airy reciprocal manoeuvre. The construction is good, taking into account the extreme shift of the BK and the only very slight blemish is that the white economy can be improved by replacing the white pawn of f3 with a black one. An elegant and rich problem.


Shaul Shamir

Paz Einat (Israel)

5th Place

h#3   b) Ka5<>Kh7    (4+13)





a) 1.Rf2 Bxf4 2.Qg5 Bd2 3.Kh6 Rh4# 

b) 1.Bf2 Rxf4 2.Qc4 Rh4 3.Kb4 Bd2#

6th Place: B13 Uri Avner & Emanuel Navon (Israel)

This entry shows one of the most original interpretation of the theme and also a high degree of paradox. The immediate prospective self-blocks on remote squares at B1 [1.Rf3? in part a) and 1.Ba3? in part b)] fail because of an undesired pin of one of the thematic white pieces which have to move in turn in order to do something else and therefore all the strategy has to be radically changed here too. After the first step by the BK in approaching his final destination, the thematic white piece abandons its initial square, thus controlling the thematic square for the BK, and now the mentioned square-blocks reappear but as checks instead of undesired pins as in the tries; thus the only way to simultaneously parry the check and allow the BK can enter the square abandoned by the white piece is to sacrifice itself on the flight square (of course random moves such as 2…S~? or 2…R~? fail). This leads to two very attractive white switchbacks and the fact that those sacrifices occur on empty squares enhances the strategy and produces an high sense of paradox; the problem shows also additional good features, namely the excellent exchange of function of the white pieces, hence the Zilahi, and model mates. Despite the black manoeuvre shows two moves by the black King, not very interesting in theirselves since they often prevent to add other strategic effects, they are entirely thematic and inherent in the scheme. The only slight blemish is the rather crude capture of black material at the W1 moves but it is very difficult to imagine something different with this matrix.


Uri Avner

Emanuel Navon (Israel)

6th Place

h#3      b) Pd3>d4      (9+11)




a) 1.Ke3 (Rf3?) Sxe6 2.Rf3+ Sf4! (S~?) 3.Kxf4 Rxe4#

b) 1.Kc3 (Ba3?) Rxb6 2.Ba3+ Rb4! (R~?) 3.Kxb4 Sd5#



7th Place: B20 Shaul Shamir & Paz Einat (Israel)

Another highly paradoxical strategy not only in connection with the proposed theme but also with additional motifs. The thematic white line-pieces accomplish in turn the thematic evacuations of the squares a4 in part a ) and g6 in part b) whose motivations are also to annihilate the BPc6 in order to allow a line opening; this strategy recalls that of the B2 problem, but here the white piece has also another purpose. Since Black has to occupy the flight squares, therefore contrasting the White’s aim (Anti-Ziel-Element), the only way to reach the mate is to sacrifice the white line-piece on those squares by capturing the disturbing black piece, showing thus an amusing white switchback in each phase. The white sacrifice by capturing a black piece which occupies a flight square in the course of the play is the Zajic theme and has been extensively explored in the H#2 but is relatively rare in the H#3; here this strategy is enriched by anticipatory unpins at the B1 moves and, though not very profound, by a nice dual avoidance based on the need of avoiding the control of the mating line; the radical shift of the BK has allowed the exchange of function of the thematic white pieces and as result the Zilahi. The motivations of the black sacrifice at the B2 moves are slightly unbalanced since 2.a4 is opening of the mating line after the pawn’s sacrifice in part a), while the BS sacrifices itself on g6 in order to unguard the mating line; moreover a slightly better economy can be achieved with the version in brackets [(White Ka8 Rg6 Ba4 pa2 c4 e5; Black Ka3 Rb5 Bh6 Bf3 Sh8 pg7 h7 c6 a5 f5 g5 b4 H#3 b) Ka3 to h5)] which shows 1 unit less and a much less expensive black pawn instead of a black Rook. Nevertheless a good strategic problem.


Shaul Shamir

Paz Einat (Israel)

7th Place

h#3     b) Ka3>h5     (7+12)








a) 1.Rb7 (Rd5?) Bxc6 2.a4 Bxa4 3.Kxa4 Ra6#


b) 1.Rd5 (Rb7?) Rxc6 2.Sg6 Rxg6 3.Kxg6 Be8#



8th Place: B14 Uri Avner (Israel)

This is another entry showing the white Grimshaw as the basis of the thematic evacuations but its strategy is entirely different in comparison with B19. The Grimshaw on the square e5 is all that White has to do in order to allow the BK can reach its final destination and appears after critical moves; but here the W1 moves have to unpin the second thematic white piece, resulting therefore a nice exchange of function. The B1 moves are of particular interest and show not only indirect unpins of one of the two pinned white pieces but also distant self-blocks; those double motivations, which in an other context are negatevely rated, here are justified since they are inherent in the matrix which shows two white pieces initially pinned. Unfortunately the fact that the black King spends two moves for reaching the final squares does limit the black strategy only to the B1 moves, preventing from adding additional motifs as shown instead by B19. Moreover I would have preferred that the WR would match the play of the WB in the control of the BK’s field in the solution starting with 1.Sb4 since it has no guarding function in the mate.



Uri Avner (Israel)

8th Place

h#3     (7+14)





1.Sb4 Rf5 2.Kd4 Be5+ 3.Kc5 d4#

1.Bf3 Bd6 2.Ke4 Re5+ 3.Kf4 dxe3#

9th Place: B10 Ofer Comay (Israel)

Another highly paradoxical motivations for the thematic evacuations. Here the only way to reach the mate is that the WRf7 or WBg5 abandon the thematic squares but, in order not to control them, have to sacrifice themselves in turn; but at this point they must carefully choose where the sacrifices occur (random moves as 1…R~? or 1…B~? fail because of the undesired control of the departure squares) and the only possibility is to sacrifice themselves on a square which Black must self-block at B2. This leads to nice ODT effects with a visually attractive manoeuvre in which the black Queen plays an important role. This excellent strategy is enriched by additional motifs which enhances the value of the problem and this may explain the heavy position which is on the other hand entirely justified: the initial captures of white material at the B1 moves are needed for providing a line opening performed by the WK which in the diagram position closes both the WRd2 and WBd1, alternately the future mating pieces; their captures in turn allow the WK to free one of them, resulting thus the Zilahi. The active and passive capture of white material is a very popular motif in the helpmate, and also a difficult one, but the most important aspect is that the motivations for those captures must be interesting as cleverly shown here. The problem could have been placed much higher but unfortunately a predecessor (PDB P0583881) can be rated as a partial anticipation in connection with the proposed theme since it shows essentially identical motivations and, as a consequence, identical white sacrifices; on the other hand the fact that the present problem shows additional strategy justifies the existence and secures its placing.



Ofer Comay (Israel)

9th Place

h#3     (7+15)








1.exd2 Rf8 2.Qxf8 Kxd2 3.Kf7 Bxh5#


1.Rxd1 Bh6 2.Qxh6 Kxd1 3.Kg5 Rxg2#



 10th Place: B1 Bojan Vučković (Serbia)

Along with the 1st Place this is the only entry which shows the theme in three phases; in two solutions (1.c5 and 1.Bg7) the thematic white pieces abandon their squares in order to control the BK’s field, while in the third one (1.Rb4) the WBf5 performs a critical move so that the WSf6 can interfer with it. The motivations of the thematic evacuations are not so profound as in some other entries and unfortunately also unbalanced as mentioned above; on the other hand the problem cleverly shows the unifying motif of the unpins at the B1 moves and the dual avoidance (1.Rb4 Rxc6?, 1.c5 Bh3? and 1.Bg7 Rxc6?/Bh3?) which is interesting but based on simple and unbalanced motivations (in two solutions guard of the mating square while in the other one the two preceding manoeuvres are preventing by the fact that Black, after moving its Bishop, controls the mating square and at the same time cannot self-block); the model mates are a little bonus. The problem could have been placed higher but, as mentioned above, suffers from not homogeneous strategy.


Bojan Vučković (Serbia)

10th Place

h#3      (4+9)




1.Rb4 Bh3 (Rxc6?) 2.Qe4 Sg4+ 3.Kf5 Rf6#

1.c5 Rc6 (Bh3?) 2.Be7 Rxc5+ 3.Kd6 Se4#

1.Bg7 Sg8 (Rxc6? Bh3?) 2.Qe6 Sxh6 3.Kf6 Rxe6#




11th Place: B8 Marjan Kovačević & Borislav Gađanski (Serbia)

This is the only miniature of the tourney and shows an excellent paradoxical play, contradicting the fact that limited material does not always allow interesting strategy. The main role is played by the WSd5 (or WSe5 in part b after its shifting) whose duty is simply to control the BK’s field; the play of both solutions is thus rather simple, based on elementary motifs (guards and selfblocks), but what is more interesting is the “try” play which shows surprising effects. It is really paradoxical that the two manoeuvres cannot be reversed between the two phases because White lacks a tempo [1.Ke5? Sf4 2.Sg3 ?? 3.Sf5 Sf7# in part a) and 1.Kd5? Sc4 2.Bd4 ?? 3.Bc5 e4# in part b)]; this leads to the fact that Black paradoxically has to enter just the square vacated by White at the W1 moves and cannot immediately occupy the vacant square. A little gem.



Marjan Kovačević

Borislav Gađanski (Serbia)

11th Place

h#3       b) Sd5>e5       (4+3)




a)  1.Ke5? Sf4 2.Sg3 ?? 3.Sf5 Sf7#

      1.Bd4 Sb6 2.Bc5 Sc4+ 3.Kd5 e4#

b)  1.Kd5? Sc4 2.Bd4 ?? 3.Bc5 e4#

      1.Sg3 Sg6 2.Sf5 Sf4 3.Ke5 Sf7#



 12th Place: B7 Borislav Gađanski (Serbia)

Among those problems showing creation of a white battery after critical moves by the thematic white pieces which are subsequentely interfered with, this is the only one with the white King as front piece. The line openings at the B1 moves lead to the already mentioned critical white moves (the focal square is d4 in both solutions where is placed the black Knight which performs almost all the black strategy); the only way to allow the WK can enter the square d4 is that one of the thematic white pieces in turn captures the BRd8 or BBg7 and that the Sd4 interferes with one of the surviving black piece alternately. At this point the BK too can enter the square abandoned by the rear piece of the future white battery, with the result of an amusing ODT effect. From the constructional point of view the capture of black material at the W1 moves seem rather brutal but is entirely thematic and the reapeated move 2…Kd4 is inherent with this matrix; by the way the black economy can be slightly improved (one black pawn less) by removing the BPc6 and moving the WPb4 to a4 and BPb7 to a5. Moreover the strategy is well known (compare for example to PDB P0506766 or P0504975) and the novel aspect here seems the line closings performed by the thematic black piece.




Borislav Gađanski (Serbia)

12th Place

h#3   b) Bg7>h8   (7+13)





a) 1.Sb5 Bxg7 2.Sd6 Kd4 3.Kb2 Kd3#

b) 1.Sxf5 Rxd8 2.Sg7 Kd4 3.Kd1 Kc3#



Mario Parrinello

June 2009