Israel  Serbia Match (20082009)
Award
Section A  Mate in Two Moves
Judge: John Rice
There are few countries that can field as strong a team of expert twomove composers as those competing in this match, and I therefore
looked forward with enthusiasm to the judging process. When I first saw
the chosen theme, I must admit I doubted whether it offered enough scope
for interest and originality. I need not have worried. The best of the
24 problems submitted (there were 12 from each country altogether) are
splendid works, with plenty of really novel and ingenious ideas. I
consulted Udo Degener, to whom I send my thanks, regarding possible
anticipations, but he could find no obvious forerunners, and gave it as
his view that the theme had not been much worked. He did offer a few
published problems for comparison, but fortunately there was nothing
among them that could be counted as a clear anticipation. However, I had
to exclude A7 from consideration, as it was much too similar to the
Lukyanov problem quoted in the match announcement. At a very late stage,
A19, which would have occupied 11th place, was found to be totally
anticipated (V. Pilchenko & V. Shavyrin,
Zadachi i Etyudy 2000)
and had to be removed from the award.
There can be no doubt that the theme is not easy to set intensively.
Among the competing problems there were a few that aimed at a task
rendering, but these, in my view, were not among the top entries, and
most of them displayed constructional weaknesses that ruled them out of
contention. In fact, the difficulty of the theme is shown by the fact
that almost all the entries, even the best of them, show some feature of
construction that is not ideal. In my remarks I comment on these
features, many of them quite unavoidable.

1st place: A1 Uri Avner (Israel)
A problem that is A1 in almost every respect. Three introductory moves
by the wSg5 carry different threats according to the S’s arrival square.
At least one of the nonthreatened mates then arises in reply to a black
defence, giving an ABBCCA cycle of threats and variationmates. In one
phase (after 1.Sh7?) the third mate also occurs, a feature that is
actually superfluous within the cyclic context and might be criticised
by some judges. The Dombrovskis effects running through the three phases
add to the value of the problem, though 1…Sxg3 does not occur as a
defence after the key. There is rich byplay throughout, especially from
the skilfully positioned black Sc3 (the wK stands on a1 so that the Bf6
is pinned when the S moves). The composer no doubt noticed that by
removing the bPf7 and shifting the wPd7 to e6 he could avoid a
capturekey and indeed introduce a set mate to follow 1…Bxe6 (2.Sxe6).
So why was this not done? The reason is that the wRa5 would then have no
function at all after the key, a weakness that I might well have
penalised. The composer made the right decision here, but it was a close
thing. This fine problem deserves – and will repay – careful study. 
Uri Avner (Israel)
1^{st}
Place
#2 (12+10) 
1.S5xe4? [2.Qg5# A]
1...Bxe4 2.Bg5# B
1...Qxf6 y 2.Qxf6# Z
1...Sxe4 2.Sxe2#
1...Qh5 2.gxh5#
1...Qxh4,Qh6 2.axb8=Q#
but 1...Sxg3! x
1.Sh7? [2.g5# C]
1...Sxg3 x 2.Qg5# A
1...Be6 2.Bg5# B
1...g5 2.Sh5#
1...Qxh7 2.axb8=Q#
but 1...Qxf6! y
1.Sxf7!
[2.Bg5# B]
1...Qxf6 y 2.g5# C
1...Sc~ 2.Sxe2#
1...Qh5 2.gxh5#
1...Qxh4,Qh6 2.axb8=Q#
(1...Bxf7 2.Bg5#) 
2nd place: A3 Arieh Grinblat & Semion Shifrin (Israel) There are four phases here, with threats on four different squares, and all the variationmates are given by the Re4. This unifying factor is what makes the problem so impressive. The white firstmoves come in two pairs, with Qmates threatened by 1.Qb6? and 1.b6? and Smates by 1.Sd3? and 1.Sc2! The subsequent mates by the R are likewise paired, with two doublecheckmates by the battery and two batteryopenings retaining control of a flight. There is useful byplay in all phases, and the composer has ensured that the wQ has a role to play after the key. Is there a weakness to criticise here? Yes: the keypiece is badly out of play, and the solver might well have the same experience as I did in spotting the Smoves and the Rmates before noticing the play involving the wQ. However, the keypiece does offer a couple of other (nonthematic) tries, and the intensity and unity of the thematic play represent more than adequate compensation. 
Arieh Grinblat Semion Shifrin
(Israel)
2^{nd}
Place
#2 (11+10) 
1.Qb6? [2.Qd4#] 1...dxe5 2.Rd4# 1...Sc5 2.Qxd6# 1...Sf5 Qxb7# but 1...Sc6!
1.b6? [2.Qxc4#] 1...Kc6 2.Rxc4# 1...Sa5 2.Qb5# but 1...Sc5!
1.Sd3? [2.Sf4#] 1...Bh6 2.Rf4# 1...cxd3 2.Qa2# 1...Sg6 2.Qxb7# but 1...dxe5! (1.Sg2? [2.Se3,Sf4#]
but 1...Bh6!) (1.Sf3? [2.Rd4#]
dxe5 2.Rxe5# but 1…Sc6!)
1.Sc2!
[2.Se3#] 1...Bh6 2.Re3# 1...Sf5 2.Qxb7# 
3rd place: A18 Milan Velimirović
(Serbia) Great constructional skill has been shown by the composer of this problem in achieving a reciprocal change of the mates on c4 following 1…exd6 and 1…Bxe5. These mates cannot be played until e5 has been guarded or blocked; then the choice of mating piece depends on a variety of effects including access to c4 for the Q and the need to retain a guard on c6 and/or e4 after capture of one or the other of the two wSs. The longer I studied this problem, the greater was my admiration for the ingenuity of the setting. An impressive piece of work.

Milan Velimirović (Serbia) 3^{rd}
Place
#2 (10+10) 
1.Qc2? [2.Sdc4#] 1...exd6 2.Bc4#
A 1...Bxe5 2.Qc4#B
(Bc4?) but 1…Sd3!
1.Bd3!
[2.Sdc4#] 1...exd6 2.Qc4#
B (Bc4?) 1...Bxe5 2.Bc4#
A (Qc4?) 1... Sxd3,Se4 2.Q(x)e4# 1... Sxf7 2.Sdxf7#

4th place: A9 Menachem Witztum &
Emanuel Navon (Israel) An almost equally impressive problem. The composer has set himself an interesting challenge: double threats on different squares in the two phases, with thematic variationmates on each threatsquare. Furthermore, these mates follow the same defences in the two phases, an excellent unifying feature. In such a closelyfought contest the judge cannot ignore one or two constructional blemishes: the wQ plays a very modest role, especially after the key, the Pg7 is needed for the tryplay only, and, perhaps most seriously, the wSd8 has no part to play once the key has been made. Without this S the problem would not work at all; now and then one has to accept such things. Overall the composer deserves commendation for surmounting the undeniable challenge imposed by the double threats. 
Menachem Witztum
Emanuel Navon (Israel) 4^{th}
Place #2 (13+9) 
1.Sxg5? A
[2.Be4#
B/Bxf7# C]
1...Rf2
a
2.Qe4#
1...e4
b
2.Sxf7# 1...fxg6 2.g8=Q# but 1...Bb5!
1.Bxf7!
C
[2.Sxg5
A/Sxc5# D]
1...Rf2
a
2.Rxc5#
1...e4
b
2.Rxg5# 1...Ke4 2.Sxc5#

A new version by the composers addressing the criticism by the judge
Menachem Witztum
Emanuel Navon (Israel) 4^{th}
Place #2 (13+9) 
1.Sxg5? A
[2.Be4#
B/Bxf7# C]
1...Rf2
a
2.Qe4#
1...e4
b
2.Sxf7# 1...fxg6 2.g8=Q# but 1...Re3!
1.Bxf7!
C
[2.Sxg5
A/Sxc5# D]
1...Rf2
a
2.Rxc5#
1...e4
b
2.Rxg5# 1...Ke4 2.Sxc5#

5th place: A21 Dragan Stojnić (Serbia) Two tries by the Bd5 threaten mate by one of White’s Ss on c4, the potential mate by the other S being avoided as a threat in Sushkov style, though it is only after 1.Bxe6? that the avoided threat reappears as a variation mate. After 1.Bxe4? a different mate arises on c4, and this turns out to be the threat introduced by the key. The two Smates both reappear after selfblocks on d5 and f5. In addition, a Dombrovskis effect is also discernible within the tryplay. As in the entry placed 4th, the wQ’s role is relatively slight, but the change of mate after 1…Bxd6 (which refutes 1.Bxe4?) compensates to some extent, and the two byplay mates by the Rb4 are also a valuable bonus. 
Dragan Stojnić (Serbia) 5^{th}
Place
#2 (13+8) 
1.Bxe4? [2.Sbc4# (Sdc4?)] 1...Rc5 2.c4# 1...Bxe4 2.Rxe4# but 1...Bxd6! 1.Bxe6? [2.Sdc4# (Sbc4?)] 1...Bxd6 2.Sc4# 1...Kxe6 2.Qxe7# but 1...Rc5!
1.Ba2!
[2.c4#] 1...Rd5 2.Sbc4#
1...Sf5 2.Sdc4# 1...Bxd6 2.Qxe6# 1...Sf3 2.Rxe4# 
6th place: A13 Marjan Kovačević
(Serbia) Threat and two mates on each of two squares, with the same black defences in each phase, one of them an unpin of the wQ. This well unified concept, however, suffers from the fact that the wRh4 clearly cannot be brought into play by 1.bxc4?, which makes the key a much more likely introduction. Nonetheless, the problem has considerable appeal and well deserves this relatively high placing. 
Marjan Kovačević (Serbia) 6^{th}
Place
#2 (11+9) 
1.bxc4? [2.d3#]
1...Bxd2 2.Qd3#
1...gxf3 2.Bd3#
but 1...Se1!
1.e6!
[2.Rfxf4#]
1...Bxd2 2.Qxf4#
1...gxf3 2.Rhxf4#
1...Bxd6+ 2.Sxd6#

7th place: A10 Miodrag Mladenović
(Serbia) As in the problem placed 6th, the same two black defences lead to thematic mates on different squares. The cramped white position is unattractive, but the play is nonetheless appealing and the whole concept works well. The bPd3 could be saved if the wPd2 were shifted to c2, but it’s possible the composer wanted to avoid insignificant duals after moves by the Ba5 off the diagonal in the postkey play, especially as one of these moves is the refutation of the try. 
Miodrag Mladenović (Serbia) 7^{th}
Place
#2 (14+6) 
1.fxg5? [2.Rf4#] 1...Kxf3 2.Sf4# 1...Bh5 2.R8f4# but 1...Bc7!
1.Sf1!
[2.Re3#] 1...Kxf3 2.Sge3# 1...Bh5 2.Qe3# 1...Bxd2 2.Sxd2# 1...gxf4 2.Rxf4# 1...Sg6,Sd5 2.Q(x)d5#

8th place: A12 Yosi Retter (Israel) A fourfold realisation of the theme incorporating a double pseudo le Grand, with attractive pinning refutations in 1…g5! and 1…Qf8! However, it seems to me highly regrettable that the mates by the white Ss appear only as duals after the key. Even allowing for the fact that the basic aim of the problem is a double reciprocal effect, I should have preferred to see mates A and B recur postkey. It would not be hard to achieve this, though at the cost of some extra units, and the underused wQ could be saved at the same time. 
Yosi Retter (Israel)
8^{th} Place
#2 (14+7) 
1.Rg3? [2.Sfd5#
A]
1...gxf5 2.Sed5#
B but 1...g5!
1.g4? [2.Sed5#
B]
1...Bxg4 2.Sfd5#
A but 1...Qf8!
1.Qc7? [2.Kd5#
C]
1...Rc8 2.d5#
D but 1...Ra7! 1.Rc4? b5!
1.Rb4!
[2.d5#
D]
1...Ra4 2.Kd5#
C (1...Bf3 2.Rxf3# 1…bxc5 2.dxc5#) 
Yosi Retter (Israel) Version by John Rice
8^{th} Place

1.g4 ? 2.Sed5 A # 1...hxg4 2.Sfd5 B # but 1...Qf8 ! 1.Bxe2 ? 2.Sfd5 B # 1...Bxf5 2.Sed5 A # but 1...Bh7 ! 1.Bc7 ? 2.Kd5 C # 1...Rc8 2.d5 D # 1...e1=Q 2.Sfd5 B # but 1...Ra7 ! 1.Rb4 ! 2.d5 D # 1...Ra4 2.Kd5 C # 1...Bxf5 2.Sed5 A # 1...e1=Q 2.Sfd5 B # (1...bxc5 2.dxc5 # 1...Rf3 2.Rxf3 # ) 
9th place: A24 Aharon Hirschenson
(Israel) An interesting interpretation of the theme involving three white units making threats and giving variationmates on three different squares in a cyclic pattern. Sadly, this impressive idea does not result in a wholly convincing problem. Heavy white force is called for to make it all work, with the consequence that some of this force is underused. Furthermore, the black play is not well integrated. This good idea deserves a better setting, and maybe one day a more manageable matrix will be discovered for it. 
Aharon Hirschenson (Israel)
9^{th} Place
#2 (14+7) 
1.Qf2? [2.Rfe5#] 1...Rf3 2.Rde5# but 1...Sxg6! 1.a8=Q? [2.Rd6#] 1...Sa7,Se7,Sxb6
2.Sd6# but 1...Qa3!
1.f7!
[2.Sf6#] 1...Sxd7,Sh7 2.Rf6# 1...Qxb6 2.Qxe3#

10th place: A14 Marjan Kovačević
(Serbia) In this setting of the le Grand pattern four pieces mate on f3 in the course of the play. But there is a serious weakness: too obviously the Sh3 has nothing to do where it is, so the solver will assume it must be on the board in order to make the key. Consequently the tryplay could easily be overlooked, especially as 1.Sb4? has to be a specific move (not 1.Sd~?) so that d5 is guarded after 1…Bxc4. Others might view this problem differently, but to my mind it is not entirely successful. 
Marjan Kovačević (Serbia) 10^{th}
Place #2 (10+8) 
1.Sb4? [2.Bf3#
A] 1...Bxc4 2.f3#
B 1...f3 2.Qxf3#
C 1...Sxb4 2.Qxe5# but 1…Sd4!
1.Sg4!
[2. f3#
B] 1...Bxc4 2.Bf3#
A 1...f3 2.gxf3#
D 1...Bxa1,Bb2,Bc3 2.Qd5# 1...Sd4 2.Qxe5# 1.g4? [2.Qf5#] 1...Bxc4 2.Bf3# 1…fxg3 e.p. 2.Qf3# but 1… f5! 2.Qf3? 1.Sf3? [2.Sd2#] but 1...Bxc4! 2.Bf3? Set: 1...Bxc4 2.Bf3#, 1...f5 2.Qf3# 
11th place: A20 Uri Avner (Israel) The le Grand pattern once again, but in a setting where the theme is rendered almost as if by accident. Since the mechanism is well known, it surprises me slightly that the composer did not attempt to introduce a Dombrovskis effect by making 1…Sf4 a defence in the tryplay. It can be done by shifting Sg2 to h3, Rh5 to g5, removing Pf4 and adding wPf2. Perhaps the need for this extra wPf2, making the flightgiving key even more evident, was a decisive factor. At all events a pleasant problem, but hardly a strong contender in a field where many entries set the theme much more intensively and with greater originality. 
Uri Avner (Israel) 11^{th}
Place
#2 (12+8) 
1.Kf7? [2.Be6#
A]
1...Bxd4
x
2.e6#
B
1...Bc8 2.Bc6#
but 1...Sxd4!
1.Qb4!
[2.e6#
B]
1...Bxd4
x
2.Be6#
A
1...Sxd4 2.Sxf4#
1...Kxd4 2.e6#
1...Bc7 2.Qc5# 1...e6 2.Qd6#

12th place: A17 Milan Velimirović &
Dragan Stojnić (Serbia) When tries and key are made by the same piece, the unity of a problem is considerably enhanced (compare A1 and A21). In this example, it is not just the variation mates that occur on the threat square: the principal defences do so too. Of course, this inevitably leads in one case to capture of the defending unit. The appealing postkey variation 1…d4 2.Bd6 compensates to some extent. 
Milan Velimirović Dragan
Stojnić (Serbia) 12^{th}
Place #2 (9+9) 
1.Bc3? [2.d4#] 1...Bd4 2.S3xd4# 1...d4 2.Sg1# but 1…Rxf5! 1.Bg1? [2.d4#] 1...Bd4 2.S5xd4# but 1…d4!
1.Bxe5!
[2.d4#] 1...Bd4 2.Bxd4# 1...d4 2.Bd6#

John Rice
June 2009