USCF Home arrow Chess Life Online arrow 2007 arrow April arrow Dr. D's Check-Up: Fixing Sam
Dr. D's Check-Up: Fixing Sam Print E-mail
By Steven Dowd and Gary Kevin Ware   
April 18, 2007
Image

by Dr. Steven Dowd and Gary Kevin Ware

As always, some housekeeping first: David Dana-Bashian is last month's winner of the bonus prize. Also, I am getting increased numbers of solvers at Dr. D's Problem of the Week at chessproblem.net Usually it is a 2-4 mover, and I grant a point or two more for showing full variations, for 3-6 points. It is a good way for those of you who need more time to solve (you get a full week to solve one problem) and is a nice adjunct to earning ladder points. In fact, you can earn about as many ladder points there as you can here! Remember, ascents on the ladder can bring you the title of U.S. Expert or Master of Problem Solving.

If there is a problemist everyone knows, it is Sam Loyd, the Puzzle King. He lived in what seemed like a Golden Age for composers, and made the most of it, composing problems that delight and entertain to this day. Like our subject last month Fritz Giegold, Loyd liked to make problems that had certain OTB features, but also contained keys that, as he noted himself, would not be chosen by 99% of solvers!

So if there is any problemist where we are bound to repeat problems or show ones you already know, it would be Loyd, right? Well, maybe not. As you can see, Expert solver Gary Kevin Ware, like most of our solvers, an OTB player as well as a problemist (his study of Loyd led to 3 published problems recently in the Ukrainian chess magazine Chess Leopolis) has joined forces with me to find Loyd problems that had good original intent, but were cooked or had significant duals. One of the best ways to really learn problems is to do what Gary is doing: taking a set of problems and trying to find flaws in them. From this he has developed the ability to find the small shifts, piece additions, and so on it takes to make a problem sound – meaning that when he really starts composing his own problems, his technique will be in good shape, and he can concentrate on the ideas and themes he wants to place forward.

Gary noted that most of our selections were from Loyd's younger period; he felt perhaps the quality of Loyd's work may have improved in later years. Certainly the bulk of his work was produced before the age of 20, with occasional bursts of activity thereafter. It is true that the experience of age usually brings improvement in technique. Or at least makes one more patient, which perhaps go together.

One of the cardinal rules in fixing problems is that you try to retain the original author's intent as much as possible. We hope we have done so, and hope we have chosen an entertaining bunch of problems for you. Remember, no computer help, and only the key move is needed to earn full credit (one point for each move of the solution). Twenty-seven points are possible this month. Be sure to send your solutions to drdowd@uschess.org by May 7.

001
Sam Loyd (v. Dowd and Ware)
Unpublished
Sam1.jpg
White to play and mate in 2

The two-mover was a fertile area for Loyd, and he made few mistakes in his two movers. This one should be a nice warm-up for you; once you see the point. Note that the problems here marked "unpublished" simply mean they were not published in a source external to Loyd: both of them appear in Loyd's own long out-of print book Chess Strategy, and other books on Loyd, which are mentioned below). The original position had a black pawn on b4, without the ones on d4 or c5. Bonus: In that position, what is the cook?

Show Solution


002
Sam Loyd (v. Gary Kevin Ware)
Philadelphia Evening Bulletin 1859
Sam2.jpg
White to play and mate in 3

Gary gets credit here because he did the fixing! Just as in a game, focus on what white's forces can do; the black forces can and do play a defensive role here, but it is best to focus on white's possibilities first. One of the rules to apply to 3 movers is that the second move by White should be as good or as surprising as, the key. This one passes muster!

Show Solution


003
Sam Loyd (v. Dowd and Ware)
Unpublished
sam3.jpg
White to play and mate in 3
In Alain White's Sam Loyd and his Chess Problems (Dover Publications, 1962), it is noted that Loyd, in his later years, didn't like this problem as he felt the solution was "obvious." One can take that as the comment of a genius viewing his work critically; however, the problem was also cooked (!), meaning that the solution is perhaps not so obvious. Regardless, we think Sam was just being overly critical, this is a nice problem, one that fits the "easy to show at chess club" criteria. Bonus: the rook was originally placed on a8. What cook does that lead to?

Show Solution


004
Sam Loyd (v. Dowd and Ware)
NY Albion 1859
sam4r.jpg
White to play and mate in 3

This one was too good to let go in its cooked and dualized state. You'll agree that the hours of work were worth it when you work through this one. Bonus: It is not giving too much away, given the nature of the position – and the composer! - to tell you that one of the lines has a queen sacrifice in it. The question is where does the queen sacrifice herself?

Show Solution



005
Sam Loyd (v. Dowd and Ware)
Syracuse Standard 1858
sam5.jpg
White to play and mate in 3

This was one of the more difficult fixes. We both added and deleted pieces for what we thought was the best fix of this problem. It had been previously fixed by White, but I didn't like the fix as I thought it took a human try out of the equation (by "human try" I don't mean the traditional try, only refuted by one move, but a move most humans would want to try "just because its there!"). Bonus: Although we can nominally say an AUW (Allumwandlung, a promotion to all 4 possible pieces) occurs here, we have to call it trivial for what reason?
The “human try” referred to was of course long castling, which we also saw as a possibility in the first problem; if you are like me, you’ve seen so many castling problems that the surprise actually lies in a position where white doesn’t castle!

Show Solution



006
Sam Loyd (v. Gary Kevin Ware)
Lynn News 1859
sam6.jpg
White to play and mate in 4

I'm giving this one to Gary as it was a homework assignment I gave to him to fix. And he came across like a pro. One small dual remains; it doesn't really detract from the overall problem, but I will assign it as your homework assignment bonus: which is the dual?

Update: May.4, 2007 Unfortunately, this one Loyd had already corrected, but his correction slipped by us. So back to Sam it goes, and Gary - not that he probably minds - loses his (v). That's the breaks!"


Show Solution


007
Sam Loyd (v. Dowd and Ware)
Chess Monthly 1859
sam7.jpg
White to play and mate in 4

This problem was simply given as "cooked" in Pickard's The Puzzle King (available through the USCF store and a good book to start with Loyd, if you by chance have not yet), which we found a shame, as the continuations are just too nice to relegate to the "cooked" file.

Show Solution


008
Sam Loyd (v. Dowd and Ware)
Frank Leslie's 1856
sam8.jpg
White to play and mate in 5

GM Andrew Soltis (Sam Loyd: His Story and Best Problems, Chess Digest, 1995) notes that Loyd didn't care that there were two key moves here! Well, we did, and in this light 5 mover, to end our series, which was one of Loyd's shape experiments – like most problemists, shapes and geometric movement of the pieces fascinated him- we were able to fix it without surrending the shape. Bonus: What was our fix?

Show Solution


 
Advertisement