Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Symbols

A couple of months ago the weekly magazine Knack published an article about facts and myths of yoga. First it was told that today yoga is an enormous booming business. More and more people are practicing some type of yoga. Also similar kind of activities like Tai Chi, mindfulness, meditation,... are experiencing the same exponential growth. Many in the Western world need to escape from the daily stress. So in the article the author wonders if we don't do those activities just to maintain our hectic life. This sounds something very awkward on the long term as it is very doubtful those escape tools will work forever.

Anyway today the effectiveness is still something under discussion. There is no clear agreement about which positive effects yoga and other related activities have. Sure we can't deny that some people feel better by it but some others barely feel any benefits of it at all. I am therefore against forcing people to follow such courses at school, work,... Let people decide for themselves if they want to spend time at it.

Personally I don't feel attracted to it. I don't need such exercises to feel better myself. Besides I neither believe in anything to do with spirituality. So karma which I mentioned 2 article ago, is nonsense for me. My wife warns me that I will get what I will expect so nothing (every Russian knows the book The Master and Margerita in which there is a chapter about an atheist dying under a tram and the devil forwards him to the void as he believes nothing). However I answer my wife if she expects me after her death then I don't have anything to worry about. Meanwhile I am 12 years married with my Russian wife so I start to know how to deal with her favorites.

On the other hand the horseshoe nail which I received 4 years ago as a present (see my article the lucky one) still has a place in the living room. No I still don't believe in good luck-charms. I just find it a cute and lovely accessory. You don't have to believe in symbols to consider them beautiful. The same is also valid for chess. Sometimes the pieces are forming a weird symbol which let you smile. Something like that happened also in the last round of Open Gent but I lacked the time to enjoy the special position.

The 4 rooks forming a square, immediately reminded me of another weird square of knights which I created on the board in a correspondence game. That case was even more special as I also won that game against a player rated above 2500.
While those are for sure special constructions on the board, things become really extraordinary in chess-problems. The next 3 problems were extracted from a book published in 1907: The Twentieth Century Retractor, Chess Fantasies, Letter Problems created by the famous female-composer Edith Baird. I start with a position in the shape of a heart.
White mates in 2 moves
The next one is in the shape of the number four. The solution is rather ugly which happens more often in this type of problems.
White mates in 2 moves
The initial of my first name and my son's should not be missing of course.
White mates in 2 moves but black also mates in 2 moves
Finally things get spiced up when a story is connected to the position as is the case for the last problem.

A chess-player has out of necessity put on stake his soul at the devil. If the player wins then he is again a free man. Else he would be for eternity belong to the devil. Slowly the devil outplayed the poor guy. Eventually the devil announced mate in 7. However just when the devil wanted to execute the final move, he dropped the mating piece out of horror. He jumped up and ran into the darkness. God had saved the player miraculously.

To make sure the devil plays with his favorite color (so black) I decided to switch the colors of the original problem found at the blog dubbelschaak. That problem is already a revision by the Dutch composer Gerard Smits of the original published first in 1878 by the French Charles Godfrey Gumpuel (he also built the half-automate Mephisto).

Besides there exist several variants of this story with other positions forming a crucifix see e.g sign of the cross chess problem 67214. Composers love to make problems around symbols.

Such strange creations or symbols are much more rare in standard chess. Of course a game has other priorities. If you have met something special yourself in a game then don't hesitate to share it with us in a reaction.

Brabo

Solutions

Problem the heart: 1.Kd6 (waiting move)
1...Bc3 2.e3#
1...Be3 2.c3#
1...Bc1 2.c3#
1...Be1 2.e3#
1...Bxb4+ 2.Rxb4#
1...Bxf4+ 2.Rxf4#
1...c5 2.Rd5#

Problem the number four: 1.Ne8, ? 2.Bd6#

Problem the letter H:
white: 1.Nb6+, Kxe5 2.Rc5#
black: 1...Qxc6+ 2.Kd8 Bg5# of 2.Kb8 Qb7#