Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Penarth Pier Problem

Jonathan Speelman
White to play and win

One of the things that I like most about playing in a long tournament is the rhythm that you can settle in to. I know it's only the second day, but I bet half of the folk up in North Shields are already forming patterns that they'll be keeping for the rest of the fortnight.

My routine in Penarth went like this:-

  1. Wake up
  2. Meet EJH and Angus for breakfast at 8:30
  3. Quick walk
  4. Play chess
  5. Eat lunch
  6. Try to take a siesta
  7. Play chess
  8. Meet EJH and Angus at the pub for drink, food and a review of that day's games
  9. Sleep

Repeat to fade.

Unlike the British Championships, in Wales the schedule was two games one day and one game the next. Finding ourselves with an extra couple of hours to kill every other morning we would head down to the pier for a cup of tea and a look at a study or two. Solving in Style indeed.  Well, as far as the location went, anyway.

It turns out, that studies have their own rhythm too. It goes like this:-

  1. Set up position.
  2. Quickly find a solution that looks like it must work.
  3. Realise that if it was that easy it wouldn’t be John Nunn's book.
  4. Find a refutation to the original suggestion.
  5. Get stuck.
  6. Wonder if you have the right position on the board
  7. Check.
  8. Find out that you do.
  9. Make progress little by little: find an idea, find refutation to that idea; find refutation to the refutation.
  10. Consider the problem finally solved.
  11. Look up the solution.
  12. Discover that right or wrong you missed a third to a half of what was going on.

A fine place to not solve studies

Of all the studies we looked at, my favourite is the one that appears at the head of today’s blog. It looks so simple and yet, as it turned out, we spent nearly all the time it took to nail the blighter following red herrings into dead ends.

It actually ended up taking hours of effort spread over several days, not to mention a hint from Jack Rudd, for us to finish the thing off. So long did we spend on it, in fact, that Justin christened it The Penarth Pier Problem. I leave it for you today for your enjoyment.


Anonymous said...

Problem solved
Joe S

Adam FF said...

How about:
1. Kg5 Kf7
2. Kh6 Kg8
3. h4 Kh8
4. Kh5 Kg8
5. Kg4 Kf8
6. Kf4 Ke8
7. Kg5 Kf7
8. Kf5 Ke7
9. Ke5 Kd7
10. Kf6 Kc6
11. Kg7 Kb5
12. Kxh7 Kxa5
13. Kg7 b5
14. h5 b4
15. h6 b3
16. h7 b2
17. h8=Q b1=Q
18. Qa8+ Kb4
19. Qb8+ 1-0

6. ... h6
7. h5 Ke8
8. Ke4 Kd7
9. Kf5

Leads to the same thing, as does 1. ... Kd6. Black chasing the King's side pawn at any stage is even slower for him.

It's all about maintaining long-distance opposition.

John Cox said...

I'm impressed if you manage to get up to half the solution of one of those studies in JN's book. I gave up on the first one after 24 hours more or less solid effort - it was K and P -v- K and P, and I just couldn't see it.

Now, as it turned out, I had the position set up wrong, but still it was a bit offputting.

ejh said...

You mean that Grigoriev on page 26? We did that one as well! Eventually...

ejh said...

Adam - you have the main line perfectly, well done! In fact (According to Nalimov, and indeed Nunn/Speelman there's a slightly better reply to your 6...h6 sideline, although your version wins as well.)