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Dr.D's Check-Up Print E-mail
By Steven Dowd   
December 13, 2006

Moving on to Meredith
by Dr. Steven B. Dowd

Welcome back! A few housekeeping items have shown themselves in need of answering before we begin this week: First, yes, this is the "new" Key Krackers, the name being retired in David's honor and in case he ever wants to use it again. The column has been moved to Chess Life Online.

Now the focus is on instruction and securing new solvers while retaining our loyal solvers, many of whom are working on their Expert or Master titles. In the future, should we continue to see the early success this column is already engendering (we seem to be finding a good number of new solvers who are comfortable with the Internet format), we can look forward to various types of expanded content as described in the first column.

As with David, just the key move suffices for credit – be sure to include the month in the subject line of your email, since each column will be numbered 1 to x. E-mail me at All solvers who have submitted solutions to me should have heard from me; and scores will follow soon – if you haven't heard from me, and you submitted solutions, please contact me again. One benefit of quick solutions is that you can know how you did relatively quickly; you'll usually find out your score within 24 hours of submitting your answers.

This month's column may sound like a country song, but as we focused on the miniature last month (problems with 7 pieces or less), this month we move on to Merediths, problems with 12 pieces or less. Merediths offer even more potential for thematic content, and you may find amazing the content that these composers have packed into a problem with over half the starting pieces gone!

Look for the answers to these problems by January 5th. Click here and scroll down to access the answers to Dr.Dowd's premiere column (November).

W. Meredith
Dubuque Chess Journal 1889

Mate in Two

We’ll start with a problem from the namesake for this type of problem. As usual with these older problems, there are a number of set mates if it were Black to move – 1…. g4 2. Qf4 mate, for example, but what is unusual for a problem of the day is that the key provides a flight for the king and offers no less than 3 white pieces for sacrifice. Bonus: What duals does the Black knight on a4 prevent?

IA Schiffman
Revista de Romana de Sah 1928

Mate in Two

Here we are at the material maximum for a Meredith again (12 pieces), with a nice key. Bonus: There are at least two tries (moves that fail to only one black move/defense) by the piece that carries out the key. Tries – by "coming close" offer not only a little bit of extra solving difficulty,- but also interest to the problem, especially when they are "natural looking." .What are the two tries, are what are their refutations?

MR Vukevich
Mat 1981

Mate in Two

The late great American grandmaster makes an appearance again, and this problem is an instructive one for those who are still struggling with the concept of try-play. Hint: There are two tries here, but the one by the white queen is the most instructive: 1. Qd4?, with the idea of mating by 2. Sg3 (remember that in problems, "S", stands for knight), amongst others, is refuted by 1… Se4!, leaving white at a loss for a mate. What move retains the 2. Sg3 threat, but also contains other threats?

O. Wurzburg
The Problem 1914

Mate in Three

The symmetrical position should alert you to the fact that there will probably be some interesting echo mates – mates that are similar in appearance, depending on the black defense. Symmetry can detract from a problem, making the solution obvious and uninteresting; Wurzburg has maximized the aesthetic appeal of the mates in this one.

T. Siers
Die Schwalbe 1947

Mate in Three

The combination of a S+B battery is named after T. Siers, a very talented German composer who did his best work in the period immediately after WWII, and those interested in learning more about this theme should visit: . Before the battery is to fire in this case, white must find a preparatory move. Bonus: A small dual exists in the main line of this problem. What is it?

U. Avner
Spain 1957

Mate in Three

A bit of a lighter problem for your relief here; Uri Avner is the current president of the PCCC, FIDE's problem arm, which awards titles, determines the Codex for problems, etc. This is from his early years as a composer, showing the talent that would later blossom in a number of problem genres.

E. Brunner
Die Schwalbe 1936

Mate in Four

Erich Brunner was a Swiss/German composer of enormous talent (I would say genius), and helped to further the new German school of problem composition in which a preparatory move or moves (Vorplan) lead to the Hauptplan (main plan of the problem). One of the appeals of the new German school to many is also the inherent logic shown in their problems. Brunner was also known for his skill in using rook doubling, one of the main themes of many of his problems. Those should provide you with enough hints!

F. Chlubna
Die Schwalbe 1970

Mate in Five

Friedrich Chlubna (Fritz to his friends) was an International master, a well-known publisher of quality chess problem books, and a staunch advocate of beauty in the chess problem. This problem still pleases and baffles me at the same time after looking at it off and on for many years. When you find the solution, look at all the moves that don't, but should work – at least, they look like they should. Bonus: What thematic device, also seen in problem 004, is used here to great effect?


001 - 1.Qd2! Qxd2 2.Sc4#; 1...Kd6 2.Sc4# (the black queen is pinned!); 1...Qxb3 2.Sd7#; 1...Qxf3 2.Qd4#; 1...g4 2.Qf4# .

Bonus - the S on a4 prevents the checking duals 1. Qa5+ and 1. Qc5+, which would exist in addition to the key if not for the S.

002 – 1.Rc7! Kb8 2.Nc6# is the prosaic end; 1...Qxd5 2.Rxd8#;1...Rxd5 2.Rxg8#; and since the king is exposed to check by the key, my favorite end is 1...Rb8+ 2.Nb7# . Ouch!

Bonus – The two tries by the rook are 1. Re7?, which is only refuted by 1. …Rd7! and 1. Rb5?, which is only refuted by 1. … Qg1! If you look, you will note that black is mated in two after the tries by every black defense except the precise one shown.

003 - 1.Qd2! and now, after 1. …Ne4, white mates on the square the queen occupied on the try with 2.Sd4#. 1...gxf4 2.Qxf4#; 1...Ke4 2.Sg3#; 1...Sh1 2.Qd3# . As with all Vukevich compositions, nice, neat, and logical.

004 - 1.Bd1! b4 2.Ba4 g3 3.Bxd7#; 1...g3 2.Bh5 b4 3.Bxf7# is the first set of echoes; 1...d6 2.Bb3 f6 3.Rde5#; 1...f6 2.Bxg4 d6 3.Rfe5# provides us with some others, along with a nice switchback in the third solution. Switchbacks, or the return of a piece to its original position, are a common aesthetic device for the problemist, as the mind wonders: If the piece was not optimally placed before, what does moving it back do?

005 - 1.Rg8! Nd5 2.Ne7+ Ke5 3.Nc6# 1...Nd7 2.Nf8+ Ke5 3.Nxd7#; 1...Nb5 2.Nh8+ Ke5 3.Nf7# ;1...Bf3 2.Nf4+ Ke5 3. Sd3#

Bonus – The dual is 2. Sf8 in the first line.

006 - 1.Bf4! Nb5 2.Nd4+ Kxh4 3.Nxf5#; 1...Nd7 2.Ne5+ Kxh4 3.Ng6#. A light yet pleasing problem.

007 - 1.Rd1! threatening Rh3+(#3; the Vorplan) 1...Kh2 2.Rdd3( threatening Rh3+with a mate in 2, and showing the doubling) 2...Kh1 3.Rh3+ Rxh3 4.Rxh3#. Alternately, 1...Rh7 2.Rh3+ Rxh3 3.Nf3+ g1B+ 4.Rxg1# is a more prosaic end.

008 - 1.Qh7 Rc1 2.Qg6 Ra1 3.Qf5 Rc1 [3...Ne4 4.Qxe4 Rc1 5.Qe2# ] 4.Qxf2 Rc2 5.Qe1#; if 2...Rc2 3.Qxh5+ Ng4 4.Qxg4+ Re2 5.Qxe2#. A problem worth studying multiple times, until the point is seen (I am still working on it!)

Bonus – again, the switchback is shown here in play and in threat; the queen finally switches back and captures the S once black has been forced to abandon his best defenses! Sometimes switchbacks are trivial, this is definitely not the case here!

In case you missed it, be sure to check out David L.Brown's article on Vukevich from the October issue of Chess Life Magazine, archived online for your convenience. For a limited time, is offering the large majority of our online content without requiring login. This will soon change, so join now!