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MatPlus.Net Forum MatPlus Tourneys Costachel TT - Strategia 1936
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(1) Posted by Administrator [Saturday, Jun 11, 2011 14:35]

Costachel TT - Strategia 1936

Dinu-Ioan Nicula from Romania is a our regular and dear guest on Belgrade Problem Chess Festival, one of two problemists from abroad (the other one is Ivan Denkovski from Macedonia) who took part in all seven events origanized so far. For each and every occasion Dinu selected something interesting he discovered in his tireless research in history of the Romanian chess composition. This time we learned from Dinu more about the interesting life of Octave Costachel (1911-1987), the name which most of us who heard about it associated so far only with a classic “pele-mates” two-move theme.

I remember that in my early composing days I took part in the Costachel theme tourney organized in the Romanian newspaper “Tribuna Sibiului” in 1968 and composed one of my first “thematic” twomovers, which was eventually even rewarded with special mention. It was a kind of surprise to hear from Dinu that another tourney with the same theme had been organized much earlier, in the chess review “Strategia”. The problems were published during 1936 under the pseudonyms rather than the names of authors. Unfortunately, the award was never published, the real names have never been uncovered and after so many years they are lost without a trace. What remained are the compositions and when Dinu expressed his intention to find somebody to make the award my immediate thought was that it could be done collectively by members of MatPlus.Net. Dinu’s immediate response was that it would be a real happy ending of the tourney.

As soon as he came back home Dinu sent me the scanned material which I converted to the form suitable for online examination that some of you are already familiar to: last two rounds of Liga Problemista 2009 were judged in this way and the quality of awards surpassed the most optimistic expectation. So now I invite you again to dedicate some of you free time to this tourney.

There have been some different interpretations of Costachel theme so one cannot be sure what is the genuine definition. I think that the correct definition is as follows: “After the key there is a mate threatened by white thematic piece. Black in defence pins that piece and simultaneously closes a black line so that (now pinned) white thematic piece mates by moving along the pin line.”

For examples see the reprint of Constantin Gavrilov’s article:

  • The type of pin can be either indirect (the most common case!) or direct.
  • The interference is mandatory in thematic defence (otherwise it’s “only” theme “Cristofanini”).
  • A thematic piece doesn’t have to be pinned in the final position (i.e. on mating move it can capture the piece it was pinned by; however, this is thematically inferior form).
  • A pele-move (i.e. a move along the pin-line) is mandatory on mating move; a mate by thematic piece as a rear battery unit is not thematic (even if it remains pinned). On the other hand, a thematic white piece can also be a front battery unit and deliver the mate by a pele-move without directly attacking the black king (the check comes from the rear battery piece); it seems that it’s best to leave to judges to make their own opinion about thematic quality of such a mate.

An excellent Internet resource is a really impressive study by Ricardo A. Franceschini and Alan Doris Battiston on themes Cristofanini and Costachel at: After reading this wonderful material even those who never paid much attention to orthodox twomovers will be more than capable to judge this tourney competently.

To ease the judges’ job and save their time all the solutions are divided into two parts separated by a dashed line. Thematic (and thematic-like) variations are grouped above and side variations below that line. Thematic threats and variations are given in bold and impure variations in italic face. The flaws in problems No.13, 17, 22, 24 and 32 were corrected by the smallest possible rearrangement of positions and with that changes they take part in the tourney. However, it seems that the correction of No.27 would require a significant modification of the content and therefore this work should be eliminated. No.6 should be eliminated as non-thematic despite the beautifully conceived Goethart variation. No.35 is duplicated (initially unsound but later corrected by author) problem No.6. All interventions are clearly indicated below the solutions of problems in question. Note that a direct pin of white thematic piece in No.34 is thematic.

Please click the “Judging” menu item and then select “Costachel TT – Strategia 1936” from the drop-down list. Or take a shorter way by clicking the “Costachel TT” link in “Make your award” box below the main menu. If you prefer to study the problems offline you can download and print the document

If you are not familiar with this kind of judging please see the instructions at: (English language) or (Serbian language)

The tourney will be open for judging during the Summer and the results will be known probably before the end of September 2011. Enjoy your judging!
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(2) Posted by Ian Shanahan [Saturday, Jun 18, 2011 17:42]

For those interested, there was also a theme tourney run in "The Problemist" during the mid-1970s involving the Costachel theme and its antiform (as well as the Hochberger theme).
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(3) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Saturday, Aug 27, 2011 20:35]

Just curious: If names of composers will never be known, what is the point?
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(4) Posted by Zalmen Kornin [Saturday, Aug 27, 2011 23:37]; edited by Zalmen Kornin [11-08-28]

"what is the point?" It's the chessical equivalent of 'Exegesis' :) Anonymous problems are problems anyway, we known at least when were they created ... Moreover, there're the mottoes, in various langages, in combination of some style, or even the technical accomplishment - I guess that some of the leading, or at least - some of the assiduous authors from that period are easylly spotted ...
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(5) Posted by Administrator [Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 17:32]

It seems that once again I've went astray expecting that there is somebody sharing my kind of devotion and enthusiasm. I regret to inform you that your response to my invitation was disappointing and that once again an initiative would probably end in a debacle. I decided to wait two weeks more and cancel this action if the situation doesn't change dramatically to the better. (But the works of master of the past will not be forgotten - I will find another way to celebrate them!).

Ironically, I write this info exactly on the 5th anniversary of the site - what a way to celebrate the jubilee!

Milan Velimirovic
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(6) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Sunday, Aug 28, 2011 20:15]; edited by seetharaman kalyan [11-08-28]

I am sorry if I appeared to be unappreciative of your trememdous efforts for this tourney. I have thoroughly enjoyed many of the problems. I am surprised that so much variety can be there in what appears on first sight to be a restrictive theme. Thanks for your reponse. I was expecting a response that one or two of those anonymous masters might be still be with us now.
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(7) Posted by Administrator [Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011 13:19]

I see a good response to my asking. Thank you folks, I'm very proud of you!

The judging period will be extended for few month, until the end of October.
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(8) Posted by Sven Hendrik Lossin [Tuesday, Aug 30, 2011 20:20]; edited by Sven Hendrik Lossin [11-08-30]

Dear Milan!

I appreciate your work a lot. The internet form for sending originals is really genius! I would like the Schwalbe to have such a valuable feature.
I did not visit these pages for some time and just got here after Frank Richter told me about the MatPlus.Net Jubilee Tourney. Then I say coincidently that this tourney was to be judged. For me it was the first time to judge a tourney and I tried my very best although Im not really a specialist with #2. But I saw that my opinion was not far from others.

What Id like to say is:
If there is something like a mail recipients list for the case that tournaments should be judged, Id really love to be on this list. I share your devotion - you are not alone!

And a question: Do I urgently need to do both - giving points and rank or is it enough to just give points?

Greetings from Germany,

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(9) Posted by Administrator [Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011 01:32]

Dear Sven-Hendrik,

First of all, everybody with a talent for composing is capable to estimating the value of a problem regardless to which genre it belongs. Just follow your feeling and you'll hardly be wrong. Good thing about this type of judging is that those taking part in it actually communicate with each other and one can always reconsider his opinion.

The final award must be in a form of ranked list, the points are there only as an optional and I think handy way for you to organize the problems in a quality-groups.

Regarding mailing list I have planned for a long time to implement them, but somehow there was always something more urgent to deal with. I cannot promise anything more than that I will put it on the top of my list of priorities.
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(10) Posted by Administrator [Thursday, Sep 1, 2011 18:09]

Today the problems for this tourney were not accessable for a while because of my error - forgot to change the expiration date in a database. Sorry about that.

The tourney remains open for judging until the end of October.

Thanks to Jacques Rotenberg for the warning!
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(11) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Monday, Sep 12, 2011 22:37]

The comments of Jacques Rotenberg are very interesting and a must-read for any composer wanting to improve his technique.
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(12) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 17:41]

Now that all can be read in one spot in MPR 42,
I'd like to throw in a few observations:

- I think the jury is even more divided than they would
be on a modern tourney. (Lack of statistical data
- Boy, were the "technical" abilities lousy (clearly
demonstrated by the massacre Jacques did to the men
count...and I hardly started with my own massacres. :-)
This usually is explained by the "fact" that only over
decades tricks of the trade like Siersrössel, half
battery and whatnot developed, but I find this
explanation utterly inconvincing. Computer checking is
beneficial for audacious constructions, but that
doesn't convince me either. Any analogon to OTB chess
development seems misleading. I would be interested in
your opinion on the theme.

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(13) Posted by Joost de Heer [Sunday, Mar 18, 2012 17:53]

How can A4 and A6 be anticipations? The tourney was in 1936, and both those problems were published in 1938.
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(14) Posted by Jacques Rotenberg [Monday, Mar 19, 2012 01:25]

You have also A1 !

I wrote there "...a kind of "anticipation" by a later problem..." of course it is an intentional use of an inappropriate word ("abus de langage" in french).

I can list here some of the reasons to do so :

- when you say "anticipated" you mean mainly that a problem has to be eliminated - or at least down graded - because of the existence of another problem of equal or better quality published "before"

- The question is complicated a bit when a better problem is published after the one that has to be judged, but before the beginning of the judgement.

- Here we are in a very unusual feature where
- 1) the problems were published and not published (a kind of pre-publication)
- 2) the problems were not judged
- 3) we have to judge after some 75 years

- this is also a kind of private joke (not so private) to remind that sometimes the date written on the magazine does not mean so much...
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(15) Posted by Jacques Rotenberg [Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012 06:09]; edited by Jacques Rotenberg [12-03-20]

Here is an opportunity to thank Milan in general for his tremendous work, and in particular for this Costachel judging process that he organized.
A look at these old problems is quite refreshing.
These authors had no computer, no forum, no databases, they had to wait long postal delays...

Here are some corrections :

11th place : (24) "Romana" - p.74
" wrank.." please read " wpawn..." means 'no white pawn'.

14th place : (4) "Funny Pawn" - p.75
" the brank..." please read " the bpawn..." means 'by the black pawn'
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(16) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Friday, May 4, 2012 12:47]; edited by Hauke Reddmann [12-05-05]

BTW, regarding my "Where is your god now" version (MP42),
in Udo Degeners 2# theme book (extended remix version)
I found the following Onitiu problem from 1937:
(EDIT: Of course, it's also listed in MP42, just wanted to
point out the funny synchronicity.)


P.S. It has it's own theme name (or it wouldn't have been
in the book, naturally :-) - "Bograd". (I heard of Belgrad
being called Beograd, I assume this is a variant of the
city name in yet another country?)
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(17) Posted by . [Friday, May 4, 2012 13:22]


BOGRAD = Leib I. Bograd

see also Thema-Boek, p. 40
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(18) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Saturday, May 5, 2012 20:06]

THX. (Possibly his ancestors lived in Belgrad/Beograd,
possibly I'm just taking etymological kibosh :-)
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(19) Posted by . [Sunday, May 6, 2012 18:36]

Bograd lived in Nova Sulita
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MatPlus.Net Forum MatPlus Tourneys Costachel TT - Strategia 1936