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MatPlus.Net Forum General Why and how did you start composing?
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(21) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Saturday, Jun 27, 2020 13:54]; edited by seetharaman kalyan [20-06-27]

Welcome Kevin Begley. You do have a valid point and I will keep that in mind. I am the present editor for the Fairy section of The Problemist (which is celebrating its centenary) and solver friendly or solver teasing problems are most welcome, especially from Kevin.
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(22) Posted by Kevin Begley [Saturday, Jun 27, 2020 19:53]; edited by Kevin Begley [20-06-27]

Thank you.
I think I'm still retired (reserving some exceptions, of course), but I do appreciate your gracious welcome.
When I unretire (which is inevitable -- it's all about being anticipated by Cher, Jay-Z, Streisand, and David Letterman), my first new problem goes to you.

When I first started publishing, I was lucky to find myself in regular contact with some exceptional composing talents.
I remember wondering why one very gifted individual (I'll not say his name, because he's in this thread) took a few years off.
Funny thing is, I still don't have a good answer, even when the question pertains to me.

EDIT (correction): I misspoke. The person to whom I was referring is in another Mat Plus thread.
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(23) Posted by Darko Šaljić [Saturday, Jun 27, 2020 20:54]

The reasons I started are the same as for my absence. People and books.
When you, as a teenager are surrounded with masters and friends like Marjan, Milan, Miša, M.Nešić, Zdravko, Fadil, Branko and many others a wish to become composer is unavoidable.
But before that, I accidentally discovered one book, the I one I was avoided till I went out of any other chess material during a long and boring summer. It was "Šahovski problem" by Nenad Petrović.
After struggling with terminology and discovering a reason why someone chose to be a problemist instead a player, I fell in love with this crazy little world that I can have in my pocket. So, my first love was reading and studying as it is now.
Than, early successes come in some composing tournaments, but it never made me happy or proud as a moments in club when I was sharing it with my friends who will spent hours of analysing and looking for improvements and new ideas. Strangely, I had a same amount of happiness when some of them put a fresh and original on a table.
Than in many years I was writing my ideas, schemes of mechanisms in my notebook, but was to lazy to put an effort. Than, suddenly I was relived, Marjan started to compose like a devil, masterpiece after masterpiece and those problems was exactly what I was trying to see, a twomovers with soul, originality and deepens.
So, I didn't need to sit and work, I was just waiting him to show me his new ideas. Usualy we arrange a meeting in his office in Politika, or in club, an hour before others come. I want to believe that my opinion and impression was important to him and that is a reason to find time to analyse it in piece.
Chekhov wrote that after Tolstoy all writers can be peaceful and just read because he already wrote everything.
I felt a same way and still I am waiting to see new great works from all and study what I love in piece. Only thing I'm missing is their company, but it is complicated story.
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(24) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Saturday, Jun 27, 2020 22:06]

Books. You have a point. When I read Speckmann, I immediately
wanted to become a Neudeutscher. Too bad I had no talent :-)
But then I read the Schiffmann book, and landed at 2#.
Now that's more like it :-)
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(25) Posted by Kevin Begley [Saturday, Jun 27, 2020 22:27]; edited by Kevin Begley [20-06-27]

Profound truths are found in Darko's every word.

If you began pursuing chess composition, my guess is that you enjoy the company/camaraderie of highly intelligent people.
And, more importantly, you enjoy the eureka sensation (which is why you started playing chess, but OTB likely didn't often enough satisfy that need).
Plus, maybe you want to leave something of value, freely, for the future (to remember you by).
No chess composer is ever forgotten.

In the distant future, artificially intelligent beings may long outlive humanity, but even so, composed chess problems they will affectionately keep.
Otherwise, they can't be called intelligent, living beings.
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(26) Posted by Neal Turner [Sunday, Jun 28, 2020 13:20]

I'd like to address Kevin's (welcome back to the fray!) original post.

First the point that 'rookies start composing because they don't care what anybody but the solvers think'.
But isn't this because most come into problems through solving and start with the idea that composing is about making puzzles for solvers?
Of course composing can be about making puzzles for solvers, but in general for most of us that's not the case.
To take an extreme example, was M.Drumare thinking about the solvers when he spent over 20 years trying to crack the Babson Task?
But also nowadays we've got to ask: Where are the solvers?
In the old days there were numerous outlets - newspapers, magazines - with chess columns featuring problems, but that's all dried up. Even some chess magazines have stopped featuring problems.
So one might ask what's the point of making solver-friendly problems when there's no audience for them?

He complains that by emphasising the competitive element some people are 'missing the whole point of composing'.
To this I say that there is in fact no point in composing - or rather that the point of composing is different for everybody.
And isn't this great!
We offer something for all - the artist, the scientist, the competitor, or just the guy who likes to make chess problems with his friends over a beer (especially that guy!).
The important thing is not to judge those who approach problems from a different angle than oneself, after all even helpmate composers deserve some sympathy.
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(27) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Monday, Jun 29, 2020 10:19]

We have two colliding notions, problem-as-riddle and problem-as-art.
They are not mutually incongruent, pray tell - I'd never accept a
try in a 2# that is not "obvious" to spot. (I already don't demand
anymore that I try it *before* the key, I got soft :-)

I daresay that if a new art style surfaces, this is a surefire
sign that everything relevant was said in the old and even the
rookies don't have new ideas anymore. Remember that there are
only 10^(10^something) correct chess problems :-)

Any expert of #2 history (the genre declared dead most often)
like to fill in the blanks?

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(28) Posted by Andrew Buchanan [Monday, Jun 29, 2020 12:11]; edited by Andrew Buchanan [20-06-29]

The dichotomy between problem as puzzle and problem as art is the fecund and troubled union which birthed our hobby. Like collectable card games as the union of baseball cards and playing cards, it's a duality which gives us strength and grief.

We should also expect there to be other intractable issues in our hobby. Watch this essential, paradigm-defining video about "cursed problems in video game design", and think what kind of conflicts may exist in chess problemania: I can think of four or five.

For example, one curse is the creation of problems that only a tiny minority can understand. Not because the problems are objectively too hard (look at the incredible ingenuity of geneticists, software engineers, even amateur puzzle solvers etc - truly we live in the Age of the Geek) but because they accord to a secret code that is explained only partially, and even then only in a secret book: "The Encyclopedia", which ludicrously is nowhere available online. It's a barrier to entry, in a market for recreational attention where there is no shortage of competition. Most channels are aware that they need to make the learning curve as smooth and easy as possible. In many cases, OTB chess included, they make huge efforts to bring in newcomers, because they understand that is the future.

We must all "pay our taxes", we must all explain. In this day and age, the concepts in the encyclopedia do not exist and are meritless until they are online in a freely available glossary form. This can lead to greater appreciation of some of the finest achievements in this hobby, and inspire a new generation of composers/solvers
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(29) Posted by Kevin Begley [Tuesday, Jun 30, 2020 07:45]; edited by Kevin Begley [20-06-30]

Andrew comes so close to the bullseye, I'm just going to award him a special bullseye, which counts approximately the same.

This fool's pretense that problemists have achieved a perfect synthesis of competition and art, but they had to forgo their audience entirely, is precisely the path to ending your future.


Let's bury that foolishness, right now; put it back in the box from which the Easter Island chess pieces emerged.
The competition is a farce, and there's nothing artistic or inherently beautiful about achieving Spaghettio alphabet patterns on your spoon.
The ridiculous claims that alphabet patterns are a beautiful art form, unto themselves, is something no Nigerian Prince would peddle on the internet.

Yes, they WERE beautiful -- VERY!! -- when they were presented in a problem form that humans could care to appreciate.
When they are not, you have become an audience unto yourselves, and falsely established yourselves as judges unto yourselves.
That never ends well.

The future is the only judge I recognize, and I claim it is already rendering a damning verdict.

Long ago, the judges should have demanded some price be paid for a grotesque abdication of the inherent contract with the audience (the solvers).
But, the judges all proved cowards -- far easier to celebrate patterns no rookie could ever appreciate (it requires years devoted to the swindling lure of cheap prizes and titles).

The judge need only read the alphabet patterns (output from a computer). Almost never do they ask, was this worth the toll it's taken on our audience?
It's like saying the longest directmate in the EGTB is beautiful.
It's a cheap claim when you can't hope to understand it (or even memorize a fraction of the variations).
Who are we to judge the products of beings with (artificially) god-like intelligence?
Imagine awarding prizes for artistic accomplishments in the EGTB, while relying entirely upon EGTBs for confirmation!

The judge is supposed to (and can only) render a verdict on whether the artistic product is a PROBLEM which speaks to a human audience.
Instead, soft judges are conditioned only to consider the arrangement of letters -- which is how they have managed to praise works devoid of any soul.

Pursuit of patterns, for the sake of patterns, is a false path for the future of human problemists.
It assures that computers will replace you as judges and jury.
Where will you be then?
After you have completely abandoned your audience, after you have insisted a machine mind may sit in judgement, after only machines are composing, will you finally concede that you have completely missed the value of human beings endeavoring to compose chess problems?

Listen to the rookies. Because they are your future, they will always know better.
When you all were rookies, you knew better.

Imagine if the best comedians decided, in solidarity, that their audiences were no longer capable of appreciating their humor!
So, they established themselves as the supreme authorities on comedy.
Hahahaha. What you would get is essentially late night television, circa 2020.
It's completely dying. Nobody watches. It's never funny. It's bent to achieve some purpose other than making people laugh (often corporate political ends).
It's very sad.

The job of a comedian is to make the audience laugh. Period.
THE JOB OF A COMPOSER IS TO PERSUADE THE ROOKIE (to appreciate a theme, a stipulation, a fairy condition -- to love chess problems).
Lately, many prefer to let soft judges do that persuasion for them, promising prizes and titles to all who accept that short-term bribe.

This path is not sustainable.

If you can't persuade rookies with your problem, if you admit it's hardly a problem worthy of an audience, you are only harming yourself by hiding behind what false awards you all bestow upon yourselves.

Our real judge, our only judge, is the future (on this point, Chris Feather has it exactly right -- FIDE Albums should be decided a century later).
And too many are laboring to delay (or deny) this rightful judge from being seated in the courtroom.
Usurp all authority from the future, and you have no future.

Nobody is arguing there is no place for construction tasks -- which may require grotesque absurdities to achieve -- but, to reward this to the exclusion of all legitimate problems (which serve an implicit contract with the audience: endeavor to solve this problem, and you will find reward) is an abomination which undermines our future (and therefore, betrays our art).

Judges have an obligation to consider all tradeoffs taken to achieve an objective, but they almost always refuse to consider whether the "problem" even manages a human problem form (as if they are incapable of seeing problems through the eyes of a rookie -- as if they've lost all sight of the rookie they once were, back when they started composing).
In so doing, the rookie they betray is, most often, none other than themselves!

If they only had the courage, they would know to instead trust their inner rookie (to look upon problems with their own eyes).
That inner rookie already knows how the future will judge these matters.

You all know the current path has eroded all prospects for recruiting new problemists.
Persuading you all to take bold action against this folly, however, has proved futile (for so many who have had the courage to speak up).

Ask yourself: would you have ever started composing if you knew the entire culture primarily rewards those who make problems which appeal to no human audience? If you knew problem judges would not even consider the value of a problem as it endeavors to function as a problem for a human audience -- that their primary function is to certify the computer's alphabet pattern output is valid -- would you have considered this endeavor noble (or even valued it as an ART FORM)? Doubtful.
Would you ever have started playing chess, if learning the rules only enabled you to view computers (exclusively) playing the game?

Would you have started composing chess problems if you knew then what you know now?
Could you continue, knowing? That's the tougher question, which I am surely not alone in struggling to answer!

Suppose you started composing with every intention of expressing beautiful, original ideas on a chessboard, for a human audience.
Suppose along the way, you learned that the culture would much prefer you function as a producer for some grotesque alphabet soup label (devoid of any nutritious value for the human consumer -- strictly in service of profit).
Would you really be content to argue there's room for nutritious value, a mile down the warehouse (in the commendation aisle)?

At a minimum, providing *some* nutritious value for the consumer should be the entire purpose of food production.
This doesn't function when cronies have established themselves as a market unto themselves.

The next generation is not buying modern chess problem composing, because the industry has stopped catering to their needs.
Ironically, the industry always knows exactly where to go when they want to appeal to a new generation -- and they usually find it waiting for them, in the commendation aisle.

Someday, they'll discover that's gone, too.
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(30) Posted by Alain Villeneuve [Tuesday, Jun 30, 2020 22:38]

About the completely indigestible EGTB, we sometimes discover something to please the "rookies".

Consider this position, after the 467th move of the 517 moves win QN/RBN given by the electronic monster :

(= 3+4 )

Each of you knows the Karstedt fortress :

(= 2+3 )

So, we just added a white Knight and a black Rook. We added a lower force to white, but a draw becomes a white win. Isn't it funny ?
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(31) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Wednesday, Jul 1, 2020 09:55]

Now THAT doesn't surprise me in the least - Q+S are a weapon
of mass destruction :-)

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(32) Posted by Frank Richter [Wednesday, Jul 1, 2020 11:08]

May the (lower) force be with you ;)
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(33) Posted by Juraj Lörinc [Thursday, Jul 2, 2020 08:03]

Says Darth Vader (black) this time...
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(34) Posted by Alain Villeneuve [Thursday, Jul 2, 2020 09:13]

He's a member of our club, and sends you his sincere best wishes !
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MatPlus.Net Forum General Why and how did you start composing?