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MatPlus.Net Forum Promenade The Forgotten Babson Selfmate
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(1) Posted by Rewan Demontay (Real Name: James Malcom) [Monday, May 10, 2021 15:54]

The Forgotten Babson Selfmate

This seems to be a very obscure Babson selfmate. I found it on YACPDB:

Vyacheslav Rybakov, Zadachi i etyudy 6/1929
(= 15+2 )

Feel free to try and solve it yourself before looking at the solution.
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(2) Posted by Marjan Kovačević [Monday, May 10, 2021 15:58]

No computer, no distinction!?
Thanks, James!!
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(3) Posted by Olaf Jenkner [Monday, May 10, 2021 18:31]

Great problem!
Now to be seen in the PDB:
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(4) Posted by Kostas Prentos [Tuesday, May 11, 2021 04:58]

Remarkable achievement! Good find, James. This problem is not in WinChloe, either.

Btw, the author's first name in YACPDB is Vyacheslav, but the only existing composer in databases (PDB and WinChloe) is Vassili Rybakov. Is it the same person? WinChloe gives (1908?-1931) as the dates of birth and death for Vassili and returns 35 problems published between 1927 and 1932 (two joint problems fall outside this range, but I presume they were published by the co-author, posthumously). Does anyone have more information? Maybe, valsur (Valery Surkov, presumably) who entered this problem?
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(5) Posted by Dmitri Turevski [Tuesday, May 11, 2021 05:43]

"Vyacheslav" is definitely a mistake, the original source has "V. F. Rybakov" which matches the Vassili's inititals (also the issue contains more problems by "V. F. Rybakov"). I have fixed the yacpdb entry.
Original (at page 62):
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(6) Posted by Rewan Demontay (Real Name: James Malcom) [Tuesday, May 11, 2021 05:53]

You all are very welcome. :-) I have actually known about it for a long time actually, but Andrew's recent post about minimal Black king+pawn selfmates brought it out of the dust bin. Olaf, nice instincts to post in in PDB, and it is glorious to see it C+. Dmitri, thank you for a scan of the source (which I have now downloaded). Lastly, for anyone who can read Russian, a translation of the text relevant to the problem would be much appreciated. Additional reprints, of old sources and new, and also welcome to be referenced.
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(7) Posted by Joost de Heer [Tuesday, May 11, 2021 06:31]


Lastly, for anyone who can read Russian, a translation of the text relevant to the problem would be much appreciated.

Assuming you have a smartphone, you can use the camera function of Google Translate to get a rough translation.
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(8) Posted by Kostas Prentos [Tuesday, May 11, 2021 06:55]

Thank you, Dmitri. Clearly, the author's name is Vassili F. Rybakov. It's sad that he died so young.
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(9) Posted by Marjan Kovačević [Tuesday, May 11, 2021 14:12]

Thanks, Dmitri, it's great to see the golden magazine again!
I couldn't find any comment or solution of this amazing Babson. Perhaps in the next issue?
It seems it took part in the fairy tourney 1929, and didn't get a prize nor HM, but was still presented on a diagram in a group of selected entries without distinctions. Quite surprisingly, only #2s got into the award?
Was this mysterious case discussed on the RU_CHESS_ART website?
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(10) Posted by Dmitri Turevski [Tuesday, May 11, 2021 15:31]

Here's a link to all 8 issues of "old" Zadachi i Etyudy:

As far as I can tell, diagrams 72 - 77 belong to the "1st International fairy tourney" (judged by M. Gordian) although all awarded composers are Soviet, diagrams 78 & 79 (T. R. Dawson / C. M. Fox, twomovers as well) are labeled "from the tourney" - so it would seem they took part in the international fairy (twomovers?) tourney, but came short of the distinction. And the diagrams 80 - 83 look simply like new originals for this issue.

The solutions to the fairies indeed can be found in the next issue (No 7, pages 47 & 48), but the comments to the 83 are scarce:
"1.g8=R gxh2 2.Rf8 - this is the main position that produces four excellent variations of a perfect Babson task"
"This is all very well calculated, especially valuable is that all mates are exactly in six" (M. Y. Pekur, apparently the winner of the of the readers solving competition).

The "Z&E" was discontinued shortly after in 1930 (until it's resurrection in 1995), only one more issue was released (No 8) and it seems that the tourney for fairy originals was not completed (although I do not know that for sure, perhaps someone has more info).
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(11) Posted by Torsten Linß [Tuesday, May 11, 2021 16:15]

Dmitri, whom is the problem dedicated to?
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(12) Posted by Dmitri Turevski [Tuesday, May 11, 2021 16:32]

The dedication is to "V. A. Pyast", probably the Russian poet Vladimir Alexeyevich Pyast:,_%D0%92%D0%BB%D0%B0%D0%B4%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%B8%D1%80
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(13) Posted by Torsten Linß [Tuesday, May 11, 2021 17:57]

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(14) Posted by Marjan Kovačević [Tuesday, May 11, 2021 19:27]

Thanks again, Dmitri.
What do you think, might this dedication have something with the cause of the composer's short life?
From Wiki it appears V. A. Pyast was arrested only several months after this dedication.
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(15) Posted by Frank Richter [Tuesday, May 11, 2021 20:52]

1929 ... already the dark age of Stalinism.
Possibly Rybakov was also arrested and died so young somewhere, who knows?
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(16) Posted by Dmitri Turevski [Wednesday, May 12, 2021 06:11]

I could not find Rybakov in the declassified archives of the purges -, although there is at least one person with the exactly same name, but dates and places don't match.
Notably though, Lazar Zalkind, a chess composer and one of the leading founders of "Zadachi i Etyudy" was a victim of the infamous Menshevik trial and that is well documented:

Turns out there is a book "Лубянский гамбит"/"Lubyanka gambit", 2004 about the chess players and composers who were the victims of the Soviet political repression with detailed accounts of their life.
The pirated version can be found online (in djvu, simply google the Russian title) and includes chapters on these composers: Zalkind, A. Kubbel, M. Platov, Kaminer, Neunyvako, Barulin.
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(17) Posted by Vladimir Tyapkin [Wednesday, May 12, 2021 08:07]

Vladimir Neidstadt brought this problem to life on his facebook wall ( as part of the research for his "Что ни судьба, то трагедия" (translated as "Every fate is a tragedy") book published in 2019. I believe somebody added the problem to yacpdb shortly after that. In the comments I quoted an earlier attempt by Rybakov with incomplete Babson:

The entire chapter of his book devoted to Vyacheslav (Slava) Rybakov ("Друг целомудренный и нежный, рожденный не для наших бурь", p.136-154) who died at the very young age of 23(!) on 09/13/1931 from tuberculosis after protracted illness.

Many stories by Vladimir Neidstadt about life and creative work of the foundational figures of Russian and Soviet chess composition were published on . There are 20(?) articles, you can start from, part 20 is available at
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MatPlus.Net Forum Promenade The Forgotten Babson Selfmate