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(1) Posted by Per Olin [Friday, Oct 24, 2014 16:54]; edited by Per Olin [14-10-24]


In another thread there has been a lively discussion about definitions, orthodox/fairy etc. As the discussion is a bit outside the original one, I choose to open a new thread and look at the matter form a competitive angle and with a new headline.


The Codex for Chess Compositions classify problems in several ways. For easy reference, below copied Articles 5-7 from the Codex with corresponding footnotes.

Orthodox / fairy

There seems to be a consensus that orthodox problems are problems based on official FIDE chess rules. If not based on these rules, then the problem is unorthodox/fairy.

Present practice in competitions

The recent Albums have had the following sections: Twomovers , Threemovers, Moremovers, Endgame studies, Helpmates in 2, Helpmates in 2,5-, Selfmates, Fairies and Retros. As also the WCCT will have a retro section in the future, we can say that this is the established pattern. From direct twomovers to selfmates we have no difficulties: (edit) if they are based on normal chess rules they go into respective group and if they have some fairy element (e.g. fairy pieces) they go into Fairies (end of edited). Only the Fairies and Retros sections need to be analyzed. Retros including proof games are generally open for both orthodox and fairy problems. The correct headline in this case would therefore be Retros and Fairy Retros, this especially in cases where the competition has a Fairy section.

If we believe that all problems should have a chance to be selected into the Albums, then with the grouping above we have some refinements to make, e.g. there is no home for mathematical chess problems and other orthodox problems outside the first mentioned groups (is Die Schwalbe the only magazine having a group for these named 'Sonstiges'?). Further, there is the tricky matter about stalemates: with the above definition for fairy, can we state that a direct stalemate is a fairy chess problem? Does stalemate in itself constitute fairy chess? Comparable to the stalemate is the concept of dead reckoning; is this fairy in itself although mentioned in the rules for orthodox chess? There are at least some 200 dead reckoning problems composed, so this is not an insignificant question.

A grouping covering all problems

It is probably not meaningful to establish a group for a marginal number of problems that do not fit into the grouping above. A practical solution would be to have a group titled 'Fairies and other problems'. The groupings would then be: A-C Direct mates (2,3,n), D Studies, E Helpmates, F Selfmates, G Retros and Fairy retros, H Fairies and other problems.

On several occasions I have been told that no classification system can possibly cover all chess problems, that constantly find new directions and inventions. That is of course not the case: it is there above, covers all problems; past, present and future.


It should be considered to add one more classification system into the Codex: 'Classification for competitive purposes' as outlined above or in some modified form. Technically this can be done e.g. through a footnote, not disturbing the present structure of the text.

Important or not?

The suggested matters are minor and to many readers they might seem not necessary at all. But a world championship might be won or lost due to good or bad definitions. Will we one day see the silver medalist in the retro section in the championship for individuals make a protest 'as the gold medal was won by entries that should have competed in the fairy section'? Why not take action before that happens? Clear definitions and exact titles for the groupings is the least that can be expected from an organization arranging world championships and having as one of its main activities the formulation of rules and guidelines in all domains of chess composition.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Chapter II – Types of Chess Composition [8]

Article 5 – Classification according to Stipulations
Chess compositions can be classified into several groups according to their stipulation. Besides the historically developed groups, viz studies, direct mates, selfmates and helpmates [9], further groups [10] have developed [11]

Article 6 – Special Types
Additionally, and independent from the classification according to Article 5, there are a number of special types, including:
(a) Retroanalytical chess compositions
(b) Mathematical chess compositions
(c) Constructional chess compositions.

Article 7 – Classification according to Rules
Furthermore, chess compositions can be classified into those which apply the FIDE-rules of the game of chess [12] and those which apply modified rules [13,14]

9 According to this classification, examples of frequently used stipulations are:
(a1) White to move and force a win, without restriction to a specified number of moves (studies).
(a2) White to move and force a draw, without restriction to a specified number of moves (studies).
(b) White to move and mate the black king in a specified maximum number of moves (direct mate).
(c) White to move and force Black to mate the white king in a specified number of moves (selfmate).
(d) Black to move and cooperate with White in order to obtain a mate of the black king in a specified number of moves (helpmate).
10 Further groups are, for example, stalemate or series stipulations etc.
11 Compositions other than studies are usually called problems.
12 Presently, the rules for the game of chess as agreed during the FIDE-congress 1996 in Yerevan are valid. Relevant for compositional chess are Articles 1 to 5.
13 In this context, the terms orthodox, heterodox, fairy and exo are used.
14 Modifications of the FIDE-rules may for example consist in:
(a) Rules (conditions) on which the composition is based (for example maximummer, circe, seriesmover).
(b) Pieces used in the composition (for example nightrider, grasshopper, chinese pieces).
(c) Chess space on which the composition is based (for example chess board with 10×10 squares, cylindrical chess board, multi-dimensional chess boards).
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(2) Posted by Nikola Predrag [Friday, Oct 24, 2014 18:06]

FIDE - basic rules of play

"...1.2 The objective of each player is to place the opponent’s king ‘under attack’ in such a way that the opponent has no legal move..."

The troubles begin rather early, helpmates and selfmates would belong to the fairies.
Even playing to secure a draw in a chess game wouldn't be legal if the permanent objective would not be to mate the opponent's King, at least until the next rule is satisfied:

"...1.3 If the position is such that neither player can possibly checkmate, the game is drawn..."

It's not a good basis.
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(3) Posted by Per Olin [Friday, Oct 24, 2014 18:59]; edited by Per Olin [14-10-24]

Well, the Codex refers to FIDE Chess rules; we could also use the term 'normal chess rules' or 'rules for normal chess'. As clarification, no changes in the basics are suggested: a helpmate is still a helpmate (=not in the group 'fairies'), a helpmate is fairy if it has grasshoppers on a 10 x 10 board (=in the group 'fairies'). Text in post 1 slightly edited, which has been indicated with (edit) and (end of edit)
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(4) Posted by Nikola Predrag [Saturday, Oct 25, 2014 12:54]; edited by Nikola Predrag [14-10-25]

It would be good to have some logic principle as a basis for the classifications and conventions.

For instance:
1.Rules define what are the LEGAL POSSIBILITIES.
The set of all legally possible positions and plays makes the RULES TOTAL - "RT"
- So, rules define the "RT" -

2.Stipulation defines which sub-set of "RT" makes the STIPULATION TOTAL - "ST"
- So, stipulation defines the "ST" -

"Stipulation: Maximummer" defines the particular "ST", this whole "ST" is a part of "RT".
Shorter moves are legal and could cause a check.
A problem is fairy only as much as the rules are fairy, if the rules are standard chess rules then the problem is not fairy.

"Rule: Maximummer" would define that only the longest moves are legal.
Only the longest move by some piece in each particular position could be an attack on the King.
Shorter moves simply don't exist in "RT" and there's no check if a King is not attacked.

An OTB game has actually no exact stipulation. The intentions of the players (opposing sides) are stipulated, but there is no definition of "ST" to distinct it from "RT". Any legal play makes a chess game.

SOLUTION is compound of the "ST" and the illegal virtual play which is not a part of "RT".
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