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(21) Posted by Kevin Begley [Monday, Mar 18, 2013 05:34]; edited by Kevin Begley [13-03-18]


Would a GM have been allowed to play 0-0-0-0-0, when the rule book failed to prevent such a move?

I believe allowing the move would have been the proper ruling, by an honest arbiter; but, the quality of the arbiter may vary.

In baseball, a retiring runner, near the end of his last game, standing on second base, was one stolen base away from a new record. However, a runner standing on third base prevented any record attempt.
Inspiration struck, and he successfully stole first base, from second (thus setting a new record).
But, unfortunately, a poor umpire called him out, even after a long deliberation which failed to uncover any rule prohibiting such a play!

The next year, baseball's official rule book was rewritten to insist upon only CCW base running.
But, if memory serves, the League failed to reprimand this umpire, and never informed its umpires how to properly rule in such circumstances.

An honest arbiter/umpire should strictly follow the rule book, even when the ruling may be based upon poorly drafted rules (and, beyond this, they have an obligation to immediately notify other arbiters, and seek an clarification by appendix ruling).
That is the deep failure of fairy chess -- there is no official rule book for fairy elements (not even for a set of sanctioned elements); and, without this, honest arbitration becomes impossible.

There simply is no means to rule on the soundness of a fairy problem (the best you can do is apply a considerably reduced set of rules, which are published in a journal, under severe space constraints).
And, presuming a careful editor, the space constraint generally means that the only special-case rules which appear are those which are needed in the problem (as if the editor's job is to highlight a hint, rather than provide complete rules for the problem).

You can not fix this failure by differing to a specific version of some software tool, either (as many have foolishly suggested). This effort was largely based upon a very poor understanding of software -- "C+" can not serve to replace an intelligent umpire, a rule book, nor a responsive federation.

Indeed, reliance upon versions of software does not prevent failures -- it only makes them more likely to occur (in the form of "bugs").
And, beyond the increased likelihood of failed rules, the solver has no means to discern the complete rules from a specific version of a software tool (which does not function to state complete rules, and may no longer be available).
How can you begin to challenge an unpublished, incomplete rule book?

Yet, this is the kind of nonsense being routinely suggested, by "experts" in the field of fairy chess problems!
At some point, either more people will speak out against this, or people will just walk away (to pursue hobbies which do not require an endless debate about what is already plainly obvious, but disfavored by a systematic corruption).

Everything depends upon an honest arbiter, a well drafted rule book, a responsive federation (prepared to quickly alert arbiters of intelligent "patch" rulings), and an encouragement of problems which challenge every ambiguous rule.

It would be very interesting to see data from a study attempting to measure the likelihood that arbiters might have allowed super-long castling. But, even more interesting, I think, would be to measure the likelihood against the ratings of players making the claim!

I suspect a very sad truth is hidden here: that a given arbiter would be more likely to allow your anonymous "Grandmaster" to proceed with such a move.
How many arbiters would allow a patzer to play such a move, against and incredulous Grandmaster?
I bet the number would be much, much fewer!!

Fairness, in such circumstances, requires arbiters of exceptionally high quality.
It would be nice if chess problems had just the foundation to enable quality arbitration.
Just start with a fair rule book, based upon fundamental definitions...
Provide for some sanctioned elements.
And, encourage challenges.

If you care at all about fairness (or the preservation of problems, or an axiomatic categorization, or intelligent software implementation), there is no alternative -- you need a fairy codex!

If a codex is impossible, as some would lazily insist (without a shred of evidence!), then fairy chess problems have surrendered all claim to logical value.
May as well splatter paint the units, and the solutions -- and, your judges (who can't even express the boundary of their own jurisdiction) may as well render their opinions as if they had received landscape finger-paintings.

Without a rule book (or sanctioned codex), super-long castlings are ALWAYS simultaneously legal and illegal.
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(22) Posted by Joost de Heer [Monday, Mar 18, 2013 07:10]


Just to get some horse sense in this thread, suppose one humorous GM
(exists) would have played e8T...O-O-O-O-O-O before that loophole
was technically closed, and defended that move on grounds of the
official text of the FIDE rules.
Do you *really* think he could have gotten away with it?

Tim Krabbe himself has admitted that he deliberately misquoted the castling rule when presenting this problem. I don't have the exact quote with me at the moment but it can be found at the end of the castling-chapter in 'Schaakcuriosa'.
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(23) Posted by Siegfried Hornecker [Monday, Mar 18, 2013 07:27]

Of course everything is possible...

(= 2+2 )

Siegfried Hornecker
MatPlus 31, Autumn 2008
FIDE laws of 1993

1.Bg7 h8R 2.Bf6 Kg6 3.O-O!! Kh7 mate

Today, you can only castle with a rook of the same color. Back then, the wording was different...
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(24) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Monday, Mar 18, 2013 10:42]

The wording! I insist that chess rules* have never changed since
the canon settling of 0-0 and e.p., and everything else is sophistry.


* Read: movement of the pieces. Tournament related stuff is
different, also for example I would have no big qualms with stalemate
giving you a -1 in the table since you made an idiot of yourself
anyway :-)
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(25) Posted by Georgy Evseev [Monday, Mar 18, 2013 11:33]

I do not quite understand the general reason for this discussion.

I may agree that we do not have a fundamental self-contained definition of "chess", "chess compostion", "fairy chess", etc. (one may try to present such definition for "apple", "dog" or something similar).

But there is no problem at all to practically distinguish between "orthodox", "heterodox" or "fairy" composition. Of course, probably there are some non-obvious boundary cases, but you will not find them if not looking for them deliberately.

And yes, Hauke is right that the rules of _game of chess_ have not changed in about 200 years. All the changes concern only _tournament rules_ which are mainly needed to ensure that any OTB game is finished in reasonable time.
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(26) Posted by Sven Hendrik Lossin [Monday, Mar 18, 2013 12:53]

Let's get back to what Mr. Olin wanted to say to us. For that I'd like to review the recent situation in Die Schwalbe.
In my opinion the Schwalbe logic for problems appears to me as follows.
1st question: Has a problem something to do with maths or is it a problem that only consists of text?
Then Schachmathematik & Sonstiges
2nd question: Has a problem predominant retro content?
Then Retro
3rd question: Has a problem one or more fairy pieces, one or more fairy conditions, more or less than one king for each side, or a stipulation which is not #2, #3, #n, h#, s#?
Then Märchenschach (Fairy)
4th question: What's the stipulation?
#2 -> Zweizüger, #3 -> Dreizüger etc.
This classification by Die Schwalbe has practical reasons: They have informal tourneys that should not last longer than 2 yrs. I think that this is the reason why all the stipulation besides direct-, help- and selfmate are put into the fairy section.

So the typical dimensions to classify are stipulation, conditions, pieces and retro content.
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(27) Posted by Dupont Nicolas [Monday, Mar 18, 2013 13:12]

@ Kevin

If the objective is to construct a consistent “chess problem theory” (and I think this is really the goal), then terminology doesn’t really matter, this is just words and words are not part of a scientific theory, they are just here to facilitate the memorization process. In particular I don’t really understand why giving so much importance to the debate around “fairy” or “orthodox”.

What is really matter are axioms, definitions and theorems. Let me please give you a practical example concerning the capturing procedure. A “reasonable” definition might go as follows:

A capturing move is two-fold. In a first step, a piece from one side is moving to the square occupied by a piece from the other side and, in a second step, each of the two involved pieces may move to another square of the board or may be annihilated.

What is interesting in setting such a general definition is that it covers most of the known conditions (if a given condition doesn’t fit it, it might be called “exotic”):
- Orthodox chess, the capturing piece doesn’t move in step 2 and the captured piece is annihilated.
- Circe chess, the capturing piece doesn’t move in step 2 and the captured piece is moving according to a given Circe rebirthing rule.
- T&M chess, the capturing piece moves in step 2 according to T&M rules and the captured piece is annihilated.

Another good point concerning such a general definition is that it may lead to “natural” new conditions. For example “stacking chess” where no piece is moving at step 2 (in fact I don’t know if “stacking chess” already exist).

I’m convinced this is the right way to follow, i.e. going from the general to the particular, orthodox chess game being only a particular case of the general “chess problem theory”, and not the starting point. Moreover, following this way, there are no more difficulties to manage when the orthodox chess game’s rules are changing, we just have to setup its new definition inside the general theory.
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(28) Posted by Kevin Begley [Monday, Mar 18, 2013 16:49]; edited by Kevin Begley [13-03-18]


>"But there is no problem at all to practically distinguish between "orthodox", "heterodox" or "fairy" composition. Of course, probably there are some non-obvious boundary cases, but you will not find them if not looking for them deliberately."

Ahh, good -- then you now realize that series-movers are a fairy condition (not a stipulation).
If memory serves, you recently claimed series-movers were a "fairy stipulation."
Enlighten me, how can the objective of a problem be a fairy element?
A stipulated objective does not change the rules of play.

The only possible explanation is, your definition is based entirely upon vogue favoritism.
So, why don't you call it what it is?
It is, in fact, a corruption.

Series is not a "fairy stipulation," it just happens to be favored enough that many are willing to ignore what it really is, and incorrectly present it as a stipulation.
The same goes for reflex-mates -- and, because of this distortion (without any fundamental definitional grounding), several fairy elements have recently been defined as stipulations (pser-, cap-zug, etc).
You will see more of this (because when fairy conditions are cast as stipulations, it provides an illusion of orthodoxy and favored status).

If you had any logical definitions for the fundamental terms you use as the basis for your opinions (e.g., in response to push-polls), now is the time.
I will not hold my breath.

If you can not provide definitions for your terms, then you should refrain from endorsing such corrupted logic!

I find reflexmates everyday, in the orthodox (non-fairy) section of problem journals (incorrectly).
In those very same journals (which consider helpmate and selfmate as "orthodox"), I also find help-selfmates in the fairy section!

Nobody yet can explain why.
You know why? Because there is no good reason why -- that's why!

I don't have to deliberately look far, Georgy, for a mountain of evidence that a failure to provide fundamental definitions has corrupted the form.
You strike me as a very intelligent person -- why do you insist upon ignoring the evidence all around you?

>"And yes, Hauke is right that the rules of _game of chess_ have not changed in about 200 years. All the changes concern only _tournament rules_ which are mainly needed to ensure that any OTB game is finished in reasonable time."

Anyone who claims the rules haven't changed (in ~200 years) is completely ignorant of chess history.

The rules have changed (in fewer than 20 years), but many problemists PREFER to pay no attention.
You know why? Because problemists don't really have any rules.
The rules for "orthodox" chess (and therefore, for "fairies" as well) come from a player organization.

In 1997, FIDE rule 5.2b was modified, to state:

"The game is drawn when a position has arisen in which neither player can checkmate the opponent`s king with any series of legal moves. The game is said to end in a 'dead position'. This immediately ends the game, provided that the move producing the position was legal."

This is NOT a claim (like 3-rep, or 50-moves w/o progress).
The old claim (insufficient mating material) has been replaced with an absolute rule affecting the physics of play (no h# for either side, the game ends).
Any further movement equates only to an illegal continuation (e.g., shuffling lone Kings about is now equivalent to castling 3x in one game).

This (combined with a make-believe orthodoxy, for which no definition is available) has altered some problems (notably some studies, where the clear intent was to show several stalemates, but the stalemates no longer can be reached, because the position dies, by 5.2b).
I'm sure it has affected many other problems, too... but, what problemist would ever bother to notice?
This is where you'd actually have to "look" (for something) -- but, to make such an effort, you'd have to really care about the preservation of problems...

If you knew better, and cared about preserving the intent of problems and studies, you would stop using terms (like "orthodox") for which you can provide no definition.
You would instead define problems/studies according to a SPECIFIC RULE BOOK (e.g., "FIDE 1996"), in which case, they would already be preserved!

Most of the problems affected by 5.2b are unlikely to be corrected (following the new "orthodox" rule book).
To preserve them, you must declare a new fairy condition.
If you understood that ALL rule books are nothing more than a fairy rule book (including the present orthodox rule book -- the ONLY difference is, it enjoys a favored status), you would automatically have preserved all problems (exactly as they were intended).

It is quite astonishing how easily people can be convinced that definitions for their most fundamental terms are not required.
Here I am, suggesting that these terms should not even be used, yet I am the one providing definitions for these terms.
These terms are more than just something loosely bantered about in opinionated push-polls, they form the basis for PCCC's album categorization (the place from which titles emerge); and, these divisions are mirrored in almost every problem journal.
It forms the structural backbone of almost all composing competition -- and you are telling me that there is no need to define it (or cat, or dog, or any term)!

This lacking should actually be startling wake up to this reality: how little some people know about their own field (especially when it includes those who have received a generous portion of "master" and "judge" titles)!

If these people can not define the limits of their own jurisdiction, "judge" is the wrong title.
It would be more correct to call them, "Your Majesty."

If chess problem composition is ruled happily by arrogant, opinionated ignorance, the primary difference between us is this: I refuse to bow to favoritism.
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(29) Posted by Georgy Evseev [Monday, Mar 18, 2013 17:28]


Let me answer you with a parable. I am not the author of it and not sure about its original source.

A person came to the pawn shop and saw a lot of different things on shelves.
He asked the owner, "What is on this shelf?"
"I put red things here", the owner said.
"And what is on that shelf?"
"Small things are placed here."
"And this shelf is for..."
"... round things."

"If somebody will want to sell you a small red round thing, where will you put it?"

"It is easy. I'll put it to the shelf with enough free space."
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(30) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Monday, Mar 18, 2013 18:04]

@Kevin: The "sudden death" rule altered *problems*, correct.
In extreme cases this can be annoying, correct.
But I only claimed the rules of OTB chess didn't change.
(The sudden death rule has no practical consequences except maybe
save you from a hanging flag - i.e.: tournament rule.)

Whether "Problems should be treated as if the rule were pre-1997"
or "Problems should be treated as if the rule were post-1997"
or "Problems should be treated as if the rule were pre-1997 when pre-1997 etc."
is a complete other bag of worms (and my default rule to this is,
I'm a 2# composer, I couldn't care less).

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(31) Posted by Kevin Begley [Monday, Mar 18, 2013 18:49]

Lovely parable.

And, would you call this little store owner a "master" of business inventory, too?
You do realize, of course, that there are better categorizations.
Would you have such a system dictate the stocking of a library?

Perhaps you should read up on library science.
Or, when you have some free time, do some reading on the methodology of biological categorization.

You do realize, don't you, that very good definitions do exist for terms such as "apple" (a fruit from the genus Malus tree) and "dog" (see also: Canis familiaris)?

"Branches or types are characterized by the plan of their structure,
Classes, by the manner in which that plan is executed, as far as ways and means are concerned,
Orders, by the degrees of complication of that structure,
Families, by their form, as far as determined by structure,
Genera, by the details of the execution in special parts, and
Species, by the relations of individuals to one another and to the world in which they live, as well as by the proportions of their parts, their ornamentation, etc.
— Louis Agassiz, Essay on Classification (1857).
Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America (1857), Vol. I, 170.

That was 1857... and, that field has made significant advances!
Chess problems have gone backwards.
If chess problems are an art, it must be the only art which refuses to reflect any advances.

And, remember, your store store owner does not use his poor categorization system as the backbone for awarding FIDE titles (nor for segregating competing problems within problem journals).

It is quite pathetic that so many are willing to apply the strategies of what will surely be an out-of-business store owner.

You are too content with a poor methodology -- would you be content to similarly classify the following as "roughly the same opening": Giuocco Piano and Evan's Gambit? Ruy Lopez? Ponzianni too?
Why not -- that's how your little store owner does it!

This may work well for you, until you reach the point where opening preparation becomes important.
Against well prepared masters, the price of such complacency will take a heavy toll.

I have great respect for you, Georgy.
You won the world solving championships 4 times (and, you may have more yet to accomplish)!
Would you be content with someone who likens these great achievements as roughly equivalent to, say, a high placing in a local sudoku tournament?

I don't think so.

"Man is a classifying animal: in one sense it may be said that the whole process of speaking is nothing but distributing phenomena, of which no two are alike in every respect, into different classes on the strength of perceived similarities and dissimilarities. In the name-giving process we witness the same ineradicable and very useful tendency to see likenesses and to express similarity in the phenomena through similarity in name."
— Otto Jespersen, Language: Its Nature, Development and Origin (1922).

You simply have no interest in the intelligent categorization of chess problems.
That's fine -- honestly, I can completely understand that (truth be told, I'd much prefer to focus on more interesting subjects, myself)...
But then, you diminish your good credibility, by voicing a careless opinion as to whether series-movers should be categorized as a stipulation or a fairy condition.

Those who truly don't care about categorization, and can not provide ANY definition for EITHER of the fundamental terms (stipulation/fairy condition), should refrain from attempting to provide definitive answers to faulty surveys on series-movers.

When it comes to chess problem classification, a great many problemists need reminding of what Socrates knew:

"...knowing that you know nothing ... makes you the smartest of all."

Next time, you are asked to provide an opinion about a subject for which you have neither a care, nor a definition, don't check any definitive box (and you will not be proven incorrect).
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(32) Posted by Kevin Begley [Monday, Mar 18, 2013 19:29]; edited by Kevin Begley [13-03-18]


>"In extreme cases this ["sudden death" rule 5.2b] can be annoying, correct."

Ha! "Extreme cases" (Yet Another Undefined Term) -- except this rule impacts even studies, Hauke!
You must have meant to say "special cases" -- and, out of sincere generosity, I am just barely willing to let you get away with that phrase. :-)

>"But I only claimed the rules of OTB chess didn't change. (The sudden death rule has no practical consequences except maybe save you from a hanging flag - i.e.: tournament rule.) "

Completely false, Hauke!
Rule 5.2b alters the rules of movement for the game, and for "orthodox" problems (by extension).
Not only that -- it ALSO alters the rules governing many fairy problems (where rules are commonly stated to differ to our "orthodox", for everything except the explicit alteration)!

Have you ever stopped to appreciate the omnipresence of the fundamental term "orthodox."
Perhaps if problemists acquainted themselves with the hard fact that they have no definition for this term, they might notice this more.
Such reliance on a faulty bridge may be considered bold.
Until you are the composer caught on it.
Luckily for you, Hauke, a faithful #2 composer need never venture across this gap.
But, in the context of this discussion -- which does not appear in the #2 section of this forum -- you must appreciate the audacity of those who ignorantly march where too many lemmings have gone before!
And, in such perfect rhythm, they proudly declare that mechanics have no meaning.

They relish in declaring that stability an inexact science.
They will happily declare that all bridges are unsound, citing the uncertainty of quantum affects (or worse, a lazy reliance upon an incomplete understanding of Gödel's Theorem).
The exactness of any statistical-stability be damned -- for them: it's all, or nothing!
How else could they be so content, with nothing?

The change to rule 5.2b has altered the thematic intent of several studies.
I have published examples of this, here in Mat Plus Forum (years ago), as have a few others (here and elsewhere).
If necessary, I can go back and search for some detailed examples.

The simple case of this failure goes like this: having only moves which would lead to stalemate of the opponent, this rule prevents the stalemate (the game immediately terminates, often prior to expectation).
It is true that studies affected by this rule may remain sound; nevertheless, their thematic intent (yes, some studies do intend a thematic idea -- such as to show 3 model stalemates) may be fundamentally altered by it.
Indeed, the moves provided by the intended solution are no longer correct (akin to adding shuffling moves at the end of of study which reaches a "K vs k" position).
Except, whereas before such positions were resolved draw by claim or agreement, the 5.2b rule change makes such shuffling illegal.

It alters the rules of movement.
And, the consequences may be more severe for a number of problems employing unusual aims, units, and conditions.

I don't think anybody has even begun to survey the damage this does.
I have not tested this extensively, but I don't expect many chess tools have even bothered to implement this rule.

Nobody wants to write the algorithm to solve for helpmates (which would seem necessary, to determine whether the position remains alive).

There is little precious room, ever, to fully state the rules of a fairy condition, in the print journals.
The exclusion of Rule 5.2b is commonly ignored.

The impact of this rule could be extensive.
Luckily, "fairy" problemists have no care for rules.

They just stick things on some unsupported shelf, expecting a buyer (hopefully a judge with an indefinite sense of jurisdiction) will remove the item before the catastrophic collapse!

Systematic collapse may be inevitable; but, what can a small shopkeeper do to prevent this -- right?
That is the prevailing attitude that I have long been struggling to reverse.
I don't know why I can't give up on trying to help.

I will be the first to concede that I can't exactly distinguish whether this is the product of some heightened sense of empathy, or whether the point is to experience a greater euphoria (as a Chess Problem Survivalist), when all the shelves do come crashing down.

Either way...
"I can't imagine why you wouldn't welcome any change, my friend."
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(33) Posted by Ian Shanahan [Monday, Mar 18, 2013 21:03]; edited by Ian Shanahan [13-03-18]

How is a Ser.H=17 (for example) *NOT* a stipulation? It defines the solvers' task hence MUST be a stipulation! Series-movers are both a fairy stipulation _and_ a -condition, surely.
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(34) Posted by Kevin Begley [Monday, Mar 18, 2013 22:28]; edited by Kevin Begley [13-03-18]

@Ian (and all),

I know this is a very long answer to a very concise question...
But, I urge you to read it carefully (BEFORE YOU REPLY TO ANY PART).
Hopefully, this may help to provide everyone a much better understanding of the fundamental logic behind our formal stipulation... how to distinguish a stipulation from a fairy condition... and why series-movers are DEFINITELY NOT a stipulation (no matter how they have been miscast).

>"How is a Ser.H=17 (for example) *NOT* a stipulation? It defines the solvers' task hence MUST be a stipulation! Series-movers are both a fairy stipulation _and_ a -condition, surely."

H=17 is a stipulation.

A formal stipulation MUST explicitly state (at least) three things:
1) The goal/aim (#, =, +, x, ep, 00, etc -- in this case the aim is to stalemate the black King),
2) The opposing play in relation to the goal (help/oppose -- in this case, black HELPS white to achieve the aim: stalemate of the black King), and
3) The deadline (some number of moves -- in this case, 17 moves -- beyond which there can be no success).

These three key elements of a formal problem are NOT confined to chess problems!
The problems we encounter in life may not always explicitly declare themselves, but these elements are present in any problem. In formal problems, they must be stated. Our formal stipulations only provide us a shorthand methodology to describe a large class of chess problems -- and, it should be used, wherever possible.
Even in Retros, we could apply a shorthand description for several formal stipulations (e.g., "retract the last n moves").
Obviously, this is not possible in some retros (e.g., "resolve the position", like studies, has neither a deadline, nor an objectively measured aim).

As I've stated before, part of the goal in studies is to achieve a "theoretically winning position."
Similarly, the goal in "resolvers" is, I suppose, to achieve a "theoretically legal, resolved diagram."
Neither of these reduce to a formal aim (which can be measured) -- without insisting upon the complete tree resolving either at checkmate/stalemate or at the start of the game.
This is not always practical, but formal problems require complete resolution (by some methodology).

Note that a goal functions as an aim, except that a goal is itself a sub-stipulation.
For example, you might have a help problem, where the goal is to achieve a "(direct) #2" in 5 moves.
In the initial phase, black helps to achieve this goal within 5 moves.
But, the goal ("#2") is not an aim (such as checkmate).
You could stipulate that the problem is successfully solved upon realization of the stated goal; or, you may require that all sub-goals be solved with iteration down to the aim (which I would suggest should be the default stipulation).

Note: this also allows some redefinition of some particular selfmates, such that the final coup need not be played (thereby providing an opportunity to stipulate away any duals on the mating move). Just make the goal to achieve a "#1 for black", and do not require iteration unto fulfillment of the stated aim.

Another example: you might redefine a semi-reflexmate-5, as a "Direct-[h#1 (for black)]-4" (where the goal is a sub-stipulation -- "h#1 (for black)" -- which must be solved, by iteration, all the way down to the ultimate aim: checkmate of the white King).

There is no way you can define reflexmate in such a fashion -- it requires an alteration of the rules of play (specifically, you require a constraint on white's movement, in the presence of a #1).
This is why reflexmate MUST be a fairy condition, whereas semi-reflexmates may still be completely stipulated using only the "orthodox" rules of chess.
As such, semi-reflexmates may be considered "orthodox", whereas reflexmates must be considered "a fairy condition."

Similarly, you can not formally define the idle-movement of a series-mover in the context of an objective.
The prefix "Series-" on any stipulation, amounts to a fairy condition which is misplaced on the stipulation.
It is not an objective, and does NOT fit the form of a formal stipulation (it does not satisfy any of the elements of a stipulation -- it describes only an alternative rule governing play in the game).

If you allow this, you have no mechanism to prevent the prefix "circe-", or "madrasi-", or even prefixing from other fairy conditions which also fall in the class of "idle-movers": such a "Pser-", "Black Moves Only to Check (or idles)-", etc etc etc.

The reason you don't already know this is obvious: in the absence of a consistent definition for your fundamental terms (like stipulation), you have no methodology to determine how a formal chess problem should be properly expressed. Luckily, most formal chess problems do adhere to format I have described.
Series-Mover is only one of a few bad exceptions (which require correction).

Remember this: a formal stipulation can not (EVER!) alter (or constrain) the rules of movement, for a game.
Only a fairy element can do this!
That is the definition of a fairy element ("Heterodoxy" if you prefer) -- and the rules governing move alternation are definitely part of the rules of movement for a game.

As I have previously stated, I endured similar discussions regarding Parry-Movers, which the late Dan Meinking (a friend whom I dearly miss) wanted to classify as a stipulation, rather than a fairy condition.

He probably wanted this, because the improper form of series-movers set a bad precedent (as a stipulation) which he veryr much wanted to follow.
Our debate dragged on and on (often times degrading into territory we both later regretted).
This bad precedent resulted in a complete breakdown of his fundamental definitions.
And, it left him with no methodology to keep stipulations distinct from fairy conditions.

I'm now left with all the regret, because if Dan was here, he might help provide some insight into why the stipulation form proved unable to fully cover parry-movers; and, it would have greatly helped to hear him state how he intended to right this situation.
I think he was placed in a bad position, because of various pressures to preserve the improper form.
I don't know, for sure, that he would have come to accept that they were improperly formed as a stipulation, or whether he would have accepted that series-movers should be similarly recast.

But, I do know this: Dan constructed a problem which established unmistakable proof that the stipulation form was insufficient to fully cover "parry-movers" (despite numerous stipulation options!).
And, beyond that, he also admitted that he had discovered no method to show that two simple fairy conditions would ever fail to cover his invention.
I think he was on the road to fully accepting the fundamental definitions I have outlined.
I wish he was still here... I am confident that he had new insights which would have greatly contributed to this discussion.

I will admit, it is not so easy to extend this proof to series-movers.
I knew this long ago -- which is why I have never once claimed that the "series-" prefix fails to cover this (as I had correctly predicted would be the case with parry-movers).
The difference is this; two players may be constrained by an idle condition in parry-movers (and movement is still possible).
But, this is never the case in series-movers.

That does not provide any excuse for the improper formulation of series-movers, as a prefix on a stipulation.
Series-mover describes a different game (one very similar to Progressive Chess).
It does not describe an objective.

If you think clearly about what constitutes an objective (or more precisely, what makes a formal stipulation distinct from a fairy condition), you will find no methodology better than the one I have provided...

Built axiomatically from aims... you get something well defined, which works from the ground up!
Using play (help/opposing, with respect to the aim), plus deadlines, to build stipulations...
Then, allowing sub-stipulations to replace aims, and providing for the stipulation of success at any time prior to the realization of a stated aim...
And finally, requiring that the rules of play be stated independently...

That is how you should describe a formal chess problem (indeed, any formal problem).
And, beyond the realm of stipulated problems that 99% of us swim in, this offers a rich infrastructure (fundamentally sound), upon which you can extend formal stipulation well beyond its present limitations.

Just think of problems outside the realm of chess...
Problem: to survive, a person will need water within 7 days, and must go to the well to get it.
The stated aim is survival -- but, people might actually have a higher aim...
I would contend that those who chose to die heroically, in order to save others, aim for "collective survival."
The goal is a sub-stipulation: get to the well within 7 days.

The chess problem is nothing more than a story, which follows our hero, on their quest.
The difference is, we know how the story must end, before we open the book.
Maybe it is declared to end upon arrival at the well.
Maybe it continues, by iteration, until water is drank.
Success is defined by the stipulation.
The deadline is defined by the stipulation.
If we have a second character, his motivations are defined by our success, our deadline, and the stipulation.
But, nowhere in our stipulation must we include the laws of physics (for the chessmen).

The laws of physics are, definitely, part of the problem.
They are simply not part of our objective (and thus, should not be included in a formal stipulation).

When you formally stipulate any math problem, you need not provide every axiom.
Would you say that the "distributive property of multiplication" is part of a solver's OBJECTIVE?
No WAY -- the solver's objective may be to find the intersection point of two lines.
And, to solve this, they may need to know certain laws of mathematics (which may include the distributive propety of multiplication).
But, the formal statement of a problem NEED NOT STIPULATE the rules of mathematics (or physics, or the fairy condition which governs the movement of the chessmen)!!

The laws of physics are NOT an objective -- they are a constraint, under which all objectives must comply!

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what a formal stipulation must be.
And now you know why series-movers can not be categorized as even the prefix of a stipulation.

Your example should be recast in the following form:

stipulation: h=17
condition: "series-mover" (better yet: "white IDLES, except to achieve the final goal/aim").

If you had asked about pser-h=17:
stipulation: h=17
condition: "white IDLES, except to either parry check, or achieve the final goal/aim."

Both are fairy conditions which fall under a much broader class, which I call "IDLE-MOVERS."
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(35) Posted by Ian Shanahan [Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013 04:35]

OK Kevin. That all makes sense. In a nutshell, you're saying that "Series.[whatever]" is the fairy condition, and "whatever" is the aim. I can agree to that. So an elided *combination* like Ser.H=17 is indeed both a fairy-condition (Ser.) and an aim [H]=17.

Some time ago in another thread I showed an idle-mover example of an antiform to pser. - a R#17, Black moves only to check - which shows the distinction more clearly.
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(36) Posted by Dmitri Turevski [Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013 04:54]

Note that the concept of goal/aim (#, =, +, x, ep, 00, etc) is absolutely redundant as fairy elements may redefine "check" and "checkmate" (eg AntiKings, Pressburger)
So it is
stipulation: h#17
- "what was called stalemate is now checkmate and vice versa"
- "white idles, except to checkmate"

And a further step can be made as well - help-play can be treated as fairy element that changes the rules of movement. And a further one to replace "deadlines" with one more fairy condition.

But Kevin doesn't make this steps. I wonder, has personal favoritism anything to do with it?
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(37) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013 06:47]

Perhaps the confusion started with adding "helpplay" to the stipulation. After all the rules of chess require the chessmen to defend their King. Altering that is surely 'unthodox'. Perhaps Kevin may not agree, but from there, adding 'series' to h#2 was easy.
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(38) Posted by Dmitri Turevski [Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013 07:11]

In computer science there is a good term to describe what this thread is all about: syntactic sugar.
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(39) Posted by Frank Richter [Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013 07:56]

I didn't read all statements, but a german word comes into my mind - Spitzfindigkeiten. Is "nitpickiness" an appropriate translation?
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(40) Posted by Dupont Nicolas [Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013 16:50]

There is a French sentence too, “couper les cheveux en quatre”, mainly used by guys who are considering that theory is only theory, without any possibility of practical applications. In fact this is the converse which is true, a theorist never forget (or at least should never forget) that practice is the ultimate goal, and an amount of human tools have been created as logical consequences of an abstract theory.

I can prove it right now within the realm of chess problems. First remember Dan’s “auto-zugzwang series”: only white is playing, to put itself in a position where each of its further legal moves is reaching the goal. Second I theorized the “reflex” stipulation, so that it becomes a condition applicable to numerous types of problems (Kevin should appreciate such a stuff!).

Having this small piece of theory at hand, I looked at practical applications, and indeed found one related to the above setting: in an auto-zugzwang series with reflex condition, none of white moves may reach the goal.

I don’t claim this is an interesting type of problems (a kind of “nothing or everything”) only that is it new (to my best knowledge) and obtained via the classic scientific method: define things in full generality and see what it implies relatively to the other branches of the theory.

As a matter of fact, such a stipulation & condition can be checked with Popeye, using an adapted s-stipulation. So I can provide the following C+ scheme, just for illustration:

(= 3+2 )

ser-!zd7z9 Reflex C+

The goal is for white to put itself into the obligation of reaching square d7. Without the reflex condition, there are plenty of solutions in 8 moves, e.g. 1.d6 7.Kh8 8.g7 !zd7z. But under the reflex condition, neither the King nor the Pawn d5 can touch square d7 before the terminal move, so the King must turn around square d7 and stalemated itself before white can play d6. The only solution is therefore:

1.Kb7-b6 2.Kb6-c5 3.Kc5-d4 4.Kd4-e5 5.Ke5-f6 6.Kf6-g7 7.Kg7-h8 8.g6-g7 9.d5-d6 !zd7z
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