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MatPlus.Net Forum General General form of helpmates

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### General form of helpmates

Has anyone ever investigated a general form of helpmates in which the number and order of the Black and White moves are specified? A h#3 has 3 Black moves and 3 White moves in alternating order BWBWBW. Whereas a Ser-h#3 has 3 Black moves and 1 White move in the order BBBW. Theoretically one could specify a helpmate with m Black moves and n White moves and the order they are to be made in. Technically, one doesn’t need to specify White’s last move since it will always be mate. For example, a helpmate (1W,3B) could have the possible move orders: WBBBW, BWBBW, BBWBW, or BBBWW. Perhaps this is not interesting because in some cases it would make it easier to compose such problems, but maybe there could also be some nice effects too.

The general form tends to favor more common problems (sometimes too much).
In this case, far less ink is required to stipulate h#5, versus h(bwbwbwbwbw)# (read: a reasonable argument can be made that the standard form is preferable).

That said, if you have a proposal for generalizing the more uncommon stipulations (some elegant description which formalizes a greater range of problem stipulations), your ideas are always welcomed here.

You'd need something more practical, and more readable than the general form.
You'd need to alert solvers when there is a deviation from standard move alternation (with 99.999% of helpmates using standard alternation of moves, it seems an unreasonable ask that solvers carefully attend the stipulation form, looking for deviations they may never encounter).

And, why not stipulate the number of solutions, as well?
Can you do that (including for problems where there's three solutions, which share a singular first move, but branch into 3 unique second moves)?

How will you deal with progressive chess, and various types of series moves (especially those where the move alternation is contingent upon checks occurring in the course of the solution)?

Most importantly, how will you assure there is a clear distinction between a stipulation and a fairy condition?
Any alteration of the move order is a fairy condition (this is the place you should inform about any deviation in the rules of the game, not in the stipulation, which should be reserved only to define the task).

@Kevin
Fourth para of your post is not clear. Helpmates with common first move and multiple solutions are already in vogue.

My 4th paragraph was perfectly clear.

This discussion is hardly concerned with what is, today, considered vogue -- Vogue is just an old Madonna song (never a very good song, even when it was considered both popular and vogue).

Somebody is proposing a general stipulation form which might cover problems that were never considered vogue.
Do try to Keep up. :)

ps: blink twice if you are being compelled to always give the same thoughtless reply.

I appreciate your obsession with me -- I consider the constant annoyance attempts to be a reluctant fanfare -- but, I would encourage you to show more respect toward persons asking legitimate, intelligent questions. This is not even my thread.

Please keep this thread, and this forum, free of petty grievances (is not the art of kanly alive in the universe?).
Is that clear enough?

If you want to be consumed by a passion you can not articulate, ask my agent for an autographed wall poster.

@Kevin.

I'm not suggesting renaming a h#5 to BWBWBWBWBW or claiming that standard form is not preferable. I understand the need for multiple solutions and a more practical notation. You do make a good point about checks but this seems to have an obvious solution.

All I'm asking is if anyone knows if the more general form has been investigated. That's it.

It could be interesting to explore ideas that can be conveyed in general form but not in the standard form. Additionally, there might be intriguing mathematical/combinatorial aspects to explore in the general form.

@Kabe,

All I'm asking is if anyone knows if the more general form has been investigated.

I assumed the investigation you seek would seek to determine if a more generalized stipulation form is possible; otherwise, what is the point?
I am always interested to learn about alternative nomenclature possibilities to formally (and elegantly) convey a broader range of possible problems, but I maintain that, in this specific instance, this motivation seems a tall order (even in a community where good ideas are celebrated).

The good idea must come first, to motivate that this investigation has any hope (and everyone is welcome to share their good ideas here).

Furthermore, I would maintain that the safest course is to begin by establishing unambiguous definitions for the fundamental elements of a problem (what is fairy condition?, what is a stipulation?, what are the sub-elements of a stipulation?, etc).

The first step in investigating how a stipulation might better convey a variety of move alternation rules, in my view, would be to ask the logical question: should the RULES of move alternation be conveyed by stipulation at all?

Whether anyone has investigated possibilities to convey progressive chess move alternation as a stipulation is not my primary concern here.
My primary concern is whether anyone has investigated how to define a stipulation (something distinct from a fairy condition) such that this would seem the proper place to locate move alternation information.

About particular explorations I know nothing, but one problem comes to mind.

Gideon Husserl, Prize, feenschach 1993-94

(= 7+5 )

a) h#2
b) ser-h#2/2
c) 1w -> ser-h#2

a) 1.cxb3+ Dxb3 2.g5 g8D# b) 1.Kg8 2.Kh7, 1.g8T 2.Dxg6# c) 1.g8L+, 1.Kh8 2.g5 Dh7#

We have been slowly evolving toward formalized (read: more universal, more elegant, more comprehensive) problem articulation.
It's not so long ago we moved away from "White to move and force checkmate in 7 moves," to simply "#7".

This has enabled detailed searches for specific problems in large problem databases, it saves ink, and it requires no translation.
Improvements should be more welcomed, but there are impediments to progress (it can cause upheaval in very large databases, and it may require substantial effort to remedy prior works which do not easily conform).

You could make a good case that ply would have been a better choice, rather than moves, for example (get rid of the decimal point in h#2.5, and save considerable ink).

One school says the number counts white moves in the problem, and another school says it should convey total move count.
Which is the better choice?

It may not currently be vogue, but there are problems (many!) which need to convey that the number of solutions does not branch off until a later ply (after the shared first move, or it may even split again, after a first move that is not shared).

Thus, somebody (I don't know who) suggested "h#3 (1.2.1...)" is a superior form to "h#2.5 + 2 solutions".
There is a good case that this is indeed a better form, as it enables us to formally convey (without words) a greater number of possible scenarios (in a much more elegant manner).

But, I must admit, this determination depends substantially upon the fact that problems with multiple phases are not a complete rarity.
If there were virtually no proponents for multiple solutions in helpmates, we might never have appreciated which form is more practical.
Maybe vogue is more important than I had previously suggested.

That said, formalizing stipulation can become a misadventure if we are not vigilantly aware of the distinction between a fairy condition and a stipulation.
You could convey Circe in the stipulation, just as easily as you convey series mover, but this choice would be a mistake in my view (it balloons the stipulation, and it does not enhance our ability to search for specific fairy conditions). Series movers should never have been conveyed as a stipulation, because once you go down that road, you need to explain why Progressive Chess is not also a stipulation.
The failure to appreciate this distinction has resulted in terrible inconsistencies (reflexmate is a fairy condition which often masquerades as a stipulation, thus enjoying a biased advantage over other fairy conditions).
This failure has resulted in a perverse incentive to deceive enthusiasts (if not judges) by hiding the fairy condition in the form of a stipulation. I have no doubt this deception can make a new fairy invention more appealing (for everyone involved).

Where is the incentive to maintain consistency in our artform?
Where is the incentive to help newcomers appreciate the fundamental elements of a chess problem?
It does not exist.
Advocates for consistency are rewarded with constant badgering (things that would make any newcomer want to take their good ideas elsewhere, where they would be more welcomed).
The status quo is never absent overzealous defenders.

I have long argued that our historical inconsistencies become an increasing challenge, over time -- that we should take steps to remedy them before this corruption spreads.
It has fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps I'm not the ideal person to lead this advocacy, but the ideal people propose only incremental remedies (which ensure the untreated corruption will long remain).

Don't even get me started on inconsistencies in fairy condition conventions (consider the rules governing a pawn on the first rank when the fairy conditions are Einstein + Circe Parrain + Point Reflection; then, consider how simple the rules would be if the conventions were all standardized to enforce similar default positions).

Now, imagine the effort required if we retroactively establish consistent conventions. We would need to sort through thousands of old problems, to determine which agree with a more universal convention, and which require an additional caveat added to an altered fairy condition.
This may seem highly unfair to composers, problem editors, and software developers who invested themselves in an inconsistent system, but I assure you, someday, somebody is going to provide a remedy (it might not even be chess enthusiasts -- it might well be AI developers). Though we may not live to see that day, it's not difficult to appreciate how we would all have wished that we had cleaned up our own mess (and the future will look back on us and wish the very same, because we not only left them that burden, we watched it mount on the backs of future enthusiasts).

Now, imagine a remedy riding in from foreign agencies (with a dissimilar view of our artform). Who will defend our legacy then? Those we have so heavily burdened by our inherently corrupt inconsistencies?

Sigh, I digress.. I too often digress...

In my view, stipulations are not a place that should be designated for conveying alternative rules of move alternation.
I have challenged anyone who disagrees to present a clear definition which draws a distinction between these two elements (fairy condition vs stipulation); nobody yet has adequately answered that challenge.

If you want to investigate various ways to convey a variety of move order alternation scenarios, start by investigating what is the proper place to convey that information (as a stipulation, or as a fairy condition).

The first step is to admit the need to take a first step.
Our first step should be to investigate a return to the basics -- where the fundamental elements of a chess problem are clearly, distinctly, and unambiguously defined, and those terms are widely considered a binding covenant (which enhance our understanding and appreciation for this artform).

Two general forms were explored by Jean-Marc Loustau and Jacques Dupin in Phenix 1995.
The first was called "Aide Libre n": White and Black play a cooperative sequence of n plies in any feasible order so that White mates on the last move.
The number of plies played by White and Black can vary, but their total should be equal to n.
Example: for an Aide Libre in 3 plies, this can mean any sequence from: WWW, WBW, BWW, and BBW

The second was called "Aide de serie bicolore m/n": similar to Aide Libre, but White and Black are restricted to m and n plies respectively, with the total number of plies equal to m+n.

An example of each type:

J-M Loustau, Phenix, 1995
(= 6+5 )

h#3 libre 4.1.1
1.Rxc3 2.Rc4 3.c3#
1.Rd4 2.cxd4 3.c4#
1.c4 2.Rb3 3.cxb3#
1.Bd6 2.Rb5 3.cxd3#
WP4
All the 4 combinations mentioned above are realised here.

J-M Loustau, Phenix, 1995
(= 5+3 )

Aide de Serie bicolore 2/2#
b)Sc4-d6
a) 1.Bf4 2.Ke4 3.Bd5 4.Sd6#
b) 1.Rf4 2.Kxe5 3.Rd5 4.Sc4#
White and Black Grimshaw
Here the combinations possible are BBWW, BWBW, WBBW out of which only the last is realised in both solutions.

Kevin,

@Jacques,

Offensive to whom?
Have I offended you, somehow?

Kindly send me a note explaining how you regard this as offensive (to any person or group).
Please, do not make that a topic in this thread -- that's exactly what that individual seeks: to destroy topics he does not favor.
If you can persuade me (and I pride myself on my ability to be persuaded by a good argument), I'll alter or remove my post.

But, for context.. for anyone who doesn't know (and those who pretend not to know)...
I am constantly offended by the incessant and obsessive badgering from the individual to whom I replied in that post.
Perhaps you might suggest a better method to curb somebody's reckless, all-consuming personal grievance (which can not be articulated).
I've tried several polite approaches. I thought I'd try adding some humor.

I am sorry if that offends anyone, but at the moment, I feel that reply was warranted (indeed, long overdue).

If you have a comment not directly related to the conversation (such as, "I don't understand something about your 4th paragraph, can you explain...?"), use notes.
I think you well know that I replied to a comment which was never intended to elicit a clarification of my 4th paragraph -- it was intended to badger me, and to change the topic.
Similar comments occur constantly. I have done nothing to provoke this -- I avoid starting any conversation with that individual.

If somebody stalks you, and tries to bully you incessantly, I would recognize your obligation to retaliate in kind.
Please extend me that same curtesy.

I am not here seeking a confrontation with anyone, but I do not tolerate blatant attempts to censor persons or topics here, by constantly sniping.
Those tactics should offend everyone, including you.

You were all quiet as crickets. If you are suddenly jolted and offended, I would respectfully suggest that you consider how your prior silence has given offense.
Tell me you never even noticed, and I'll take you at your word.
But, somebody had to notice this rudeness has been ongoing.

No worries. I know how to deal with bullies. There's only one solution there, and it's not aesthetically enjoyable to witness.

If you have private concerns with someone, you can send them a private note.
This place is for chess.
As you wrote in post (8) you digress too often, and also too much.

You should hold the proper party responsible for that digression, Jacques -- indeed, a long pattern of such digressions.
You bark up the wrong tree too often.

ps: practice what you preach. I asked that you send me a note (do not further contaminate this thread, as it rewards the sniper who conducts these attacks upon this forum -- though I admit, this thread/forum would seem an ancillary target; I am, for whatever reason, the target of this vulgar obsession).

By rewarding this behavior (with what I believe is exactly the intended objective), and misdirecting your offense, you are only encouraging more of this practice.
The same can't be said of my reply -- I have tried ignoring this unceasing stream of personal attacks directed at me. It has not abated. When I issue a proportional response, you become an unwitting supporter of this sniping practice.

Finally, I must note that you have failed to specify what party is offended.
If you have a good case, I can assure you a fair audience (if your argument is convincing, I will modify or remove the post in question, as I intended no offense to any party).

If you can't provide me that, you should have stayed out of this entirely.
I wish I had that luxury.

Dear Kevin,

I have no concern with you.
You post disturbing words.

I can see that you seem not to understand that.

Dear Jacques,

Likewise. I would say the very same about you, but I didn't say that here (did I?), because your feelings about a person have no place in this thread.

I hope it gives you some catharsis, but please find a better outlet.
If you believe a post of mine is unclear or offensive, and you seek relief, please contact me privately and I will be happy to listen and to provide whatever remedy I can.

If your words are not pristinely clear, I assume the fault is my own. That's common courtesy.
What I do not do is tell you that you are not clear, repeatedly, incessantly, obsessively, and ask for no clarification. That is terribly rude.
Nor do I count the lines in your posts, and decry that you have exceeded a limit which does not exist. Again, everyone should be aware that behavior is offensive (not only to me, personally, but to everyone who is confronted by it).

You presume to know who is responsible for the offense (you think it's obvious), when in fact you know nothing about how this started, or how long it has endured.
That's why you should not have involved yourself.

It is a reasonable request to ask how that post was offensive. If you can't even articulate that, do not blame me for not understanding a position you can not (or will not) elucidate.
Are you going to delete any post I claim is offensive?

It would be completely unreasonable to expect me to agree with everything you consider to be obviously true.
I hope that helps you understand why you -- not me! -- are the one being unreasonable.
If not, at least I tried my best to explain it to you. That's all the difference. That's called courtesy, and I would have extended that level of basic courtesy even to the individual who continuously refuses to return that favor. But there comes a point where that behavior must be called out. That's all I did, with some humor.

I asked you to send me a note explaining your position, and you refused. That's you (either unwittingly, or not) enjoining in this sniper's foul project.
I hope that clarification helps you understand what you have overlooked. Sincerely.
If you'd like to discuss it further, I'll be happy to do so privately.

Have a nice day.

See https://juliasfairies.com/problems/no-1760/, an example of a general form helpselfmate.

This was given the name "nicois" in 2001 in the legendary france-echecs.com site: https://www.france-echecs.com/article.php?art=20010918232236552
Some of the diagrams seem to be missing after all this time.

ins2417 on 20/09/2001 wrote: "Encore une idee c'est une regle "nicoise", ou il faut faire n coups, mais on n'indique pas dans la stipulation qui va faire quel coup, sauf que la dernier pour mat aide serait les blancs."

Honestly I am a big fan of names rather than descriptions for things. Particularly "general" & "form" are generally useful words that we would want to use in discussions, rather than nail them down in a rather vague way. There are many different dimensions along which one might choose to generalize something. But a name like "nicois" (which echoes "marseillais", where each player makes two moves at a time) does not have these problems.

One useful consequence is the follows. When someone hears a name, they know whether they know it or not. They aren't fooled, as they would be by a description, into thinking they can figure it out.

The article by Loustau and Dupin mentioned in post (9) predates this (1995).
They used the names "Aide Libre" and "Aide de serie bicolore".
My recent JF problem extends this to "Aide Inverse Libre".
I felt "Mixed" would be a suitable English term, as all moves except the last, can be played by either Black or White. FCCP earlier used the term "free" in line with the French version.

(20) Posted by Andrew Buchanan [Wednesday, Oct 4, 2023 04:54]

It’s not surprising that there are earlier antecedents. Good to have identified them. I am not a fan of “libre” or “mixed” as the term for this. They are perfectly good general words and it’s a shame to lose them to inadequately identify such problems. You want something vigorous, uncommon, unused & unmistakeable. The word “salad” would work for example, which can mean a “mixture”.

If it’s “general”, “free”, “mixed” then they are hidden from search engines, and are feeble as keywords in our databases. I don’t care much what the precise term is though as long as it is vigorous, uncommon, unused & unmistakeable.