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MatPlus.Net Forum Endgame studies Darko Hlebec, HvdH 50 JT, special prize
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(1) Posted by Sarah Hornecker [Sunday, Nov 6, 2011 16:27]

Darko Hlebec, HvdH 50 JT, special prize

I have explored the anti castling theme with sacrifices on b8, and all sacrifices were shown already. But this combination shown by Hlebec is a great step forward on that specific theme, since it shows no less than two(!) sacrifices on b8. My home is my castle - if the opponent lets me castle...

There are only few studies of which can be said, they enrich my life, and those are the ones with a great artistical content. This is one of them.

(= 5+11 )

Darko Hlebec
Harold van der Heijden 50 JT, special prize
White to move and win

1.Qb8+!!/i Bxb8 2.gxh7 Sd4+ 3.cxd4 Bb3+ 4.Rxb3 Be5! 5.Rb8+!!/i Rxb8 6.dxe5 Kd8 7.Kd6 Kc8 8.Kxc6 Rb6+ 9.Kxb6 a1Q 10.h8Q+ Kd7 11.e6+ Kxe6 12.Qxa1 wins

i - Thematic sacrifice

Of course, as I said, the sacrifice on b8 is well known, but the combination of two sacrifices, accompanied by a nice end of the solution, is impressive. Harold van der Heijden gave the correct distinction here - it should not be compared to other studies in my opinion, but it is outstanding.
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(2) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Sunday, Nov 6, 2011 18:28]; edited by seetharaman kalyan [11-11-06]

Nice one, though the queen sacrifice is obvious. The rook sacrifice and the ending is really good. Should become famous.
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(3) Posted by Kevin Begley [Sunday, Nov 6, 2011 20:12]; edited by Kevin Begley [11-11-06]

>Harold van der Heijden gave the correct distinction here - it should not be compared to other studies in my opinion, but it is outstanding.

I don't mean to go off topic, but highly controversial remarks -- such as this -- can not go ignored.

Outstanding this study may be -- thanks for sharing it! -- but why should anyone believe this "should not be compared [with] other studies"?
Based upon what rationalization (beyond your subjective, emotional reaction to this problem)?
Either studies/problems can be objectively judged in a hierarchical order (according to some classification system), or they can not...

You imply this is among some "special" class of studies -- which somehow transcend the standard capacity of classification/judgement.
But, you fail to identify what gives this such study an aura.
It reads as though you are pre-subscribed to a mysticism about the conditions which give rise to your transcendental assessment.

You are asking us to believe (based upon your opinion) either:
a) there is some class of studies which can not be classified, and even this "non-classifiable" attribute can not be used as a criteria for classification, or
b) hierarchical judgment is impossible for the classification called "studies," or
c) both a) and b) are true.

Well, which is it?
Perhaps you could suggest a better system (something which need not degrade below the inherent falsehood of "special" prefixing)?
Is there (or is there not) an honest, objective system of classification and judgement?

Also, I would find it helpful to understand how you came to form such a counter-cultural opinion.
Subjective emotions are often explained by objective science -- how can you be so certain that this particular case is exceptional?
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(4) Posted by Kevin Begley [Sunday, Nov 6, 2011 22:21]; edited by Kevin Begley [11-11-06]

In another thread, Hauke states: "...always remember a Special Prize is the polite way to tell somebody to bug off :-)"
It's a funny way to raise a serious question: what value is attached to awards with the special prefix?

Olympic Ice Skating constitutes a competitive art, which depends upon a human's subjective judgement.
So far, they have managed to avoid the need for a "Special Gold/Silver/Bronze Medal."
I'm asked to believe that the value of an 8x8 logic problem is "fuzzier" than any value which can be assigned to ice dancing (a vastly more emotionally expressive form).

Or, is it the equivalent of a "Congeniality Prize" in a beauty contest?
Nobody honestly believes that a pageant can judge beauty (or congeniality) -- do special prefixes constitute an admission that our awards are equally insignificant?

If there is real value (and purpose) in problem/study awards:
1) how could FIDE award judge titles, without insisting upon unambiguous awards? and
2) how could any judge be content to rely upon such a systematic dereliction of duty?
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(5) Posted by Sarah Hornecker [Monday, Nov 7, 2011 10:16]

Outstanding this study may be -- thanks for sharing it! -- but why should anyone believe this "should not be compared [with] other studies"? [etc]

It is a task study, having surely a bit of forced play and three "useless" pawns. There are some rules to ignore that are necessary for judging, for example the economy, although it is not bad here. In my opinion the play is neither good nor bad, as well, so alone from that it would need to get a commendation or honorable mention, but the achievement of the task setting requires giving a prize even with the flaws it would have and that would prevent this if it was ranked normally.

what value is attached to awards with the special prefix?

A very different one.

If there is real value (and purpose) in problem/study awards:
1) how could FIDE award judge titles, without insisting upon unambiguous awards? and
2) how could any judge be content to rely upon such a systematic dereliction of duty?

1) FIDE has no right for any of these, and even less since we became independent of them in 2010.
2) Staying at your ice skating example, what if an unbelievable figure is shown that seems to defy the laws of physics, but their overall performance, apart from this point, is a disaster?
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(6) Posted by Kevin Begley [Monday, Nov 7, 2011 21:29]; edited by Kevin Begley [11-11-07]

If you want an Olympic medal for skating passed the speed of light, you should have competed in speed skating.
Or, publish a paper, and await the Nobel Prize for Physics.
But, in the venue of an ice dancing contest, you may deserve nothing.

Is that the meaning of the "Special" prefix: fastest skater to compete in the wrong venue?
I see no reason to pretend the study sited could only effectively compete for a "special" award (just give the author his due).

It is not possible to defy the laws of physics.
The best you can do is demonstrate our misunderstandings.
Many judges/problemists are quick to conclude a violation of something fundamental has taken place... and, they reach this conclusion with pattern frequencies... even when a trivial examination reveals an insignificant or false paradox (if not a complete misreading of the data).
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(7) Posted by Nikola Predrag [Monday, Nov 7, 2011 23:06]

For special problems the judges introduce special criteria to reach a fairly balanced award. A judge who knows the absolute and impeccable criteria does not need this. Who is this judge, beside Kevin?
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(8) Posted by Dan Meinking [Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011 00:42]; edited by Dan Meinking [11-11-08]

I hereby award this debate =1st-12th Special Prize for Least Relevant Discussion.

PS: Nice endgame, Siegfried!
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(9) Posted by Kevin Begley [Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011 07:34]; edited by Kevin Begley [11-11-08]


>"For special problems the judges introduce special criteria to reach a fairly balanced award."

"The purpose of the special prefix is to balance any award containing a special problem."
I trust the above a fair paraphrasing of your point -- yes?
I do agree with the sentiment: fairness ("a fairly balanced award") should be a judge's highest goal.

But, what constitutes a special problem?
I mean rhetorically -- obviously, a comprehensive list is not possible (these things may vary -- otherwise, we'd simply classify such things).
The judge is free to determine what is special -- who better, right?
Thus, whatever earns a special prefix must constitute a special problem (within a given tourney).

Furthermore, any special prefixing in the award must indicate that the judge believed a balanced award was impossible without this prefix.
If the very purpose of this prefix is to fairly balance the award, it stands to reason that the judge resorted to this as a balancing mechanism -- right?

The problem is, we have no way to attach a value to the Special ordinal (in comparison to 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc).
There is no balancing beam to properly measure the special value (by comparison), thus, by definition, such an award would be deliberately left unbalanced, to avoid an imbalance!

In many competitive arts (probably the vast majority), an unbalanced award would constitute a dereliction of the judge's duty.
There are a few exceptions (Mrs.Congeniality comes to mind), but most produce a completely hierarchical ranking list.
Indeed, these rankings generally constitute the very purpose of such judgement -- so, why sort the ranking of commended problems, if you don't bother to sort the prizes?

This begs the question: what is out of balance in awards which do not allow judges the option of this fuzzy prefixing?

Is their a heightened need for judges of chess problems to resort to this incomplete value scale (which always results from special prefixing)?
It certainly seems counter-intuitive that the value of a chess problem might require a scale more "fuzzy" than many emotionally expressive forms of competitive art.

Or, in general, are the complete awards of other competitive arts so much more imbalanced, than ours?
This would certainly run contrary to my experience, though I concede an objective comparison is difficult (given that awards containing special problems are, by definition, left incomplete).

>"A judge who knows the absolute and impeccable criteria does not need this. Who is this judge, beside Kevin?"

I have not acted as a judge, nor do I profess that I would be without flaws in this capacity (no matter how much I might strive to be impeccable).
Could I easily outperform a number of regular judges, who routinely set a very low bar?
Absolutely, yes, I am confident I could -- and, without resorting to a single "special" prefix!
[To get an edge on some judges, I'd simply count the problems I am tasked to judge. And, there's a number of similar strategies I could site!]

This is not the point...
The point is, there are numerous judges, in numerous competitive arts, who produce more balanced awards, without resorting to the incompleteness of special prefixing.
So far, there is no legitimate argument for accepting these prefixes as a necessity.
And, there is good reason to consider these awards incomplete (thus, the judges are derelict in performing their duty).

Finally, if it is impossible to produce a balanced award without special prefixing, this might necessarily demonstrate that problem chess, as a competitive art/endeavor, is unfit to compete as an Olympic Mind Sport.
Given that, are you really certain this "special" balancing mechanism is absolutely necessary?


Nice try, but refuted: thankfully, you are not thread judge for Mat Plus, 2011. :)
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(10) Posted by Neal Turner [Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011 11:15]

The criteria for evaluating problems are pretty well-known and mostly uncontroversial - originality, economy etc,etc.
Most problems are able to be judged under these criteria, but occasionally a problem comes along in which the composer has attempted something extraordinary which has required him to tear up the rule book.
So how is the judge to react when faced with such a situation?
Should he simply ignore it because it doesn't follow the accepted norms?
To do this may mean that a ground-breaking idea will be spurned.
But to accept it wouldn't be fair on the composers who've struggled to keep their works within normal constraints to have this maverick competing on equal terms.
So the 'Special' designation is a convenient way for the judge to resolve this dilemma - the extraordinary problem is given recognition, while the conventional problems get to be judged together.
Of course it's always possible to dispute the judge's decision to put a particular problem into a Special category, but this doesn't negate the principle that a 'Special' designation can be a valid part of an award.
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(11) Posted by Kevin Begley [Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011 14:57]; edited by Kevin Begley [11-11-08]


Incorporation of a highly original idea is hardly unique to chess problems.
Plenty of other endeavors are capable of appreciating originality without special awards (skateboarding, Nobel Prize, Fields Medal, Pulitzer Prize, Motocross, etc).
In fact, it is far more difficult to pinpoint counter-examples (generally, the counter-examples are not considered completely legitimate).

Furthermore, I see little support for your claim about this prefix being used for highly original ideas/realizations.
First Babson s#3 did not win a Special Prize -- it won 1st Prize.
First Babson #4 did not win a Special Prize -- it won 1st Prize.
First Babson r#3 did not win a Special Prize -- it won 1st Prize.
First Lacny Theme #2 did not win a Special Prize -- it won 1st Prize.
First Dombrovskis Theme #2 did not win a Special Prize -- it won 1st Prize.

The list goes on and on and on -- the clear pattern is, highly original problems win bigger awards.
Nor does it hold in reverse -- there is a long list of special awards given to unoriginal problems.

There is nothing close to a universal consensus as to the proper application of this prefix, there is no consensus as to its relative value.
And, so far, there is no official policy for judges to apply this prefix, nor has any legitimate rationale been provided for when incomplete rankings are acceptable.
Any serious governing body would likely insist upon a remedy for this, because this special prefix devalues awards (and may actually disqualify problem chess from competition in alternative venues).

ps: I hate to say this, I know it's going to sound bad, but to dispute a judge's decision generally proves an exercise in futility (read: sewing your own regret)...
There are formal tourneys which violate the rules... and everybody knows it... still, nobody objects.
Even those who might profit tend to remain silent -- personal friendships commonly stand in the way of fair & balanced awards.
[note: I have no reason to believe this happened in this studies tourney.]
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(12) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011 15:34]

Off a tangent: The 2# is said to be dead again (my, it has died more often
than Kenny :-). Will this lead to more (special?) prizes
a) for perfect settings of well-known ideas
b) for outrageous ideas, possibly in outrageous settings?

Personally, if (what a big if!) one thing must
sacrificed, form or content, I'll keep the content.


P.S. Concerning the study above, I would have given it a recommendation
or whatever. Twofold blocking of O-O-O is neat, but not what I'd call
outrageous. Neither is the setting exceptionally bad. Thus: Nothing
"special" here! (Or did the fact that castling is a special move
biased the prize giving? :-)
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(13) Posted by Neal Turner [Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011 16:10]


The problems you cite are certainly extraordinary, but they achieve their results within the accepted constraints of composition and so merit their 1st Prize status.
An example of the type of problem I had in mind is Drumare's Special Prize in the Camil Seneca MT 1978-1980. (It can be found here if you haven't seen it:
The story of his quest to produce the direct mate Babson is well known and this was the culmination of 20 years effort.
As a judge you wouldn't be able to ignore it, but it certainly wouldn't be appropiate to include it among the normal entries.
'Special Prize' was the obvious and correct choice.
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(14) Posted by Kevin Begley [Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011 16:40]; edited by Kevin Begley [11-11-08]

For the record, I don't necessarily agree with Hauke's suggested award.
The truth is, I'm not qualified to render an opinion on the merit of this problem (not my area, and I've done no homework on the theme).
My gut says the study sited may deserve better than Hauke suggests, but I don't trust my gut.

I am prepared to trust the judge, if not for the special prefix (which always reads like a one-person jury rushing to declare their inability to reach a proper verdict).


I know the problem you site -- it is a clear case of judgment error.
This clearly deserved no prize (of any prefix) -- the judge simply used the "Special" prefix in order to justify (and sugar coat) his grossly inflated award.
[Edit: some judges incorrectly pretend there are problems which deserve an automatic prize for any realization -- and their hyper-inflated desires completely blind them to both the means employed and the overall aesthetic result. Anonymous peer review should be mandatory (as for bad umpires).]

I will concede, there are better examples of the point you are trying to make (where the prefix is not used to boost value).
However, in those cases we notice the flip-side of why the special prefix is unfair (people naturally assume the problem deserved less than a prize, by association with the common usage of this prefix)!
If the problem truly does deserve a prize, let the judge put a number on it (and stand behind the overall value).
Otherwise, the problem belongs in a special tournament -- where the problem's value can be explicitly evaluated (and awarded) entirely on the basis of its specific achievement.
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(15) Posted by Juraj Lörinc [Tuesday, Nov 8, 2011 21:21]

Just for the curiosity, I have checked big WinChloe database for special awards in general. There are 3995 problems by more than 1400 authors awarded with special awards and here I the composers with most of them:

Romeo Bedoni - 87
Vadim Vinokurov - 74
Evgeny Bogdanov - 58
Viktor Chepizhny - 57
Michal Caillaud - 48
Peter Gvozdják - 48
Andrej Selivanov - 43
David Gurgenidze - 33
Vladimir Kozhakin - 33
Dieter Müller - 29
György Bakcsi - 27

Can any conclusions be drawn from that? For me there is some evidence that special awards are given especially to miniatures authors, authors willing to sacrifice a lot to achieve a record task or exceptionally original authors.

Btw, a study thread was succesfully diverted to something completely different. Sorry, Siegfried.
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(16) Posted by Dan Meinking [Wednesday, Nov 9, 2011 09:56]

JL: "Can any conclusions be drawn from that?"

I conclude that some composers are more special than others. :-)
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(17) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Wednesday, Nov 9, 2011 18:52]

Oh, I would be even more interested which *judges* are
more special than others...


"Do you have an opinion? A mind of your own?" (Garbage, "Special")
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(18) Posted by Juraj Lörinc [Wednesday, Nov 9, 2011 20:31]

@Hauke: All right, I see the point, but that is not easily provided by software. :)
Also, who would be the most special judge? With the highest number of special honours given? Of compared to number of awarded problems by him overall? Or even compared to the number of awards by him?
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(19) Posted by Kevin Begley [Thursday, Nov 10, 2011 02:04]

It would also be nice to see data based on judge/composer pairs (especially after filtering the special ordinal)...

Siegfried says this study can not possibly compete with the field of originals in a generic studies tourney.
We are asked to believe that a judge can not appreciate the value of this original, without ignoring some standard criteria (which is universally applied to the field).

When I send an original to a given tourney, I do not ask for special treatment, nor do I prefer such favoritism -- I expect my entry to compete with the field.
If my original was special enough to merit a unique criteria of judgement, why would I have entered it into a generic tourney?
There are other venues -- and, if necessary, we can always create other venues.

Further, why should a judge presume that I want the favor of their special criteria?
If appreciation of my original requires non-universal criteria, why am I (the author) not required to designate this preferential need (upon submission of the original)?
If I enter an original into a generic tournament, without designating it special, haven't I indicated that I expect an evaluation based upon universal criteria?

I have received a few special awards -- in every instance, I regret that I did not challenge the judgement.
Every special award deserves a fair (numeric) ordinal -- or nothing all all; and, every competing problem deserves a fair shake.
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(20) Posted by Per Olin [Thursday, Nov 10, 2011 18:54]

After seeing the discussion of this thread, I decided to comment only after having seen the whole award of Harold van der Heijden 50 JT. It could be of interest to see how the special prize was justified in relation to other awarded studies and other special distinctions in the award.

First a more general comment: we all know the concept of helpmate of the future (doubling!); this has nowadays been introduced also to proofgames. More than one decade ago A. Hildebrand in Springaren wrote about the future of seriesmovers: he proposed to have two or several solutions just like in a helpmate; there were many very good and interesting seriesmovers in 5 - 10 moves with multiple solutions. So we can sum up that in many problem genres doubling a theme/motif is the future. That this also takes place in endgame studies is very welcome. In studies doubling the theme is most often done by a thematic try spiced with mutual Zugzwang, where in the try and solution we have the same position, but with different party to move! There are several examples of this in the HH 50 JT award.

The Hlebec study that got a Special Prize for the first time doubled its theme (=obstruction on b8 to prevent black from castling) in the same main line. The question here is how to evaluate a study with familiar content, which has been doubled. It is indeed a tricky question; if we hope for more studies of this type, we will be faced with the same dilemma also in the future.

The award has four prizes, six honorable mentions and eight commendations plus one special prize, one special honorable mention and two special commendations. We know the special prize, the Special Hon. Ment. went to a study building a fortress in Kling & Horowitz style with try and solution. The Special Commendations went to a Kegelschach-study (eight black pawns on a 3 x 3 area with black king in the center) and to a study of o.t.b.-type; the latter was well explained by the author in contrast to the style of today with long analysis generated by computer that nobody has a look at and where understanding is almost humanly impossible.

The Hlebec study in the award is after the four prizes and higher than the honorable mentions. To me this seems to be the right place, I personally rank it higher than the honorable mentions. Is the study then given a Special Prize or the 5th Prize is a perhaps matter of taste and practice; there are, as far as I know, no guidelines for this. Also the other special distinctions seem to me to be well motivated as for the ranking in the award. Would all this discussion have been avoided if the Hlebec study had got the 5th Prize? As has been said in earlier posts, this is a way for the judge to rank the problems, he marks as 'special' when the problem in question does not compete totally on equal terms.

As composers have artistic freedom, the judge has a freedom in his task to rank problems. It is a more responsible freedom as judging is more demanding and, as we have seen, open to critics. As long as there is balance in the judgment, I don't see much room for criticism; the judge has expressed his opinion, he has ranked the problems, he has done his task. That he uses special distinctions is his right as long as it is not forbidden.

Summing up on special distinctions: I don't share the opinion that these are to be banned or that a judge using these is not doing his work properly.
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MatPlus.Net Forum Endgame studies Darko Hlebec, HvdH 50 JT, special prize