[Retros] James G. Mauldon
Pastmaker at aol.com
Pastmaker at aol.com
Tue Sep 24 11:35:47 EDT 2002
Regretfully, I write to report that James G. Mauldon died on May 21, at the age of 82, at his home in Amherst Massachusetts. The news reached me through the Amherst College Alumni publication, Professor Mauldon having taught mathematics at Amherst College for many years.
Most of us know that he was a retroanalyst of the highest caliber. His standards for publication were so rigorous that he published much less than he might have. Problem 12 in Fabel's Masterworks Article, which appears on the website, is typical of the depth and complexity of his work.
I was fortunate to have spent time with Jim Mauldon at the outset of my retro activities. Before I had heard of retroanalysis, as a student at Amherst I had attended a couple of mathematics lectures by Mauldon. Some years later, Dave Brown sent me a copy of Mauldon's prize-winning entry from the Problemist's 1972 tourney for the composition of "Rook Reversals" (rooks appear on a1 and h1, but must have switched positions). I called Mauldon and introducing myself as an Amherst graduate, which elicited a polite response, and then asked if he was the same J.G. Mauldon who had composed the prize-winning rook reversal. His enthusiastic reaction established our ensuing years of retroanalytic discussion and correspondence.
Jim's ability to construct a position to illustrate a particular retroanalytic device was remarkable. It seemed to take almost no time for him to realize a theme. But perhaps more impressive was his refusal to be satisfied with a composition until he had fully exploited the task or theme in question. One example arose in a little article I had years ago in The Problemist regarding the task of showing that a rook had moved into and out of each of the four corner squares. Jim's contribution, of course, was to double the task, with one rook stopping in each corner while moving clockwise around the board to unpin another rook that retracts into and out of each corner while moving counterclockwise!
That perfectionism is responsible for what is probably my best composition, as for six months back in 1979 I had a King capturing seven Pawns, and Mauldon insisting that I not publish until the capture of all eight could be shown. I strongly suspect that he was so adamant because had seen the way to do it months earlier, and was waiting for me to find it. I never asked, but I have little doubt. A great retroanlyst and a great teacher.
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