[Retros] Comments on Messigny tourney results

afretro afretro at yandex.ru
Thu May 26 00:40:00 EDT 2005

Hi everybody!
The results of the tourney once again emphasize the need for strict term definitions. ⌠To avoid check■ √ what does it mean? Given the example and the traditional use of the term ⌠avoid/avoidance■ in chess composition, it was quite reasonable to interpret the thematic requirement as potential check prevention (i.e. without any check actually occurring; this is usually referred to as shielding) rather than defense against ⌠material■ checks. Furthermore, if ⌠a piece A intercepts a piece B,■ does it mean that piece A is active? Again, it was quite reasonable to expect that interception implied activity. If a pawn on its initial square is the only unit on an otherwise ⌠checking■ line, what did that pawn DO to avoid the check, to INTERCEPT the potentially checking unit? Nothing whatsoever.
Francois Labelle▓s analysis is quite remarkable. Thematic tourneys of this sort make it possible to determine the winner on the basis of objective criteria announced IN ADVANCE. For example, the judge might say that he would rank problems according to the overall number of theme cases (counting only those thematic pairs in which one piece intercepts the other MORE THAN ONCE), or to the number of thematic pairs, etc.; he would also have to indicate criteria ranking second in importance, to differentiate among problems presenting the same number of theme cases/pairs, etc. The big objection to this judgment pattern consists in that esthetic aspects play no role in it. On the other hand, esthetic criteria are so vague; a huge pool of them is available for the judge to extract the one justifying his ranking of the entries.
Can you imagine a SPORTS competition (in FIDE Albums, chess composition acts mostly as an art; in tourneys, as a sport) in which, e.g., runners cover the same distance one by one and see their result in seconds, and yet no one is sure of anything until the judge announces his decision based primarily on how much he liked each participant▓s running style rather than quickness?
Several retro tourneys with strictly specified ranking criteria have been conducted by Die Schwalbe. When the results were announced, none of the participants complained about award-winning problems lacking esthetic attraction.
Btw, Francois missed one ⌠semi-thematic■ point in the 2nd Prize: (1,bSg8,wQd1, allowing 000).

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