[Retros] Some retro active thoughts

per olin per.olin at luukku.com
Thu Dec 21 09:32:58 EST 2006

Some retro active thoughts

Proofgames - A to B chess

In his book Der Blick zuruck W. Dittmann gives a large overview of the retro problem genre and its history. Discussed is, among many other things, whether proofgames are to be considered as retros or not. I have myself had some doubts, but now we do not have to worry about this anymore. Dittmann gives in his thorough way the answer: yes they are.

One special type of proofgames are the ones not starting with the initial position (IP), but with a composed position A. These are in the book called A to B chess (A nach B Schach). One very special type of A to B is the situation, where A = B meaning that the same position has to be reached with the other party to move (proofgame in an uneven number of halfmoves). The foundation for this was outlined by Ceriani in 1949; later also elaborated by Bartel. Dittmann writes that the next steps in A to B Chess were taken over half a century later in Andernach 2001, which is not correct. The example when the 2001 tournament was announced was a proofgame with double Allumwandlung (AUW). This double AUW is also the theme of my pioneer problem in A to B chess published in Suomen Tehtavaniekat 1/1993.

Also in the book are mentioned proofgames with multiple diagrams and based on repetition of the same position for the third time. For the sake of getting the historical facts right, here my own achievements: my first proofgame with more than two positions, in this case five positions, was awarded 4th Pl. in Springaren Summer Tourney 1997. My first proofgame with elements of repetetion of position was as original in the Finnish Solving Championship 1992 and published in Suomen Tehtavaniekat 4/1992. Does anyone know earlier examples?

Need for a database

The above said gives the thought that we should have some type of database for our retro problems. What would be a better place that the Retro Corner? It could include first publishing of its type and record achievements; there could be as retros, constructional tasks, proofgames, fairy conditions etc. Examples of what would be good to have as centralized common information:

Historical facts
-First proofgame with variation in move order
-First proofgame with single solution
-First proofgame with two / three solutions
-First retro based on 50 moves rule

and in the record area

-Longest proofgame from IP
-Longest proofgame from A to B. Nobody has tried yet!
-Longest proofgame starting from Random Chess (Fischerandom). Nobody has tried yet!

Compare with endgames

Let's look on how well the endgame study community is doing: the magazine EG with primus motor AJ Roycroft publishes copy of all awards in the world. There is an electronic collection of endgames by H. van der Heijden, who also provides anticipation services. Is there anything that goes unnoticed in the endgame world?

Proofgames and other retros have gained great popularity in recent years. The Gert Wilts book from early nineties covered everything in proofgames up to then. But after that we have had an explosion, which is published all over the world. This means that the present results are known to nobody. Something should be done.

If we don't want to copy the concept of the endgames, then we could have a database gathering all essential that has been done. So far there are only part of the new retros reproduced in the Retro Corner. What could prevent us from republishing all retro problems that are being published in the world (are there any copyright issues?). Then we would all be up-to-date!

All problem chess achievements will be put into electronic form sooner or later; if we do it sooner the task will be easier.

For the moment there is in Retro corner an interesting exercise going on: proofgames with the minimum number of moves with a specific feature e.g. with a pawn mating on 2nd/7th rank. Personally I have not been able to study all contributions, but I would be really interested to see the end results. But where will these be found? Answer: by going through all contributions there have been? No, that’s impossible, the answer is in the suggested database.

If the idea is good, then we only need somebody to organize it! Comments are welcome.

Espoo, Finland 21.12.2006

Per Olin


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