[Retros] Economy rules

andrew buchanan andrew at anselan.com
Tue Dec 4 05:29:57 EST 2007

Hi Thomas,

Black units use more ink to print than White ones, so are more expensive. Also
there is a cost associated with printing the dark squares, so it's more
economical for a unit to occupy a dark square than a light one. :-)

More seriously, to respond to your point, I know that in helpmates, I have been
impressed by compositions where the only White material is that required
strictly for the mates/themes. Not only is the composer able to achieve
whatever effect he is intending but also he is, apparently without effort, able
to satisfy this other constraint.

If it is clear that non-thematic White material *is* going to be necessary
(i.e. a complete "blackwash" is not achievable) then it's less of an issue to
me whether it's White or Black.

I suppose I would rate even more highly a helpmate where Black material was
reduced to its thematic core. After all, elimating cooks is such a huge part of
helpmate design that it is impressive to achieve this without Black bystanders.

This is less of an issue for retro problems, where often constraints of pawn
captures mean that no decision is local. I.e. one can't just arbitrarily decide
whether the flight square a3 should be covered by bPa3 or wPb2. This unity of
design is to me one of the most attractive features of the retro genre. There
is a forced overloading of meaning on all the units on the board.

Another point is that I would quite like to retain a lightness of touch in the
evaluation criteria for chess compositions, except in the domain of tasks
(where the criteria need to be spelled out explicitly).

The image comes to mind of the sport of Olympic diving. It's all about
technical mastery vs degree of difficulty. Features like "minimizing splash on
entry" contribute to the impression of technical mastery. Ultimately, the
judgment can be an aesthetic one. This is art, after all.


--- Pastmaker at aol.com wrote:


> The notion that a Black P is more economical than a White P makes sense to

> me, if at all, only in a genre in which there is a convention that White is

> to

> win. But even in that context it doesn't make much sense. Is a Pawn an

> instrumentality of power or something that blocks escape squares?


> TV



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