[Retros] No occupied white square

Noam Elkies elkies at math.harvard.edu
Wed Dec 11 01:29:21 EST 2013

Bernd Graefrath <retromode at web.de> writes:

> Recently, this discussion has been revived in the field of studies.

> If I understand this debate correctly, John Roycroft wants to exclude

> studies from awards if they can be found in the tablebases,

Right, that's his line (or was last I checked) -- even if the study
was not actually composed with database assistance. As I noted
some time back, this approach would also lead to a perverse incentive
against economy of material.

> while John Nunn writes: "All studies, however composed,

> should be considered on an equal footing."  In this question,

> I side with John Nunn, although there is some point in John Roycroft's

> critical question: "Is computer programming skill a composing skill?"

Is using Popeye (or Alybadix or whatever) or PDB a composing skill?
Hardly anybody these days tests for soundness in the way that
Loyd, Mansfield, et al. had to.

> Perhaps Noam's point helps in this respect: It still takes

> a capable person to produce these problems, even though this

> production is quite different from traditional composing

> (cf. the miniature selfmates by Torsten Linss).

Besides, "traditional composing" is not a single thing either --
there are many different styles and techniques -- and again computer
testing has nearly driven strictly-traditional composing to extinction,
quite aside from the occasional use of the computer to generate problems.

> P.S.: I agree with you, Francois: if you have two relevant proof games

> of equal length, then the one with fewer captures should be preferred

> (unless we are talking about massacre proof games).

All the more so with this theme, where the more pieces remain on
the board the more impressive it is for them all to be on squares
of the same color.


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