[Retros] Retros column in The Problemist
kevinjbegley at gmail.com
Wed Apr 23 22:34:48 EDT 2014
I believe that I have already made clear that I could never be offended by
the encouragement for greater a diversity, in chess problems; I welcome all
I have a great respect for The Problemist, and all who work to make it
great -- despite knowing that, historically, it has often failed to fairly
represent the popularity, value, and diversity of Help-Games.
I am encouraged that (finally) they seem to have enlisted some help (your
help!) in reconciling this undeniably specific depreciation of overall
However, I do cringe when I encounter the implication that a specific type
of problem (Help-Games) might continue to experience restrictions, based
upon the bogus presumption that it need exist within the boundaries of a
preconceived Retro ratio, for the fool-purpose of achieving harmonic
The problem here is entirely residual...
The classification system that we have inherited was never engineered to
withstand such rationality; there is no validity to the almost-inherent
presumption that benefits may be accrued from balancing the ratio of its
divisions, and sub-divisions. Furthermore, you must appreciate that our
preconceived notions of balance were formed under an unfortunate set of
historical failings (and not only by that of The Problemist).
If the health of a problem journal were rooted in a tradition of feng shui
superstition, the Help-Mate section would have never been expanded.
For a genre which has proven exceedingly popular, and valuable, over
considerable time, additional space is warranted -- it suggests that
preconceived balancing ratios are what needs fixing.
I sincerely hope that you will give more thought to the matter.
As you have stated your encouragement for more Retro diversity, it suggests
a continued policy of specific non-diversity.
I hope this was not intentional, and that The Problemist will continue
expanding diversity, on all fronts.
On Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 12:50 PM, Steve Dowd <sdowd367 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Mark, I don't think Kevin was offended. He is one of those folks who
> expresses himself strongly, and with great conviction. That means it
> sometimes looks like he is taking offense.
> What you are calling for is my view, a maximization of the "Entertainment
> value" of your column, which strikes me as legitimate. An editor has to
> not only provide the best column possible, but must also think of his
> readers. I too enjoy a Retro column that is diverse (proof games often
> remind me of games played by beginners; I know this is not the case, but I
> can't shake my dislike for them) as I like trying to figure out other kinds
> of retro problems. It is no coincidence that Smullyan's work, for example,
> remains popular amongst players. I would skip over any retro column that
> was almost all proof games.
> On Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 2:37 PM, Mark Thornton <
> Mark.Thornton at papwortheverard.co.uk> wrote:
>> Dear Kevin,
>> When I read the Retros columns in Die Schwalbe and Strategems, I like to
>> see a mix of Proof Games and other Retro problems. Regular solvers in The
>> Problemist tell me that they also like that kind of mix. Hence, I'd like
>> to offer a "balanced diet" to my readers, in The Problemist.
>> In my pipeline of original problems, the ratio of PGs to other types has
>> recently shifted from slightly above 1:1 to nearly 4:1. So I am asking
>> for composers to send me original non-PGs. Composers may or may not
>> respond to this request. Time will tell.
>> I am genuinely puzzled to find that my request upsets you, but apologise
>> for unintentionally offending you.
>> Yours sincerely
>> Mark Thornton
>> Retros Sub-Editor, The Problemist
>> 8 Wimbish Road, Papworth Everard, Cambridge CB23 3XJ, UK
>> e: Mark.Thornton at PapworthEverard.co.uk
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> *From:* Kevin Begley <kevinjbegley at gmail.com>
>> *To:* Mark.Thornton at papwortheverard.co.uk ; The Retrograde Analysis
>> Mailing List <retros at janko.at>
>> *Sent:* Monday, April 21, 2014 11:11 PM
>> *Subject:* Re: [Retros] Retros column in The Problemist
>> I always appreciate efforts to encourage greater overall diversity,
>> even with respect to chess problems; but, it makes me cringe to encounter
>> even the implication that a predetermined quota might be mechanically
>> imposed upon a specific subset (e.g., when help-games are narrowly
>> subjected to a faulty comparison, whereas the related subset of help-mates
>> is kept immune from all similar restraints).
>> There is a growing misperception surrounding the traditional
>> classification scheme.
>> The great folly is rooted in an inherently false presumption that optimal
>> health depends upon a properly balanced ratio of chess problems, according
>> to a carefully established set of divisions, and sub-divisions; in
>> reality, the guidelines imposed by the traditional chess problem pyramid
>> are unreliable, and were never informed by research (in fact, the genres
>> were chiseled without any fundamental definition).
>> This is yet another indication that the classification scheme is no
>> longer benign.
>> It has become twisted into a choking vine, to use a better metaphor,
>> which deprives us all of fundamental stability, and healthy competition.
>> On Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 12:21 PM, Mark Thornton <
>> Mark.Thornton at papwortheverard.co.uk> wrote:
>>> Dear Friends,
>>> The Retros column in The Problemist has a healthy supply of Proof Games,
>>> but a dwindling number of "classical" Retros and other types of retro
>>> problem. Whilst I am always happy to receive originals, of any type, I
>>> would be particularly grateful to any composer who can help me to "balance
>>> my portfolio". Thanks in advance to all who respond.
>>> Best wishes
>>> Mark Thornton
>>> Retros Sub-Editor, The Problemist
>>> 8 Wimbish Road, Papworth Everard, Cambridge CB23 3XJ, UK
>>> e: Mark.Thornton at PapworthEverard.co.uk
>>> Sent via http://www.ANY-Mail.com
>>> Retros mailing list
>>> Retros at janko.at
>> Sent via http://www.ANY-Mail.com
>> Retros mailing list
>> Retros at janko.at
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