[Retros] Ch5: Place of the Retro Logics

Guus Rol grol33 at gmail.com
Thu Jun 19 14:42:52 EDT 2014

Dear Retro-friends,

Once upon a time in the future, you will receive a message from an
authoritive WFCC body announcing a few changes to the problem
presentations. It is subdivided into the following items:

1. As of today, we will no longer tell the solver what kind of mating
problem he is solving, direct mate, helpmate, selfmate or reflexmate.

2. He is to assume it is a direct mate in most cases

3. But he must make an exception if the white units on the board are
overwhelmingly outnumbered by black units, in which case he should assume
it is a helpmate.

4. If on the other hand the blacks are overwhelmingly outnumbered by the
whites and direct mate is too easy, you should take it as a selfmate.

5. In all other cases the author should provide the correct stipulation
being "reflex mate" or another form of mate.

6. These new conventions have been carefully prepared by former members of
the Codex committee for "retro conventions".and we welcome them in our

I guess you will not only find this extremely strange but also completely
unncessary and unfruitful. To save a few cents in printing ink or a few
bytes in a digital document (stipulations will be shorter), the independent
status of basic "goal logics" has been compromised by mixing them up in
positional evaluations. A worse crime to transparency is hard to imagine.

The direct-, help-, self- and relex-forms are required logics in
traditional problem solving to complement the primary commands such as
"mate in 2" or "stalemate in 5".It is of course OK to nominate the
direct-form (or any other form) as a default but this requires no reference
to external factors such as board positions. It is unimaginable that the
problem solving community would accept the potpourri created by the points
1 - 6.

The role of the global retro logics - mainly pRA, RS, AP and RV (as a
"rest" group) - in relation to retro problems is roughly the same as the
role of direct- help- self- and reflex- logics in relation to traditional
chess problems. They all provide "justifications" for accepting proposed
solutions to problems. Examples: You can present 1 mating variation to
satisfy a helpmate problem but the same variation will never count as a
full solution to a direct mate. You can present a solution with an unproven
e.p. capture which is OK in AP-logic but not in the other logics. You can
present a solution where white castles to prevent black doing the same
(RS-logic) but this would only be half a solution under pRA.

The common components of a retro-active problem are: Diagram, playing
rules, basic retro conventions, retro logics, goal logics, remainder
stipulation.For some unknown reason the retro logics have been.mixed into
positional evaluation in the same way the goal logics were mixed up with
board positions in the points 1 - 6 which started this post. The mixup is
worse than it seems since (a) it makes people believe you actually should
resolve certain positions through a certain logic where at best the
applicable logic should be a default value (b) it totally ignores the
logical effects created by 3R ad 50M. You may not like these effects but
they are nevertheless completely real. I again refer to my R309 in PB which
is a good example for almost everything.(c) The beautiful vague term RV
with a potential to cover the forgotten and unprivileged states was removed
from the retro-vocabulary; how would you now sell a reflex-mate problem
where "castling right" provides one solution and "no castling right"
another? Oh, and I refuse to mention SPRA (d) it obscures the powerful
archetypal and independent nature of the retro logics.

The whole program was delivered under the pretext that it covered most or
all interesting problems found in the retro field. To my knowledge, the
purpose of problem rules and conventions is not to cover what is already
there but to make space for creativity and innovation. The cause of all
this, I believe, is the "scarcity of retro-active issues in orthodox chess"
which gives an excuse for treating it on a case by case basis. If such an
approach were continued for retro-activity in fairy problems, the Codex
committee would produce tons of digital paper for all its different cases!

The meta-concept at stake here is the "Power of Orthogonality".When
breaking a subject into individual components one would like to assure
maximum combinatorial capability as this delivers maximum freedom of
action. E..g. you wouldn't have an arithmetic that only adds numbers
without the digit "3" in them. With the retro components listed a few
paragraphs ago this means ideally the freedom to combine Any diagram with
Any playing rules (plus connected basic conventions) with Any retro logic
with Any goal logic and with Any remaining stipulation. I know of quite a
few reasons why that ideal cannot be attained but straightjacketing the
retro logics as in the current Codex, is not one of them.

Best wishes, Guus Rol.
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