Die Schwalbe

1 problem(s) found in 1281 milliseconds (displaying 1 problem(s)). [PROBID IN 'P1380103'] [download as LaTeX]

1 - P1380103
Manuel Pérez Carballo
253 Tim Krabbé's Website 17/7/2004
"The Belén Theme"
Gewidmet Belén (His partner)
1. Sxa4! droht 2. Sbc3+ Tb1 3. Txb1
1. ... Txc4 2. Sbc3+ Kc2 3. Ld3+ Kxd3 4. 0-0-0#
2. ... Tb1 3. Ld3 Txa1 4. Se2#
1. ... Txb1 2. Ld3 Txa1 3. Txc2+ Kb1 4. Sc3#
play all play one stop play next play all
"This problem introduces a theme which, to the composer's and my knowledge and surprise, seems not to have been thought of before. Pérez Carballo (a Spanish chess player of around 2150 living in Glasgow - one of the first things he did there was to go to a library where he could see with his own eyes Barbier's 1895 Glasgow Weekly Citizen articles in which the Saavedra position was discovered - "I was almost crying of excitement as I turned the pages of the thick bound volumes until I got to the very colums") always felt attracted to the unusual in chess. He didn't play the Spanish but the Portuguese (1.e4 e5 2.Bb5) and composed some problems and studies with castling and en passant ideas, but this is his first publication.
The idea for this problem had "haunted him for almost a decade", but the best he had been able to come up with was a version with an inexcusably bad key; the capture of a Queen. Then one weekend, he decided to give it one last, all-out try. When he went to bed early Sunday morning, nothing had worked but after waking up, he realised he had seen the solution in a dream. It still needed a finishing touch - the a4 and b4 pawns had been absent - but when he added them, it worked.

1.Nxa4 threatening 2.Nbc3+ and mate. Black has two defences:
a) 1...Rxb1 when 2.Bd3 Rxa1 3.Rxc2+ Kb1 4.Nc3 is mate, and
b) 1...Rxc4 2.Nbc3+ Kc2 (2...Rb1 3.Bd3 Rxa1 4.Ne2 mate) 3.Bd3+ Kxd3 4.O-O-O mate

The switchback mate 4.Nc3 in variation a) and the model mate 4.Ne2 in b) are nice, but 4.O-O-O mate in b) is the central idea of the Belén Theme: in a direct-mate, the Black King starts at c1 and is mated by O-O-O.

But why Belén theme? Pérez Carballo sent me his problem on 17 July, because on that day it was 5 years ago he met his "other passion outside chess", his partner Belén - the Spanish form of Bethlehem. He dedicates his problem to her, and names the theme after her, wondering if ever before a chess theme has been named after a loved one.

So far so good, but there could be two reasons he's holding his breath now. A reader (Hanspeter Suwe for instance, the editor of the castling magazine König & Turm) might know of an earlier Belén problem - and a composer might be inspired to make a better Belén, either improving on this setting, or creating an new one. Pérez Carballo does realize his problem is not the perfect rendering of the theme. For one thing, the ideal Belén would be a three-mover. The flight-taking key is not very good; a black piece on b1 would conceal the solution better (but then it would have to be a four-mover) and he did not manage the Meredith form - 12 pieces or less. But the Pa3 is needed to stop 1.Na3+; the Pa4 is needed to stop 1.Nd2+ Kb2 2.Rb1+ Kxa3 3.Rxb3 mate, and the Pb4 is needed to stop 1.Nd2+ Kb2 2.Rb1+ Kxa3 3.Rxa4 mate.

But he did create the first Belén - nobody can take that from him."
James Malcom: This is the problem on Tim Krabbe's site that sparked the world wide chess phenomenon known as the Belen Theme and the problem that named the theme-https://timkr.home.xs4all.nl/chess2/diary13txt.htm (2020-09-20)
Henrik Juel: The thematic variation is correct
1.Sc3*a4 Rc2*c4 2.Sb1-c3+ Kc1-c2 3.Be2-d3+ Kc2*d3 4.0-0-0#
But the problem is very damaged by duals in other variations, e.g.
1... Tcc3 2.Ld1,Ld3,Sd2+,Sxc3+ (2020-09-20)
Keywords: Belen Theme, Castling as mating move, Capture key
Genre: n#
FEN: 8/8/8/8/pPR5/PrN1p3/2r1B3/RNk1K3
Input: James Malcom, 2020-09-20
Last update: Alfred Pfeiffer, 2020-09-22 more...
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The problems of this query have been registered by the following contributors:

James Malcom (1)