The Chess Variant Pages

Helpmate in Two

A popular type of chess problems are helpmates. Originally, these were classified as Fairy chess, but they seem to have moved to an `orthodox' status in chess problemist circles. Many helpmate problems are composed: for instance, recent issues of a magazine like Probleemblad have a same magnitude of helpmate problems as they have `mate in two' problems.

In a helpmate, black actually helps white to mate him. Thus, the task is to find a series of (legal) moves, such that white mates in the last move. In general, one assumes that black starts.

So, in a problem `helpmate in two', a series is requested, where first black makes a legal chess move, then white makes a legal chess move, then black again makes a legal move, and then white makes a legal chess move that mates the black king.

Many helpmates ask for multiple solutions. Often, these solutions fulfill a certain theme, have a certain common idea behind them.

A helpmate problem

The problem below is from T. Garai. It was published first in Probleemblad 1989, and obtained a second prize. It was also published in the FIDE Album 1989-1991 (FIDE has a section of chess problemists, and these publish a selection of the best problems from three year periods in these `Albums'.)

The problem is: Helpmate in Two, two solutions.

This is often abbreviated as: H#2 2.1.1.1. (H stands for help, # for mate. The first 2 tells: two different first moves. After each first move, the 1.1.1 tells that then there always is one option, which usually are different for the two series, i.e., two solutions that are different in the first move.)

R

Q
Bp
bpR
Pkr
K
b

Postion in FEN: 4R3/8/Q7/1B1p4/2bpR3/P2kr3/6K1/6b1

Solution

The first to send in solutions were Max Bachmutsky and James M. Rawley. Congratulations! If you want to see the solution, select this link.
Written by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page made: March 27, 1998. Last modified: October 14, 1998.