Monday, February 20, 2006

Construction Tasks

Ever try to construct a position that met some extreme set of criereria? Last week, a poster on one of the Usenet chess groups asked about the rule that a position where no sequence of legal moves can result in checkmate.

One question was what the smallest amount of material is, such that the position is not stalemate and there is enough material to mate, but no mate is possible by legal moves.

I came up with two types of position. Here's one where six pawns are enough to block the King's each on his own side of the board.

The next one has one fewer piece, but the presence of a minor piece makes it "more material" in some sense.

The next question was, what's the biggest material imbalance for which no mate is possible? In this one, the whole army is bottled up by four pawns! But unfortunately it's illegal, since the White h-pawn was transported somewhere by authorial fiat.

This one, however is legal, although Black has one more pawn.

I've spent a little time this weekend trying to do the next logical task--the most total material with no possible mate. Here's the best I've done so far.

These are the kinds of things I see in troubled dreams.

If anyone can come up with better solutions for these construction tasks, let me know.

Still no games?!

As usual, things are going more slowly than I anticipated. I have finished annotating my losses from the Marshall Championship, but I still have to type them into SCID and then blunder-check the analysis. The games from last week's tournament aren't even in SCID yet.

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