Creation of studies from games (1)

Strip or massage?Two ways to create studies from games By Steffen Slumstrup Nielsen When Carlsen, Firouzja and the rest of the speed masterminds get together at great tournaments, I like to follow the live streams

Strip or massage?
Two ways to create studies from games

By Steffen Slumstrup Nielsen

When Carlsen, Firouzja and the rest of the speed masterminds get together at great tournaments, I like to follow the live streams to be entertained and inspired. I often get hit with a nice hit, a series of hits, or an unusual tactical device from high-level games and even games at all levels. Over-the-board games are one of the four inspirations for me as a study composer. The others are: 1) previous studies/problems; 2) lines suggested by my computer; and 3) play with the pieces until something interesting happens.

Surprisingly, I often watch move sequences in games that don’t remind me of anything from my previous chess memory. When that happens, I rush to the board—well, to the computer—in hopes of putting the idea of ​​the game into a good form suitable for (end-game) study.

Strip – the proven method

The traditional way to deal with a promising game fragment is to strip it down. By this I mean remove all units that are not needed to show the idea. It is important, of course, to do this and show the idea as economically as possible. Offside players are not limited by such refined worries in their games, and it is often possible to remove large numbers of pawns and even pieces from playing position without destroying the idea. Experienced study composers can do this fairly quickly, both improving economy and eliminating possible secondary solutions. In the process, the position can be moved or even rotated, but the main goal is to reduce the number of parts involved. I don’t see this process as particularly creative, but rather somewhat mechanical.

When using the tape method, most of your creative powers are used in the second part of creating the study. Once you’ve stripped the board of unnecessary units, you still need to create an intro leading to the idea borrowed from the game. Creating a good intro isn’t one of my main qualities. Besides the creative aspect of working backwards from a given position and creating a deck with pieces that are no longer on the board, generating intros is also exceptionally difficult work. Duels are everywhere and can often only be dealt with by adding additional gear, captures, and even part swaps. Keeping the introduction clean and interesting is a real craft. Masters manage to add extra ideas to the introduction, but more often than not composers are happy to make an achievable introduction, and even that is hard work.

Here is a summarized illustration of such a composition process involving the removal of parts.

If you click or tap on the chart, or anywhere in the rating above, you will get a large chart where you can follow the game movements. After that, you can also click on the rating chart to Access critical locations in the game. Click the fan icon to start an engine.

In my opinion, the move played by Dubov is perfectly suited for stripping. In fact, he can be shown with just six pieces, removing no less than 12 pieces from playing position. What follows is the end product of Martin Minski and me.

Dubov’s idea of ​​the game is perfectly preserved, and thanks to Martin’s skills, we managed to create an introduction without a single catch and with the extra point of 4.Qb2!

The second part of this series, “Massage – modifying the idea”, will appear here soon.


The above article appeared in the Macedonian Problemist, issue no. 67 (January-April 2022). We reproduce it with the kind permission of the publisher Zoran Gavrilovski.

Zoran Gavrilovski on TMP:

“The Macedonian Problemist” (“TMP”) is a non-commercial enterprise. Problems with the consecutive order of the pages published on my facebook page. They are also sent by e-mail to 150-200 recipients, are free and shareable without any cost or specific consent on my part, provided that these numbers are not subject to purchase/sale.

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TMP has established itself as one of the top 20 chess composition magazines. In the last printed FIDE album 2013-15, out of the total number of 1,499 selected chess compositions (problems and studies), there were 46 TMP problems, which places it in 7th place in the table/scale not official magazines or other outlets. with the most selected chess compositions in the FIDE 2013-2015 album, or ranked 9th in the list of most represented sources in the FIDE 2013-2015 album. I consider the above success to be exceptional, as TMP is a low-key company with the regular involvement of a few people other than myself (including: scorer Predrag Zuvic from Croatia, regular tournament judge ”TMP” Hans Gruber, the most successful chess composer of all time Petko Petkov from Bulgaria with his excellent original problems and thematic articles, excellent language editors such as Geoff Foster from Australia and other occasional contributors who support the magazine with a free support). The magazine does not have a stable financial base, and it would be fair to say that it would have been unsustainable and obsolete had it not been for my devoted perseverance in maintaining its publication over the years.


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