2023 French Solving Championship
Abdel's in situ championship
I handed in my copy 3 minutes before. I thought I was out of the race!
I counted 8 correct problems.
Afterwards, I knew I'd forgotten a variation in the #3 (1...Rc4), but it was in my draft.
You'd have to say there were 9 variations....
Normally, I would have found the study...but every time I played the white king on f6 (5th white move) . I ran into Txf8+... as I didn't change the white pawn on e8 to a Queen. I couldn't see that the Queen was capturing the Rook. !
(A one-move longer line from the study results in the same mate picture).
I turned in circles between the 6# and the long helpmate... without finding anything.
I didn't even touch the long selfmate.
Ps: I arrived just in time for the contest. I was working in a club until 12:30 pm....
Master's faraway championship
28 years ago, at my first French championship in Messigny, I tried to alert French problemists to the need to occupy the media, press and burgeoning internet. Without much success: we know that the French rag with a European title has decided, to its shame, to suppress problems and studies. As for the French-titled forum, which was useful for a while, it has gradually become a sub-forum by systematically evicting all interesting contributors. The courageous Phenix remains in this desert, but the congresses are still held in phone booths, and the next generation is desperately needed.
Meanwhile, the "country that doesn't exist" (you know, the one whose nationals are forbidden to appear as such, obliged to fly an insulting phony "flag") organizes monthly resolution contests where new young faces appear, and boasts a world champion, a vice-world champion and the best female, while waiting for something better. I leave you to reach your own conclusions.
This year's championship, held in the Paris region like the two previous ones, saw the visit of two solutionists from the East: a Lithuanian junior who is currently winning almost all the competitions in which he takes part, and a representative of the aforementioned forbidden country, whose magnificent selfmates are well known, but who few remember was world champion just 20 years ago. So it's the 3rd ranked player who takes the title of French champion, while Michel shows an involuntary sense of humour by belatedly replacing me... in my role of eternal runner-up. But after all, being the French Kérès is no disgrace!
A rarity in the competitions: the study was affordable (note that 6 Ke6?! Re5+! is just a waste of time). Surprisingly, the two stars apparently didn't think of the 5th black move. One (usual!) criticism of the scale: participants at this level are supposed to see mate in one move (which is why giving the key to a 2# is enough) and so it's abnormal to award a point for the 10th move mate.
No disaster in the 2# this time, but our world bi-champion (who is beaten by only 0.75 points) loses, once again, 5 points in a 3#. In the first 2# (appreciated by Rudenko, page 84 of his book), all you have to do is play the bishop where it interferes least. In the second, you can quickly see that it's a blockade, so the provocative key makes sense: Monsieur le Comte has a sense of humor.
The key and the threat of the first 3# are obvious, and it remains not to forget variants. The version given (bBd8 instead of b8 in the v.o.) removes the variant 1...Nxc6 2 Nc7+ but also the duals on 1...Nfd3 & 1...Rd4. The second 3#, which played a decisive role in the ranking, was in my collection without any particular sign of difficulty, in the initial version which is the one in the album (wBd7 & wRf5, 1 Rh5!). The new version forces the White King to move away on h8 (otherwise 1 Nf3 Nd3 2 Kxh6), which imposes the PNa6 (against a ...Ra8+).
As with the Giegold in 2022 or the 5# of 2020, I'm still flabbergasted by the difficulties encountered with the moremover: a 19th-century 6#. Worse still, not a single Frenchman has solved it! I admit that not everyone was lucky enough, like your "master", to solve a 6# by Dr. H. Lepuschütz at the age of 14 (Camil Seneca's January 1960 chronicle), but still!
The helpmate 3# (Georgian, like the study) is nice and easy, despite the "tempo" keys. The 7# is a different kettle of fish, with no competitor having solved it in its entirety. It was also in my collection, but with the "difficult" sign. Activating the White Rook is a double feat.
The third of battery of the selfmate 3# is too well oiled to be difficult. The 4# is a bit tougher, but I'm surprised it got the new champion's scalp.
I don't like to see fairies at the French championship, but since there are some, a few words. A mate in a fairy is not always trivial and so, contrary to what I said for the study, it would be wise to divide the 5 points between the 2# variants, which would have allowed the official solution to make them explicit. The comparison of play after 1 Lee1 and 1 Lgg1, which I could never have done within the time limit, is interesting. The helpmate 2#, also leonine, is charming, but out of competition...
In short, it was possible to solve everything except problems 8, 11 and 12. Even forgetting a few variations of 3 and one variation of 10, this was a fine champion's title!