J.B. Tomson, series helpmate in 13

Brian Tomson’s career as a player and (especially) a problemist was extensively discussed here last year (Brian Tomson 1942-1986; see also his biographical summary). Born in Belfast, he finished =4th in the 1965 Irish championship and played for Ireland in the Student Olympiad in Harrachov, 1967, before emigrating to Australia in 1968. Although he continued to be active in over-the-board play, his primary interest was in problem composition and it’s as a problemist that he was best known. Sadly he died at a very early age, two days before his 44th birthday.

He was born on 22nd June 1942, and so today would have been his 70th birthday. To mark the occasion here is another of his problems:

Tomson, series helpmate in 13J.B. Tomson, Problem Observer 1980
Series helpmate in 13

This is another series helpmate, a popular genre in the problem world. The idea is that White and Black are working together to help White mate Black (hence ‘helpmate’), and the problem begins with a series of 13 Black moves, the White pieces remaining fixed (hence ‘series’). All 13 moves must be legal Black moves, and all except the last must leave a position where it would be legal for Black to move next, so there can be no checks in the first 12 moves. At the end of this series of 13 Black moves, White plays one move to deliver mate.

I’d classify this problem as being of medium difficulty: I wasn’t able to solve it but kicked myself when I saw the solution. Some common advice for solving these problems is to try to see what the mating position is, and then often or even usually it’s relatively straightforward to work out how to get there. It’s an elegant solution and well worth trying for yourself, so I’ll hold back the solution for now and post it in a few days.

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One Response to J.B. Tomson, series helpmate in 13

  1. Werner Moller says:

    I managed to solve it! I wanted to do an exercise since I am going to participate in a solving tourney tomorrow in which there will be a series helpmate, and solving this one was good for my selfconfidence. And indeed, looking for the mate position is the best way to solve series helpmates I think.

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