As a traditional introduction to a solving season, the 19th International Solving Contest (ISC) will be held this Sunday, January 29. A set of chess problems will be simultaneously offered to more than 500 solvers around the world at 11 AM CET. The local controllers will be responsible for the legality of the results on site, while the central controllers Axel Steinbrink (Germany) and Luc Palmans (Belgium), will do the hard work of checking scanned solving sheets sent from all competitions. Chess composition lives on enthusiasm and voluntary work, even when it comes to such a huge project.
The ISC type of hybrid solving competition is becoming increasingly popular since it allows enthusiasts from many countries to participate without extra costs. In 2023, the ISC will reach 42 locations in 26 different countries: Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Great Britain, Georgia, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland.
There are three ISC categories ranging by format and levels of difficulty. Category 1 is for the most ambitious solvers, Category 2 is for solvers rated up to 2000, and Category 3 is for U13 solvers born in 2010 and later.
The first two categories count for the solvers rating. They include 12 problems split into two rounds of 120 minutes each. There will twelve problems, two from each of the six different genres: mate in 2, mate in 3, mate in more moves, endgame, helpmate and selfmate.
Category 3 is a youth competition aimed at popularizing composition and discovering new talents. It lasts 120 minutes and includes six problems: 4 in 2 moves, 1 in 3 moves, and 1 endgame.
ISC is a relaxed and joyful event whose primary mission is to spread the beauty of chess art. You can see people of all ages, races and backgrounds joining it in very different ways.
ISC participants from Bangalore (India), solving on the floor/ Photo Shankar Ram
To test your solving skills and feel the atmosphere of this competition you can tackle two entries from the previous 2022 ISC edition.
The first one is a hard nut to crack from Category 3:
1) White to play and mate in 2 moves
(HINT: We are searching for an unconventional move)
The next endgame was on the table for Category 2:
2) White to play and win
(HINT: White is a piece up, but cxb3+ is a huge threat. Is it possible to coordinate pieces and take advantage of Black’s king vulnerable position?)
You can find more ISC details on the Solving page of the World Federation for Chess Composition.
Soon after the 19th ISC, the season of national solving championships will begin. Most of them are open for foreign participants, as the legs of the yearly World Solving Cup.
The first one to come is the Finnish Chess Solving Championship, held annually since 1980. It will take place on Saturday, February 18, at Chess Arena in Helsinki. The announcement is published on the WFCC homepage, in the section World Solving Cup 2022-2023.
The Finnish championship lasts three hours (from 1 to 4 PM in 2023) and is conducted in one session with 12-15 problems to be solved. There will also be a B-group for young and/or less experienced solvers with only orthodox mates and studies. The director of the competition, Neal Turner, a long-time Secretary of the WFCC, has been devoted to solving competitions in Finland for decades.
The Finish Chess Problem Society (Suomen Tehtäväniekat) was established in 1935. From the 1st World Chess Solving Championship (WCSC) 1977, Finnish solvers were dominating. In the years 1977-95, their national team, led by Pauli Perkonoja, collected seven gold medals. This long-standing record was matched by the German team in 2002 and broken by the Polish squad in 2016. (Poland won 12 out of the last 13 WCSCs).
In 1982 Pauli Perkonoja (born 1941) became the first solver to be granted the title of International Solving Grandmaster of the FIDE. He won the individual competition of the WCSC seven times (the first four times, it was an unofficial title). At the age of 64, Pauli won the 1st European Chess Solving Championship and soon after withdrew from international competitions.
European Solving Champion at 64: Pauli Perkonoja (in 2005) | Photo Hannu Harkola
Finland has produced two more World Champions and Solving Grandmasters. Kari Valtonen won WCSC 1984, and Jorma Paavilainen did it in 2001. International Solving Master Harri Hurme (1945-2019) was an irreplaceable member of the golden national team.
Pauli Perkonoja still holds the Finnish record with 14 domestic titles, ahead of Jorma Paavilainen and Kari Karhunen, who won the national championship ten times each.
The Finnish Chess Problem Society produces chess problem books and a high-quality magazine,”Tehtäväniekka”, edited by Jorma Paavilainen. The Society has been represented in the World Federation for Chess Composition by Hannu Harkola, now WFCC Honorary Member. A tireless worker on behalf of chess composition, Harkola has been involved in its international organization for more than 50 years.
The solutions to the problems from the ISC 2022
1: (F. Giegold National Zeitung 1971) 1.Rc3! threatening with Rc7#; 1…bxc3 2.Qb7#
2: (Minski, Hergert original for ISC 2022) 1.Bc6! Rxc6 2.d5! Bxd5 3.Ra1+ Kb5 4.Nd4+ Kc5 5.Rb1! (threatening with 6.Rb5#) a6 6.Rb5+! axb5 7.Nb3+ cxb3 8.d4#!
Official website: https://www.wfcc.ch/