Sunday, November 4, 2007

John Nunn wins World Chess Problem Solving Championship

The World Chess Problem Solving Championship took place in Rhodes, Greece, on 16th-17th October 2007. This was one of the strongest solving championships ever held; in addition to defending champion Piotr Murdzia, the former world champions Ofer Comay, Michel Caillaud, Michael Pfannkuche, Georgi Evseev, Arno Zude, Noam Elkies, Jonathan Mestel, Jorma Paavilainen, Andrey Selivanov and John Nunn were also taking part.

The world championship consists of six timed papers, each consisting of three problems or studies. The six papers cover two-movers, three-movers, studies, helpmates, moremovers (mates in more than three moves) and selfmates. Five points are awarded for each position, according to how complete the solver’s solution is, so 15 points is the maximum score for each of the six rounds.

At the end of the first day, with three rounds completed, Mestel, Comay and Murdzia had a perfect score, while Evseev had dropped half a point. Nunn was slightly further behind with 44 points out of a possible 45.

The second day’s problems are generally more testing than those on the first day, but in the first round of the day the favourites generally did well. Mestel, Comay, Evseev and Nunn all scored a maximum, but Murdzia dropped two points to fall behind.

However, the second round of the day, the moremovers, devastated the field. Evseev dropped four points and Comay a massive eight. The biggest shock was that Jonathan Mestel scored no points at all in the moremovers. Afterwards, he explained that instead of just concentrating on one problem and making sure that he got five points, he jumped from one to another and ended up not solving any of them. All solvers know that such a disaster is never far away when there is a difficult round.