Problem time: a couple of gems from a British wizard

Comins Mansfield, MBE, who passed on earlier this year, was generally acknowledged to be Great Britain's most distinguished problem composer. He created more than 850 problems, most of them two-movers, and contributed many classic examples of half-pin, cross-check, and other important themes.

During his long life of more than 86 years, Mansfield received every possible honor in the realm of chess-problem art. He was a founding member of the British Problem Society and served as its president in 1949-51. He was also president of the World Chess Federation Problem Commission, 1963-71, and honorary president since 1972. He was titled International Judge (1957), International Master (1959 ), and Grandmaster (1972).

His writings include ''Adventures in Composition,'' the classic in which he takes the reader step by step through the process he went through in composing 20 of his problems and in which he expounded his principles for making good chess problems - including originality, economy, and artistic finish.

In a spirit of dedication to this great artist, we include two of his problems, published more than half a century apart. Those readers who wish to solve these problems should conceal the answer given beneath the diagrams. 1. N-B5 (threatening 2. Q-B2 mate). If 1. . . . B-K6, 2. Q-Q1 mate. Or 1. . . . N-Q6, 2. Q-K4 mate. If 1. . . . N-Q8, or 1. . . . NxB, 2. QxB mate.

In the main lines, the initially ''half pinned'' Black bishop and knight move away to leave each other pinned in the mating configurations. The term ''half-pin'' was coined by Mansfield himself in 1915. 1. B-K7 (threatening 2. B-B6 mate If 1. . . . KxP dis ch, 2. B-N5 mate. Or 1. . . . K-Q5 dis ch, 2. B-KB5 mate. Or 1. . . . QxN, 2. B-Q3 mate. Or 1. . . . BxN, 2. B-B2 mate.

White's first move unexpectedly frees the Black king, preluding a cut and thrust of discovered checks and mates - in problemists' language, the ''firing'' of ''direct batteries.'' Battery play was a Mansfield specialty, as were ''cross-checks,'' where interposing moves by White (here B-N5 and B-KB5) parry and give check simultaneously.

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