Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shelby Lyman's Chess Column: Errors (item #1):

My fine local paper, the Trenton Times, has a daily chess column. The column doesn't say so, but Times employees assure me that this is Shelby Lyman's daily chess puzzle. Have you found errors in any of these daily chess puzzles? If so, please comment. I wish this entertaining puzzle column was more accurate.

I count Shelby Lyman as a friend, way back from 1959, and I enjoyed his many chess forays on TV. This column is usually fun, but it is also frustrating for the errors that appear in it. The quality of the column appears to change every few years, suggesting the possibility that various people have been hired to "ghost-write" the puzzles. (I have not contacted Lyman about this blog piece. I would be writing him instead of writing to all of you, if I knew how to contact his column.)

Part of my frustration comes from never seeing a correction. The column, years ago, rarely posted the worst possible error: giving the solution to some other problem than the one shown (and moving non-existent pieces). Perhaps six times a year there are mistakes: solutions that do not work, or alternate and better solutions. I wish the column published corrections when there were errors! Many of the errors could be avoided by testing the problems with computer programs specifically designed to test problems; I do not know why they seem not to be used.

Today, I made a determined deffort to find the puzzle in today's Lyman puzzle on the internet. Instead, I found other people who are frustrated that they cannot contact Lyman to discuss errors. This web page illustrates a catch by one 'Jedzz': I remember the diagram he shows, and -- gee -- the column must have more mistakes than I thought, because I did not catch this one.

In order to share Lyman's mistakes with you, I needed a program that would put chess diagrams in my blog. I am using Chess Diagrams, by DrAmbar (A Chatterjee). (Thanks!) I hope, I hope, my positions will be correct. I do not wish to insert any more errors. Today's error, the proverbial straw for me, is a minor one:


The caption implies that this position arose in the game Tregubov-Vorobiov (2001). The hint is: White to Play. Win a rook. And the hint is correct. I expected the solution to show several lines, but it only shows this (I added the question marks):
1. Qf7ch! Qd7? 2. Rc1ch?? Kd8 3. Qf8ch gets a rook.

Now if black had played 1 ... K moves, then 2. Qf8ch would indeed win a rook. But after 1... Qd7, white wins everything: 2. Rxb7ch Rxb7 3. Rxb7ch Kxb7 4. Qxd7ch K moves 5. Qg7 and black's remaining rook is trapped.

I will share one more Lyman puzzle error with you, and then: let's look forward, not back. Here's another position, in which "White Forces Mate" (Warning: Don't try to solve it!)


The given solution is: 1. Bf7ch Kh7 2. Bg6ch Kh6 3. Rh8ch Kg5 4. Rxh5 mate. And it would be mate, too, if black couldn't just play 4 ... Kg4. (It's possible that the position is incorrect; add a white pawn at h3 and it all works.)

Open Message to Shelby Lyman: Please check your problems by computer, and please print corrections! Thanks.
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