Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shelby Lyman's chess column, for the last time:

There have been several recent mistakes in Shelby Lyman's chess columns. Pointing them out is like beating a dead barrel, or shooting fish in a stallion. After this blog entry, I give up.

I'm going to continue to read his column. The puzzles are fun and often quite challenging for me. I just wish he would proofread more carefully, and issue corrections for mistakes.

Our Sunday paper carries his whole column-cum-problem, and on November 7, 2010, the problem diagram had this caption: WHITE WINS THE KNIGHT. the solution was 1.Nb6 (although no white piece can move to B6) followed by 2. Ba5 (although no white piece can move to A5). Obviously, the diagram and the text did not match. But there's more! The Sunday column always features an entire game, plus a diagram that corresponds to a position near the end of the game (clever, clever, the text never says WHICH move the diagram corresponds to). That day's game was Onischuk versus Volotkin, but the diagram was labeled Aronian versus Zong-Yuan, and the position in the diagram could not occur in the given game. (The Zong-Yuan game appeared the following Sunday, without apology of course.) The producer of this chess column did not do a sanity check on the way out. But there's more!

In one puzzle this week, the challenge was for black to win material. The proposed solution was a two queen-move combination that wins a rook. But black is in check in the diagram. Black has only two legal moves: a king move, and a move to throw away the queen. (A black pawn was evidently omitted from this problem by mistake.) The producer of this chess column did not do a sanity check on it. But there's more!

The November 4 column had an interesting mistake. Please consult the diagram above. White is to play, and the column's solution is 1. Ra2. This move pins black's bishop against the rook, allowing white to bring his bishop over and doubly attack black's bishop, winning it. Black cannot break the pin. Or can he? Lyman does not mention: 1. ... g5!
Now, white's bishop no longer prevents ...Rd2. Black threatens to play 2. ...Rd2 and 3. ...Bc3, breaking the pin, because black's bishop will protect black's rook. White has an answer, but it's not nearly as good as winning a bishop: 1. Ra2, g5. 2. h4, Rd2. 3. hxg5, Bc3. Alternatively, white can try to bring his king over to attack black's rook, but that allows black to check with the rook (on the sixth or eighth row), and then move the black bishop out of trouble. This problem just doesn't work, I think. Maybe white should grab the pawn with 1. Rxb7.
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