Championship helpmate in 8

Today I have a special treat for you.  A  helpmate in 8 moves that has been entered into a composition tournament.  (I hope it wins a prize!)  According to the official definition: Helpmate : White and Black play alternatively. Black helps White to reach the aim in the indicated number of moves (the last move is played by White).
This helpmate below has just been published in the German review ”Problem-Forum” (March,2010).  Author Guy Sobrecases sent me the good news and has given me permission to publish it in this blog!  He writes “White begins, and both sides collaborate, so that White will mate on the 8th move”.

Thankyou, Guy!

Sobrecases:  Helpmate in 8 moves
Here is the beauty for you to solve. Good luck!
(Complete solution in pgn-viewer at end of this article)


Chess composition is a parallel universe to the over the board world that we practical tournament players know. There are infact many thousands of adepts throughout the world, connected through national composition federatons and brought together under one umbrella via FIDE. This colourful world has its own rules, its own championships and tournaments, its own titles (including grandmaster title) and ratings, etc.
From Wikipedia:
”Composition tournaments
Composition tourneys may be formal or informal. In formal tourneys, the competing problems are not published before they are judged, while in informal tourneys they are. Informal tourneys are often run by problem magazines and other publications with a regular problem section; it is common for every problem to have been published in a particular magazine within a particular year to be eligible for an informal award. Formal tourneys are often held to commemorate a particular event or person. The World Chess Composing Tournament (WCCT) is a formal tourney for national teams organised by the Permanent Commission of the FIDE for Chess Compositions (PCCC).

In both formal and informal tourneys, entries will normally be limited to a particular genre of problem (for example, mate in twos, moremovers, helpmates) and may or may not have additional restrictions (for example, problems in patrol chess, problems showing the Lacny theme, problems using fewer than nine units). Honours are usually awarded in three grades: these are, in descending order of merit, prizes, honourable mentions, and commendations. As many problems as the judge sees fit may be placed in each grade, and the problems within each grade may or may not be ranked (so an award may include a 1st Honourable Mention, a 2nd Honourable Mention, and a 3rd Honourable Mention, or just three unranked Honourable Mentions).

After an award is published, there is a period (typically around three months) in which individuals may claim honoured problems are anticipated (that is, that an identical problem, or nearly so, had been published at an earlier date) or unsound (i.e., that a problem has cooks or no solution). If such claims are upheld, the award may be adjusted accordingly. At the end of this period, the award becomes final. It is normal to indicate any honour a problem has received when it is republished.

Solving tournaments
Solving tournaments also fall into two main types. In tourneys conducted by correspondence, the participants send their entries by post or e-mail. These are often run on similar terms to informal composition tourneys; indeed, the same problems which are entries in the informal composition tourney are often also set in the solving tourney. It is impossible to eliminate the use of computers in such tournaments, though some problems, such as those with particularly long solutions, will not be well-suited to solution by computer.

Other solving tourneys are held with all participants present at a particular time and place. They have only a limited amount of time to solve the problems, and the use of any solving aid other than a chess set is prohibited. The most notable tournament of this type is the World Chess Solving Championship, organised by the PCCC.

In both types of tourney, each problem is worth a specified number of points, often with bonus points for finding cooks or correctly claiming no solution. Incomplete solutions are awarded an appropriate proportion of the points available. The solver amassing the most points is the winner.


Just as in over-the-board play, the titles International Grandmaster, International Master and FIDE Master are awarded by FIDE via the Permanent Commission of the FIDE for Chess Compositions (PCCC) for especially distinguished problem and study composers and solvers (unlike over-the-board chess, however, there are no women-only equivalents to these titles in problem chess).

For composition, the International Master title was established in 1959, with André Chéron, Arnolodo Ellerman, Alexander Gerbstmann, Jan Hartong, and Cyril Kipping being the first honorary recipients. In subsequent years, qualification for the IM title, as well as for the GM title (first awarded in 1972 to Genrikh Kasparyan, Lev Loshinsky, Comins Mansfield, and Eeltje Visserman) and the FM title (first awarded 1990) has been determined on the basis of the number of problems or studies a composer had selected for publication in the FIDE Albums. These albums are collections of the best problems and studies composed in a particular three-year period, as selected by FIDE-appointed judges. Each problem published in an album is worth 1 point; each study is worth 1⅔; joint compositions are worth the same divided by the number of composers. For the FIDE Master title, a composer must accumulate 12 points; for the International Master title, 25 points are needed; and for the Grandmaster title, a composer must have 70 points.

For solvers, the GM and IM titles were both first awarded in 1982; the FM title followed in 1997. GM and IM titles can only be gained by participating in the official World Chess Solving Championship (WCSC): to become a GM, a solver must score at least 90 percent of the winner’s points and on each occasion finish in at least tenth place three times within ten successive WCSCs. For the IM title they must score at least 80 percent of the winner’s points and each time finish in at least fifteenth place twice within five successive WCSCs; alternatively, winning a single WCSC or scoring as many points as the winner in a single WCSC will earn the IM title. For the FM title, the solver must score at least 75 percent of the winners points and each time finish within the top 40 percent of participants in any two PCCC-approved solving competitions.
The title International Judge of Chess Compositions is given to individuals considered capable of judging composing tourneys at the highest level.”
This is a world that I hardly knew existed before I visited the chess club of Alain Villeneuve in his home in Paris last month. There I met one of the world’s brightest up-and-coming stars in the field of chess composition, Guy Sobrecases:
Guy Sobrecases, explaining one of his studies
Guy Sobrecases is passionate about chess composition. The reader is encouraged to visit his personal site:

There you will find a wealth of Guy’s own inventions, as well as news and links to many of the world’s best chess composition sites. Guy regularly competes in competitions and publishes his own works.

Here is a puzzle that Guy published in 2007. It is a brilliant helpmate in 5 moves (remember: black moves first, but white delivers mate!) Seeing how this problem gets solved will help the reader in finding the solution for today’s chess puzzle.

This composition won 4th prize at Messigny (2007) in the category of helpmates. There are two solutions, each of 5 moves:

a) 1…K×f6 Bç1; 2.Ké5 B×b2; 3.f5 Bç1; 4.Rf2 Bh6; 5.Rf4 Bg7 mate!

b) 1.Kh7 Bç1; 2.b×ç1=B Nd5; 3.Rg2 Né7; 4.Rg7 f×g7; 5.Bh6 g8=Q mate!(note: for us over the board players the notation might be a bit strange at first, as Black moves first!)

Here is a photo of a problem solving tournament in France. You can see Guy hard at work in the upper right corner!

Here is a photo of one of the world’s leading endgame authorities: Alain Villeneuve, also competing at a problem solving tournament in France

John Nunn is passionate about problem solving competitions!

Here is the photo that Guy Sobrecases uses on his excellent website


Guy Sobrecases writes:  ”Themes:  the Black King  & the White King have circuits on d5 & f3. Black tempo manoeuvre including an AntiZiel element (paradoxical capture of the WPf5 guarding e6, this function being replaced by the self-block BPe6).  First achievement of BK &WK circuits in democratic h# (democratic=only Kings and Pawns).”


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