Grid Chess

© 2002 by G. P. Jelliss, minor correction and solutions concealed 2010

Variant Chess Index
Sections on this page: IntroductionHelpmates in 2Helpmate in 4Helpmate in 6Helpmate in 11Directmates in 2RetroanalysisMaximummer SelfstalemateHelpdoublestalemateEnd.

é Introduction

Grid Chess was the subject of the first composing tourney in the Fairy Chess Review after the death of T. R. Dawson, and the tourney was held in his memory. The tourney was announced in August 1953, with closing date the end of the year, yet the award published in February 1954, reported as many as 184 entries. However, almost exactly half of these proved to be unsound, which was put down to the “newness of the medium” rather than the short time limit.

The idea for Grid Chess came from Walter Stead who was an expert on chessboard dissection problems (which we now usually call polyomino problems), and later edited a column on this subject in FCR. However the first problem in Grid Chess was composed by Stead's friend Dennison Nixon, who had taken over the editorship of Fairy Chess Review (after one issue conducted by C.E.Kemp). Stead and Nixon lived near to each other in Middlesbrough.

For authenticity, I reproduce much of the text of the original article [with comments in square brackets on omissions]:—
“As shown in the diagrams which follow, the Grid divides the 8×8 into 16 equal ‘cells’ each 2×2. The one simple rule of Grid Chess is that every move must cross at least one Grid line, and this applies to checks also, so that a King is in check only if his actual capture would be by a move crossing at least one Grid line. [Further discussion of this point in terms of ‘fairy mates’ follows, controversial at the time, but now taken for granted.] To make matters quite clear, here are a few of the more obvious limitations imposed by the Grid.
1. There is no movement or force within each 2×2 ‘cell’. (The two Kings may occupy adjacent squares within a cell.)
2. The King is always deprived of 3 squares of his normal field.
3. The King cannot legally be played to a corner square of the 8×8 board, nor a Pawn to his R6 or R8. [Compositions with the K in a corner were permitted in the tourney, except in retroanalysis problems.]
4. There is always a ‘dead’ square adjacent to a line-moving piece.
5. Pawn promotion is by capture only; in fact a pawn cannot pass beyond its fifth rank without capturing.”

Grid Chess problems can be played through on a normal board, just visualising the grid, but for testing compositions, and for playing, it is advisable to have visual lines. Rather than doing this by drawing lines on the board, stretched string or rubber bands can be used. Walter Stead himself made “a collapsible metal grid” for use on club-size boards.

The example problems shown below are from the first Grid tourney. I hope to add some further examples in due course.

To read the solutions and comments hold down the left mouse key and run the cursor across the blank area.

é Helpmates in 2

Makuc Drago
Fairy Chess Review February 1954 (#9802)
Helpmate in 2

Solution: 1.c4 Rd5† 2.Kc5 d4‡

Comment: Ideal mate.

W. Karsch
Fairy Chess Review February 1954 (#9812)
Helpmate in 2 with set play

Solution: Set: 1...Nf6 2.Nc5 Nf5‡
Play: 1.Ke4 Nc6 2.Q×d5 Nd6‡

Comment: Echo

W. Karsch and C. Becker
Fairy Chess Review February 1954 (#9813)
Helpmate in 2 with set play

Solution: Set: 1...Nf3 2.Nd5 Bg6‡
Play: 1.Ne2 Nc4 2.Kd3 Bg6‡

Comment: Echo.

é Helpmate in 4

H. Ternblad
Fairy Chess Review February 1954 (#9790)
Helpmate in 4 (BK in check)
First Prize in Class 1 of Grid Tourney
(problems of less than 5 moves, normal pieces only).

Solution: 1.Ke2 Bc4† 2.Kd3 Bxb5† 3.Ke4 Bc6† 4.Kd5 B×b7‡

Comment: Echoed paths. Withdrawal mating move.

é Helpmate in 6

D. Nixon
Fairy Chess Review August 1953 (#9630-31)
Helpmate in 6 (two separate problems, on left and on right)

Solution: Left. 1.Kd4 Kb4 2.Kd5 Kc3 3.Kc4 Kc2 4.Kb4 Kb3 5.Ka5 Kc3 6.b5×a4 b4‡ (no e.p. capture possible)

Solution: Right. 1.Kg6 Kg4 2.Kf6 Kf3 3.Kg5 Kg3 4.Kh4 Kf4 5.Kh5 Kg5 6.h6 g4‡

é Helpmate in 11

Fairy Chess Review February 1954 (#9792)
Helpmate in 11
First Prize in Class 3 of Grid Tourney (longer problems)

Solution: 1.Kg3 Ke7 2.Kf2 Kf6 3.Ke3 Kg5 4.Kd2 Kf5 5.Kc3 K×e4 6.Kb4 Kf5 7.Kc5 Kg5 8.Kb6 Kf6 9.Kc7 Ke7 10.Kb8 Kd6 11.e4 c7‡

Comment: WK switchback journey. BK symmetric path.

é Directmates in 2

D. Nixon
Fairy Chess Review August 1953 (#9620)
Directmate in 2

Solution: 1.Be1 (threat 2.Bb4‡)
1...Rd8 2.Rd7‡
1...Rf6 2.Re6‡
1...Kd6 2.Bb4‡

D. Nixon
Fairy Chess Review August 1953 (#9632)
Directmate in 2

Solution: 1.Qf7 (threat 2.Rc2‡)
1...e6 2.Qb7‡
1...Qe6 2.Qg7‡
Near try: 1.Q×c5 e×d1=Q 2.Qa3? Kb3!

Comment: Queen and Pawn Grimshaw on e6.

A. Chicco
Fairy Chess Review February 1954 (#9798)
Directmate in 2
Special Prize in Grid Tourney.

Solution: 1.Qh5 (waiting)
1...Qe1 2.Qb5‡
1...Qelse 2.Qd1‡
1...R-g345678 2.Q-g335577‡

G. Brogi
Fairy Chess Review February 1954 (#9807)
Directmate in 2

Solution: 1.Re6 (threat 2.Ne5‡) 1...Rc/d8† 2.Nd8‡
1...Qf1 2.Rc2‡
1...Qe3 2.Bg2‡
1...Qc3 2.Rc4‡
1...Qf3 2.Be4‡
1...Qg3 ? not allowed by Grid rules

é Retroanalysis

Fairy Chess Review February 1954 (#9797)
Add as few men as possible so that it can be proven that
(a) White must have castled (b) Black could not have castled.

Solution: (a) Add WPs d2, e2. (b) Add BPs d7, e7.

“a very popular item”.

D. Nixon
Fairy Chess Review August 1953 (#9633)
White Retracts and Mates in 1.

Solution: Retract Pf6-f7 Play Qh5‡
Not: Retract Q×e8 for d7×e8=Q‡ Nor: Retract e6×d7 for Q×d7‡
Since WPs have made 14 captures, the d and e pawns capturing once only each

E. Fielder
Fairy Chess Review February 1954 (#9793)
Legally add one man
First Prize in Class 4 of Grid Tourney (retros)

Solution: Add WR on any of b1, c1, d1, e1.

Analysis: Not BQ because BR can reach e8 only via d8. Not BR which was captured on a8 before Na8, a7×b6. Not BN, the only man available for capture on e3. WK can reach g1 only by 000, but if we add WQ or WB it is not possible to uncastle before retracting b2-b3 and Nb3-a1, shutting them out. To uncastle, WR must retract to d1, followed by WKe1, so if we try Ra4 to d1 the WK is shut out by b2-b3 and Nb3-a1. Thus Ra4 is the KR and we may not add Ph2 or h3, nor WN, captured on b6.

I. Slavicek
Fairy Chess Review February 1954 (#9800)
What was the last move?

Solution: Pf3×Qg4

Analysis: Black has no last move, so White must retract a capture. Bf8 is promoted hP (via h4, g5, f6, g7) which captured BR f8 (after Black 00), and the promoted B came out to allow exit of BQ.

é Maximummer Selfstalemate

J. G. Ingram
Fairy Chess Review February 1954 (#9808)
Maximummer Selfstalemate in 5

Solution: 1.c7 d×e6 2.d5 c×d5 3.e4 d×e4 4.c3 e×Bd3 5.d7† Ke7. White stalemated.

Comment: Asymmetry

é Helpdoublestalemate

R. Queck
Fairy Chess Review February 1954 (#9801)
Helpdoublestalemate in 4
Second Prize in Class 1 of Grid Tourney

Solution: 1.Qf5 Qf4 2.Ra8 Ra1 3.Qb1 Qb8 Kc1† Kc8. Double stalemate.

Comment: Complete symmetry of position and play.

Sections on this page: TopIntroductionHelpmates in 2Helpmate in 4Helpmate in 6Helpmate in 11Directmates in 2RetroanalysisMaximummer SelfstalemateHelpdoublestalemate.