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Painting composed by King Alfonso X, 13th century

I’m sad … and yet delighted. Two weeks ago I came up with a chess position, where black won and yet was queen down. The idea was to find out where black has lost his/her queen by playing backwards. The moves played had to be good, assuming strong chess players played the game.

I also came up with a little story surrounding the “mystery” of the position where black lost his/her queen, but it was more like a Sherlock Holmes story so I revised it and made it short and straight to the point.

Then I submitted my chess composition to Chess Canada Échecs magazine to be published. Here is the reply I got from Hans Jung, the Editor of Chess Canada Échecs:

“ Hi Olya,

Unfortunately I have bad news for you. … I vaguely recalled doing problems like yours many years ago. Do a google search and you will find that what you have discovered is actually a complete other variation of chess (or field) called retrograde analysis which is well over 100 years old as an organized activity. The person who made it popular around the world by writing many books on the subject is Raymond Smullyan, an American professor, mathematician, and magician. Checking out his writings and internet postings is fascinating if you have the time.

Unfortunately we at Chess Canada Échecs have to draw the line at "normal" problem compositions and correspondence chess as there are many hundreds of chess variations out there which would digress too much from tournament chess. “

[My "discovery" is 100 years too late, but hey! not bad considering that chess originated prior to 6th century!]

Mind you I did some vague research on my idea, but since I didn’t know that it was called “retrograde analysis” I found nothing of a sort. Now that I know what it is, I’m fascinated! Check this site out for example: Pretty cool! The only difference between these chess puzzles and mine is that the moves played in these puzzles are said to be “weird” but I would describe them as rather “silly”. No one (except clueless beginner) would play those moves in real game; obviously the point of “retro-chess” is not to play good moves but to reach particular position in smallest number of moves possible. My composition combines both elements. … Nevertheless, I’m certain that there are indeed puzzles similar to mine.

On the side, check this one out: Aren’t the ideas amazing!!!??

6 chessa by Mark Davis

I will post my composition shortly. … Ah, if only I was born 100 years ago! Or am I meant to live in this century? :p