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Introduction & History

This tournament is the kind that I absolutely adore :-) It is mathematically tasked based, meaning one has to solve a particular task, like maximizing/minimizing the number of moves in the best possible way, given some stipulations. There have not been many tournaments of that kind.

The first that I know of was superbly organized by Ivan Bender and Nikola Predrag as a Thematic Tournament for ProblemOnline.

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Then Jean-Marie Choreïn (with the assistance of Michel Caillaud for the first one) organized the first "concours de pat aidé de série". I was a little puzzled at first, but relatively rapidly understood, and got hooked to the idea.

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Jean-Marie organized two more such tournaments afterward, they can be found at:

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I also organized, after the 2nd Jean-Marie's tournament, one of my own, which was quite a success, and a lot of fun. It enabled me to go on the other side of the barrier, and know what it is to organize one instead of participating. I must say it was an incredible experience.


After my tournament, Nicolas Dupont organized a Thematic Tournament for the magazine Diagrammes. He brought a new kind of idea, but still in the spirit of the above mentioned ones. This was a most exciting tournament with some very surprising results.


I thank all those who organized such tourneys in the past.

These are really tough and challenging tournaments, but most fun. The nice point also is that everyone can participate, not only chess composers or solvers. It is a purely objective task to solve, and one that never heard of chess, could jump in and even be successful in such tournaments. It is like solving a good puzzle/problem.



The tournament will last close to 3 months.

Start: 7th of March @ 00:00 (GMT+1)
End: 31st of May @ 23:59 (GMT+1)

No exceptions. If one sends a solution on the 1st of June at 00:00 (GMT+1), it will not be accepted.



- 400 to the 1st in Category A.
- 400 to the 1st in Category B.
- 200 to the 1st in Category E.
- 200 to the 1st in Category F.
- 100 to the 1st in the table of the numbber of records for the Categories C and D.
- 100 to the 1st in the table of the numbber of records for the Categories G and H.
- 200 to the first competitor who surpassses my records for both Category A and B.


Computers Implication


Computers are only allowed in order to test the validity of a humanly found solution, that is to make it C+. Programs like Popeye and WinChloë are ok.


During the course of the tournament, computers are not allowed to be used for composing (that is, to "solve" or find good solutions). It is only allowed after the tournament. This needs a small clarification, of course, if one analyzes a specific position with a program, and finds other solutions (duals) which are good/better, this is ok to search further! It is the automatic search for solutions that is not allowed.


I will only accept C+ solutions. As this kind of problems are fast to check with the computer, it should not pose a problem to do so. The only exception is if one does not have a computer. The reason being that I may well get flooded with solutions (the first tournament had hundreds of solutions sent to Jean-Marie and Michel) and I do not have time to check them all.



The Rules


The goal is similar to the tournament of Nicolas Dupont, only the starting and ending left material differs. Thus, to compose positions which, initially, have only a king and bishop for white (up to 16 pieces for black), and after some moves played only by white, end at positions where only the king is left for black (and still a king and bishop for white). It is a series game, meaning black does not move at all. Also, some particular positions are not allowed, trapping the white bishop. The particularity of having a bishop would be almost completely lost otherwise. We will look at an example in the tutorial here below.


The white king is allowed to be in check in the initial position, and the last move from white can put the black king in check.


Only orthodox pieces are accepted. 8x8 board only.


If there is a unique solution in exactly n moves, there cannot be solutions in less than n moves (it is possible, yes!).


Here are the categories:

a) a category for the best solution with promoted pieces. One must achieve a minimum of 45 moves to appear in this ranking.
b) a category for the best solution without promoted pieces. One must achieve a minimum of 40 moves to appear in this ranking.
c) a category for the best solutions with promoted pieces, for each total number of pieces in the initial position. That is, this category will have as many rankings as there are possibilities of number of pieces ending in the final position.
d) same as c), except without promoted pieces. 

All initial positions must be legal under the rules of chess.


To decide the ranking of the different solutions, here is the order of preferences:

a) More moves, the better.
b) Less total pieces the better.
c) Less promoted pieces, the better (category A / C).
d) Date of sending the solution.
e) In the very improbable case where all are the same, one gives a number to the position as follow: pawn=1, bishop & knight=3, rook=5, queen=9, and the less is the better.
f) A pistol duel like in the old times... :-) just kidding, just kidding, it will hopefully not get to that...


On the 7th of March at 00:00, I will present the idea on this site.


Before that date, I myself try to find good answers for each category. During the tournament, I will just say if a solution found by a competitor is better, equal, or worse than what I found (I will not search anymore after the 7th of March).



In order to ease the "logistic" side, I would like as much as possible the following template to be used for responding:

My email: [...] (replace (AT) by @, mandatory anti-spam measure...)

Subject: Series Tournament: [Category/Number of black pieces/Number of promoted pieces/Number of moves]

Series Tournament: C/7/3/20, meaning: category C (with promoted pieces), 7 black pieces in total and 3 promoted pieces in the initial position, the unique solution being 20 moves long.

Starting Position in FEN (English pieces):
Ending Position in FEN (or the position of only the two white pieces, in simple algebraic notation):




First, which programs to use? I know of two such programs WinChloë and Popeye. WinChloë I have not yet used, although I heard it is very good. It is not freeware though. Popeye has the advantage of being free, it is very powerful and fast, but it has quite a complex syntax if one uses it through the command line (WinChloë has a GUI built in). The best would be to use a GUI program that interfaces with Popeye. I use Fancy, great tool. Its site is:


The latest Popeye (4.45) can be downloaded from the following site:

To use fancy is very simple, when you start it you have:


This would be a D/1/8 (category D, 1 black piece, as there are no promoted pieces, no need to add it, and the solution is 8 moves long).

notice that I have written ser-a=>b, this is the stipulation we are interested in. That is a series (ser) position going from one position to another (a=>b), followed by the number of moves of the solution. The stipulation will always be the same, only the number of moves will have to change. Do not worry about putting more moves than truly required, it is ok.

Then you click on Popeye, and <Copy Item from Francy>, we get:

Now this is not the correct format. Notice that I use the Condition textbox to put the ending position of the white pieces. This is just to facilitate life, you can surely find a better way to organise this :-)

Thus one needs to delete the line of the condition, duplicate the lines from <Pieces> to <Black>, and put the <Stipulation> entry in between, followed by the number of moves. If this sounds very confusing, well, it is. As we say, an image equals (better than?!) a thousand words:

Then click on Try Popeye. If you get a "command box" with lots of solutions defiling fast, you can stop it immediately and click on "View Solution". This may give you many solutions for many number of moves, but the only interesting thing is that the one of least moves is unique.

We get:

Well, at first I wanted to present another example problem, quite more complex, with 11 black pieces, and 35 moves solution, and a quite neat idea. But then I thought that in a way, I should remain as neutral as possible. Thus we will leave it at that. The problem in question will be presented at the end of the tournament.


Positions not allowed

Well, if all positions were allowed, the following would be ok to base oneself on:


This would be terrible, as it would beat the entire idea of this tournament. The white bishop is (absolutely) trapped, and his only escape is at the last move taking the knight.

I could have disallowed last move check. It was my initial idea, but the problem is that, apart from such positions, which are quite few, there can be quite interesting ideas with such a last move.

Thus a somewhat fuzzy, unfortunately far from perfect, rule: The bishop must be a free bishop, roaming around the board (almost) at will. It could be trapped for very few initial moves (normally 1 or 2 max, unless very special, non-trivial cases, 1 or 2 more moves may be ok, please ask me beforehand with respect to the matrix), but no more. It could have obstacles, of course. In clear, what I really want to avoid are positions similar to the two above.


Last but not least, good luck to all, and hopefully we will have a great tournament!