Chess Problems, Compositions, and Studies

By Bill Wall

Chess problems, also called chess compositions, are chess positions other than which arises during a chess game, usually, but not necessarily, composed for solving. It is a chess puzzle set by somebody using chess pieces on a chess board and presents the solver with a particular task to be achieved.  A person who creates such chess problems is known as a composer.

The chess problem and the composed chess ending are the true art forms of chess. Orthodox compositions consist of direct mate problems or an ending with the demonstration of a win or a draw. Many times it calls for mate in a specified number of moves. A chess composition consists usually of a position on the chess board, a stipulation in the form of words by the composer (or problemist), and a solution. It may also have the element of difficulty, a theme, and judged on originality.

Chess compositions can be classified into groups such as direct mates (two-movers, three-movers, and more-movers), selfmates (once known as sui-mates), helpmates, etc. A selfmate is a composition in which White is to play and force Black to deliver mate. A helpmate is a composition in which Black and White cooperate to reach a mate for White.

A chess composition is called cooked if it has a solution that differs from the author's solution or intention.

An albino is a problem in which, at some point in a solution, a white pawn on its starting square makes each of its four possible moves (forward one square, forward two squares, capture to the left, capture to the right). 

Allumwandlung is a problem in which the solution includes pawn promotions to all possible pieces (bishop, knight, rook, and queen).

A Babson task is a problem in which black promotion defenses to all possible pieces are answered by white promotions to the same piece Black has promoted to.

A directmate is one that White moves first and checkmates Black within a specified number of moves against any defense.  It is usually a two-mover, three-mover, or more-mover.

A helpselfmate is one in which White to move first cooperates with Black to get a position of selfmate in one move.

A reflexmate is a form of selfmate with the added stipulation that each side must give mate if it is able to do so.  If the stipulation only applies to Black, it is called a semi-reflexmate.

Retrograde analysis is a branch of composition based on determining the play leading to the given position.

A selfmate is a chess problem in which White, moving first, must force Black to deliver checkmate within a specified number of moves against his will.

Studies are positions in which White (who usually plays first) has to reach a clearly won or drawn position following the best play from both sides.

Unorthodox compositions, known as Fairy Chess, may have no relationship to the real game of chess. It has invented pieces such as Grasshopper (hops over other pieces), Camel (a leaper), Zebra (a leaper), Nightrider (moves like a knight, but more squares), etc. It may even use unorthodox chess boards.

The World Chess Solving Championship (WCSC) is an annual competition in the solving of chess problems organized by the World Chess Federation, originally via the Permanent Commission of the FIDE for Chess Compositions (PCCC).  The participants must solve a series of different types of chess problems in a certain length of time.  Points are awarded for correct solutions in the least amount of time.  The lowest score at the end of the competition is proclaimed the winner.

A chess problem, also called a chess composition, is a puzzle set by somebody using chess pieces on a chess board, that presents the solver with a particular task to be achieved.

Caliph al-Mutasim Billah, caliph of Baghdad from 833 to 842, perhaps composed the earliest chess problem on record.  He was the third son of Harum (Haroun) al-Rashid who is supposed to have played an early form of chess.  His problem can be found from folio 29B of the Asiatic Society’s manuscript of chess problems.  The problem is for White to move and give checkmate in 9 moves.  The pieces do not move the same way as today.  In the problem, the queen could only move one square and the bishop could give check, even if something was in front of it.  The queen was called the firzan and the bishop was called the fils.

Around 840 A.D., al-Adli ar-Rumi (800-870) wrote Kitab ash-shatranj (Book of the chess) in Arabic. This is a lost manuscript, but referenced in later works. It was considered the first comprehensive book dealing with chess. We know of it through referring manuscripts that preserved some of its texts and chess problems. The text included chess history, openings, endings and mansubat (chess problems). The collection had hundreds of chess problems. He also classified chess players into five distinct classes. He also found a system for sorting out the openings into positions, which he called Tabiya.  He was the first compiler of a collection of chess (shatranj) problems.  He divided his collection into won endings, drawn endings, and undecided games.

Around 845, an Arabic manuscript of mansubat was written by ar-Razi, called Latif fi-sh shatranj (Elegance in Chess). He also wrote Kitab ash-shatranj, which has since been lost. All that has survived in ar-Razi's book is a few opinions on the endgame and a couple of chess problems.  

Around 890 Abu-Bakr Muhammad ben Yahya as-Suli (854-946) co-authored a book of problems (mansubat) and a book of openings (ta-biyat) for Shatranj, called Kitab-ash-shatranj (Book of Chess), volume one and two. He was assisted by Abu l-Abbas Ahmad ibn Muhammad as-Sarakhsi, a physician. One of as-Suli's book was a critique on al-Adli's book.  He was the author of the first book describing a systematic way of playing shatranj.  He wrote two textbooks on chess, now lost.  His book on chess are only known to us through extracts in later works.  His principle contribution to the strategy of shatranj was his advocacy of flank openings.    As-Suli first came into notice by defeating Almawardi, the caliph Almuktafi’s best player.  After Almuktafi’s death in 908, he remained in the service of his successor Almuktadir (908-932), and was tutor to his successor Arradi Billah (934-940).

Around 930 Abu'l-Faraj ibn al-Muzaffar ibn Sa'id al-Lajlaj (900-970) wrote Kitab mansubat ash-shatranj (book of chess problems). It is another lost chess book. Manuscripts containing some of its contents have survived. He may have been the first person to analyze and publish chess openings. The oldest chess game comes from a match between as-Suli and al-Lajlaj.  

The library of Caliph Hakam II of Cordova (961-976) contained an Arabic manuscript on chess problems.

In 1140, an incomplete manuscript called the Abdul Hamid (Abd-al-Hamid I or Abdalhamid I) Arabic collection (known as AH) was written (copied) by Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. al-Mubarek b. Ali al-Madhahhab al Baghdadi.  It is also called Risala fi’sh-shatranj by Abu’l-Abbas Ahmad al-Adli.  It has nearly 200 problems.  It contains problems composed by Muslim composers such as al-Aldi in 840 and as-Suli in 940. The manuscript contains a short treatise on chess principles by al-Lajlaj.

In the 12th century Abu ‘l-fath Ahmad as-Sinjari was a player and author.  Three copies of his manuscript was discovered in 1951, the earliest dating from 1665.  The original was written 500 years earlier.  The contents contain 10 opening system and 287 mansubat (problems).  Three of his problems were based on the work of as-Suli.  A mansuba is an Arabic term for a composed middle game or endgame position that is set for instruction or for solving. 

The first European reference to chess problems was during the reign of Richard 1 (1189-1199), when Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales) wrote Gemma Ecclesiastica (Jewel of the Church) and mentioned chess problems.

In 1221, a manuscript of mansubat, claimed to have used the original collections of ar-Razi, al-Adli, and as-Suli.

There is an Arabic manuscript (No. 7515) in the British Museum written (copied) in 1257 attributed to Hasan of Basra (who died in 728).  It gives the relative value of the various pieces.  There are 200 diagrams in this manuscript, containing openings of the writer’s time and problems that lead to mate or draw.  All the problems are accompanied with a solution. It is a copy of a work written between 1150 and 1250.  It made liberal use of al-Adli’s work and quotes from al-Lajlaj. 

In 1273, the earliest known English source of chess problems, the Cotton Manuscript, was written.  It was followed by the King’s Library manuscript and a manuscript in Trinity College Library, Cambridge.  They were written by Benedictine monks from Dorset.

In 1283, the Alfonso manuscript was completed.  It is an important historical source of information about chess and other indoor diversions.  It was completed by order of Alfonso the Wise (1221-1284).  It contained  98 pages and 103 problems in both Arabic (mansubat) and European.  The principal European innovation was the requirement to give mate in a set number of moves (mate in 2, mate in 3, etc).  The manuscript was written by the monks of the St. Lorenzo del Escorial monastery, near Madrid, Spain.

Around 1295, Nicholas de Saint-Nicholai from Lombardy, Italy, wrote the Bonus Socius (Good Companion), the first great compilation of chess problems from medieval Europe. It contained 194 chess positions or problems of the old game, some Arabic, some European.

Of the 30 or more surviving medieval European problem collections, the earliest date from the second half of the 13th century, when problems of European origin seem to have become more established.

In 1370, an incomplete manuscript, found in the Khedivial Library in Cairo (Mustafa Pasha, 8201) was written.  It belonged to Qaitbai (1468-1496) a sultan of Egypt.  It seems to be a copy of earlier manuscripts on chess problems.

Chess problems were constructed by Khwaja ‘Ali Shatranji (Master Ali the chessplayer) who resided in the court of Timur (died in 1405) at the end of the 14th century.  There have been 18 chess problems associated with Khwaja.

Around 1440, an anonymous writer, Civis Bononiae (Citizen of Bologna), wrote a manuscript collection of 288 problems.  He included 191 problems from the Bonus Socius.   The introduction lists several ways to trick your opponent with a chess problem.  It stated, “Again, you ought to appear cautious in wagering and to not carefully whether he takes the problem with a tremulous voice, or after a moderate amount of consideration, or whether he is ready to wager large sums, or whether he wished to take other problems which have been set up, for all these things show whether he knows the problem or not.”

Chess problems became popular in the 15th century because there was a demand for a quick, decisive ending adaptable to gambling purposes.

 Around 1475, the fers was displaced by the queen, the aufin by the bishop, and the pace of the game was quickened.  All of the older problems became obsolete after the introduction of the modern game of chess and the new moves of the bishop and queen, and the promotion of a pawn to a queen.

In 1495 Libre dels jochs partits dels schacs en nombre de 100 from Francesch Vicent was published in Valencia. It is a lost book. The last known copy was seen in 1811. It mentioned the first modern move of the Queen and Bishop and was a book of chess openings. It was the first treatise on modern chess.

In 1503, Firdewsi at-Tahihal (b. 1453) wrote the world’s longest poem after working on it for almost 50 years.  He decided to use in a story a famous 10th century problem attributed to as-Suli.  Unfortunately, he copied the position incorrectly.  A prince wagered and lost his fortune to another prince during a chess match.  In desperation, he offered as stake his favorite wife, Dilaram.  When he seemed lost, she gave him a hint on how to win.

In 1737, Stamma published his 100 positions (modern mansubat, not problems), called Essai sur le Jeu des Echecs.  In some cases he added extra pieces to original mansubat to make the solution seem more difficult to discover.

Das Erste Jartausend der Schachlitteratur (850-1880) by Antonius van der Linde and published in 1881, listed 3,362 articles comprising all known ancient and modern manuscripts that mention chess or its derivatives.

Murray examined over 1,600 mansubat from Persian and Arabic sources and identified 553 distinctly different positions.  He believed that about 200 were composed before 1000 A.D.

One of the first chess problems to be published in a newspaper was called the “Indian problem.”  It was printed in The Chess Player’s Chronicle in 1845.

In 1918, the British Chess Problem Society was founded.  It is the world’s oldest chess problem society.

In 1956, the Permanent Commission of the FIDE for Chess Compositions (PCCC) was formed.  Its first meeting was in Budapest.

In 1958, the FIDE Album was conceived.  It is a collection of the best and most representative chess problems and studies.  The first album was published in 1961, covering the years 1956-1958 with 661 diagrams.  The total amount of compositions in the 22 albums is over 22,000 by more than 2,000 authors.

In 1972, the first grandmaster for chess compositions title went to Genrikh Kasparian, Lev Loshinsky, Comins Mansfield, and Eeltje Visserman.

In 1977, the first world chess solving championship was held in Malinska, Croatia.  There were 9 teams.  Finland took 1st place, followed by Israel and Yugoslavia.

In 1982, the first International solving grandmaster title went to Pauli Perkonoja.

In 2010, the Permanent Commission of the FIDE for Chess Compositions (PCCC) became known as the World Federation for Chess Composition (WFCC).  It is independent of FIDE, but both organizations are cooperating.  Currently, there are 40 countries that are members of the WFCC.  The current president of the WFCC is Harry Fougiaxis.  The Commission has met every year except in 1963 and 1970.  Subcommittees of the WFCC include rating (judging), compute (computer matters), FIDE Album, Code (Codex), Solving, Qualifications, Studies, Terminology, World Championship for Composing and World Chess Composition Tournament.

Previous presidents of the WFCC were Neukomm Gyula (1956-1958), Nenad Petrrovic (1958-1964), Comins Mansfield (1964-1972), Gerhard Jensch (1972-1974), Jan Hannelius (1974-1986), Klaus Wenda (1986-1994), Bedrich Formanek (1994-2002), John Rice (2002-2006), Uri Avner (2006-2101), and Harry Fougiaxis (2010- ).

In 2015, the 39th World Chess Solving Championship and the 58th World Congress of Chess Composition was held in Ostroda, Poland.

The first world problem championship was in 1977.  The team winners for each year are as follows:

 1 1977 Finland

 2 1978 Finland

 3 1979 Germany

 4 1980 Israel

 5 1981 Finland

 6 1982 Yugoslavia

 7 1983 Finland

 81984 Finland

 9 1985 Finland

10 1986 United Kingdom

11 1987 Germany

12 1988 Germany

13 1989 Soviet Union

14 1990 UK and USSR

15 1991 Soviet Union

16 1992 Russia

17 1993 Germany

18 1994 Germany

19 1995 Finland

20 1996 Israel

21 1997 Israel

22 1998 Israel

23 1999 Russia

24 2000 Germany

25 2001 Israel

26 2002 Germany

27 2003 Russia

28 2004 Israel

29 2005 UK

30 2006 UK

31 2007 UK

32 2008 Russia

33 2009 Poland

34 2010 Poland

35 2011 Poland

36 2012 Poland

37 2013 Poland

38 2014 Poland

39 2015 Poland


The individual winners have been:


1977 - Pauli Perkonoja (Finland) (1941- )

1978 - Pauli Perkonoja (Finland)

1979 – Kosta Angelov

1980 - Ofer Comay (Israel) (1957- )

1981 - Pauli Perkonoja (Finland)

1982 - Pauli Perkonoja (Finland)

1983 – Roland Baier (Switzerland) (1954- )

1984 – Kari Valtonen (Finland) (1954- )

1985 – Ofer Comay (Israel) (1957- )

1986 – Pauli Perkonoja (Finland)

1987 – Michel Caillaud (France)

1988 – Michael Pfannkuche (Germany)

1989 – Georgy Evseev (USSR)

1990 - Georgy Evseev (USSR)

1991 - Georgy Evseev (USSR)

1992 - Pauli Perkonoja (Finland)

1993 - Michael Pfannkuche (Germany)

1994 – Arno Zude (Germany)

1995 - Pauli Perkonoja (Finland)

1996 – Noam Elkies (Israel/USA)

1997 – Jonathan Mestel (Great Britain)

1998 - Georgy Evseev (USSR)

1999 - Ofer Comay (Israel)

2000 - Michel Caillaud (France)

2001 – Jorma Paavilainen (Finland)

2002 – Piotr Murdzia (Poland)

2003 – Andrey Selivanov (Russia)

2004 – John Nunn (Great Britain)

2005 – Piotr Murdzia (Poland)

2006 - Piotr Murdzia (Poland)

2007 - John Nunn (Great Britain)

2008 - Piotr Murdzia (Poland)

2009 - Piotr Murdzia (Poland)

2010 - John Nunn (Great Britain)

2011 – Kacper Piorun (Poland)

2012 – Kacper Piorun (Poland)

2013 - Piotr Murdzia (Poland)

2014 - Kacper Piorun (Poland)

2015 - Kacper Piorun (Poland)


The tournament consists of 6 rounds over 2 days.  Round 1 is a sheet with three twomovers with 20 minutes solving time.  Round 2 is a sheet with three threemovers with 60 minutes solving time.  Round 3 is a sheet of 3 endgame studies with 100 minutes solving time.  Round 4 is sheet of 3 helpmates with 50 minutes solving time.  Round 5 is a sheet with 3 moremovers with 80 minutes solving time.  Round 6 is a sheet with 3 selfmates with 50 minutes solving time.

Grandmasters for chess compositions are as follows:

Genrikh Kasparian (1910-1995)

Lev Loshinsky (1913-1976)

Comins Mansfield (1896-1984)

Eeltje Visserman (1922-1978)

Vladimir Bron (1909-1985)

Jindrich Fritz (1912-1984)

Vladimir Korolkov (1907-1987)

Vladimir Pachman (1918-1984)

Gyorgy Paros (1910-1975)

Nenad Petrovic (1907-1989)

Gyorgy Bakcsi (1933- )

Hrvoje Bartolovic (1932-2005)

Bo Lindgren (1927-2011)

Gia Nadareishvili (1921-1991)

Valentin Rudenko (1938- )

Claude Goumondy (1946- )

Iosif Krikheli (1931- )

Petko Petkov (1942- )

Hans Rehm (1942- )

Touw Bwee (1943- )

Cor Goldschmeding (1927- )

Alexander Gulyaev (Grin) (1908-1998)

Ernest Pogosjancz

Jakov Vladimirov (1935- )

Milan Vukcevich (1937-2003)

Herbert Ahues (1922-2015)

Viktor Chepizhnij

Emilian Dobrescu (1933- )

David Gurgenidze (1933- )

Jacobus Haring (1913-1989)

Fadil Abdurahmanovic (1939- )

Jan Rusinek (1950- )

MarcAndre Perrier

Venelin Alaikov (1933-2013)

Michel Caillaud (1957- )

Andrei Lobusov (1951- )

Norman Macleod (1927-1991)

Byron Zappas (1927- )

Michael Keller (1949- )

Alexandr Kuzovkov (1953- )

Toma Garai (1935-2011)

Zivko Janevski (1953- )

Unto Heinonen (1946- )

Jean-Marc Loustau (1958- )

Mikhail Marandyuk (1949- )

Waldemar Tura (1942- )

Udo Degener (1959- )

Nikolai Krain

Franz Pachl (1951- )

Oleg Pervakov

Alexandr Feoktistov

Yves Cheylan (1938- )

Marjan Kovacevic (1957- )

Miodrag Mlandenovic (1964- )

Valery Shanshin

Valery Shavyrin

Anatoly Slesarenko

Uri Avner (1941-2014)

Andrey Selivanov (1967- )

Camillo Gamnitzer

Reto Aschwanden (1974- )

Wieland Bruch (1961- )

Vasyl Dyrachuk

Matti Myllyniemi (1930-1987)

Marcel Tribowski (1962- )

Milan Velimirovic (1952-2013)

Klaus Wenda (1941- )

Evgeny Bogdanov

Michal Dragoun (1974- )

Valery Gurov (1943- )

Peter Gvozdjak (1965- )

Miroslav Havel

Artur Mandler (1891-1971)

Christopher Jones

Mario Parrinello (1960- )

Ivan Soroka

Alexandr Azhusin

Anatoly Styopochkin


International Solving Grandmasters include:


Pauli Perkonoja

Kari Valtonen

Milan Velimirovic

Ofer Comay

Roland Baier

Marjan Kovacevic

Arno Zude

Georgi Evsejev

Michael Pfannkuche

Jonathan Mestel

Sergej Rumyantsev

Ram Soffer

Jorma Paavilainen

Boris Tummes

Noam Elkies

Michel Caillaud

Graham Lee

Piotr Murdzia

John Nunn

Dolf Wissmann

Alexandr Azhusin

Miodrag Mladenovic

Andrey Selivanov

Bojan Vuckovic

Eddy van Beers

Vladimir Podinic

Michal Dragoun

Kacper Piorun

Ladislav Salai


The World Championship of Chess Composition is held every three years.  Its official title is World Championship in Composing for Individuals.  The championship has 8 sections: twomovers, threemovers, moremovers, studies, helpmates, selfmates, fairies (using elements of fairy chess), and retros (retrograde analysis).

Here are some famous chess composers.

Fadil Abdurahmanovic (1939- ) is a Bosnian Grandmaster of chess composition (1992) and an International Judge of Composition.   His best work is in the form of helpmates and fairy problems.

Yochanan Afek (1952- ) is a chess composer of endgame studies and problems.  In 1989, he was awarded the title of International Master for chess composition by FIDE.  Her has published about 120 studies and he has won 11 first place awards for his compositions.

Iuri Akobia (1937- ) of Soviet Georgia has composed over 300 studies. He has written several chess books on endgame composition.

Edith Helen Baird (1859-1924) of England, born Winter Wood (known as Mrs. W.J. Baird), is the most famous female chess composer. She published her problems using the name "Mrs W. J. Baird." She composed over 2,000 problems. In 1902 she wrote 700 Chess Problems, which took her 14 years to complete.  In 1907, she wrote The Twentieth Century Retractor (take a move back to make a stronger move to mate or win the game), which was full of Shakespeare quotes.

Pal Benko (1928- ) is an International Grandmaster and Endgame Composer. He was born in Frnce, grew up in Hungary, and settled in the USA.  He was awarded the title of International Master of Chess Composition by FIDE.  He has won 24 first place awards for his chess compositions.  He recently composed several chess problems that were in this month’s Chess Life magazine in recognition to Bobby Fischer’s 70 birthday if he had lived.

Vladimir Bron (1909-1985) was a top Soviet chess composer and master.  He composed over 400 studies during his lifetime.  In 1969 he wrote Selected Studies and Problems. He won 31 first prizes for his chess compositions in composing tournaments.  He was awarded the title of Grandmaster for chess composition.

Ignazio Calvi (1797-1872) was an Italian chess player and composer.  He was perhaps the first person to use under-promotion (not promoting to a queen) in endgame studies.

Luigi Centurini (1820-1900) was an Italian chess player and composer who specialized in bishop vs. rook and queen vs. rook endings.

Vitaly Chekover (1908-1965) was a Russian master and composer of around 150 studies.  He was a specialist on knight endings.  Together with GM Yuri Averbakh, he published a four-volume encyclopedia on endgames in 1956.

Andre Cheron (1895-1980) was the chess champion of France in 1926, 1927, and 1929. He wrote the four-volume Lehr- und Handbuch der Schachendspiele from 1952 to 1971. He is one of the most famous endgame composers.  In 1959, FIDE awarded him the title of International Master of Chess Composition.  He composed over 300 studies during his lifetime.

Eugene Beauharnais Cook (1830-1915) of New Jersey was the first American chess composer of note. In 1868 he wrote American Chess Nuts, a collection of over 2,400 positions. He was President of the New Jersey Chess Association and was the Problem Editor of the Chess Monthly. He personally composed over 800 chess problems.   When he died, he had the third largest chess book collection in the world.  His library of over 2,500 chess books was presented to Princeton University.  (Nowadays, a library of 2,500 chess books is common.  I personally have a library of over 5,000 chess books – Wall)

Thomas Rayner Dawson (1889-1951) was the Problem Editor for the British Chess Magazine and the Fairy Chess Review. He was considered the father of Fairy Chess and invented many fairy pieces and new chess conditions for chess problems and compositions. He composed 5,320 fairy chess problems, 885 directmates, 97 selfmates, and 138 endings.  He was awarded prizes for 120 of his problems.  He invented the Nightrider and the Grasshopper. The Nightrider moves like a knight, but then can continue to moves as a knight as long as the spaces visited by all but the last jump remain empty. The Nightrider is denoted as an inverted knight. The Grasshopper is denoted as an inverted queen. It moves as a chess queen, but must jump exactly one piece when it moves, and it stops, directly at the square after the piece it jumped. Pieces jumped by a grasshopper are not captured.

Vincent Lanius Eaton (1915-1962) was one of America's greatest chess composers. He graduated from Harvard at the age of 18. He worked as a scholar at the Library of Congress. From 1939 to 1941 he was the Problem Editor of Chess Review.  He published over a thousand chess problems.  He was an International Judge for Chess Composition.

Nikolai Grigoriev (1895-1976) was a Russian chess master and problem composer.  He composed over 300 studies and was an authority on pawn endings  and rook and pawn endings.

David Gurgenidze (1933- ) from Soviet Georgia, has published over 600 studies and has won 32 first prizes.  He was awarded the title of Grandmaster for chess composition by FIDE.

Edgar Holladay (1925-2003 ) was one of America’s leading chess problemists.  He conducted the problem department in the American Chess Bulletin. He composed chess problems for over 70 years, composing over 2,000 problems.

Bernhard Horwitz (1807-1885) was a German composer of around 400 studies.  Along with Josef Kling, he authored the first anthology of endgames in 1851.

Genrikh Kasparian (1910-1995) was one of the first Grandmasters of Chess Compositions. He is considered to have been one of the greatest composers of chess endgame studies ever.  In 1972, he was the first person to be awarded the title of International Grandmaster of Chess Composition by FIDE.  In 1980 he wrote Domination in 2545 Endgame Studies. He compsosed about 600 studies and won 57 first places.

Cyril S. Kipping (1891-1964) of England was one of the most prolific composer of chess problems in the world.  He composed over 7,000 chess problems in his lifetime.  He was the Problem Editor of “The Chess Amateur” and the General Editor of “The Problemist” magazine.  From 1935 to 1958, he was the Problem Editor of “Chess” magazine.

Karl Leonid Kubbel (1891-1942) was a Russian endgame composer and problemist. He composed over 1,500 endgame studies and problems.  He is considered one of the greatest of all endgame composers.

Sam Loyd (1841-1911)  was known as the Puzzle King. He produced over 10,000 puzzles in his lifetime. He was the most famous American chess composer. He composed over 700 chess problems.   He was the chess problem editor of “Chess Monthly Magaznine.”

Comins Mansfield (1896-1984) was one of the most famous of all problem composers. He composed chess problems for 72 years. In 1972 he was one of the first four to be awarded the title of Grandmaster for Chess Compositions. The other three were Genrich Kasparyan, Lew Loschinsky, and Eeltje Visserman.   He was the first British chess player to become a chess Grandmaster (but for Composition, not over-the-board play).

William Meredith (1835-1903) was a problem composer. He composed about 200 chess problems in his career.  A problem in which there are from 8 to 12 men on the board is called a Meredith (a problem of less than 8 men is called a miniature).  His father was once the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury (1849-1850). 

Geoffrey Mott-Smith (1902-1960) was a prolific chess problem composer.  He was once known as the world’s leading authority on games.

John Nunn (1955- ), is a British grandmaster and composer of over 300 studies.  In 2004 and 2007, he won the world championship for solving of chess compositions.  He is an expert in compiling endgame tablebases for chess-playing engines.

Joseph Peckover (1897-1982) was the best known American chess composer in the early 20th century. He was born in England but immigrated to New York in 1921. He was the endgame editor for the American Chess Quarterly from 1961 to 1965. He composed over 100 endings.

Vasily Platov (1881-1952) and Mikhail Platov (1883-1938) were Latvian brothers that teamed together to compose over 300 endgames. In 1928 they wrote Selection of Chess Studies.

Richard Reti (1889-1929) was a Czech master and composer of about 300 studies.

Henri Rinck (1870-1952) was a French endgame composer. He settled in Spain in 1910. In 1952 he wrote 1414 Fins de Parties. He published 1,670 chess studies and won 58 first place prizes.  He is considered one of the founders of modern endgame composing.

John Roycoft (1929- ) is an English GM of chess composition.  In 1965, he founded EG, the quarterly chess magazine entirely dedicated to endgame studies.

Aleksei Selesniev (1888-1967) was a strong Soviet endgame composer and chess master.

William Shinkman (1847-1933) was one of America's greatest chess composers. He published over 3,500 problems.

Alexei Troitsky (1866-1942) is regarded as the greatest chess composer of endgame studies. He has over 1,000 studies to his credit.  He is considered the father of the contemporary school of study composition.

Milan Vukcevich (1937-2003) was an International Master and International Composition Grandmaster. He was editor of StrateGems, the publication of the Society of U.S. Chess Problemists.  In 1988, he became the first American to be awarded the title of Grandmaster for chess composition, 

Alain Campbell White (1880-1951) was an American problem composer and chess patron. For 32 years, from 1905 to 1936, he published the Christmas series of chess problems. He did more than any other player to promote worldwide interest in chess problems.

Some chess problem books include:

Abbott, 121 Chess Problems (1887)

Adolphi, Der Kleine Problemfreund (1896)

Albertston, Take & Mate: 200 Chess Problems with a Twist (2006)

Alexandre, Collection des plus beaux Problemes D’Echecs (1846)

Arnell, Nordiske Skakproblemer (1879)

Ayshire Argus, Problem Tourney of the Ayshire Argus and Express (1880)

Baird, 700 Chess Problems (1902)

Baird, The Twentieth Century Retractor, Chess Fantasies and Letter Problems (1907)

Barnes, 200 chess problems (2003)

Barnes, Advanced Chess Problems and How to Solve Them (2003)

Barnes, Pick of the Best Chess Problems (1991)

Barnes, White to Play and Mate in Two (1991)

Barth, Staten Island Chess Nuts (1895)

Baumgartner, Faszinierendes Schachproblem (1963)

Baxter, Chess Problems (1883)

Beasley, Endgame Magic (1996)

Benoit, Initiation au problem d’echecs (2000)

Berger, Das Schachproblem (1884)

Blackburne, S., Terms and Themes of Chess Problems (1907)

Blathy, Vielzugige Schachaufgaben (1889)

Bledow & Oppen, Stamma’s Hundert Endspiele (1856)

Blumenthal, Schachminiaturen (1903)

Blumenthal, Schachminiaturen, vol 2 (1903)

Bodding, Drie Honderd Keurige Schaak-Problema’s of diep doordachte (1849)

Brieger, Practical Chess Problems (1970)

Brown, J, Chess Strategy: A Collection of the Most Beautiful Chess Problems (1865)

Brown, R., Chess Problems, a Collection of Original Positions (1844)

Brown,Theo.,  Book of Chess Problems (1874)

Brownson, Chess Problems (1876)

Brownson, Selections of Popular Two Move Chess Problems (1887)

Brownson, A Selection of Popular Three Move Chess Problems (1889)

Bull, Chess Problems (1875)

Buschke, The 2-Move Chess Problem in the USSR (1943)

Carreras, Traite Analytique du Probleme d’echecs (1892)

Carpenter, Chess Problems (1886)

Chess Informant, Anthology of Chess Problems (1997)

Chess Informant (Valtonen), Encyclopedia of Chess Problems (2012)

Collijn, 96 Schackproblem (1908)

Collins, A Selection of One Hundred and Seven Chess Problems (1881)

Cook, 36 Chess Problems (1915)

Cook, American Chess-Nuts (1868)

D’Orville, Problemes d’echecs (1842)

Dejaschacchi, Rook ending Problems

Den Hertog, Het Schaakproblem (1906)

Denkovski, My Retro Problems (2009)

Deutscher Schachbund, Einsendungen fur das Problemturnier (1881)

Dufresne, Die Probleme des Londoner Schach-Turniers von 1862 (1865)

Dufresne, Sammlung Leichterer Schachaufgaben (1881)

Dufresne, Sammlung Leichterer Schachaufgaben (1887)

El Pais, Colecction de los Primeros Problemas de ajedrez (1906)

Emms, The Ultimate Chess Puzzle Book

Era, A Selection From the Problems of the Era Problem Tournament (1857)


Fritz, 96 schackproblem jamte problemteoretisk inledning (1908)

Gilberg, Crumbs from the Chess-Board (1890)

Gittins, The Chess Bouquet: The Book of the British Composers (1897)

Godbout, Echos du Nord: 256 problemese composes par Scheel (2001)

Good Companion, Our Folder, Vol 10 (1922)

Gopalratnam, Chess Problems, (2000)

Gottschall, Kleine Problem-Schule (1885)

Hanshew, Book of Chess Problems (1874)

Harley, Mate in Two Moves (2013)

Havel, Bohemian Garnets: A collection of 500 chess problems (1923)

Hazeltine, The Clipper Chess Problem Tournament (1860)

Healy, A Collection of Two Hundred Chess Problems (1866)

Het Schaakspel (1875)

Hochberg, Award Winning chess problems (2005)

Hochberg, Outrageous Chess Problems (2005)

Hochberg, Sit & Solve Chess Problems (2004)

Hofmann, 101 Ausgewaehlte Schachaufgaben (1886)

Holladay, US Chess Problem Anthology (2004)

Holzhausen, Festschrift zur feier des zwanzigjahrigen bestehens (1906)

Howard, Classic Chess Problems by Pioneer Composers (1970)

Howard, Chess Problem Gems (1972)

Howard, How to Solve Chess Problems (1961)

Howard, One Hundred Years of the American Two-Move Chess Problem (1962)

Howard, Spectacular Chess Problems: 200 Gems by American Composers (1967)

Huggins, Chess Problems (1872)

Jespersen, 320 Danske Skakopgaver (1902)

Journoud, Recueil de problems dedie aux amateurs d’echecs (1860)

Juchli, Schachprobleme (1908)

Klemm, Another 100 chess problems for the rest of us

Klett, Schachprobleme (1878)

Kling, The Chess Euclid: A Collection of 200 Chess Problems and End-Games (1849)

Kockelkorn & Kohtz, 101 Ausgewahlte Schachaufgaben (1875)

Kockelkron & Kohtz, Das Indische Preblem (1903)

Kostal, Bohemian Garnets: A Collection of 500 Chess Problems (1923)

Laws, Chess Problems and how to solve them (1923)

Laws, The Two-move Chess Problem (1890)

Lebanon Herald, A Chess Century: 100 Problems in Two Moves (1878)

Loyd, Chess strategy: a treatise upon the art of problem composition (1878)

Lyons, Chess-nut Burrs (1886)

Mackenzie, Chess Lyrics: A Collection of Chess Problems (1906)

Markushin, 2148 chess tactics problems

Martindale, Chess Problems (1872)

Matthews, Mostly Three-Movers: Collected Chess Problems 1939-1993

Meredith, 100 chess problems (1916)

Miles, A Collection of Problems in Chess (1855)

Miles, Chess Problems: Composed 1882 to 1885 (1885)

Miles, Poems and Chess Problems (1882)

Morse, Chess Problems: Tasks and Records(1995)

Nabokov, Poems and Problems (1970)

Nunn, Solving in Style (2002)

Orsini, 100 Problemi di Scacchi (1895)

Palmer, A Collection of Chess Problems (1890)

Pearson, One Hundred Chess Problems (1883)

Pierce, Chess Problems (1873)

Pierce, English Chess Problems (1876)

Polgar, Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games

Pospisil, Ceske Melodie (1908)

Rayner, Chess Problems: Their Composition & Solution (1890)

Reinfeld, 101 chess problems for beginners (1973)

Rice, Chess Problems for Solving (1995)

Rice, Chess Wizardry: The New ABC of Chess Problems (1995)

Rice, The Chessboard Adventures of Norman Macleod (1997)

Robbins, A Collection of Chess Problems (1887)

Rockwell, A Collection of Chess Problems (1890)

Rowland, Chess Fruits (1884)

Rowland, The Problem Art (1887)

Russ, Miniature Chess Problems (1981)

Scarborough, 777 Chess Miniatures in Three (1908)

Schmidt, Hundert und Zwanzig Schach Rathsel (1829)

Schultz, 100 Schackuppgifter (1862)

Sikdar, Seven is the Limit: Miniature chess problems (1989)

Solovev, 100 + 3 chess problems

Sturgis, A Collection of Chess Problems (1890)

Stubbs, Canadian Chess Problems (1890)

Stubbs, Chess Problems: Composed (1904)

Stubbs, Globe Problem Tourney No. 2 (1888)

Taverner, Chess Problems Made Easy (1924)

Taylor, Elementary Chess Problems (1880)

Thompson, Chess Problems (1873)

Thursby, Seventy-Five Chess Problems (1883)

Valle, L’Arte di costruire I problem de scacchi (1891)

Vazquez, Enigmas: Problemas y Posiciones Curiosas (1890)

Wadsworth, Unique Chess Problems (1890)

Watkins, Across the Board: the mathematics of chessboard problems (2004)

Weiss, 200 in Problemturnieren (1903)

Wenman, 111 Selected Problems (1945)

Wenman, 200 Assorted Problems

White, A Selection from Chess Problems Comped During the Past 30 Years (1885)

White, Sam Loyd and His Chess Problems (1962)

Williams, A Selection of the Chess Problems of Philip Williams (1895)

Williams, The Modern Chess Problems (1912)

Zukertort, Schach-Aufgaben (1869)


Chess Problem magazines include:



Best Problems Magazine

British Endgame Study News

Ceskoslovensky Sach

Chess Problems Bulletin


Die Schwalbe

e4 e5




Ideal-Mate Review

Idee & Form



Pat a Mat

Problemist of the Ukraine


Rochade Europa

Romanian chess composition magazines

Schweizerische Scachzeitung

SEPA magazine


StrateGems – US Chess Problem Magazine

The Macedonian Problemist

The Problemist

The Problemist Supplement

The Ural Problemist

Thema Danicum


Troll - Problemschach

Variant Chess


Vetchernij Peterburg

Vratnica – 64



Some chess problem links include:


Accademia del Problema

Afek Chess

Ajedrez 365


Azerbajan chess composition

BDS Website

Bengt Ingre - Schackproblem

Best Problems

British Chess Problem Society (BCPS)

Bruno’s Chess Problem of the Day

Ceskoslovensky Sach

Chess Composers

Chess composers picture album

Chess composers’ names

Chess Composition

Chess Composition as an Art (Miro Brada)

Chess Composition Microweb

Chess Composition Tourneys - Awards

Chess Endgames Studies by Arpad Rusz

Chess magazines - problems


Chess problem magazine links

ChessOK – chess puzzles

Chess Problem Columns

Chess Problems by Computer


Chess Problems, Compositions and Studies


Chess Puzzles Page (BYCA)


Club 64 Studies

Composition tourneys

Compozite Sahista

Dansk Skakproblem Klub


Endgame study awards

Fairy chess problems

FIDE Album tests

FIDE Albums

Finnish Chess Problem Society

France Echecs - Problems

Gady Costeff studies

GameKnot – chess puzzles

Handbook of Chess Composition

HHdbIV – endgame study database (Harold Van der Heijden)

Israeli Chess Composition Society

Iuri Akobia’s chess endgame studies

Jan Golha chess composition

Jaroslav Stun’s Chess Problems

JSB website – John and Sue Beasley WebSite

Julia’s Faires

Kallitexniko skaki (Greek)



Lepetitjoueur – mes compositions (Loueur Le Richard Petti)

Levitt games, studies and problems

Maroc Echecs - problemes

Maroc Echecs – award studies

Mat Plus


Nalimov endgame tablebases online

Novel Chess Problems




Polish Chess Federation



Problemas de Ajedrez

Problemas de Xadrez

Problemesis (Christian Poisson)


Problemiste archives



Rumyantsev, Sergey


Sanderse – 132 Studies and Problems


Schwalbe – Chess Problem Database Server

SEPA – Sociedad Espanola de Problem

Sergey Rumyantsev

Slovak Organisation for Chess Composition

Solving Orthodox Chess Problems

Springaren – Swedish Chess Problem Club

Suomen Shakkiliito

Suomen Tehtavaniekat


The Art of directmate in two moves

Tim Krabbe’s Chess Curiosities

Tournei Internazionali Tematici

Union Argentina de Problemistas de Ajedrez

Vaclav Kotesovec chess problems

WinChloe – software for chess problems

World Federation for Chess Composition (WFCC)

Yet Another Problem Database