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Iwanow's Theme
by by Leopold Szwedowski, International master in composition 1979

The idea to be analyzed in this article occurs in selfmate and reflexmate. It has existed for over 30 years. However, in the theory and practice of chess composition it has been functioning only since the second half of the eighties. At that time two theme tourneys were announced: PROBLEMISTA 1986-87 and WOLA GULOWSKA 1989. In the lapse of time, the idea has proved to be interesting and flexible enough to enable realizations beyond the orthodox ones.
The Polish chess composer Eugeniusz Iwanow invented the theme. Published in the PROBLEMISTA quarterly in 1966 his 8200 was the first example of the combination now called Iwanow's theme. E. Iwanow and Waldemar Tura formulated the theme in the following way: Iwanow's theme is proper for both the selfmate's and reflexmate's avoidance of duals, in which there is an additional function of opening a white line by black, which affects the square or the checkmating line A, which forces white to choose out of at least two continuations that one which causes the clearing of the opening of a line, enabling the coercion of a checkmate on a square or line A.

In diagram 1 after the key 1. Bd7!, Sg7 determines the thematic play. It opens the line of the wQ. At the same time it enters the pin line. White in the second move pins S, what is not enough to force mate - it is necessary to close the open line of the wQ. In case of moving the rooks it should be done on square f6 and not e5. In case of moving the wS, also on square f6 and not f8. The essential property of the combination is therefore the avoidance of duals.
As I see it, not every opening of a white line and then, the discharge of this opening is the core idea of Iwanow's theme. This theme, to my mind, will occur only if the move by black opening the white line is composed of two elements: advantage and disadvantage of defence. The link between the two elements in a given defensive move by black enables the play, the essence of which is selfmating avoidance of duals, i.e. Iwanow's theme. The disadvantage of defence opens for white an illusionary, apparent possibility of action whereas the advantage of defence - an effective possibility leading to the achievement of the aim.

Diagram 1
Eugeniusz Iwanow
1 PR Problemista 1966
S#2 C+ 11+5

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Diagram 2
Adriano Chicco
Problem 1952
S#2 C+ 9+12

In the context of such reasoning, let's have a look at diagram 2.

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Do we have Iwanow's theme here? No. In this composition there is no defence disadvantage motive. So, there is not any, even illusionary alternative for the second move of white..

Diagram 3
Pavlos Moutecidis
1. Pr. Problemista TT 1986/7
S#2 C+ 14+11

While the defence advantage is expressed by the opening of the action line of the white piece, the defence disadvantage can have various effects.

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This disadvantage is the same as in diagram 1 (entering the pin line),

Diagram 4
Z. Gavrilovski
2-3. Pr. Wola Gulowska 1998
S#2 C+ 11+10

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In diagram 4 the creation of a black battery on the line e3-a7 is a disadvantage. Launch this battery through 2. Rxc4+ or 2. Bd8+. Such dilemma was initiated by the defence disadvantage. The choice of one of these possibilities is, in turn, determined by the defence. After 1. - Rdxd4 it is necessary to choose 2. Rxc4+ (not 2. Bd8?), and after 1. - Rfxd4 the possibility 2. Bd8+ (not 2. Rxc4+?).

Diagram 4, besides the different defence disadvantage has one more novelty - the discharge of the white line's opening is realized through the withdrawal of the thematic line piece instead of its closing. It is the second method of dismissing the defensive move's advantage for black.

Diagram 5
Waldemar Tura
1 HO Mat 1974
S#2 C+ 10+13

This theme was realized in still another way in diagram 5.

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Were it not for Rc4, the double way of enforcing the checkmate: by Qxd6+ and Rxe5+, would be possible. It seems that after the introduction 1. Ba7! black being in defense, discharging Rc4, and at the same time devoiding white of the control over the battery b7-h1 (defence disadvantage) enables both 2. Qxd6+ and 2. Rxe5+. Though, it only seems like that. The possibility, which finds its effect in the discharge of the open line, leads straight to the target. This time, the discharge is realized due to the capture of the white thematic piece.

The fourth method of the white line's (defence advantage) discharge is realized through the closing of this line, though not by white, but black.

Diagram 6
Waldemar Tura
3 PR Wola Gulowska 1989
S#2 C+ 8+15

In diagram 6 it is done by pawn d7.

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The defence disadvantage is of great interest here. It consists in giving white the control over the square e6, which enables the second move.