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Prospects of modern selfmate
by Waldemar Tura, International master in composition 1969

More and more frequently at the end of 20th century are expressed opinions about crisis of modern selfmate, about exhaustion and construction schemes. The article of Petko Petkov Les mats inverses avec pieces féeriques (DIAGRAMMES X–XII 1996) describes this problem most clearly. The great Bulgarian grandmaster perceives the future of the kind only on composing selfmates with extra traditional figures (e. g. 2 white queens or 4 black rooks) or with fairy units. Shortest selfmates (in 2 moves) already belong to the past. New works of grandmaster Petkov appear to contradict this opinion.
Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that judges in serious international competitions do not believe in possibilities composing original selfmates. From that they reward even first prizes to less original compositions (vide: discussion about S#2 I Storo_enko ZADACZI I ETIUDY 1997), while underestimating new and creative compositions.
The present article shows the results of my many years of work striving towards expressive definition of themes and strategy proper only to selfmate, that creates new and very promising possibilities of realization.

Diagram 1
Alfred Karlström
1 PR Skakbladet 1938
S#2 C+ 10+8

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The attempts began a long time ago. In diagram 1 after the key we have two unpins of black Rook which can mate on d4 and e5. The unpin of a white figure initiates additional power on one of the mate fields and dual avoidance. In selfmate the unpin of white piece is used as an element profitable to black!

Diagram 2
Waldemar Tura
2 PR Fieoktistow-50 1998
S#4 C+ 9+10

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In each variant both black figures are joining in turn to show dual avoidance (diagram 2). And this is one of possibilities showing the themes of modern selfmate. It is possible to do conversely. The advantage motive of black defense with orthodox problems can function in selfmate as an element of harmfulness to the defense which makes possible a white continuation.

Diagram 3
Waldemar Tura
1 PR Diagrammes 1994
S#5 C+ 13+8

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In diagram 3 unblocking d5 and e5 allows realizing the combination which forces the mating of white King. Unblocking in this form was not systematically used until now.

Diagram 4
N. Nagnibida
Šahs 1970
S#2 C+ 13+9

Another potential and not fully used, until now, element of the selfmate strategy is white lines. One of the most dynamic themes of this group is Iwanow's theme: here in the defense black opens a white line and white can force the mate only by neutralizing this opening. The motive occurs in diagram 4
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Diagram 5
Waldemar Tura
1-3 PR e.a. Nowe Miasto 1994
S#2 C+ 5+9

Almost virgin field remains the strategy of mate net, the attacking and setting free the squares around white King. In diagram 5 black overthrows the danger through the veil of mating Bishop h1. White can play by attacking d6 and eliminating duals - setting free e6 or c4 in mate net of own King.

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All play in this composition is possible only in selfmate.

The separate and as well very important method of creating selfmate ideas is "antimating" strategy. Now the final purpose of the selfmate is (as everybody knows) the mating of white King. In relation to this the mate given to black King is an obstacle which should be removed. We are coming to a paradoxical conclusion, namely that in the selfmate, after mating improper King, we should foresee further course of the game. This exactly I call "antimating" strategy. It is clearly visible in selfmates with logical character.

Diagram 6
Waldemar Tura
1 PR Szachista 1993
S#4 C+ 6+8

In diagram 6 white is going to realize following plan: 1. Qc7+ Kd4, 2. Rb4+ Ke3, 3. Qf4+ Sxf4#. Unfortunately on the way black King is mated (2 Rb4??#!). Therefore it is necessary to eliminate this obstacle through unblocking e3.

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Such strategy could be used not only in logical compositions, but also in a multivariant composition which is the structure of all strategis ideas.

In the light of these statements I think that we should agree with conclusion of this article, that selfmate in the 21st century should pass through a period of bloom and it is hard to accept the pessimistic opinions about its decline.