Hermann Ginninger... the composer who loved stalemates

Hermann Ginninger... the composer who loved stalemates

introuble2
introuble2
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I don't know if my title could be counted as accurate. But consider that even the head photo chess position, that is a white to play and win, is based on a stalemate idea and threat. Anyway... I will come back to this in a following paragraph.

Looking in the Romanian chess magazines for a previous blog, I've tracked the following article...

Revista Română de Șah, 01/1959 Google translation a little modified

În curind se vor implini 25 de ani de la moartea remarcab'lului compozitor de studii romin H. Ginninger. Mai puțin cunoscut generatiilor noi, Ginninger a fost primul compozitor sahist din țara noastră care a făcut să strălucească această dificilă ramură a sahului artistic. Autor al unui număr relațiv redus de lucrări — aproximativ 50 — Herman Ginninger s-a impus însă cu autoritate prin inalta valoare a acestora.

În epoca în care a compus Ginninger, publicistica șahistă era foarte slab dezvoltată in tara noastră. De aceea studiile lui Ginninger au fost publicate in majoritate peste hotare, în special în presa din Uniunea Sovietică ('Pravda', 'Șahmati v S.S.S.R.'); acest din urmă lucru dă o indicație pretioasă asupra legăturilor sale cu sahistii sovietici. Într-adevăr, Ginninger a avut o atitudine democrată, su ferind și persecuții din partea regimului burghez din acea vreme. Aceasta i-a grăbit sfirșitul, la virsta de numai 28 ani.

Herman Ginninger rămine unul din cei mai străluciți etudiști ai noștri. EI este c'tat în toate monografiile de studii de final, apreciat ca un compozitor cu tendințe inovatoare, în spiritul școli artistice. Numeroase distincții au răsplătit activitatea sa etudistică. EI a fost laureat cu premiul I la concursul internațional al revistei 'Șahmati o S.S.S.R.' pe anul 1933. A condus cițiva ani de-a rindul rubrica de Studii a 'Revistei romine de șah', rubrică preluată apoi de maestrul P. Farago.

Peniru a cinsti memoria marelui compozitor romin, concursul internaţional de studii al Revistei de Șah pe anul în curs este dedicat celui cure a fost Herman Ginninger.

Soon 25 years from the death of the remarkable Romanian study composer H. Ginninger will be celebrated. Less known to younger generations, Ginninger was the first chess composer in our country to shine this difficult branch of artistic chess. Author of a relatively small number of works - about 50 - however, Herman Ginninger sets himself as authority by their high value.

At the time when Ginninger was composing, chess publications of our country were too few. That is why Ginninger's studies were published mostly abroad, especially in the Soviet Union ('Pravda', 'Șahmati v S.S.S.R.'); the latter gives a valuable indication of his bonds with the Soviet chess people. Indeed, Ginninger had a democratic attitude, avoiding persecution by the bourgeois regime at that time. This hastened his end, at the age of 28 years only.

Herman Ginninger remains one of our brightest composers. In all the endgame study monographs, he is appreciated as a composer with innovative tendencies, in the spirit of artistic schools. Numerous distinctions have rewarded his composing activity. He was awarded the 1st prize at the international contest of the magazine 'Șhahmaty v S.S.S.R.' in 1933. For several years he was the head editor of the Study section of the 'Romanian Chess Magazine', which was then taken over by Master P. Farago.

To honor the memory of the great Romanian composer, the international study competition of the Chess Magazine for the current year, is dedicated to the late Herman Ginninger.

Of course the Soviet Union mention attracted my attention. The article was published in the communistic Romania of 1959, and it would be expected that any implied good relationships were more than welcome. However this aforementioned democratic attitude also made me look at at the time history of Romania. Intense years. Then the country was a kingdom where the ideals of the Greater Romania, an aspect of nationalism, could be considered mainstream. But to give a clue, I should mention just an incident of the time. On December 29, 1933, Ion Duca, prime minister of Romania at the time, was assassinated by a death squad of the Iron Guard, a paramilitary fascist organization, that Duca had banned few days earlier.

But concerned me more the phrase that this hastened his end, at the age of 28 years only!?! Is it implied that Ginninger was a victim, of any kind? Or it's just an overstatement? As in a following Buletin problemistic, 85/2006 p. 21, it's written that he died by a disease [="în scurta-i viaţă curmată de boală"]. Anyway...

Hermann Ginninger, 1907-1935, Chernivtsi Ukraine [then Romania]

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The composer

As it's already mentioned, Ginninger had composed too few studies, around 50. I managed to track 21 [excluding 2-3 that were cooked or incorrect]. From these 21, fourteen are draws and specifically stalemates, either playing them or forcing them. And from the rest seven, the three are based on a stalemate idea, even if they are a position to win. I think that this is showing some character.

This stalemate theme seems that it's giving to them a chess problem element, as the ultimate goal is a game-end like mate, where no legal move can follow. And the positions few times are complex enough and overloaded reminding chess problems, rather than studies. However this occurs few times. And Ginninger is considered an endgame study composer.

Two twin wins

Even that it is a white to play and win, I think that is winning by coincidence. Just of pawn majority, that exists to constitute the mate threat. The study is basically a defense against stalemate.

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Four stalemates

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A position under question

In the German wiki article for underpromotion theme, the following position to draw is presented...

from WSZ 1935, 115

... but although it's a beautiful idea, it seems to be cooked or at least incorrect.

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I've tried to make a similar position where this idea could work...

FEN: 8/P7/1p6/1P1p4/1P1ppppp/1K3k1p/PP6/8 w - - 0 1

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And a win

And a normal white to play and win, although these kind of positions nowadays can be found in tablebases.

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....thanx for reading