ç Index to Chessboard Dissection Problems

Key to the Dissection Problems in PFCS/FCR

Abbreviations, Notations and Conventions

V = volume numbers, # = issue numbers, p = page numbers, ¶ = problem numbers

Months: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec

The dissections in The Problemist Fairy Chess Supplement (PFCS) and its successor Fairy Chess Review (FCR) were set as problems for solving and under the editorship of T. R. Dawson (1930-51) the solutions were given in the next issue, two months later, on most occasions. Under Dennison Nixon's editorship (1952-56) the solutions were delayed to the next but one issue. So to fully understand the results it is often advisable to read both the problem statement and its solution. This explains why most of the references quote two issues, two dates and two page numbers separated by a slash. For example: #9/10 Dec/Feb 1934/5 p92/104-5, where in addition the problem and solution are in successive years, and the solution extends over two pages. The purpose of giving the exact page and issue references (which may seem, and is, rather tedious) is for those researchers who need to consult the original, and perhaps order a photocopy from a library.

Following these details comes the number given to the problem in the magazine, and the initials of the composer. In the example quoted this is: ¶1597 HDB, meaning: problem 1597, by H. D. Benjamin. Then follows a brief explanation of the conditions of the problem. To keep these statements as brief as possible the notations used are: [5] for "a 5-square piece", [5]s for "all twelve of the 5-square pieces". Thus [5]s + [4] means "all 12 of the 5-square pieces and one 4-square piece".

Initials and Biographical Details of Contributors

For those who contributed only one or two problems the problem numbers are given.

HDB — Herbert Daniel Benjamin (b. 4 Mar 1899, d. 10 Jul 1950)

GJB — G. J. Boucher

LRC — L. R. Chambers (¶6574)

PBVD — P. B. van Dalfsen

DRD — Dorothy R. Dawson

TRD — Thomas Rayner Dawson (b. 28 Nov 1889, d.16 Dec 1951)

RJF — Richard John French (b. South London 7 June 1883)

HF — H. Fahlander (¶2857)

GF — G. Fuhlendorf (Altona, d. 1946)

SHH — S. H. Hall (d. Dec 1947)

FH — Frans Hansson (Gothenburg)

DHH — D. H. Hersom

WJ — W. Jacobs (¶3307)

FK — F. Kadner

BL — B. Larsson (¶2623)

EL — E. Lax

WEL — William Edward Lester (b. 1 Feb 1895, d. 3 Dec 1940)

JN — J. Niemann

HP — H. Perkins (¶6016)

WHRa — W. H. Rawlings (¶2557, ¶3930)

WHRe — W. H. Reilly

WS — Walter Stead (d. 23 Jun 1976 age 78)

WJT — W. J. Tibbs (¶6016)

OW — O.Weisert, Bietigheim (¶4151)

BZ — B. Zastrow (¶1923)

Guide to Issue and Problem Numbers in PFCS/FCR

V1 Aug 1930 - Jun 1933, #1 - 18, ¶1 - 842.

V2 Aug 1933 - Jun 1936, #1 - 18, ¶843 - 2337.

V3 Aug 1936 - Jun 1939, #1 - 18, ¶2338 - 3777.

V4 Aug 1939 - Jun 1942, #1 - 18, ¶3778 - 5220.

V5 Aug 1942 - Jun 1945, #1 - 18, ¶5221 - 6470.

V6 Aug 1945 - Jun 1948, #1 - 18, ¶6471 - 7740.

V7 Aug 1948 - Jun 1951, #1 - 18, ¶7741 - 9122.

V8 Aug 1961 - Oct 1954, #1 - 18, ¶9123 - 10,065

V9 Dec 1954 - Apr 1958, #1 - 21, ¶10,066 - 10,970.

The FCR Notation

The dissection problems in Fairy Chess Review were not, except on two occasions, shown in diagram form, due to the cost of making blocks for printing by the letterpress method then in use.

In some cases the squares occupied by the various pieces were listed as a series of abbreviated coordinates (for example a1234 could represent the straight tetromino on the first four squares of the a-file).

However in most issues a coding method was used, devised by T. R. Dawson and W. E. Lester, which appears indecipherable to anyone not having the issue (April 1937) in which the method is explained. The 56 shapes of sizes 1 to 6 were numbered, each in a standard orientation. Alternative orientations of a piece were then indicated by a letter. For example the asymmetric L-shaped 4-piece in its various orientations was coded as:

Symmetric pieces have only 1, 2 or 4 of these orientations, depending on the type of symmetry. A, B, C are rotations of the piece through 1, 2, 3 right angles anticlockwise, D is the left-right reflection of the standard orientation, and E, F, G are rotations of this.

Any dissection could then be notated by naming the pieces and their orientations in sequence from top left of the diagram row by row. The method is ingenious, but misprints or errors in coding make it difficult to reconstruct some of the solutions.

Concerning the listing of the pieces of 1-6 squares in FCR April 1937 (V3, #5, pages 46-47) Dawson and Lester wrote:: "It may be noted that the numbering and orientation has been done on systematic lines as follows. The pieces are ranged in increasing size. Where they are of the same size the number of files increases from left to right, while squares on second and later files move successively lower." These rules however are not sufficient to fix the list exactly (both in the sequence and orientation of the pieces), and I am not clear if additional unstated rules were in operation or whether there is an arbitrary element involved. Other more systematic methods are possible.

Here is the numbering of the 56 pieces, as used in FCR.

Such a numbering scheme is useful when all pieces up to 6 squares or more are being used, but in the case of the pieces of 4 and 5 squares describing the shapes in terms of their approximate letter forms is usually adequate.

An alternative and more systematic scheme of listing, based on the binary number system, is described in another section.