Problem Chess: Art and Magic on the Chess Board (book review)


Gambit Publications published Problem Chess: Art and Magic on the Chess Board by Göran Forslund. Forslund died in September 2015, just before the publication of this print edition. Previously, this Gambit title was available only in an electronic format.

Problem Chess - Art and Magic on the Chessboard by Goran Forslund

The book includes problems that Forslund composed, problems by other composers (especially Swedish composers), and stories about Forslund’s career and about Swedish sports and chess stars.

The book is 112 pages (248 mm by 172 mm). It retails for $19.95. It is also available as an e-book ($9.95) and an app-book ($9.99).

For all ratings

Chess books are usually aimed at either low-rated or high-rated players. A book for low-rated players might cover one-move tactics or give opening principles. A book for high-rated players might delve 20 moves into an opening variation.

Problem Chess: Art and Magic on the Chess Board challenges both low-rated and high-rated players. I suspected that low-rated players might be more successful at solving its problems. That is, high-rated players are used to making “good” moves, like developing chessmen and not throwing away material. It can be hard for them to break their chess habits. Yet many of the problems that Forslund includes require thinking outside of the “good moves” box.

Mechanics’ Institute

Mechanical Institute

Every Monday afternoon the Mechanics’ Institute has a Chess Café over Zoom. On Monday, September 12, 12 chess players attended, including two International Masters. I presented the following problem at the start of the one-and-a-half hour Zoom session. The problem is within the Problem Chess: Art and Magic on the Chess Board excerpt at

Here is what I showed the Chess Café:

The problem was created in 1976 by Tibor Orban. Forslund wrote about Orban’s problem, “The following position arose after Black’s 4th move (note not 3rd — that’s trivial). Game score?”

In other words, what were the four moves played by White and by Black to get to the “goal position” pictured in the chess diagram?


At the end of the Chess Café, Juliana Gallin, who is unrated over-the-board but is 1600-rated online, gave the solution. Everyone at the Café gave her a round of applause, as no one else had solved it. Congrats, Juliana!

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on

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