Fairy chess comprises chess problems that differ from classical (also called orthodox) chess problems in that they are not direct mates. The term was introduced by Henry Tate in 1914 and has resisted change since then. While selfmate dates from the Middle Ages, helpmate was invented by Max Lange in the late 19th century. Thomas Dawson (1889–1951), the "father of fairy chess", invented many fairy pieces and new conditions. He was also problem editor of Fairy Chess Review (1930–51).
Although the term "fairy chess" is sometimes used for games, it is more usually applied to problems where the board, pieces, or rules are changed to express an idea or theme impossible in orthochess.
Types of fairy chess problems
Types of fairy chess problems include:
- New stipulations: Probably the most used alternations are new stipulations instead of a direct mate stipulation. A lot of them were invented and some became established. Selfmates and helpmates are nowadays often considered to be orthodox stipulations. Among others are: reflexmates, various types of seriesmovers or recently very popular helpselfmates. Part of new stipulations are also retroanalytical problems including shortest proof games and retractors. Finally, various construction tasks on chess and mathematical problems using chess objects are considered to be chess problems as well.
- New chess pieces: Conventional chess pieces are generalized in many ways (grasshopper, nightrider, cannon, etc.). See main article Fairy chess pieces.
- New conditions: Encompassing all changes of rules including rules for captures, checks, checkmates, general movement abilities, etc. Many were invented; some became established: circe chess, Madrasi chess, Andernach chess, monochromatic chess, patrol chess, Einstein chess and numerous others.
- Different boards: One can vary board size from 8×8 to other sizes (10×10, 8×10, unusual board shapes, etc.) or use different geometries: cylinder (vertical and horizontal), anchor ring or torus and others.
All problems in the FIDE Albums are divided into eight sections: directmates (2-movers, 3-movers and moremovers), endgame studies, selfmates, helpmates, fairy chess and retro and mathematical problems.