The carpenter from rural Manitoba is still considered one of Canada’s finest composers of chess problems

Mate in 2, Jacob Funk, 1925 (See diagram)

In the elite world of chess problem composition, a little-regarded Manitoban who died half a century ago is still regarded as one of Canada’s finest practitioners.

Jacob Funk perfected the technique of the chess problem, in which White is asked to force checkmate in two, three or more moves. Such problems are popular all over the world and are considered small works of art.

It was an unlikely skill for the rural Manitoba carpenter who had no formal training in the game. But in more than four decades of composition, his 600 problems have appeared in publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and the London Observer.

White to draw in two and mate.The Globe and the Mail

Funk’s interests were varied. He was a mathematician and a member of the US Advanced Mathematical Circle. He also played with his brothers in a classical music ensemble that performed on the prairies.

Funk was a member of the British Chess Problem Society for 40 years before retiring in 1963. He died four years later.

Adrian Stolisteanu from Toronto is one of the few dedicated problem composers in Canada today. He says the art form is still going strong.

“It can take a day or a few months to formulate a problem,” he says, depending on the complexity.

Answer: 1.Qb6, and nothing Black does mate. If… cxb6 2.Nd6#.


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