THE late, great Bobby Fischer had a ruthless, sadistic side to his chess talent. On the Dick Cavett talk show, the American world champion claimed his greatest chess pleasure was "crushing the other guy's ego".

How would Fischer have fared in the esoteric world of problem chess, where there is no opponent to psyche out – you just sit alone and try and solve a series of composed positions?

Scotland's greatest expert in this field is Colin McNab of Dundee, who was part of the British team of John Nunn, Jonathan Mestel and David Friedgood who won the European Chess Solving Championship at Sunningdale in April.

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McNab is a former Scottish champion and grandmaster at "normal" chess. He finished third in the 2009-10 British Solving Championship in February. Mestel, a mathematics professor at Imperial College London, took the title for the 17th time.

This week's diagram is the starter problem in the Winton Capital British Chess Solving Championship (BCSC) for 2010-2011. White (playing up the board) must checkmate in exactly two moves against any Black defence. There are many ways to checkmate Black's surrounded king but the task is to find the unique solution which mates in two.

Competitors (British residents only) should send White's first move (the "key move") to Paul Valois, 14 Newton Park Drive, Leeds LS7 4HH. Entries should be accompanied by a cheque for 3, made payable to the British Chess Problem Society. Payment can also be accepted using Paypal from the website After the closing date of July 31 successful entrants will receive a more difficult postal round – all competitors receive a copy of The Problemist magazine.

The best competitors from the postal round will be invited to challenge Mestel, McNab and other experts at the final in Oakham School in Rutland next February. Please indicate you saw the position in Scotland On Sunday.

The Stewarton Allegro (five rounds of 30 minutes per player) takes place next Sunday, download the entry form from

• This article was first published in Scotland on Sunday, June 6, 2010