A chess problem is an artificial composition set on a chess board, that presents the solver with a particular task to be achieved. Usually, the instruction is that white is to move first, and checkmate black in a specified number of moves. Therefore, number of pieces and power of players do not matter. To solve the problem means to find the only correct disguised way to carry out an instruction. Problems are experienced not only as puzzles but as objects of beauty expressed in an unexpected first move and effective manoeuvre.
Chess problems first appeared in the East in the 8th century AD. At the time, such form of early chess as chatrange (shatranj) was popular. Problems in chatrange (shatranj) were called mansuba (Arab «what is established»). Mansubas were often accompanied by poetical descriptions. For instance, Mat Dilaram mansuba (about 200 problems in which a solver has to give up two rooks) features the following text, «Being in a losing position while playing with a strong opponent, one noble grandee bet his most loved wife Dilaram.»
In a position where the grandee was threatened with checkmate, Dilaram who watched the game, exclaimed, «Give up both rukhs (rooks) but not Dilaram!» The grandee followed the cue, gave up both rooks and checkmated the opponents king.
In the 11th century, chess became to conquer Europe and very quickly became one of the nobilitys favorite entertainments. In the late 13th century, a collection of chess problems was issued which, in their description, resembled eastern ones very much. But the task to win or make a draw was replaced by concrete goal to checkmate in a specified number of moves. Solving problems became an excitable amusement while some players even made it a source of income.
Throughout its long history, chess had its ups and downs but chess problems were always of great interest to its admirers. Nowadays, chess is played around the world while the number of problems cannot be identified for sure. The whole layer of talented and witty chess players creating such problems has emerged. They are known as composers.
Composers have their own World Championship and are awarded Grandmaster title.