30 December 2011

Christmas Quizzes (5)

Traditionally, during the week from December 25th to January 1st, ChessBase brings daily chess puzzles selected by John Nunn. The puzzle index page is here. Nunn indicates that the solver should look out for the special moves pawn promotion, en passant capture and castling. All the puzzles deal with them in some way. He also promises some easier puzzles than in previous years. I don't mind them being tough — I am just not too happy when I am to guess (know?) constellations and other stuff related to astronomy. We'll see. So far, solving went smoothly.

For the last time, I have Christmas puzzles for you taken again from the CHESS magazine.

  1Tibor Schönberger  
NĂ©pszava, 1923

  2T. R. Dawson  
White plays and forces stalemate in 4 moves

  3T. R. Dawson  
White takes back his last move and mates in one

4   Place the two kings on the board, so that
a) Black stands legally checkmated.
b) White stands legally checkmated.
c) White can give checkmate in half a move.
d) Black can give checkmate in half a move.

These are the solutions:
11. Na8! Kxb3 2. Rh3+ Kc4/Ka2,4 3. Nb6/Ra3#
1. - b4 2. Na1 ~ 3. Ra5#
21. Bf5! K~ 2. Bxg4 ~ 3. Bh5 ~ 4. g4 and White has stalemated himself!
3White can only retract h2xRg3 and then mate with 1. Qxe2#.
Rectracting h2xPg3 is not legal: the black pawns would have had to capture eight times, but only seven are missing.
If we retract b2xPc3 or b2xRc3, it would have been impossible for the black king to move to the first rank.
We can't retract a king move due to illegal checks.
Retracting a queen or a rook move doesn't leave any possibility to mate in one.
4a) +wKg6, +bKe4
b) +wKb2, +bKd1 (last move was 1.- a1=B#)
c) +wKb4, +bKd4: White already picked up the black pawn and completes the en passant capture d5xe6 e.p.
d) +wKh8, +bKc8: Black completes castling long and puts his rook to d8.

23 December 2011

Christmas Quizzes (4)

The 2011 solving contest of the Stuttgarter Zeitung is there! It was published last Saturday and, of course, you can find a reprint of the puzzles on Harald Keilhack's site. You are confronted with the usual suspects "add a unit", "release the position" and Proca-retractor. It's a must for all fans of that sort of chess problems. As for me, I did have great fun solving them.

I still have some of Hugh Courtney's puzzles left that I want to show you. As always, I struggle with the (lack of proper) references and again I am sorry for that. Anyway, I hope that you'll enjoy my selection and that you don't know all of it already.

Add white king and white knight, so that White can mate in one

  2Darwin Cabrera  
White takes back his last move and mates in one

  3Francis C. Collins  
Land and Water, 1879
White takes back his last move and mates in one

4   It's White to move. Here are some statements about the position:
  1. White mates in two.
  2. Black's last move was not legal.
  3. It's mate in one.
  4. Black's last move may have been legal, but the position itself is not legal.
  5. Black's last move was d5.
  6. Black's last move was Ke7.
Which two statements are right and why?

  5P. Leibovici  
Magyar Sakkvilag, 1931

  6H. Voss  
Aachener Anzeiger, 1933

In case you should need to have a look at them — here are the solutions:
1+wKd3, +wNh3: 1. Kxd2#. Last moves were e2-e1=N+, Rb1xc1+.
2back f7xBg8=N, then 1. f8=N#
3back 1. Rg8xPg5, then 1. h5xg6 e.p.#
4If Black had just played d5, there would have been no way at all for the black queen's bishop to have emerged from its initial square. And that means that White can't play 1. exd6 e.p.#.
Black's last move was Ke6-e7 as a reaction to White's move f7xg8=B+.
The position is legal: first f7xBg6, then wPf2 to f7, e7xNf6 and finally f7xg8=B+.
It's a mate in two by 1. exf6+ Kxf6 2. g5#.
51. Ke1 Rh1 2. f2 Ng1 3. Be2+ Nf3#
61. Kg6 Kg2 2. Rg5+ Rg3 3. Kh5 Kf3 4. Rhg6 Rh3#
Apparently, this problem was published with reversed colours, so that it was White to move and help Black to mate him. I changed that to make it look like a helpmate as we know it.

16 December 2011

Christmas Quizzes (3)

Welcome to round three. Are you ready? Here we go!

  1E. C. Mortimer  
Chess, April 1952
  Position after 8,0 moves. Find a game (first moves not unique).

  2unknown author/source  


3   This puzzle has two parts:
  1. The diagram shows the position after 5. RxPe5#. What were the moves?
  2. Hugh Courtney pointed out that he had found five other sequences of moves wherein the white queen's rook mates the black king in 5 moves. Two of them are quite similar and have the black king on g6. In the other three solutions the king is mated on c6 (twice) and h6, respectively.

  4A. Herbstmann  
Tyovaen Shakki, 1935
1st Prize

  5B. J. da Costa Andrade  
unknown source

  6Lord Dunsany  
The Times Lit. Supplement, 1922
  White to play, can he castle?

  7K. Fabel  
source unknown
1There are three ways to make the first three white moves. Apart from that, everything is unique: 1. Nc3 f6 2. h4 Kf7 3. Nh3 Kg6 4. h5+ Kxh5 5. Ng5+ Kxg5 6. e4 Kg6 7. Ne2 Kf7 8. Ng1 Ke8.
21. c8=B! b3 2. Bg4 b2 3. Bd1 Kxb1 4. Bb3#
3These are the six solutions that were given by Courtney. Unfortunately, there are always interchangeable moves. It's still a challenge to find all final positions, isn't it?
a) 1. a3 e5 2. Nc3 Bxa3 3. Ne4 Bf8 4. Ra5 Ke7 5. Rxe5#
b) 1. e4 e6 2. a4 Ke7 3. Ra3 Kf6 4. Qh5 Q,Be7 5. Rf3#
c) 1. e4 e5 2. a4 Ke7 3. Ra3 Kf6 4. Qg4 Q,Be7 5. Rf3#
d) 1. a4 d6 2. a5 Kd7 3. Ra3 Kc6 4. e4 Q,Bd7 5. Rc3#
e) 1. a4 d6 2. a5 Kd7 3. Ra4 Kc6 4. Nc3 Q,Bd7 5. Rc4#
f) 1. e4 f6 2. a4 Kf7 3. Ra3 Kg6 4. Qg4+ Kh6 5. Rh3#
41. Qe1+! Kc2 2. Qc1+ Kb3 3. Qb2+ Kc4 4. Qb4+ Kd5 5. Qd6+ Kc4 6. Qc5+ Kb3 7. Qb4+ Kc2 8. Qb2+ Kxb2 9. Nxd3+. Very nice.
51. d8=N#
6No. If it's White to play, Black's last move must have been 0-0. Therefore, the rook at a2 was promoted from one of the pawns from e7, f7, or g7, any of which would have required either the white king or white rook to have moved. The promotion could not have taken place on a1. Otherwise, the bPe7 would have had to capture four white pieces on black squares — but there are only three available!
71. a5! Bbc2 2. Nb1+ Bxb1 3. Nd1#
1.- Bdc2 2. Nd1+ Bxd1 3. Nb1#
1.- Ba4 2. Nb,cxa4+ (dual) bxa4 3. Nxa4#
This last variation shows why 1. e5? fails: Black plays 1.- Bf5..h7!

09 December 2011

Christmas Quizzes (2)

I continue with a second installment of this quiz series. Once again, I stick to the original text from Chess as close as it seems appropriate. Unfortunately, Courtney wasn't very generous revealing details on his sources for the puzzles or at the least naming the composers.

White to play and mate in 4 moves
1   I think this one is quite well-known:
According to legend, a certain German doctor once made a bargain with the devil, and this was the strange agreement that they made: the devil agreed to give the doctor super-human skill at chess for a period of four years, and in return the physician agreed to give the devil his soul upon the expiry of this four year term, BUT on one condition! The proviso was that the devil should first of all solve a 4-move problem which would be specially composed for him by the doctor at the end of the four years. The devil at once agreed to that 'puerile condition' (as he called it), and with a flash and a bang he was gone. The devil duly fulfilled his part of the contract, and the fame of the physician's chess prowess became famous world-wide. However, the day of reckoning came: "Where is this silly problem?" demanded his satanic majesty. "Here it is, all set up ready for you," replied the doctor. The devil made the first three moves on the board accurately and without a moment's hesitation; but the fourth move (obvious to all the bystanders) seemed to baffle him, and, with a diabolical oath, he disappeared in a huff and a puff of smoke, leaving behind him the inevitable odour of brimstone and, of course, a highly delighted German physician!
Why did the doctor's fairly simple four-mover defeat the devil?!

  2unknown author/source  

  3A. Baker  
British Chess Magazine, 1916

4   Composed by Geoff Chandler of Holyrood Court, Edinburgh.
The position occured towards the end of a game between two rival, barbarian chieftains in the year 1560. The player of the white pieces was Gunter, and he had a smile on his face because it was his move and he could see that he had a forced win. What is more the winner of the game was to have the other chieftain's daughter as a prize. The barbarian who had Black was called Bunzer, by the way, and we must assume that his daughter was very pretty: otherwise why was Gunter smiling? So, that is your problem: White to play and win.
Hint: Read the story again very carefully, after which look equally carefully at the squares on which the pieces are placed!

1The devil played the following moves very quickly: 1. Nd4+ Kd6 2. Qxd7+ Nxd7 3. Rxd5+ Nxd5 and only then did he realise that if he played the fourth move of the solution (4. Re6#) then he would have completed the sign of the cross ... foiled again!
21. Qa8 Rg1 2. Bb7 Qf1#. I like it.
31. Kd1!! Ke7 2. Ke2 Kd8 3. Kd2 Ke8 (3. - Kc8 4. Ke3) 4. Kc3 Kd8 5. Kc4 Kc7 6. Kb5 Kb7 7. Kxa5 Ka7 8. Kb5 Kb7 9. a5 Ka7 10. a6 Ka8 11. Kb6 Kb8 12. a7+ Ka8 13. Kc7 1-0. Not too difficult, right?
4The key to this puzzle is that two barbarians are playing: so take hold of the white king and jump it over the black rook which is next to it, keeping hold of the white king now jump it over the black queen, and to conclude White's first move keep hold of the king and jump it over Black's remaining rook: remove the two black rooks and the queen from the board. Black's only move available is Kg6, whereupon the white bishop jumps over the black king which is removed from the board. White has won. Only barbarians, of course, would play Draughts with Chessmen ... didn't you know?!

02 December 2011

Christmas Quizzes (1)

You know it, right? Yeah, it's quiz time! Lots of web pages, newspapers and (chess) magazines offer their readers brainteasers for their recreation (or desperation). I've chosen some chess puzzles from Hugh Courtney’s famous Christmas Quizzes that were published in the magazine Chess. Have fun!

1What is it that a king, rook, bishop, knight and pawn can all do, but a queen cannot?
2What (if anything) is wrong with the following conversation:
"The Vicar gave Jock a fright last night when he put Jock in double check from both his queens!" "Yes, I saw it, the Vicar had two queens, two pawns and king, and Jock had queen, rook, bishop, knight, three pawns and king: quite a position!" "That's right, and the Vicar's face was quite a picture when Jock's move in reply to the double check actually put the Vicar into checkmate!!" ?
3Is this true or false: Neither a knight nor a pawn can give check without first moving away from its original square. ?

  4G. Kortnog  
source unknown

These are the solutions:
1First asked by Arthur C. Moseley (CHESS, October 1959). A queen is the only piece that cannot make a move giving discovered check.
2Nothing is wrong. Consider the following possible position from the game Jock (White) vs. the Vicar (Black). White is in check and play continues 1. e4 fxe3 e.p.+ 2. Kxe3#
3False! Although true of a pawn, a knight may actually give check from its original square — if a pawn promotes. For example, 1. d8=N+ puts a black king at b7 into check. The square d8 is that knight's original square!
41. e5 Ka4,a5,b4 2. Ke6 Bc4#
It took me quite a long time to discover the solution. Yes, the first white move is not unique and you'd consider this helpmate as cooked. But it's still a nice and tricky puzzle!