Chess Puzzle of the Week (42)

Last week I asked you to consider this complicated position from the RJCC database. It’s Black’s move.

It’s obvious that if you capture either the rook or the queen you lose at once. So you have to meet the threat of Rxc8#.

You might try the clever 1… Qe1+ 2. Rxe1 Rxh5 but White is better in this double rook ending after Re7 or Rh7 as it will take Black some time to get the rook on h5 back into play.

White also has a secondary threat of Qf7, followed by Qd7. For example, after 1… Rf8 White plays 2. Qf7 Rh8 3. Qg7 Rd8 4. Qd7 and wins.

We now know that if Black doesn’t fancy Qe1+ he must move the rook to a square that won’t be hit by Qf7. That gives two options: Rh8 and Rd8.

1… Rh8 2. Qf7 Re4 3. Kf1 a6 4. Qxe6+ wins at least a pawn.

1… Rd8 is an improvement, meeting 2. Qf7 with 2… Rhd4, with Qxb3, defending e6, to follow.

Instead, White could continue the back rank tactics with 2. Rd7 Qb6 3. Qf7 Rxd7 4. Qxd7 a6 which, according to Stockfish 10, is about equal.

Full marks, then, if you chose 1… Rd8 here. A consolation prize for Qe1+ or Rh8, both of which lead to inferior endings. Anything else loses.

In 1966 Yoko Ono first displayed a white chess set designed to represent peace rather than war between two armies.

Here’s a Yoko Ono chess position: can you work out the real colours of each piece? It shouldn’t take you too long to solve. (A Frolkin and A Kornilov 1989: I took it from Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids Volume 2 by Jeff Coakley)