Chess Puzzle of the Week (229): Solution

Some of you recognised this position, from a game played at Reykjavik the other day between Ginger GM Simon Williams and Ukrainian WIM Anastasiya Rakhmangulova. It’s been doing the rounds, and understandably so, on social media, but it was too good not to demonstrate it to those of you who haven’t seen it.

White has sacrificed a pawn for an attack and prevented castling, but now has to deal with the attack on his queen.

The best move, according to Stockfish, is 17. Qc4!: for instance 17… Rc8 18. Qa6 {Threat: Nxd4 with Rxd7 and Bb5 to follow.} 18… Bb4 19. Nxd4 Bxa3 20. Nxe6! Bxe6 21. Qxe6+! fxe6 22. Bg6#.

The simple 17. Qd1, the engine’s third choice, is also more than good enough to win.

But Simon, channelling the spirit of Paul Morphy, preferred the spectacular 17. Nxd4!! Bxa4 18. Nxe6!! when Black’s best option would have been 18… Qd7 19. Rxd7 Kxd7 20. Nc5+ and 21. Nxa4, leaving White with two minor pieces for a rook.

Here’s the complete game: as always, you can click on any move for a pop-up window.

White had a choice of three attractive mates in 3 on move 20. Rf8+!, as played in the game, Rfe7+! and Bg6.