Chess Puzzle of the Week (135): Solution

It’s well known that Howard Staunton, possibly with good reasons, ducked out of a match with Paul Morphy. But they did meet in two consultation games, played in London on 28 June 1858.

This is the first of the games: Staunton and his partner, John Owen (who would die in Twickenham in 1901) had the white pieces against Morphy and his partner Thomas Wilson Barnes (who would die in 1874 as the result of dieting and losing 9 stone 4 pounds in 10 months: there’s a moral there somewhere).

It’s one of those typically chaotic 19th century affairs: all tactics and very little strategy.

Problemists might see it as a star flight puzzle, but with an extra try. If the black king wasn’t on g7, Qg7, threatening Qh6+, would win material. So king moves come to mind. As Kf7 doesn’t allow Qg7 (and loses to Bc4+ amongst other moves), there are four star flights to choose from.

23… Kf8 fails because of a possible knight check on e6, for example 24. Ba6 (Bc4 also wins) 24… Nxa6 25. Ne6+ as the bishop on c8 is now pinned.

23… Kf6 likewise fails, this time because of a possible knight check on e4, for example 24. Ra4, threatening Rxa7 as well as Ne4+, but Rxe3 also wins.

23… Kh6 defeats the object because we want that square for the queen, but still gives Black a slight advantage.

Morphy and Barnes found, as I hope you did, the winning move: 23… Kh8!

The game continued 24. Rd1 Kg7 25. Rh4 at which point the consultants had several winning moves, for example Qe7 and Ba6, but instead they played the natural 25… Bxh4? 26. Qxb8 Ba6, giving this week’s puzzle.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (134): Solution

Last week I asked you to guess What Happened Next in this game between Roger Scowen and Alan Phillips (Derby 1962).

Black played the clever (but rather pointless) 24… Be3, Roger, seeing the trap, played Qe1, and Black continued with Rg6??, oblivious to the fact that the rook on a2 defended g2. So Roger just played fxe3 and eventually won the game.

These things happen, especially in last rounds of tournaments. Make sure they don’t happen to you!

Chess Puzzle of the Week (134)

It was good to hear from Roger Scowen recently. We’ve known each other on and off for many decades, and he’s hoping to join us at the Roebuck for some casual chess as soon as it’s considered safe to meet there again. (Watch this space for further details!)

Coincidentally, Roger features in John Saunders’ always entertaining back page article in the latest issue of CHESS.

Regular readers will know that I sometimes set puzzles inviting you to find the plausible losing move rather than the brilliant winning move. That’s the case here. I’ll take you back a move from John’s article.

Roger is White in this game (Derby Premier 1962) against the much stronger Alan Phillips, who had been joint British Champion with Leonard Barden in 1954. He’s just offered a queen trade, but Black, naturally enough, wants to avoid this.

All Black’s pieces are attacking the white king but Stockfish looks at the weak pawn on e5, laughs and offers a draw. You might not expect that in two moves time Roger would be a piece up and eventually win the game.

In the words of A Question of Sport, What Happened Next? It’s Black to play.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (133): Solution

In last week’s first question, Black’s only drawing move is Rh1!, followed by Rh6+. Everything else loses with best play.

Instead, I played Rf1?, but, a few moves later, was offered a second chance.

White, with many winning moves to choose from, has just played Ke7-d7?, which enables me to draw with, and only with, Ra2!

After Rd2+, though, I lost a few moves later.

My mistake in this game was that I was only thinking about vertical checks, not horizontal checks.

This game taught me an important lesson about rook and pawn endings. It might help you as well.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (133)

Two puzzles for the price of one again this week, and again not many pieces on the board. I’ve posted these on Facebook but haven’t yet had any correct replies. I’ll explain a bit more here.

These positions are both from a game I played against Maks in last Thursday’s lichess arena. I was black and failed to solve either position successfully at the time.

In each case it’s Black’s move and there is only one way to draw. Can you find both correct solutions?

Chess Puzzle of the Week (132): Solution

Norbert Geissler
2 Pr Benko MT 2020
H#6 (b) Ka5 – b5

Last week’s helpmate in 6 solves like this (remember that Black moves first):

  1. d4 Kf3 2. d3 Ke4 3. d2 Kd5 4. d1B Kxd6 5. Be2 Kc5 6. Ba6 b4#

Then, starting again, but this time with the black king on b5:

  1. a3 b4 2. Kc4 b5 3. a2 b6 4. a1B b7 5. Be5 b8Q 6. Kd4 Qb4#

To quote the judge of the award, Christopher Jones:

“A minor readjustment of the position of the bK activates a very different sequence, in which … b4 becomes the first move and is followed by a Rundlauf involving promotion to queen. The especially delightful feature of this problem is the exchange of functions of bPa4 and bPd5. Each remains as a static self-block in one solution and promotes to an actively blocking bishop in the other. One ideal mate, one model mate, and only six pieces used – very fine work!”

Chess Puzzle of the Week (132)

Norbert Geissler 2 Pr Benko MT 2020
H#6 (b) Ka5 – b5

It’s always an exciting day when Postman Pat delivers the latest issue of The Problemist to the Chess Palace.

A couple of longer helpmates caught my eye. This is the 2nd prize winner from last year’s Benko Memorial Tournament.

Helpmates can often serve as an excellent introduction to the problem world, both for competitive players and for those who prefer collaboration to competition.

Here, Black plays the first move, and the two sides work together to reach a position where White’s 6th move delivers checkmate.

When you’ve done that, you then have to do it again, but with the black king starting on b5 rather than a5.

Have fun!