Chess Puzzle of the Week (49)


Last week I asked you to adjudicate this game between Ted and Alice, with Black to move. Ted claimed he was winning easily: he was threatening mate in 2 and about to promote a pawn. Alice had seen further: she was going to play Kh6, and wasn’t sure how Ted was going to prevent Qh5#.

The answer is that the game should be drawn. Ted has three queen moves to cover the h5 square, but they all allow Alice to play Qd1+, when there’s no way to stop the checks. His other move is to play f5, but Alice would reply with e5, renewing her mate threat. Ted’s only reply would be Qe8, when Alice has a choice of perpetual checks via Qe4+ or Qd1+. So the game should be a draw, and Ted and Alice can both buy their own drink.

I was sad to hear of the recent death of GM Pal Benko at the age of 91. One of the great chess legends of the second half of the last century, he developed and popularised the Benko Gambit (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 b5) and played in two Candidates Tournaments. Unlike most grandmasters, over the board play was not his only chess interest: he was also a composer of problems and endgame studies.


Here’s one of his studies (Vergio 1999). White to play and win. The first two moves are critical.

Chess Puzzle of the Week (48)


Last week I left you with this mate in 2 compiled by Richmond Chess Club Vice-President EB Schwann.

One way to approach this sort of problem is to look at the set play: what would happen if it was Black’s move. White would meet d5 with Qe7# and Kd5 with Qb3#, but there’s no immediate mate after either c5 or Kf6. We need to start by considering how to meet Kf6 and spot that if we could play Qh6 in reply it would be mate.

The only route to h6 is via Qd2, which is indeed the solution. 1… d5 is also met by Qh6# (a changed mate from the set play) and 1… Kd5 is now met by another changed mate: Qa2#. Finally, 1… c5 runs into 2. d5# as this is now defended by the queen.

Back at the Roebuck, Ted and Alice had finally solved the problem. “There’s just about time for one more game”, Alice suggested. “The loser buys the final round.” “You’re on”,  Ted replied. “I think it’s my turn to play white.” As closing time approached, this position appeared on the board, with Black, Alice, to move.


“Time to resign, I think”, said Ted. “I’m threatening mate as well as getting another queen. Mine’s a pint of Tribute.” But Alice was having none of this. “Nonsense, Ted! I’m the one who’s mating you. I think you’re going to have to pay up!”

Who was right? What should the result be with best play? You tell me!

Chess Puzzle of the Week (47)


In last week’s puzzle Black wins by 1… Re4, when White has no sensible way of preventing Reg4 followed by mate.

This week, one of our occasional series featuring former members of Richmond or Twickenham Chess Club. This time, the spotlight falls on Edward Bagehot Schwann.

Schwann was born in Hampstead in 1872: his grandfather was a cloth merchant who had emigrated from Germany. His middle name was his mother’s maiden name.

Edward seems to have been a real chess addict. He gained a reputation as a chess problemist while still in his teens, and was also a member of several chess clubs. He was a Vice-President of Richmond Chess Club, but also played for Wimbledon, where he lived, and various central London clubs. He seems to have been highly competent but not outstanding at both playing and composing. He was so addicted to the game that he got engaged to a prominent lady player.

Sadly, though, his chess career came to a premature end in 1902 when he died of heart failure at the age of only 30.


Here’s one of his problems: a pretty simple mate in 2, published in the Montreal Gazette in 1897. Even if you’re not a chess problem fan, have a go at solving this. Logic will get you to the solution pretty quickly.