“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer”
A quick reminder how it works:
- Have a look at the position for 1 minute (watch the clock)
- Think about the choices in front of you and pick the one you feel it is right
- Verify it in your mind the best you can
- Compare it with the solution
I was thinking about how to connect this article to the Easter celebration we enjoyed this past weekend. The best idea I could come up with is the Easter eggs hunt. This was not part of our tradition when I grew up, but I can see how this could be very attractive to kids of all ages. Solving a chess puzzle is similar if you replace collecting the eggs with finding the correct moves of the solution. Without further ado, here it is:
I did a bit of research about the author and found out that he was well known in the FIDE circles during the middle of the 20th century. He held the following title and position in FIDE chess composition: International Judge since 1956 and International Master since 1969. An interesting detail about his composition work is being associated with the grotesque style explained here.
Going back to the puzzle my first instinct was this could be an interesting variation of the smothered mate. White has only the knight and queen, while the black king is trapped near the corner. There are two important details one should also notice:
- The b2-pawn can promote if White is not careful. This must be avoided at all costs
- The c7-pawn is ready to capture the queen, meaning White must use the double check as long as the queen occupies that square
Last but not the least I imagined the checkmate move should be”#nc3. That is all fine and dandy, but now the main question was what knight moves would bring it in time to the c3-square?
If your thought process was more or less along those lines, you should have been in the position to solve the puzzle. The smothered mate procedure requires a queen sacrifice on the a3-square, as long as the queen is protected by the knight at the time. The knight can protect it from either the c2-, c4-, or b5-squares. The safest is the b5-square, but at the same time it takes the longest for the knight to get there. Probably you have eliminated it as I did.
Picking the c2-square for the knight is the correct way to go. It looks dangerous because it is covered by the b3-pawn. However, as long as the pawn cannot capture it, all is well. The rest works out pretty nicely because the cramped position of the black pieces allows a needed knight move that cannot be stopped. The only question I have left is: did you have time to see the mate in 7 line? If you did, your tactical sense is working well. Congratulations!
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