Kavalek in Huffington: new King Tut puzzles

2/22/2011 – Last week GM Lubomir Kavalek, writing in his popular Huffington Post column, presented some unusual chess problems that entailed burying the king inside a sarcophagus of eight pawns – invoking memories of the Egyptian King Tutankhamun, who spent 3,245 years undisturbed in his tomb. This week we get solutions to last week's problems and a slightly different King Tut motif.

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King Tut in Chess Puzzles

By GM Lubomir Kavalek

Last week we invoked memories of King Tut, presenting two chess compositions in which the black king is mated, surrounded by eight black pawns. You can find the solutions at the end of this column. This week we present a slightly different "King Tut motif. " Entombing the king in chess studies is usually done at the edge of the chessboard and often leads to spectacular stalemates. It can save draws in tournament games.

Puzzle #1

A simple king tomb was created by the Austrian chess master, theoretician and writer Johann Berger in his important work on endgames, Theorie un Praxis der Endspiele, published in 1890.

Johann Berger

White draws

Puzzle #2

The German composer Hans Geiger also used the King Tut motif. Can the black king find a safe retreat? What can white do about it? The hint? Troika! Published in the Deutsche Schachzeitung in 1920, the idea was later tackled by other composers, including Richard Reti.

Hans Geiger

White wins

Puzzle #3

The dazzling study by the French chess master, composer and journalist, Frederic Lazard, could be called "double-entombing" since both kings get buried during the solution. Created 65 years ago, this work leaves even today's computers wondering what is going on. It is a victory of human spirit. Bravo, Monsieur Lazard!


Frederic Lazard, L'Italia Scacchistica, 1946

White draws

Solutions will appear next week.

Original column hereCopyright Huffington Post


Solutions from the last column King Tut in Chess Puzzles

King Tutankhamun, or simply King Tut, is the most famous Egyptian pharaoh [photo by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen in Wikipedia]. He was called the boy-king since he was only nine-years-old when his ten-year reign began in 1,333 B.C. He died at the age of 19 and his tomb, undisturbed for 3,245 years, was well-preserved when it was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter. King Tut's golden burial mask became the symbol of ancient Egypt. But how did he make it into chess?

Protecting a king is vital in every chess game and pawns are best suited to do the job. When the pawns surround the king in chess problems and studies, we see some beautiful and astonishing creations. Entombing the king became a popular theme among chess composers, until things got out of hand after some of them insisted on burying the king inside a sarcophagus of eight pawns. It invoked memories of King Tut and his tomb.

We present two puzzles on this theme with the following conditions:

  • White mates in specified number of moves.
  • All eight black pawns should surround the black king. Not a single black pawn can be taken.
  • Only the white king and knight should remain on the board at the end. White has to get rid of all his other pieces.

Note that in the replay windows below you can click on the notation to follow the game.

The next puzzle is more elaborate and the solution is much longer.

Original column hereCopyright Huffington Post


The Huffington Post is an American news website and aggregated blog founded by Arianna Huffington and others, featuring various news sources and columnists. The site was launched on May 9, 2005, as a commentary outlet and liberal/progressive alternative to conservative news websites. It offers coverage of politics, media, business, entertainment, living, style, the green movement, world news, and comedy. It is a top destination for news, blogs, and original content. The Huffington Post has an active community, with over one million comments made on the site each month. According to Nielsen NetRatings, the site has around 13 million unique visitors per month (number for March 2010); according to Google Analytics the number is 22 million uniques per month.


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