Checkmate in seven moves!

by Arne Kaehler
7/3/2020 – This is the second part of Stuart Rachels' constructed puzzles which include all four solutions from the first part. Checkmate in six moves! took off with over 50 analyses, ideas, approaches and solutions in the comment section so far. Jonathan Speelman for example made a live stream with all of his constructed solutions and was even able to "cook" one of the puzzles by half a move!

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Chess puzzles by Stuart Rachels part two

Let us dive into the fun right away and set up the newest chess puzzles by Stuart Rachels. This time we start with a mate in seven moves and end the series with a mate in ten moves.

Construct a chess game that ends in...


As you know you can move the pieces on each of the diagram boards and try to construct games that end in the way specified.

Construct a chess game that ends in...


Solutions from part one:

Grandmaster Jonathan Speelman, who is a good friend of Stuart Rachels, took a strong interest in these creative puzzles. He admitted that it took him days to solve the very first puzzle. Rachels and Speelman exchanged their studies and checked plenty of variations. By doing so, Jonathan "cooked" one of Stuart's puzzles. This means he found a combination reaching the desired result even faster than the original solution!

Jonathan Speelman's Twitch stream about the puzzles was very informative and interesting! He explains how to tackle and approach these kinds of puzzles.

All of Jon Speelman's constructed mate approaches and analysis for replaying:


We warned you how hard the puzzles are. If you were really able to find a solution, the satisfaction must have been immense. Furthermore, you will have experienced the creative beauty of the puzzles and how much work Rachels put into them.

Solution one:

Solution One

  1. c4 Nf6
  2. Qb3 Ne4
  3. Qxb7 Bxb7
  4. Kd1 Nxd2
  5. Kc2 Nxb1
  6. Kxb1 Be4 mate

Note, White was also able to play c3 in the first move.

What stands out is that the white king wasn't even touched in the first three moves. The black bishop maneouver to b7 was necessary.

The other solution of the puzzle is in Jonathan Speelman's replayer analysis. 

Solution two:

  1. d3 e5
  2. Kd2 e4
  3. Kc3 exd3
  4. b4 dxc2
  5. Qd4 cxb1(Q)
  6. Qxg7 Qd3+
  7. Kb2 Bxg7 mate

Rachels points out that the solution may also begin 1. d4 e5 2. Kd2 exd4 3. b4 d3 4. Kc3

The problem is solved, thanks to Black's stunning excelsior pawn walk. All solutions without the pawn fail, because the white king simply cannot make illegal moves and walk through a check.

Solution three:

  1. d4 d5
  2. Bd2 Nc6
  3. Na3 Nxd4
  4. Bb4 Nb3
  5. Qxd5 e6
  6. Qxb7 Kd7
  7. Kd1 Bxb4 
  8. Qxc8+ Kxc8 mate

Rachels and Speelman collaborated on this puzzle for a while and came to the conclusion that, if the black and white pieces are switched, the position can be reached half a move earlier.

Both chess masters are fine gentlemen and it seems nobody wanted to take credit of whom found the quicker solution.

Quicker Solution three:

  1. Nf3 Nc6
  2. Ne5 Nd4
  3. Nxd7 Nxe2
  4. Nb6 Qxd2
  5. Kxd2 Bh3
  6. g4 Nxc1
  7. Bb5+ Kd8
  8. Kxc1#

It is simply fantastic how different both solutions look in the end. Both have the same manoeuvre with the King moving in front of the queen, but the biggest difference are the knight moves. Of course the black and white pieces have been switched.

A further analysis is viewable in the replayer.

Solution four:

  1. e3 e5
  2. Na3 Bxa3
  3. Qh5 Bxb2
  4. Bxb2 Ne7
  5. 0-0-0 0-0
  6. Qxf7+ Kh8
  7. Ba1 e4
  8. Kb2 g6
  9. Ka3

Stuart Rachels:

I see only two possible final positions; Black can also play … g5 (instead of … g6). Of course, White can also play Qf3 instead of Qh5.

Unique castling on both sides led to this outcome.

We are looking forward for your analysis, ideas and approaches in the comment section.


Arne Kaehler, a creative thinker who is passionate about board games in general was born in Hamburg and learned how to play chess at a very young age. Through teaching chess to youth teams and creating chess content on YouTube, Arne was able to extend this passion onto others and has even made an online chess course for anyone who wants to learn how to play this game. Currently, Arne blogs for the English news page of ChessBase and focuses on creating promotional and entertaining articles.


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Jooshaak Jooshaak 9/10/2020 03:39
Hi chesslovers
Not that I’m very good at it, but I’m a fan of this type of construction problems.
Problem #1 I solved in a few days, but the second one I couldn’t find. So I looked up the solution and was amazed by the beauty of it. Apart from the last move 7…Bxg7 mate, black uses only one (super)pawn to construct the mate.
I think this method inspired me to approach problem #3 the same way.
Here it goes:
1. d4 e5
2. a4 exd4
3. a5 d3
4. a6 dxc2
5. axb7 cxb1=Q
6. Qxd7+ Kxd7
7. b7xc8=N(R) Bb4+
8. Kd1 Kxc8 mate
Solved by mutual promotion, including a minor one. Quite remarkable that a construction problem has two totally different solutions.
Cheers, Joos Haak
Fritzpa Fritzpa 7/9/2020 03:35
Have finished now though the second one #6 took me three days. Would people like a stream sometime to look at them? Cheers Jon
Fritzpa Fritzpa 7/7/2020 12:15
Hi people, Yes I was just showing my raw analysis with lots of tries before I eventually got there sorry that I didn't promote the correct line. How are people finding the 2nd tranche here? I got the first one v quickly but an finding #2 v hard. Cheers, Jon
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 7/5/2020 12:41
Ah, I see. It seems Arne Kaehler misunderstood something.
JoshuaVGreen JoshuaVGreen 7/5/2020 03:01
@Frits Fritschy, I was clearly mislead by the text "The other solution of the puzzle is in Jonathan Speelman's replayer analysis." Besides (a version of) the intended solution to that problem, I see no lines in the replayer ending in mate. If there's really a significant cook to that problem, it doesn't appear to be there, and it's rather odd to have the most relevant line be buried in a variation.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 7/4/2020 09:27
JoshuaVGreen: Jon was certainly aware of that. He was just showing his road to the solution, which first had a dead end, but later he found the right way.
JoshuaVGreen JoshuaVGreen 7/4/2020 03:51
Jon Speelman's "solution" to the first problem is invalid as that final position isn't mate -- White can play 7. Qc2.
Zvi Mendlowitz Zvi Mendlowitz 7/4/2020 02:22
Maybe the following two problems will be new for some readers:
1. Construct a game that ends in stalemate after 9.5 moves.
2. Construct a game that ends in stalemate after 12.0 moves, with no capture.