Chess for fun and entertainment

by Frederic Friedel
10/3/2023 – Chess is normally a battle between two intellects. But the game is so rich and multifaceted that it offers much more. For instance, you can create a wealth of imaginative studies and problems, positions that do not occur in regular games. They can be very profound, very difficult, but also highly entertaining! Here are three that will test your skill and imaginativeness in really fun ways.

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Puzzle 1

Mate in one

This is a clever little position. A minute or two will probably convince you that there is no plausible solution. The best way to find the required mate in one is to think – laterally!

Puzzle 2

So many temptations! The badly exposed black king has a single flight square (e7), and White has all his its pieces pointed at the enemy king. In addition there are three white pawns that can promote to additional queens, rooks, bishops or knights.

Your task it is to find the forced mate in two. You can do this by executing trial white moves.  The diagram will defend for Black. Use your cursor keys to move back and try something else. The notation button below the board will display all the attempts you have made so far.

You will only be able to mate in two if you play one specific first move. All other moves will allow Black to defend. Another fun task: find out why all the other promising moves do not work. The diagram will help you figure everything out.

Now that you have been fooling around with potential pawn promotions, here is a problem where Black has four pawns ready to promote and join the fray.

Puzzle 3

It looks like Black has overwhelming forces – potentially multiple queens to help him hold the position – and in fact win. How can White overcome the defensive potential of the opponent to prevail? Here again it is your task to move the white pieces and overcome the resistance the diagram will come up with. Warning: it is not a short process. 

Full video solutions will be given in a few days.

Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.


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Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 10/5/2023 09:49
There is a simple solution to all problems: give composers a chance to publish their new creations on chessbase. These will not be in the databases so there is no problem with giving credits. People can of course still use chess programs to solve them, so a solving contest is useless. Instead, award yearly prizes for the best compositions. If you want reader feedback, let them rate the compositions for a 'public prize'.
Frederic Frederic 10/5/2023 08:55
There is a reason I leave out the credit in the initial presentation of the puzzles, which readers are asked to solve on our live diagrams (which defend against false solutions). You can usually simply highlight the credit line, right click and use "Search Google for ..." to get the solution. That is one reason I abandoned my Christmas Puzzle Week -- after decades of fun with it.

In the follow-up report I always give full and precise credits to the problems or studies. Tomorrow (Friday) the solutions to the current problems will be presented.
FairPlay07 FairPlay07 10/5/2023 12:38
@Frits Fritschy: My complaint was addressed exclusively to Frederic Friedel:
1. In his [rare!] reports from the solving events, John Nunn always mentioned the authors and the sources.
2. In her very well documented monthly articles, Sarah Hornecker always gives the authors and the sources.
And, by the way, it is very easy to search for a certain position and/or stipulation in online chess problem databases.

I am aware the compositions are not so interesting for many chess amateurs, who might be quite surprised to learn that Marjan Kovačević is actually the current president of the World Federation for Chess Composition and a leading expert composer of direct twomovers. So he definitely knows how difficult is the task realized in the 2nd diagram!

So, I would therefore suggest, Frederic, to get in touch with Marjan and discuss together several topics:
a) A regular column "Chess is Fun" for presenting chess compositions in an attractive way.
b) A better application for an ideal presentation of chess compositions. Your PGN engine might be suitable for endgames, but it is not fit for certain chess compositions.
c) A regular column for presenting chess solving tips and tricks.

Who knows: maybe some young Chessbase readers will become future chess solvers or chess composers.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 10/4/2023 10:19
Say 10 years ago chessbase was a bit sloppy with crediting, but since then, they have improved. If you follow the site regularly, you know that with problems/studies proper crediting comes with showing the solution. Maybe that makes it a bit harder to find the solution by looking it up in that 'another problem database'... I agree calling them puzzles is a bit weird, but maybe that will help in making compositions more palatable to the 'less discerning' public.
FairPlay07 FairPlay07 10/4/2023 06:12
Sadly, I must say I fully agree with Marjan Kovacevic and Joose Norri, Frederic!

It is a certain lack of consideration to chess composers to refer to their creations as being "puzzles", instead of using the more adequate terms "problems" and "endgame studies".
It is an even more lack of respect to quote their creations without indicating at least the authors' names and the publication dates. Would you do the same with a famous combination occurring in a chess game?!

While I appreciate and share your enthusiasm towards chess compositions, please pay more attention to these small details.

Thank you very much for your understanding.
Frederic Frederic 10/4/2023 07:50
We will provide full sources + video solutions tomorrow.
JNorri JNorri 10/4/2023 06:25
And the third one is Бирнов, Зиновий Маркович, Шахматы в СССР, Jun 1939; an early example of a matrix that was later developed by several composers. These are intellectual property fully in the same way as a Shakespeare sonet is, and they must be attributed by name at least.
Marjan Kovacevic Marjan Kovacevic 10/4/2023 12:58
The problem No.2 wasn't composed for fun and entertainment, neither to serve as a puzzle. It took Frank Stimson (1883-1959) weeks and months to create a #2 with 6 different mates after King moves, 5 of them provided by the key-move. He surely deserved his name to be quoted here, together with the source and date of the first publication: "Good Companion", February 1918. These facts could easily be found in the free online database YACPDB, and other sources.
mz-riga mz-riga 10/3/2023 06:25
Got #1 and #3 (mate in 14). BTW, #2 "diagram engine" does nor work correctly, for example on 1.fgN it replies R:d7 (leads to 2.R:d7x) instead of say 1...R:a7 preventing mate.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 10/3/2023 02:58
There is a search box in the grey bar above the title. 'Snowflake' doesn't give anything useful, but 'staircase' does. The staircase theme is very well known in chess composition. In, 16 years ago, you will find a study by Didukh with it. Is it what you were looking for?
Werewolf Werewolf 10/3/2023 02:03
Does anyone from Chessbase remeber a puzzle from about 15 years ago called the snowflake or maybe the staircase? It was a very pretty puzzle.
brian8871 brian8871 10/3/2023 01:54
It took me a minute, but I figured out the trick in the first puzzle. And the third is a diabolical route to victory.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 10/3/2023 01:30
I found a solution for the first problem, but I can't imagine it's right, because there are two ways to 'think laterally' and two different mates. Even so, it would be a second solution as then there would be an unintended way of lateral thinking. Of course the obvious move in the diagram is not the right solution.
Werewolf Werewolf 10/3/2023 12:10
Puzzle 1 is cute