CHESS Magazine puzzles (solutions)

2/8/2021 – It's a little late for New Year's celebrations, but never too late to have some fun. In the January issue of the UK CHESS magazine readers were challenged to solve eight unusual problems, which we shared with you last week – with live diagrams on which you could work things out. Today we have added full annotated solutions.

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The puzzles below have been taken from Chess Magazine January/2021, with kind permission of the editor. The problems were selected and annotated by Graham Phythian, who is a 
member, librarian and publicity officer of the Chorlton Chess Club, Manchester. Graham has been compiling the club Christmas Quiz for the last 20 years.

CHESS Magazine was established in 1935 by B.H. Wood who ran it for over fifty years. It is published each month by the London Chess Centre and is edited by IM Richard Palliser and Matt Read. The Executive Editor is Malcolm Pein, who organises the London Chess Classic.

CHESS is mailed to subscribers in over 50 countries. You can subscribe from Europe and Asia at a specially discounted rate for first timers here, or from North America here.

The fully annotated solutions to the puzzles were published in the February 2021 issue and will be added to the replayer at the bottom of this page, in the coming week.


a) White played 15.Nd6, to which Black, wary of the worrying check on h7, replied 15...Nf8. What happened next? And b) Was there a better defence for Black?

Famously, cinema-goers were treated to this position, three years after it was played. An amorous Muscovite was indirectly involved.


White is a pawn down, with a clearly inferior pawn structure to boot, so he wasn’t too surprised when he went on to lose. But what possibilities did he miss?


White has a nifty finesse which avoids the drawing traps and mates in eight.


A Short Story. Louise was playing a game of chess with Uncle Henry, and as usual was winning easily. She was just about to deliver mate with the rook, when Uncle Henry interrupted: "Hey, let's make it more interesting. Let me stipulate the conditions of your checkmate!"

"What do you mean?" asked Louise.

"What if I specify which piece you deliver mate with?" said Uncle Henry, furtively eyeing the knight trapped in the corner. "You mate me with the knight in ten moves," replied the wily old woodpusher. "And you can't take any of my pawns, or allow them to move."

Louise looked at the position for a minute or two, then replied: "OK, you're on." How did she manage it?

Here are the annotated solutions on our replay board. You can start an engine (fan icon) to analyse alternate lines – and perhaps find out why certain moves do not work.


Discussion and Feedback Join the public discussion or submit your feedback to the editors


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Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/9/2021 09:59
Graham (I presume),
See the websites of Edward Winter and Tim Krabbé for a complete story on Ortueta-Sanz. I haven't yet found the analysis of the position without the pawns on e6 and g5. Krabbé asserts it is 'a Q vs. R endgame that Black can win without too much trouble' and after a bit longer look myself, I can only agree. Krabbé suggests that in this stylised version, the pawns were left out to make sure there are no other solutions, so there is a point to use this position in a quiz context.
You ascribe position 8 to Horwitz, 1889, but there is a problem with that as the man died in 1885. But on a problem database (yacpdb[dot]org) I found it is indeed by Bernhard Horwitz, published in 1882 in Dufresne, Sammlung leichterer Schachaufgaben 2. And Chernev is not to blame, because the original source (at least the pdf-reprint on internet) also has a white pawn on h3. Whether Horwitz had it right, I couldn't tell. The internet version of the book doesn't give an earlier source.
maharg64 maharg64 2/9/2021 08:34
The Ortueta-Sanz position I took from The Penguin Book of Chess Positions by C. H. O'D. Alexander (Penguin 1973) pp. 163 and 168. No pawns are shown on e6 and g5, and Alexander's assessment is that once Black has taken the QRP with the new queen, "Black should ultimately win the ending". It would be interesting to see the full analysis.
Quite right that position 8 is illegal - I noticed that myself. The position is exactly as it appears on p. 170 of Chernev's The Chess Companion (Faber 1970). Probably a misprint, and the perfect remedy, as Frits Fritschy points out, would be to make the h3 pawn black! Thanks for this.
I ope that enough readers found many things to enjoy in my Quiz!
lnlver lnlver 2/8/2021 06:10
The key point in problem #7 is that if Black plays 7... Be5 to attack White's rook, then White's 8th move Nc7 is double checkmate.
Turm_Eric Turm_Eric 2/8/2021 05:38
PS: I was looking at the solutions here... 2,5 and 7 are called "study"... (and: oh well, positions from classic games & an echt Study like this by Platov Bros are also "unusual problems" and/or "puzzles") Cheers
Turm_Eric Turm_Eric 2/8/2021 05:06
@Frederic: No problem (in another sense...) ; it's just a remark, not a complaint. Thank You for the attention
Frederic Frederic 2/8/2021 04:44
"UK CHESS magazine readers were challenged to solve eight unusual problems," and called them "Puzzles". I do not understand your complaint, Turm_Eric.
Turm_Eric Turm_Eric 2/8/2021 03:33
2, 5, 7 are PROBLEM, not (sic) "Study". Can't believe the Editor of a serious magazine would fall for it
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/8/2021 01:04
A little historical inaccuracy: in Ortueta-Sanz, there were also black pawns on e6 and g5. Not that unimportant: winning the endgame Q vs RN might not be so easy without them. Put the white rook on f3 and a pawn on h3, and white can sacrifice the knight for the a-pawn (or block it on a3) to get a fortress position. It has been analysed to a black win I believe, but I can't find that analysis anymore.
And I still think that in problem 8, the pawn on h3 should be black. No composer would allow a illegal position if not necessary.
Frederic Frederic 2/5/2021 02:11
See your point, JoshuaVGreen. I changed it into your caption.
JoshuaVGreen JoshuaVGreen 2/4/2021 12:38
It seems wrong to stipulate Puzzle 7 as "White to play and win" when White has several ways to achieve victory. The correct stipulation is (apparently) "White to play and mate in eight."
Turm_Eric Turm_Eric 2/4/2021 12:37
1 and 6 I knew already; 2, 5 and 7 are too easy, with obvious keys and forced play; from 3 believe I got the introduction already, still some work on this; from 4 I have kind of a deja-vu impression, know the idea, not yet sure about the play; 8 I like problems with stories. The story here is entertaining, hope the problem show also some wit
JoshuaVGreen JoshuaVGreen 2/4/2021 12:31
@Frits Fritschy, good eye!
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/3/2021 06:20
In puzzle 8, shouldn't the pawn on h3 be black? It doesn't make a difference for the solution, but then the position would be legal. By the way, too bad that two moves are interchangeable.