Christmas CHESS Quiz

by ChessBase
12/25/2022 – To help you enjoy your seasonal feast, we have a turkey, a tree and a turbulent priest; a circus trip, a corkscrew and a silent (k)night – and lots more for your festive chess delight! Graham Phythian presents some fun and challenging positions to help you while away the festive period. They all appear in the Christmas section of CHESS Magazine, which has a special gift ready for you. You can download the entire magazine to read, free of charge! In any case we all wish you a Merry Christmas – CHESS and ChessBase.

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A turkey is often the centrepiece of a traditional Christmas spread, so here’s one, complete with chestnut stuffing (turkey: slang a thing that fails, dud; chestnut: informal an old joke; stuff: slang, to ruin or defeat – Collins English Dictionary 2018)


From this position, Black played the apparently forceful 1...c6, threatening both the rook and mate on the heavily overloaded h2-square. 

a) What happened after 1...c6?
b) What strong alternative to 1...c6 did Black miss?

Your Christmas Tree – a Classic!


The Slinking Bishop (an implausible short story)

There was a diverting drama during a match at the club a couple of weeks ago. Tom, not our strongest player by any means, found himself up against the County Champion from a rival club. Our man had the white pieces, to his great credit played out of his skin and, after a hair-raising king hunt, reached the position given below.


Black had just played ...Ba7, obviously unwilling to move the f4-pawn, as White then has a simple mate by Ke3 followed by Bb1, then Kd3 and Bc2#. Tom’s opponent, after playing ...Ba7, offered the draw.

“All I have to do is toggle the bishop back and forth between a7 and b8,” he commented. “I’m quite happy to do that until kingdom come.”

Tom thought for a bit then happily accepted the draw. But then, as the visiting team was leaving the room, Tom couldn’t help but notice the huge and self-satisfied grin on the face of his swiftly departing adversary.

Naturally we conducted a lively post-mortem on the position. Had Tom been swindled?

I observed that White could win a pawn by 1.gxf4, but Tom (and others) patiently pointed out that Black’s 1...g3! freed both his bishops and gave him a very playable game.

“If only I could leapfrog my e4-bishop over my king to c2!” cried Tom. “Instant checkmate!” How we laughed... We all went home agreeing that there was no way for White to progress, and that Tom had done well to take the draw against such a highly graded opponent.

There the drama might have ended, but the very next week one of our top players dropped the bombshell: he had looked long and hard at the position and was convinced he had found a forced win for White! Can you do as well?

Anyone Got a Corkscrew?


There’s a tempting sacrificial move here for White, which no doubt appeals to your inner swashbuckler. But does it work in all variations? I promise you’ll have fun finding out!

Silent (K)night? Not Quite...


Her majesty goes on an energetic walkabout, but it’s the knight-in-waiting (currently pinned, and threatened big time) who surprisingly delivers the winning move. White to play and win.

The solutions will be given in the first week of January. Please do not give any in the feedback section below. We don't want to spoil the fun of readers still working on them.

CHESS Magazine

CHESS cover

The Christmas puzzles above, selected and described by Graham Phythian, were reproduced from Chess Magazine January/2023, with kind permission.

Graham is librarian and publicity officer for Chorlton Chess Club, Manchester, England.

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, or subscribe from North America.

As a special Christmas gift CHESS Magazine has given all our users a chance to download the January issue in PDF, free of charge!  

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