Kavalek at Huffington: solutions to the puzzles

by ChessBase
8/13/2010 – In last week's column, entitled "French Aristocrat's Folly", GM Lubomir Kavalek examined the rules of pawn promotion as formulated by French aristocrat Barthelemy de Basterot and Australian writer Cecil J.S. Purdy, and presented three problems that followed these rules to the letter – but playfully misunderstood their intention. Today Kavalek provides the weird solutions.

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Solutions to last week's puzzles

By GM Lubomir Kavalek

Both writers simply left out the fact that you can promote a pawn into a queen, rook, bishop or knight of the same color only. They also didn't mention that you can't promote your pawn into a King. Renzo Moran discovered all three solutions. Congratulations! You find the solutions after each diagram.

In 1853, a French aristocrat, Barthelemy de Basterot (1800-1887) published in Paris Traite elementaire du jeu des echecs (Elementary Treatise on the Rules of Chess), which included chapters on chess history and literature. Basterot was a strong player, but treated the essential rules rather loosely. For example on pawn promotion he wrote that any pawn reaching the eighth (or last) rank can be changed to any piece a player chooses. The player, he said, was only required to announce what piece it was.

No wonder he became the target of one of the most gifted chess composers, Leonid Kubbel, who created two problems based on Basterot's rules. Both two-movers are playful jokes and the clue lies in what Basterot's definition did not forbid. Here is the first one:

Leonid Kubbel

White mates in two moves

Solution: 1.e8 black king (!!) Kd8 2.Qd7 mates both black kings

Kubbel was not the only one laughing at Basterot's foolishness. I have added a three-mover by the brilliant Czech problemist Emil Palkoska that fits the bill as well.

Emil Palkoska

White mates in three moves

Solution: 1.d8 white king (!!) Kc6 2.Rb2 Kd6 3.Rb6 mate; or 1...Ke6 2.Rf2 Kd6 3.Rf6 mate

Even some great modern chess writers like the Australian Cecil J.S. Purdy, the first world chess correspondence champion, can overlook some essentials. For example, in explaining the limitation to castling, he is silent about castling into a check. On pawn-promotion, he specifies that a pawn, on reaching the farthest row, can become a queen, rook, bishop, or knight, but not a king. What did he miss? The answer is hidden in Kubbel's second composition.

Leonid Kubbel

White mates in two moves

Solution: 1.b8 black bishop (!!) Bh2 2.Qc8 mate; or 1...b5 2. Qxb5 mate

Olivier Pucher from Metz, France, suggested: "1.b7-b8 black bishop is probably the intention, but the way Purdy's rules for promotion are reported, it is not so clear if 1.b7-b8 black pawn would be illegal..." It would allow after 1...b7 or 1...b5 only one mate with the white queen on the square b5. Since Purdy didn't mention that a pawn reaching the last row can stay a pawn (white or black) or that you can have your own pawn on your first rank, it could be considered slightly illegal. But, hey, who are we to argue with a creative Frenchman?

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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