Kramnik's challenge: Find the mate in three

by Sagar Shah
2/25/2019 – Here's a very tough problem which was given to Vishy Anand by Vladimir Kramnik — a challenge from one World Champion to another. Anand was in the city of Pune, India for a two-day workshop for players from all over the country. At one stage he showed them a chess problem that his predecessor Vladimir Kramnik had given him. A crowd, including three GMs and seven IMs racked their brains, more or less unsuccessfully. We ask you to do the same.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


"Chess teaches you to work with data"

The Hindustan Times reported on Anand's workshop, ChampCoach. The five-time World Champion and supreme Indian chess hero explained what he aimed to achieve with the workshop, and also spoke about the overall impact the sport had on him and how he hopes others can feel the same way about it as well.

Hindustan times headline

Headline from the Hindustan Times

Here are some quotes:

"I remember how the interaction I had with established chess players when I was young left a deep impression on me. I feel that this sort of an interaction at a young age can guide the participants [of ChampCoach] in the right direction and help them avoid making mistakes they don’t have to spend time unlearning."

Asked about the benefits chess has, apart from sharpening the mind:

"I think it has a number of benefits. Working, learning, practicing, persisting at things despite them eluding you for a while, all these things are useful life skills. Besides that, I think chess teaches you to work with data and a lot of information because of the nature of the way you learn in the game. It teaches you to avoid making hasty decisions when you’re tense and also things to do with self-control and being objective."

Who are the youngsters bursting on to the chess scene in India:

"There is Gukesh D, grandmaster from Tamil Nadu in the u-12 category, Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, fourth-youngest person ever to achieve the title of grandmaster, Chithambaram Aravindh, World U-14 Chess Championship in 2012, many more names I am forgetting. There are quite a few youngsters and I feel that we have the most depth in chess from a very young age. I see a bright future for them because if they’ve already become grandmasters at the age of 13 then they have a lot of time on their hands."

Kramnik's chess problem

During the inauguration of the training centre, after the ribbon was cut and pictures were taken, Anand pulled out his mobile phone and loaded a very interesting mate in three problem for the young chess talents gathered around him. Among them were three GMs (including India's no. 3 Vidit Gujrathi) and seven IMs who racked their brains over the position.

The problem was sent to Anand by his World Champion predecessor Vladimir Kramnik, but nobody knew the composer of the problem at the time. Subsequently, our friend Prof. Nagesh Havanur has provided the information: It was the Spanish composer and player, Valentin Marin y Llovet, (1872–1936) who sent it to the Norwich Mercury competition in 1904 and received the first prize for the same in 1905.

Here it is:


As you probably know it is possible to move pieces on the diagram above. Try to find the solution to the problem and compete with the GMs and IMs in Pune. For your information: in the end, it was only IM and chess trainer Prathamesh Mokal who managed to crack the problem and provide the correct sequence of moves.

Please do not post any solutions in the feedback section below — just tell us if you were able to solve the problem, how difficult it was and how long it took you.

See the full solution with Vishy Anand himself explaining the mating line and why all the other moves — "tries", as they are called — fail to deliver mate in three moves. If you have looked at the position and moved the pieces around a little you will certainly enjoy Anand's explanations.

Source: ChessBase India

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register