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.

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"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 is also a chartered accountant. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He and is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest chess news outlet in the country.
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chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 2/25/2019 07:36
If my memory serves me right I had informed ChessBase Editors about the name of the composer and the source on 21st February. However, I had added, my name did not have to be mentioned. Now my “cover” is blown! Meanwhile I am glad a fellow reader has found it around the same time. As a connoisseur, he deserves all credit. Meanwhile the date of composition needs a little clarification. While the problem was composed and sent in 1904 to Norwich Mercury competition, the solution and the result (first prize) appeared on the 1st March, 1905 issue of the paper.
The three-mover we are seeing here is just the tip of the iceberg. If readers see his other compositions, they would be even more astonished. Such is the beauty of his work.
-Prof. Nagesh Havanur
santiagohart santiagohart 2/25/2019 07:34
Approx 5-10mins, admit that i had seen initial part of the video from Sagar where he gave this to young kids and they were throwing out some random moves but nothing close to the answer. I am rated around 1800..Thanks for posting
Poisondart Poisondart 2/25/2019 05:10
45 sec....easy
sp0623 sp0623 2/25/2019 05:03
"Subsequently, our friend Prof. Nagesh Havanur has provided the information..." - Not before a Facebook user named 'Shatanik Mukhuti' came up with the identity of the composer four days ago. Here's what he wrote: "According to the winchloe database this beautiful problem was composed by the spanish chess player and composer Valentin Marin Y LLovet, published in Norwich Mercury (1904-05, 1st Prize), the main idea involves a hidden line clearance." Nitpicking, yes, but credit where credit is due.
majorbackes majorbackes 2/25/2019 04:10
10 min moving the pieces ... I didn´t see wrong paths, for that it is not so difficult ( I am aroun 2000)
Kokoschka Kokoschka 2/25/2019 03:49
exd1 ceeker.
houdiman houdiman 2/25/2019 03:24
Think I cracked it!
Took me 5min.🙄
pranav100th pranav100th 2/25/2019 03:13
I am a beginner,so dont know the solution i found is correct, it took 10 mins. As suggested above, not giving the solution here, rather i would wait till Wednesday.
Frederic Frederic 2/25/2019 01:56
Thanks, Griffedours, exactly what we are looking for. We'll file these stats. BTW how long did YOU take?
Griffedours Griffedours 2/25/2019 01:52
showed it to a 2300 player, he found it in 15 minutes.
And to a 2100 player, he found it in 20 minutes, blinfold.
Both were given somme hints.