Logic Riddles for Chess Players (9)

by Arne Kaehler
9/27/2020 – After diving into a philosophical puzzle, we are back on track with our logic riddles for chess players. In our ninth part of the series, we have two chess engines competing against each other. Funnily enough, they seem to be exactly equally strong, and the championship cannot find a decisive winner until someone is able to find a solution to this problem.

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The lucky chess engines

Two chess engines are fighting for the title "best lucky chess engine ever". The winner of a ten-game match is considered the luckiest chess engine ever.

Both engines have a 100% belief in their opening choices, no matter the outcome.

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  • If White plays 1.e-pawn, and Black answers with 1. .. d-pawn, white will win
  • If White plays 1.e-pawn, and Black answers with 1. .. c-pawn, white will lose
  • If White plays 1.e-pawn, and Black answers with 1. .. e-pawn, the game ends in a draw

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  • If White plays 1.d-pawn, and Black answers with 1. .. d-pawn, the game ends in a draw
  • If White plays 1.d-pawn, and Black answers with 1. .. c-pawn, white will win
  • If White plays 1.d-pawn, and Black answers with 1. .. e-pawn, white will lose

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  • If White plays 1.c-pawn, and Black answers with 1. .. d-pawn, white will lose
  • If White plays 1.c-pawn, and Black answers with 1. .. c-pawn, the game ends in a draw
  • If White plays 1.c-pawn, and Black answers with 1. .. e-pawn, white will win

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With these guaranteed winning combos in mind, both engine engineers had to grab into a bowl and choose the openings for their engines. the e-,d-, and c- pawns were used for White and Black.

Engine number 1 raffled: six times 1.e-pawn, three times 1.c-pawn, and one time 1.d-pawn

Engine number 2 raffled: four times 1.e-pawn, four times 1.d-pawn and two times 1.c-pawn

The order in which the openings were played, were unknown, and interestingly none of the ten games ended in a draw!

Which engine won the tournament, and what was the final score?

This seems impossible to solve at first, due to the element of randomness, but when checking more closely, the answer is pretty obvious.

Credits go to Hubert Phillips who is claimed to be the original inventor of this puzzle (of course in a very different variation as I have adjusted it), and an avid chess lover, which can be read about in Edward Winters article. It also includes plenty of beautiful "chess" puzzles!

His autobiography, published in 1960, had, moreover, revealed the extent of his love of chess: ‘it’s my favourite game, and always has been’.

Photo: Hubert Phillips
Date circa 1933
Bridge Journal, February 1952
Unknown author

Fritz 17 - The giant PC chess program, now with Fat Fritz

The most popular chess program offers you everything you will need as a dedicated chess enthusiast, with innovative training methods for amateurs and professionals alike.

The unexpected opening paradox

As "dlemper" found out correctly in our comment section, the philosophical riddle was a variation of the "unexpected hanging paradox" puzzle, just a bit less brutal, I might add.

I love paradox themes, and they are very philosophical at times, inviting you to think and talk about. Fritz was not thinking rational at all and got confused with his thoughts. He should have just let it be. But there is still no certain answer to his conclusion.

The overall philosophical thoughts about this riddle are flourishing, if one can assume that Chesster could have lied. In the end, from a none "logical" point of view, who would guarantee that Chesster is surely telling the truth? But once you give a chess genius something paradox to think about, they might get confused.

Those smart minds - they can never stop thinking, am I right?

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Arne Kaehler, a creative thinker who is passionate about board games in general was born in Hamburg and learned how to play chess at a very young age. Through teaching chess to youth teams and creating chess content on YouTube, Arne was able to extend this passion onto others and has even made an online chess course for anyone who wants to learn how to play this game. Currently, Arne blogs for the English news page of ChessBase and focuses on creating promotional and entertaining articles.
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jimliew jimliew 9/28/2020 02:02
This is what chessbase has descended to , in these times of pandemic
JoshuaVGreen JoshuaVGreen 9/27/2020 01:36
This is basically "rock paper scissors," with e-pawn beating d-pawn beating c-pawn beating e-pawn in all cases. We therefore don't have to worry about (unspecified) colors, and we can use the lack of draws to align the opening choices.
Engine 1 played e-pawn six times, and that can't have been against any of Engine 2's four e-pawn plays, hence they must have been against Engine 2's six non-e-pawn plays. That's enough to assign everything; the games were (in some order):

1: c-pawn 2: e-pawn => Engine 1 wins
1: c-pawn 2: e-pawn => Engine 1 wins
1: c-pawn 2: e-pawn => Engine 1 wins
1: d-pawn 2: e-pawn => Engine 2 wins
1: e-pawn 2: d-pawn => Engine 1 wins
1: e-pawn 2: d-pawn => Engine 1 wins
1: e-pawn 2: d-pawn => Engine 1 wins
1: e-pawn 2: d-pawn => Engine 1 wins
1: e-pawn 2: c-pawn => Engine 2 wins
1: e-pawn 2: c-pawn => Engine 2 wins

Thus, Engine 1 won with seven victories to Engine 2's three (and no draws).
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