Mad Queen problem – the solution

by Frederic Friedel
4/9/2021 – It was an Easter puzzle. We asked you to take a try to solve this truly remarkable study by a truly remarkable composer, Mario Matouš. You were asked to win the position against a rampaging queen which wants to sacrifice itself to stalemate the black monarch. Were you able to solve it? Many readers found the problem quite difficult, and extremely clever. Today we give you the full solution, on a replay board with full engine support.

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Here's the challenge we presented to our readers on Easter Sunday: 

 

Try winning the above position with the white pieces. You can enter moves, and the diagram will defend with Black. If you want to try a different defence you just go back and enter a black move yourself. The board will switch sides and the engine will continue with the white pieces.

You have solved the study if you can clearly win it against the engine. Can you capture the queen without stalemating the black king?

Solution

 

You can replay the solution and switch on the engine (fan icon below the board) to analyse. The main use of engine support: you can find out why alternate moves do not work, or if Black has alternate defences for which there are different white attacks.

Here is some of the feedback posted after our Easter publication:

  • HolaAmigo: Got it. Nice one! Amazing the amount of defensive resources! You just have to change your frame of mind. It is great that the diagram gives the replies!
  • Martin Minski: How can you compose this in 1982, when there were no (good) computers? Matous is a master indeed! Thanks for the great article!
  • Railbird890: Solved in about an hour. One of the most difficult puzzles I have ever seen.
  • Poiuy Trewq: To me, this was the most frustrating chess puzzle I have ever seen. It took me six hours of thought over three days to finally put all the pieces together (so to speak) and win as White. I have never seen a problem with a "mad Queen" before, so that is probably why it took me so long – there were so many ways Black could "blow up" the position! In the end it was satisfying to solve, but at times I doubted my sanity as every "key" move I came up with had issues until at last the steps became clear.
  • Gonnawin: It's a wonderful study which demand a lot of finesse for keeping the mad queen under control. Have been drinking a couple of beers while solving it. Thinking about Matouš, how he enjoyed beer in the beautiful city of Prague. One of the best memorial articles ever written, its brutally honest and very interesting to read about the great composer.

Do tell us what your opinion of the study is. Did you enjoy the "mad queen" theme? Assuming many did, JoshuaVGreen gave us another example, clearly inspired by Matous:

 

Once again the diagram will defend against your efforts to mate Black in nine moves. You have to be very precise. Have fun – like we did with this position (thanks Joshua!).


Editor-in-Chief emeritus of the ChessBase News page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.

Discuss

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chengtaixi chengtaixi 4/12/2021 10:42
the engine can't solve this problem, please check!
Denix Denix 4/10/2021 11:43
OMG! Thanks for the solution.
Frederic Frederic 4/10/2021 09:39
Thanks, Poiuy Trewq, I have added that to the notation in the replayer.
Michael Jones Michael Jones 4/9/2021 10:20
Amazing problem, but there was no way I was ever going to solve it. I guessed the solution had to involve playing Rf6 at some point to allow gxf6 lifting the stalemate. Doing so by gxf7 didn't occur to me, and even if it had I certainly wouldn't have found the sequence necessary to get there.
Poiuy Trewq Poiuy Trewq 4/9/2021 09:56
Nice to see many plausible variations shown which highlight the key squares for both sides. There are other subsidiary lines that also show how Black can stop a promising line for White dead in its tracks; e.g., 1.Rc4 Qd7 2.Rd5 Qe8 3.Re4 Qa8 4.Re1 Qf8 5.Rf5 Qa8 6.Rf3 Qb8, then, instead of 7.Rff1, either 7.Ref1? or 7.Rfe3? with the apparent threat of the doubled rooks forcing the issue, only for the Black Queen to interpose herself along the file by 7 ... Qf4 or 7 ... Qe5. This problem has more layers than an onion, and is truly a gift that keeps on giving!!
JoshuaVGreen JoshuaVGreen 4/9/2021 12:12
The source for the #9 is the April-June 2021 issue of "StrateGems." Duras Memorial, 1982 is the source of Mario Matouš's study, at least according to @EmilyV.
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