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?



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.


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