Christmas Puzzles: Solutions 1

by Frederic Friedel
1/1/2024 – Today we bring you the first instalment of solutions, to the puzzles on our Christmas Day page. It includes charming video of two 14 year old lads solving one of the problems. Today, both are Candidates for the World Championship. Solutions to the next six puzzle pages will follow soon – together with details on our composition competition, which will end on January 15.

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.


December 25: Retrospect: Twenty years of ChessBase Christmas Puzzles

We start with the infamous 1999 ChessBase Christmas Puzzle, given to us at the time by John Nunn: A game begins with 1.e4 and ends in the fifth move with knight takes rook mate.

In 25 years we have never published the solution to this puzzle – and we are not going to start now. Please keep trying. If you are really desperate, you are going to have to do a bit of serious googling.

ChessBase Christmas Puzzle 2000

Here you had to construct a game ends with the move 6.gxf8=N mate. I had given this to two 14 year old grandmasters who in 2020 were being trained by Vladimir Kramnik and Boris Gelfand in Chennai, India. Today, the two have qualified for the Candidates Tournament for the World Championship in 2024.

So what's the solution to the problem? You're going to have to get it from the following video:

Note that Pragg worked it out in Chennai, while Gukesh, whom I had given it to months before, had not been able to find the solution. Sagar Shah of recorded the above video.

Identify this game

We showed you the move the g8-knight made during a very famous game. They were absolutely decisive. The knight tore into the white position, creating mayhem and winning the encounter for Black. You were asked to find the game.

Solution: The knight moves occurred in a very famous game, often referred to as the "Game of the Century", that was played by the 13-year-old Bobby Fischer at the Rosenwald Tournament, New York 1956.You can read an extensive tribute to the game here.

The deadly knight

Here, if you found the correct strategy, you could mate Black in twelve moves. 

The solution: 1.Nxd6+ Kh8 2.Nf7+ Kg8 3.Nxd8+ Kh8 4.Nf7+ Kg8 5.Nxh6+ Kh8 6.Nf7+ Kg8 7.Nxg5+ Kh8 8.Nf7+ Kg8 9.Nxe5+ Kh8 10.Ng6+ Nxg6 11.Rxh7+ Kxh7 12.Rh5#. You can move the white pieces on the diagram, which defends for Black. Do it – it's a lot of fun.

Genrikh Moiseyevich Kasparian

This was my all-time favourite Kasparian study. Here's the solution:

Sam Loyd

The solution to Sam Loyd's famous problems, which was published before he had turned 16, is 1.Rf4 Kxg3 (or 1...Kxh1 2.Kf2 Kh2 3.Rh4#) 2.0-0, This is the move that people tend to overlook – the cleverly hidden option of castling! 2...Kh3 3.R1f3# 1-0

William Anthony Shinkman

The Shinkman problem is a beautiful, almost architectual position. I has a cook that is ugly and convoluted. Incidentally, Shinkman originally intended the position as a retro-analytical exercise. The question was how can one achieve the above position in a normal game of chess, only executing legal moves. It can be reached in 34 moves from the initial position. Both the proof game, the problem solution and the cook are given below:

Raymond Smullyan: How did that happen?

In the above position White has just removed his king from the board. From which square, and what were the last two moves? The solution: the king was on c3. And here is how the position arose:

In this perfectly legal position White plays 1.c4, and after 1...bxc3 e.p. 2. Kxc3 we have the above position, where the white king is on the only square where it can be placed.

All Christmas 2023 puzzles

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.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register