Studies for fun and entertainment

by Frederic Friedel
9/2/2022 – Today we start with an experiment. We will be presenting you with some unusual and interesting studies. They are clever and rather difficult to solve. But all of them are fun. We will present the studies on replay diagrams, where there will be an engine that will defend against your attempts to win (or draw), as the studies demand. The solutions with full explanations will be provided in a few days.

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Note that I am switching on the feedback section. Please do not give solutions to the puzzle – and ruin the fun for other readers. Just tell us what you think about them, how long it took you to solve, and how difficult you thought the studies were.

The solutions will come in full detail in a few days. There you will learn all the fine details of the position, in terms even a casual chess enthusiast can understand. I will of course not give the source of the study today. It is too easy to look it up with Google.

So let us get started. Here is the first study with two questions:

 

The first task for you is to think about the legality of the above position. If it is White to play, what could have been the last black move? And the white move before that. It is for you to find. Not completely trivial.

The second is to solve the position. You know you can move the pieces on the above diagram. An engine will try to defend, and will refute any unsound attempts of White to win.

The second study is quite baffling.

 

There are many tempting moves, but believe it or not, only one key move will secure the win. Here we have switched the engine off. You should try to find the correct path to victory all on your own, moving the pieces for White and for Black.

Initial thoughts: White can stop the black h-pawn from promoting, but if he plays 1.Ke4, Black simply attacks the sixth rank pawn. For instance, he plays 1...dxc6 and now has two separate passed pawns that are heading for promotion.

So clearly the first move will be a pawn capture, but which is the only one of the four possible captures that wins. This is what you should work out. Note that the first button below the diagram takes you back to the starting position, so you can try different lines, one after the other.

One final study, for today. It is very clever, but also very amusing.

 

White has a vicious attack with queen and two rooks against the enemy king. But one rook is pinned, and the black b-pawn is threatening to promote with checkmate. Fortunately, White has a clear drawing strategy: 1.Rh6+ Qxh6 2.Qa8+ Kh7 3.Qb7+ Qa8+. Black is helpless to prevent the repeated checks by the white queen. So the draw is certain.

But can White get more? Yes, he can. The supreme beauty of this problem is that White can actually capture all of Black's pieces (except for the knight in a6) by checking – 36 times in a row! But it must be done artfully. Can you do it on the diagram above? We have switched the engine on, and it will immediately refute any carelessness on your part.

That's enough fun for today. Expect the solutions and full explanations on Monday, which gives you a full weekend to solve them yourself. Once again: do not post solutions in the feedback session below. Only your thoughts on the studies and on this form of presentation.


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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