Sunday, April 19, 2009

Easy win in four moves

The following diagram is a problem by Lord Dunsany (Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany, 1878-1957), who was English man of literature and theatrical writer and good chess player with draws in games against Jose Raoul Capablanca.

A specimen of the poetic expression of Lord Dunsany :
"One art they say is of no use;
The mellow evenings spent at chess,
The thrill, the triumph, and the truce
To every care, are valueless.
"And yet, if all whose hopes were set
On harming man played chess instead,
We should have cities standing yet
Which now are dust upon the dead."

(Problem 349)
Lord Dunsany,
"Week-end Problems Book" by Hubert Phillips, 1932
Mate in 4 moves. Two solutions.
#4 retro ( 8 + 16 )

The diagram is accompanied by a story : Someone enters in a chess club and sees the pieces arranged this way on a chess board. They inform him "two eccentric gents were playing a game and when the White, who were ready to make a move, announced [Mate in 4 moves, with two ways!] the Black left angry and after him the White left also. Can you discover the continuation?"

While the hero of the story is thinking, can you dear readers find the two solutions of the problem?
If I do not receive comments with the solution, I will publish it soon at the end of this post.


Roberto Stelling said...

Nice story!
It is easy to picture the dumbfounded glances to this strange position.
The mate is easy to find once you figure out that black has all his pawns on the 7th rank! The position would be illegal otherwise as there is no other way for the black queen and king swap places!
So the solutions are:
1. Nc6! and 1. Nd7! (1. Na6 doesn't work due to 1. ... Nh3).

Eric said...

This must be a famous problem. I saw it long ago In Scientific American magazine. Then it was included in a book "The Second Scientific American Book of Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions" (Page 153)

I remember it well because the given solution was wrong and mine was the same as Roberto so well stated.

This is the exceptional kind of problem that stays in ones mind for years.

If you liked this one you will love Smulyans book "The Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes".

Each one has a Nice Story.

West Eareham, MA

alkinoos said...

I am glad that my posts attract new readers. You are commenting on an (over one year) old post, but you are still very welcomed!
Thank you.