I’m in New Zealand at the moment working with our Kiwi friends and got this email from the office:

The mysterious Russian chess master was back again! All this while I had thought you made it up, well I met him today. 🙂

He asked for you and I said you were away.

He set up a position on a chess board and then asked for a pen and paper. This is what he wrote (for you):

[fen caption=”White to Play and Win”]8/k7/4P3/4K3/5B2/P7/8/r7 w – – 4 20[/fen]

Apparently he could converse a little (frequently referring to a small black book, to look up words) and doesn’t live very far from us. Looks like he will be back again, very soon!

Does anyone know how to say “What is the answer?” in Russian?

There are 2 things to realise about this position:

1. If White loses the e-pawn it is a draw (even if he wins the rook in the process). The a-pawn can’t promote, even with the help of the bishop because the bishop doesn’t control the a8 queening square. Black can just hide his king on white squares and the pawn will never promote – stalemate is the best outcome.

2. If White can promote and reach a Q v R endgame then White wins.

Knowing these two things I came up with a line which would protect the e-pawn as it races those last few steps towards the end of the board.

1. Be3+ Kb7 2. e7 Rxa3 3. Ba7!! (preventing the rook from going to a8 and stopping the pawn)

I’ll let you work out the remaining tricks Black can try to stop the pawn…

2 Responses to ““I thought you made it up””

  1. March 10, 2011 at 2:33 pm, Tomasz said:

    “What is the answer?”

    In Russian you have you say:

    “Kakheey otvyet?”, but in chess terms (it is better if) you should say: “Kakh bhi vhi tskhralee?”


  2. March 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm, Ichigo said:

    Instead of Rxa3, why not play Re1?