Whoopee!   100 Puzzles!   Not a record, but a small landmark perhaps.   How shall we celebrate?  Perhaps I’ll give you a really cute puzzle with only a few pieces on the board.

How do we go about successfully solving chess puzzles?   If they are composed problems, the solution is invariably to silliest looking move on the board.  I generally look first for a long queen move into a corner away from the action and often that’s  the solution!   In chess we train our brain to look for familiar patterns that we can recognise and hence cut down on the number of moves that we have to look at.  This is OK for easy puzzles – if you’ve seen one knight fork you have seen them all – but the more difficult puzzles often involve some counter-intuitive move.   Backwards moves for instance are very hard to find.   I recall one problem that I slaved over where Black had to retreat his Q from e5 back to h8 and I never found it.   My usual advice to look at all checks and captures works a lot of the time, but not always.   “Interference” solutions are difficult also.   I remember one beautiful Tony Miles game where White had rooks on e1 and e8 and a B on f6.   All three pieces were performing a valuable function so Miles solution was …Be5!! and no matter which White piece captured the free B on e5 it blocked one of the defensive functions that the pieces were performing and allowed Miles to win.   Not many people would have found that move.

Today’s puzzle is difficult also simply because the solution is counter-intuitive.  I solved it after a very long think and it was worth the effort because the solution is so pretty.   If you are a regular solver then you can help me celebrate by finding the solution quickly.   Good luck.

[fen caption=”White to play and win”]8/7k/5K2/8/5NR1/p7/8/5r2 w – – 0 1[/fen]

ANSWER:

1.Kf7. Now if 1…Kh6 2.Kg8!! threatens 3.Rg6# so Black is force to play 2…Rxf4 3.Rxf4 1-0. Alternatively 1…Rh1 2.Rg7+ Kh6 3.Kg8!! and it’s mate after 3…Rg1 4.Rxg1 a2 5.Rg6#.

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