What makes a good puzzle?   I think it is the element of surprise.   You study the position for ages but can’t find a winning move then you look up the solution and go “Wow!”   ‘Why didn’t I see that?”   That’s why I don’t like easy puzzles.  It’s no fun if you can find the solution quickly …. and you don’t learn anything.

Leonard Barden had a great puzzle the other day in the “Evening Standard Newspaper” where he asked the reader to find mate in 1 move.   Should be easy, but like most readers I couldn’t find it.   Then he said “set up the position on a chessboard” and the trick became apparent.   In fact there were 9 mates in one as Black had 9 pawns in the position and every time you took away an extra pawn there was a different mate.  A great trick!

I can’t match that, but the other day I was playing through a Fischer game on my iPad over lunch and I came across the “Wow” factor.   Fischer made a great move that stopped his opponent Pal Benko in his tracks.

For today’s puzzle, let’s say you are Benko and you are considering either 1…Qe5, 1…Qd6 or 1…Qc8.  One of these moves is a big blunder that allowed Fischer to unleash his combination.  Which move did Benko play and what was Fischer’s surprise reply?

[fen caption=”Black to Play”]3r2k1/6Pn/p4pQ1/1pq2P2/2p1Bp1P/2P2P2/PP6/6RK b KQkq – 0 1[/fen]


Benko played 1…Qc8?? and Fischer hit him with 2.Qe8+!! Rxe8 3.Bd5+ and Black can resign.