Chess tournaments can be great fun but if you have a quick win (or loss) the problem arises of what to do in the time between rounds.

One solution is for tournament organisers to put up some puzzles on the wall for players to try to solve between rounds.  This works well at the RJ Shield where I sometimes set up a “find the grandmaster move” puzzle and then we can also use the time before the prize-giving to go through the solution with the kids.  At the recent Victorian Youth Championships there were a number of endgame puzzles put up so when the kids started their games I sat down with Frank Meerbach (one of the Chess Kids coaches) and had a look at the puzzles.  I always like catching up with Frank as he enjoys a good puzzle and invariably has a few good new ones to show me.

We started off with the puzzle in the diagram below which Frank had been pondering over.  After a couple of minutes I worked out the solution.  The technique that I use I to ask myself questions about the position.   For example “How am I going to win – can I win his material or do I win by checkmating his King?”  If I’m going for checkmate “Which square can I checkmate him on?”  Then “which piece is the one most likely to give checkmate.”

In the puzzle below the questions for Black are obvious.  “Can I stop him Queening.”   “Can I checkmate his King?”  “If I can’t stop him queening can I win his Queen.”  “Which piece is most likely to be able to take the queen, my rook or knight?”   Hopefully you get the idea.   Several days later I was driving home and my mind drifted back to this puzzle when an alternative solution suddenly hit me.  “Why can’t Black play ….. and win” I pondered.   Perhaps I had cooked the puzzle.  (A “cook” is an alternative solution).  To my surprise when I set up the position on my computer it found a very sneaky flaw in my second solution which allowed White to draw.  So your task for today is to find both “solutions” and the resource that I missed.   Enjoy….

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