# Pandolfini's Puzzler #20 - Touch a Piece and You Can't Be Wrong

• NM brucepandolfini
• | Dec 13, 2013
• | 8046 views

“I came upon a problem the other day I thought might be entertaining for our class,” Professor Pando began. “I can see on your faces you’re wondering what I mean by that.”
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Zephyr and Lucian looked enthusiastic but also a tiny bit puzzled.
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“What do I mean by entertaining?” the Professor asked himself. “I guess I mean that it’s one of those problems that have easy features about them but also tricky features lurking about. Let’s consider the position in question.”
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“Obviously,” the Professor continued, “this position is not hard for White to win, since White has an overwhelming material advantage. But it’s not as simple as that. White has to mate in two moves.”
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“That’s not so remarkable,” Zephyr countered. “You often give us problems where White has to mate in two moves.”
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“That’s right,” Lucian added. Sometimes you even give us problems where Black has to mate in two moves. That’s not unusual either.”
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“How right the both of you are,” the Professor sighed out loud. “But let me make it a bit more interesting than that. How many pieces does White have here?”
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“Three,” Lucian blurted out. He went on: “The king, the queen, and the rook are White’s pieces.”
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Zephyr put her two cents in as well: “Yes, that’s right, since the pawn at a4 is a pawn, not a piece.”
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“Okay, you’re both correct in what you’ve said. So let me ask my question and stipulate further.”
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“Yes!” remarked the Professor emphatically.
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Question: How can White mate in two moves?
1. (a)By first moving the king?
2. (b)By first moving the rook?
3. (c)By first moving the queen?
“Wow, that does seem to be an intriguing problem,” Zephyr replied.
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“But you’ve given problems like that before,” Lucian commented.
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“Indeed, I have,” the Professor said. And so now I’m giving another one. Let me know when you find all three answers.”
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It took about 15 minutes, but the two whiz kids did come up with all three answers. Can you?
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Answers Below - Try to solve ProfessorPando's Puzzle first!
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The mate with the king is perhaps easiest: 1. Ke6 Ke4  2. Rc4 mate.
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The mate with the rook begins with a cutoff:
1. Re1 Kc4 2. Re4 mate.
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The mate with the queen is somewhat trickier:
1. Qh3 (keeping control of the 3rd rank but also guarding f5) Ke4 2. Rc4 mate.
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Take note
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The mating positions above are not hard to understand. They’re basic ideas that most players learn fairly early on. It’s anticipating where the pieces have to go in order to create those basic setups that make the solutions a little bit more difficult. How does one get better at looking ahead to set up such patterns? By practicing and solving similar problems a lot and often!

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• 7 months ago

On boundingowls's article #4 has 2 answers

• 11 months ago

I'm the other hand: I solved King and Rook in a second but I spent 2 minutes on the Queen.

• 15 months ago

And according to one of your earlier articles if you touch the pawn you have to move your king, so that can't be wrong either!

• 16 months ago

sfrdhtg

• 16 months ago

Wow the king never leaves the 4th rank!

• 17 months ago

Someone tell 'boundingowl' that one of the endgame puzzles has two solutions. There is a mate in two with the queen where the king can move first.

• 17 months ago

Solved 2 in about half a second (litterally). The one i didn't see? The 'easiest' one, with the king.

Funnily enough, the Q one was most intuitive. Maybe because of one of pandolfini's other puzzles with the Qe5-Qb2-Qh2 puzzle?

It took about 15 minutes, but the two whiz kids did come up with all three answers. Can you?

lol. It took me about 150 milliseconds
• 17 months ago

I like chess puzzle

• 17 months ago

nice position

• 17 months ago

good

• 17 months ago

Nice.  I probably would not have got the queen solution if I had not done the king and rook ones first.  From an instructional point of view that makes for a helpful "hint".

• 17 months ago

interesting..tnx.

• 17 months ago

Cool articles!

• 17 months ago

great article

• 17 months ago

I had trouble with the Queen one. I checked every move except any that took the queen to the side lines since the King is in the middle of the board, it feels very counter-intuitive.

• 17 months ago

i would probably just take 10 moves with the queen and rook ladder like a patzer to mate him just to avoid thinking.

• 17 months ago

Funnily, I saw "queen first" mate before the "king first" mate.

• 17 months ago
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• 17 months ago

<1 minute for 3 solutions, Queen first was de ''most difficult'' one.

• 17 months ago

that one was easy for me but it's still a nice puzzle