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

  • NM brucepandolfini
  • | Dec 13, 2013
  • | 6428 views
  • | 23 comments

“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.” 
queen chasing white.png
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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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“Answer?” Zephyr asked with an air of uncertainty.
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“You mean there’s more than one answer to the question you’re about to ask?” Lucian asked in turn.
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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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ANSWER #20
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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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Comments


  • 8 weeks ago

    y2721

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

  • 5 months ago

    GSHAPIROY

    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! Laughing

  • 7 months ago

    VedantR

    sfrdhtg

  • 7 months ago

    GSHAPIROY

    Wow the king never leaves the 4th rank!

  • 7 months ago

    Har84

    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.

  • 7 months ago

    FM chesskingdreamer

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

    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
  • 7 months ago

    alfil1969

    I like chess puzzle

  • 7 months ago

    vava001

    nice position

  • 7 months ago

    upen2002

    good

  • 7 months ago

    naughtybishop

    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".

  • 7 months ago

    goldknight3000

    interesting..tnx.

  • 7 months ago

    StevieBlues

    Cool articles!

  • 7 months ago

    thunder_tiger123

    great article 

  • 7 months ago

    3FFA

    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.

  • 7 months ago

    paul_morphy_is_back

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

  • 7 months ago

    donjova

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

  • 7 months ago

    simpledimple

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 7 months ago

    Shamandalie1234

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

  • 7 months ago

    Or_theBashaKiller

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

  • 7 months ago

    savantz

    dude!!!

    ... GREAT PUZZLE! (story too)!!

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