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Pandolfini's Puzzler #22 - Finding the Large in the Small

  • NM brucepandolfini
  • | Dec 27, 2013
  • | 4082 views
  • | 14 comments

“Good morning, class,” the Professor bellowed out. “Are you ready to take another intellectual journey?”
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Zephyr and Lucian nodded “yes.” 
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“Well then, let’s begin. As you know, chess players have many talents. Some of these talents are generally known. Others are less well known. Can you tell me what talents you think chess players have?”
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“They can do things in their heads,” Lucian said confidently. “They can see the future.”
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“So can fortune tellers,” Zephyr joked.
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Everyone laughed.
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Lucian went on. “Aren’t they also supposed to have good memories?”
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“So does an idiot savant,” Zephyr jibed.
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Once again, the room was filled with chuckles.
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“That’s right,” the Professor continued. “But you might want to qualify that a bit.”
king dreaming white.png
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“I was kidding, but I do think I understand,” Zephyr illuminated. The public believes the good chess player has only a rote memory. But it’s more than that.”
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“Exactly,” the Professor resonated. “It’s not just about rote memory. It’s about having an active memory. Can either of you explain?”
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Lucian took a shot at it. “The good chess player can take something he’s memorized and use it to do something else. He can change what he’s memorized to help solve problems.”
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“Yes she can,” Zephyr interjected with a note of competition in her voice. “Her good memory is not just rote memory at all. She also has a working memory, just like the Professor said.”
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Everyone was still smiling and having a good time.
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“I think,” the Professor began, “you’re saying that good chess players look for analogies.”
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“What do you mean by analogies?” Lucian felt obliged to ask.
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“For now, I mean nothing more than this: they naturally make comparisons. Sometimes, that can mean finding the large in the small. Let’s see what I’m getting at. Consider our first position.”
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“It is White’s turn. White could be a he or she, it doesn’t matter. More importantly, White’s king is far away from the action, and Black’s king is close to it. Can White save the position?"
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That seemed like a tricky comment, so, for a few moments, the class looked over the position for snares. Then Lucian spoke up.
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“Professor, you showed us this idea before. The white king maneuvers in, is able to win the black e-pawn, and queen his own pawn. I think you called the idea outflanking or something.”
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“I remember,” Zephyr added. You said that White gets to the critical square, c6, and that leads to the gain of Black’s pawn. After capturing the pawn, White’s king is again sitting on a critical square.”
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“That’s right,” the Professor beamed back. “I’m very impressed with your memories and your reasoning. Obviously, the two of you are good chess players.” 
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The Professor continued: “That brings us to our second position. Maybe it will trigger your working memories and not just your rote memories.”
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Question: How can White play and force a winning position? 
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“Let me help you a bit more, not that your memories need much jogging.” Somewhat aphoristically, the Professor added: “See if you can see the future in the past.”
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As the class did, can you explain the analysis of both positions?
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Answers Below - Try to solve ProfessorPando's Puzzle first!
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ANSWER #22
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For diagram 1, White wins by starting with 1. Kb7.
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Black can now choose to defend or counterattack.
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Defending leads to something like this: 1…Ke7 2. Kc6 (occupying a critical outflanking square) 2…Ke8 (taking a meaningless diagonal opposition) 3.Kd6 Kf7 4. Kd7, and the e6-pawn falls.
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Counterattacking leads to something like this: 1…Kg6 2. Kc6 (occupying a critical square and taking a meaningful distant opposition) 2…Kf5 3. Kd6 (creating mutual zugzwang – neither player wants to move), and once again the e-pawn falls.
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For diagram 2, White can reduce to the previous solution by 1.Rb8+ Rf8 2. Rxa8! Rxa8 3. Kb7, and, very shortly, diagram 1 will wind up being diagram 2.
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Take note
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Among all the talents a good chess player tends to have is the ability to draw analogies between apparently different positions. For example, here is an imaginary dialogue that contains elements of the truth. Let’s pretend you’re looking at a particular position you need to analyze. “What should I be doing now? Does this position remind me of any I’ve seen before? Oh yes, it’s kind of like that, but not exactly. Didn’t he win that game? Hmm. Can I make this position look like that? What do I have to do to make that happen, or get to that winning setup?” And so it goes – the art of analogous thinking.

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Comments


  • 7 months ago

    Nick

    Understanding the end game is one thing. Getting into a desired endgame another. Good article... Plants the seed to start looking at it that way.

  • 7 months ago

    upen2002

    nice

  • 7 months ago

    amleto

    [COMMENT DELETED]
  • 7 months ago

    lennythelabrat

    @Newfiexx Pardon me, thank you, darn dyslexia kicking in, it makes far more sense now.

  • 7 months ago

    NM GreggStanley

    You are right IncredibleT.

    On problem two there is another interesting line for black... that also doesn't quite work but offers more resistance:

    1 Rb8   ...K-g7?!

    2 RxB   ...R-a5ch

    3 K-b5   ...R-A1  with the idea of checking white king or taking a pawn.

    4 K-c6  and going for blacks last pawn.  If the black King goes on the 6th rank, the rook check, if 4 ...Kf7 then 5 Rh8 threatening R-h7 if black takes the pawn.  If 4 ...Ra2 then the king will march over and take the last pawn, though it would still take a little technique for white.

  • 7 months ago

    Incredibletactic

    @GreggStanley, your line does not work since after: 1. Kb7 Kg6 2. Kc6 Kg5 3. Kd7! Kf5 4. Kd6 1-0

  • 7 months ago

    practicallyevil

    Professor Pandolfini, I love these puzzles, but can we get away from the Said Word Book style of dialog? These entire exchanges read like the old Tom Swifties out of Highlights magazine. It's entirely fine and "writerly" to just write "said" for each person in the conversation, unless the way in which the person is communicating is important to the story.

  • 7 months ago

    NM GreggStanley

    On problem #1 Black can try 2..KG6 followed by 3.KC6 ...KG5 to keep the opposition.

    I have to go, but this looks interesting.

  • 7 months ago

    streetking1986

    See what happens when you are intoxicated? Stay away from booze kids! The notation solves the quandry! Thanks Newfiexxx...

  • 7 months ago

    streetking1986

    Well at a first superficial glance, I agree with Lenny's statement...like I said, superficial..I am a bit intoxicated so not really capable of deeper evaluation. Cool  Thoughts on lenny's comment anyone?

     

    P.S. - Lenny I do hope you were referring to the first position coz that's what I took it to be...

  • 7 months ago

    Mike_Logan

    Oops. Newfiex made sense of it.  Thanks.

  • 7 months ago

    Mike_Logan

    I agree. Just use the square rule -- Kb7 is still

    outside the square.  I am assuming that the

    diagram is incorrect.  Maybe the two pawns

    should be place 1 square back.

  • 7 months ago

    Newfiexxx

    Lenny , diagrams are almost always shown from white's point of view. In this case there's notation on the board.

  • 7 months ago

    lennythelabrat

    Pardon me, but it seems that black can just push the pawn and win, I'm not sure what's so important abou Kc6, when promoting to a queen will put the king in check. Presumably this leads to the white king protecting its own pawn, but can't the royal attack on the white pawn capture it?

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