Pandolfini's Puzzler #12 - Put the King Back

Pandolfini's Puzzler #12 - Put the King Back

brucepandolfini
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  • Scholastics

“A while back,” Professor Pando began, “I came upon the following interesting position. Oh, by the way, it was created by a very famous chess player, who was best known for the puzzles he made. His name was Sam Loyd.”
Pando12-2.png
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“It’s a curious position,” Lucian intoned. 
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“Why is that?” the Professor asked.
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“Well, you have White pieces on the board, but no Black ones, not even a Black king,” Lucian explained. 
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“Precisely!” the Professor shot back. 
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“Sam Loyd was known for his ingenious compositions. In this one, the Black king has just fallen off the board by accident. Mr. Loyd poses four tasks, for the serious student.” 
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“I’m a serious student," said Lucian. “What are the four tasks? If I may be so bold to ask."
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“Fine. I will tell you. But you must pay careful attention to what’s asked of you,” the professor cautioned.
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Question: Can you put the Black king back on the board so that:
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1) It is already stalemate;
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2) It is already checkmate;
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3) White can mate in one move;
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4) Mate can never be forced with the Black king on that particular square.
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Lucian thought for a few moments, and he didn’t say anything while thinking. A couple of times his face lit up, but it was also covered in doubt. Nevertheless, after about 15 minutes or so, having analyzed all he could in his head, he began to present his conclusions.
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“The first task is easy. The second one took me a minute or so, just to make sure. But the third was a little tricky. I finally figured it out. Now for the fourth task, I think I have an answer, but I’m a little confused. Not because the answer is wrong. But because I think there are two answers.”
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“Very good!” the Professor chimed winningly.
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Can you figure out the answers that Lucian had come up with, including his extra answer for the fourth task?
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Answers below - Try to solve Professor Pando's puzzle first!
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ANSWER #12
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Lucian’s answers were the following:
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1) It would be stalemate if the Black king were placed on h1.
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2) It would be mate if the Black king were placed on e3.
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3) It would be mate in one if the Black king were placed on a8.
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The mating move would then be 1. Qc8#.
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4) The Black king could never be mated while sitting on the square g7. That is, no checkmate position is ever possible with the Black king on g7, and with White having just a king, queen, and dark-square bishop.
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Mate is not possible with the Black king on g7
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But Lucian realized something else – the board has a symmetrical aspect to it. So, if the king can’t be mated while on g7, it also can’t be mated while on b2!
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Take note
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Composers of chess problems often create positions with symmetrical placements of forces. They like the patterns that can be traced over the pieces and they think some of those patterns are wonderfully geometric and therefore beautiful.
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