Pandolfini's Puzzler #19 - Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Pandolfini's Puzzler #19 - Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

NM brucepandolfini
Dec 6, 2013, 12:00 AM |
8 | Scholastics

“I’m glad to see you’re both here in class together,” ProfessorPando said to Zephyr and Lucian. 
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“Also, I want to tell you what I saw the other night at the chess club,” the Professor went on. “Although I don’t want to admit it, getting up at 4:30 every morning to follow the Carlsen-Anand Match has left me a bit foggy.
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“Anyhow, here’s the problem I saw the other evening.”
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“But Professor,” Zephyr called out. “Do you have a question about the position?” 
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Usually, the Professor had a question about every position he showed.
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Lucian had to get into the act, too: “Usually, you have a question about every position you show.” 
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“Indeed, that’s true,” the Professor responded. “And, I do have a question here." 
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Question: From today’s position, can White force mate in three moves?
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question mark.jpeg
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“I would guess White can,” Lucian offered. “You typically don’t pose a task if it can’t be done.”
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“No, you don’t, Zephyr fired back.” 
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So the two of them began to look in earnest. After 10 minutes of analysis, they found what they thought was a winning line.
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“We got it,” Lucian made clear.
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“Well, what’s your answer?” I hope you found a way to avoid the stalemate,” the Professor advised.
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“We sure did,” Zephyr emphatically said.
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And as they showed the answer to the Professor, he became very chagrined.
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queen yelling white.png
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“You are correct, of course,” the Professor said with surprise in his voice. “But I’m afraid I’ve made a mistake.”
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“What do you mean?” Lucian asked.
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“Well, you have the right answer, but I’ve given you the wrong position.” 
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Both Zephyr and Lucian looked bedazzled. They just didn’t understand, especially because the answer they had worked out was fairly clever. So it really did seem like a real problem position. 
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“You see, I guess, I was just too tired, especially following the wonderful analysis of Mike Klein and Jesse Kraai at 4:30 a.m.”
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“But let me correct the position," the Professor offered.
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Question: From this new position, can you also mate in three moves?
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Zephyr spoke first: “I see what the problem was. You had the general setup right but everything was going in the other direction.”
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Lucian was feeling bold, and just had to offer: "We can do this one, too.”
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Can you solve both mates?
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Answers Below - Try to solve ProfessorPando's Puzzle first!
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ANSWER #19
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For the first position, the answer is 1. Bf6! gxf6 2. Kf8 f5 3. Nf7 mate.
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For the second position, the answer is 1. Kf3 g1. If Black promotes to a queen, 1…g1=Q, then 2. Nf2+ Qxf2+ 3. Kxf2 mate. And if Black promotes to a knight, 1…g1=N+, then 2. Kf2+ Nf3 3. Bxf3 mate.
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Take note
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Mirror images occur all the time in chess.
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mirror.jpeg
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Often it has to do with the black setups being similar to the white ones. There are lines out of the opening, say, some of the Italian Games, where this is clearly so. But the idea that the same mirror image setup, with such different types of mates ensuing, is much rarer. We have Sam Loyd to thank for these two sister problems.

RELATED STUDY MATERIAL

  • Here's one of those "mirror" games that the Professor was talking about;
  • Chess puzzle maker Sam Loyd was featured in another cool Puzzler - check it out!
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