Pandolfini's Puzzler #57: Connections

  • NM brucepandolfini
  • | Aug 29, 2014

Professor: Good afternoon, class.

The class offered a nebulous “hello” to the Professor.

Rachel: What's on the agenda for today, Professor?

Professor: I thought we'd show examples based on a position Thomas emailed me earlier in the week.

Ryan: What kind of position?

Professor: You want to tell us about it Thomas?

Thomas: It’s a position with a queen facing off against a rook and knight.


Rachel: Any pawns?

Thomas: No pawns.

Hale: Can we see it?

Thomas: Sure.

Question 1: How can White force a win?

In no time, the class worked out the variation leading to a win.

Professor: So what can we say about this type of endgame?

Ryan: It seems the queen looks for a place to give a double attack.

Professor: I call such places “connection points.”

Rachel: Connection points?

Lucian: What’s a connection point?

Professor: A connection point is a square where a forking check is possible.

Rachel: I think it helps the queen if the rook and knight are not coordinating.

Hale: Then the queen can pick one of them off.

Thomas: It may help even more if the enemy forces are confined to the perimeter.

Lucian: Especially if there’s the possibility of mate in the air.

Professor: Good! Let’s look at another example.

Question 2: How can White force a win?

The class solved this one just as easily. Amid the din, there was commotion for more.

Idris: These first two positions were very similar.

Zephyr: Both times the black pieces were on the edge.

Lucian: At least in the second problem the black pieces weren’t in the corner.

Thomas: True, but it didn’t change things much.

Professor: Let’s see another problem.

Question 3: How does White force a win?

The group had no trouble solving this one. But it was Ryan, the second best player in the class, who got the right idea seconds before Idris.

Idris: Nice going, Ryan.

Ryan: Thank you, Idris. Coming from you, that means a great deal.

Idris smiled.

Professor: Shall we see another?

Question 4: How does White force a win?

There were some intricate variations, but after ten minutes, the key ideas had fallen into place. It was a true class effort.

Lucian: It's funny. It looked like White was going to win the rook at once.

Zephyr: Looks can be deceiving.

Hale: I had a feeling you might have an old saw to offer.

Professor: That’s enough of that. Let’s check out one more position.

Question 5: How does White force a win?

This proved more problematic. But impelled by Idris, the best player in the class, eventually the main branch of the win was worked out.

Ryan: Nice going, Idris.

Idris: Thank you, Ryan, but it was merely a simple matter of maneuvering the queen toward certain connection points, while avoiding any unpleasant surprises.

Zephyr: So that's what made it a simple matter.

Professor: Okay, Zephyr. Save your incisive wit for next week.

It was Zephyr’s turn to smile.

Professor: Well class, I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s offerings.

It seemed the class was silently indicating it had.

Professor: And thank you, Thomas, for providing a link to those curious problems.

Thomas: It was nothing. I was merely a connection point.

Answers below -- Try to solve NM Pandolfini's puzzles first!

Answer 1:

White takes advantage of Black's cornered forces and the queen's superior mobility. The winning line is 1. Qf7+ Kb6  (on 1...Ka6 White has 2. Qc7!, when 2...Kb5 fails to 3. Qb7+, with the square b7 being a connection point) 2. Qc7+ Ka6 (again, 2...Kb5 drops a rook to 3.Qb7+) 3. Kc5!, and Black is a goner.

Answer 2:

Here, Black's army isn't cornered, but the lack of mobility still hurts. After 1. Qe3+ Kf1  2. Kf4, essentially the same alignment is reached as in the first problem. 

If Black continues 2...Kg2, White hits a connection point with 3. Qe2+. 

So the knight must move. But after 2…Nb1, White wins with 3Qf3+ Ke1 4. Ke3, and mate is in the air.

Answer 3:

Black's badly placed pieces, all on the h-file, are no match for White's tandem king-and-queen attack force. The winning line begins with 1. Qf5+

After the forced interposition, 1...Ng5+ (1...Kh4 allows 2. Qg4 mate), White gets out of check with 2. Kf4, threatening mate and compelling 2...Rg6

White then finishes off the repositioning with 3. Qg4+ Kh6 4. Kf5! Kg7  5. Qh5!. Now the rook must move, and that loses the knight.

Answer 4:

The winning variation begins 1. Qc5+ (with c5 being a connection point). After 1…Nb6+ (forced, else the rook goes)  2. Kb5 Rb8 (if instead 2…Rf6, then 3. Qc7+ Ka8  4. Qd8+ wins the rook, with d8 being a connection point) 3. Qa3+ Kb7  4. Qe7+ (a right triangle check, driving back the opposing king)  Ka8  (4...Kc8 runs into 5. Kc6)  5. Ka6 and White wins. 

Answer 5: 

Black has the initial threats. And 1. Qxa6 fails to 1…Rg1+. White must get the queen out of the corner, in quest of connection points. 

The most concise winning variation, worked out by Rinck, is 1. Qd4! (a powerful queen centralization) Nb4 (it’s wise to bring the knight close to its own king for safety)  2. Qe3+ Ka4  (2...Kc4? results in 3. Qe4+, with e4 being a connection point)  3. Qa7+ Kb3  (3...Kb5 meets up with 4. Qb7+, with b7 being another connection point).

The line continues: 4. Qf7+ Ka4  (4...Kc3 loses to 5. Qf3+, with f3 being a connection point) 5. Qd7+ Ka5  6. Qd8+ Kb5  (keeping the king on the a-file allows Qd8-a8+, with a8 being a connection point) 7. Qb8+ Kc4  8. Qf4+ Kc5  9. Qf8+ Kc4 (or 9…Kb5  10. Qf1+) 10. Qf1+

Finally, there’s a final connection point and the rook gets disconnected. 

Take note:

In comparable situations, a practical way to start your analysis is by asking a simple question: where are the connection points? This query may not unearth all the vital information, but it should provide some help in getting your thinking off the ground, while keeping you more focused.

Well, that’s the plan.



  • 10 months ago



  • 10 months ago



  • 2 years ago

    NM brucepandolfini

    Bishoppair1992 Thank you for your thoughtful remarks. The students are particularly strong. Idris is an expert, getting stronger everyday. His rating is about 2100. Ryan is almost an expert, close to 2000. The weakest player in the class is probably Rachel at around 1600, but she's also the youngest. 
    Beyond their chessplay, these kids are generally very smart, among the smartest kids in their respective schools. I can't tell if they like each other, but they manage to get along as a group, and they spur each other onward.

  • 2 years ago


    Nice problems!

    By the way, what is the level of the pupils supposed to be (I am rated over 2200 and had real difficulties solving the problems the pupils solved easily...).

  • 2 years ago

    NM brucepandolfini

    CyriacAntony Thank you. I kind of like these problems, too.

  • 2 years ago


    Great stuff. The fourth one was quite unexpected. My try was 3.Qe8+ Kb3 4.Qf7+ Ka4 5.Qc7+ but couldn't find replies for Ka3, Kb3 and especially Ka6. Never thought king could be allowed a walk out.

  • 2 years ago

    NM brucepandolfini

    harrisl67 And I'm glad there are great chess fans out there like you. Thank you for your support.

  • 2 years ago


    I'm glad that great players give back to people that also love this game.

  • 2 years ago

    NM brucepandolfini

    j2009m I often feel the same way. Sometimes I think I should study endgames too. Thanks for your comment.

  • 2 years ago

    NM brucepandolfini

    sp1234 They're as real as they can be. If they were any realer they'd be really real.

  • 2 years ago

    NM brucepandolfini

    sp1234 They're as real as they can be. If they were any realer they'd be really real.

  • 2 years ago


    After going through several of these puzzlers, I think I should put a hold on learning openings and work on endgames.

  • 2 years ago

    NM brucepandolfini

     tomasalberto2003  Usted es comico.

  • 2 years ago


    Hi Bruce, I also spoke English, more or less, but I can understand your articles and comments, oh and by the way, is tausif September one in the Zulu language, thank you very much, bye

  • 2 years ago


  • 2 years ago


    are these characters real

  • 2 years ago


    Dear Mr. Pandolfi,

    Why do you use such interesting names as characters?

  • 2 years ago

    NM brucepandolfini

    tausifkhan801  Your message did not come through. If you want to write back, I'd be happy to answer you.

  • 2 years ago

    NM brucepandolfini

    tomasalberto2003  Sé un poco de español, pero no lo hablo muy bien. Así que probablemente diría cosas muy tontas, por favor perdóname por no contestó en español en el futuro. Si me escribiste en español, podría ser capaz de entender algunas cosas. Pero no puedo escribir volver lo suficientemente bien como para entenderse. Lo siento.

  • 2 years ago


    Pandolfini, do you spick spanish?

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