The Most Difficult Chess Puzzle

The Most Difficult Chess Puzzle

GM Gserper
Mar 13, 2016, 12:00 AM |
71 | Fun & Trivia

Just like many chess players I like to solve chess problems. I especially love problems with a limited number of pieces where it is all about chess logic.

Here is one of my all-time favorites and also one of the first I ever solved:

Yes, it is a very simple problem, but so incredibly cute!

Having solved hundreds if not thousands of chess problems, I am wondering sometimes, what is the most difficult chess problem ever created? If we judge by the time it took for strong chess players to solve a puzzle, then the most difficult puzzles in chess are not very traditional ones.

Take for example the following puzzle:

This position happened after Black's fourth move.  What were the moves that lead to this position? It is easy to reach this position in three moves:

But you need to reach it after four moves!

As the story goes, GM Igor Zaitsev (we talked about this extraordinary chess personality here and here) showed this puzzle to the Soviet Olympic team (GMs Karpov, Polugaevsky, Balashov, Geller, etc) and they spent about 40 minutes till they were able to solve it. As GM Zaitsev recalls, it was funny to see the strongest chess players in the world staring at the initial position for over half an hour!

The solution is indeed very tricky!

There is of course the famous story about the puzzle that even Kasparov was not able to solve.

It goes like this: A game begins 1.e4, and on move five a knight takes a rook and checkmates the king. What are the moves?

This is indeed a very hard nut to crack. Try it yourself:

Truthfully speaking, I don't really like these kind of puzzles since they have almost nothing to do with the real game of chess.  

If you are like me, then you'll probably enjoy the following famous puzzle. This position is legendary. I saw it first time when I was a kid, when somebody showed it saying that world champions were not able to solve it.

These days this position appears on many chess sites with the same story, with the only difference being the names of the players who weren't able to solve it. In old times it was Tal and Korchnoi, these days it is Short, Anand and some other top GMs.

If you liked four Black knights in the previous puzzle, I bet you will enjoy five bishops of the same color in the following puzzle! It looks absolutely impossible, but White indeed can win the game:

It is real shame that it seems like the authors of the last two beautiful problems are unknown! If any of our readers know who composed these puzzles, please share you knowledge!

When we talk about the traditional "checkmate in certain number of moves" kind of problems, then the undisputed king is Samuel Loyd. We already talked in this article about one of his puzzles that is virtually impossible to solve. Here is one more of his gems:

If you were unable to solve the previous puzzles, I have something to cheer you up. Even if you are a complete beginner, I bet you'll be able to solve the next famous puzzle.  Smile

I hope you enjoyed this little collection of difficult (and not so difficult) puzzles.  What's the most difficult chess puzzle you've ever seen?

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