Unusual Chess Puzzles For Creative People

Unusual Chess Puzzles For Creative People

| 66 | Fun & Trivia

These days chess fans around the world are blessed with an abundance of chess events. Some of them can really improve your chess but are not much fun to watch. Think of a Berlin endgame flawlessly played by two super grandmasters. On the other side of the spectrum are really entertaining games that can hardly make you a better chess player. Yes, I am talking about the wildly popular bullet games.

The recently concluded 2022 Puzzle Battle World Championship was a unique event in the sense that it was a lot of fun to watch while also being able to really improve the spectators' ability to see tactical patterns.

It was easy to see the bright future of Puzzle Rush when it appeared on some three years ago. At that time I wrote how addictive it is and also underlined its educational value. Puzzle Battle was a very nice addition to the original Puzzle Rush which has brought a competitive element to puzzle solving. I am sure that we'll see many more additions and enhancements because it is just human nature: we love to solve puzzles and compete with other people. By the way, these two common human traits are the main source of income for chess hustlers. We already discussed this dark side of chess in this old article. Here is one more example.

Imagine that you are playing a big popular Open tournament and after your game was over you entered a kibitz room. You quickly notice a guy who comes to people and shows them something on his pocket chess set. You get intrigued and come closer. The guy shows you the following position and asks you to find a checkmate in one move.

Upon a quick examination, you tell the stranger that the puzzle has no solution, but the guy insists that there is a checkmate in one move. Long story short, you have a bet with him and demand to show the solution or he loses the bet. He grins and demonstrates the checkmate in one move.

You try to protest that the guy never said that it was Black's turn to move. He responds that he didn't need to state the obvious since the position could happen only if it was White who played his last move. You are mad, but ultimately have to admit that he was right. After you return to your hotel room and tell the story to your roommate, together you devise a plan of revenge. The next day your roommate enters the kibitz room and quickly spots the same guy with his pocket set. When your roommate approaches him he sees a familiar position. 

The roommate thinks that because you were upset, you just forgot about that bunch of pieces at the bottom right corner of the board, but they don't really make any difference, do they? The roommate pretends that he is solving the puzzle and then says: "Oh, I see, there is a checkmate in one move!". But this time the stranger insists that there is no checkmate in one move in this position. A new bet is made and the roommate asks the stranger to make his move as Black, but the stranger says "Come on man, don't you know that in puzzles it is White who moves first!" The roommate grins and asks:" OK, what was your last move in this case?". "Why, I just promoted my h2-pawn into a bishop, so it is your move now!". And that's how the hustler wins his second bet!

There is a special kind of unusual puzzle where the traditional rules are bent. Such puzzles are not going to make you a better chess player, but they will definitely improve your creativity. A good example is the next position composed by Edward Dunsani. It was making rounds on the social network last week being posted by at least two grandmasters:

You are supposed to place the white king and white bishop on the board and then White starts and delivers a checkmate in two moves. The puzzle is not very difficult, but funny. You can find the solution to this puzzle at the end of this article.

Of course, puzzles with altered chess rules are the real treasure trove of chess hustlers. The legendary Moscow hustler Dima Gnesin, who had the nickname "schoolboy" because of his youthful appearance, offered the following game to everyone willing to bet with him. He would remove both of his rooks and the game would go according to regular rules of chess with just one exception: once per game he was allowed to make a move for his opponent. While it didn't seem that significant at first sight, in reality I think his opponents were doomed. To illustrate the point, two popular responses against 1.e4 (1...e5 and 1...c5) lose instantly! Take a look:

It is quite possible that one of these tricks got Dima Gnesin killed when he tried to collect the money he won...

Talking about unusual puzzles, here are my two favorites:

Can you figure out the moves that could lead to this position? Think about it, then read the solution below.

At first, the position looks absolutely illegal. Indeed, how could the white bishop possibly get to h4 to deliver the check? Then you suddenly realize that the white king could move to f3 from g3 making it a discovered check. But then the next question arises: how was it possible that the white king on g3 was simultaneously checked by the rook on g5 and the bishop on e5? Again, it looks like an absolutely illegal position until another light bulb goes off in your head. So, here is the final solution:

While this puzzle is not that difficult, the second one will be challenging even for grandmasters! You need to set up a position where White has just a king, a knight, and a pawn and Black has a king and a queen. The position should be legal and the black king is not checked. So, it is Black to move and yet despite of his turn, Black is losing! Think about it and then check the solution at the end of the article.

Finally, let me offer you another test for your creativity, but I need to warn you, that it is probably the toughest puzzle of all of them!

Here you need to place one black piece on the board to make sure that Black cannot win!

Now the solutions to the puzzles:

1) The king and bishop puzzle

Place the white king on e2 and the bishop on f1. Then after 1. Kxe1+ Re2 2.Bxe2 checkmate!

2) The king, knight, and a pawn puzzle

3) Place a Black piece puzzle.

You need to place another black queen on g2 which will assure that it is White to move in this position and therefore it is a stalemate. If you put the black queen somewhere else (say Qd5), White's last move could have been Kf2-e3 after Black promoted a new queen by e2xf1=Q+!

I hope you enjoyed today's puzzles as much as you enjoyed the 2022 Puzzle Battle World Championship

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