Making Money Off Of a Chess Problem

GM KaydenTroff
Mar 1, 2010, 8:32 AM |

Okay, before I get to the chess problem (which is featured at the bottom), I should tell you the whole story. It was Saturday and we were going home from a Scout Pow-Wow. On the way, we passed West Jordan High School. I was thinking about it for a little bit, then asked my leader to stop. I told her that I was going to end up there because Jeremy, my brother, was playing in the High School State Chess Tournament (in Utah, only high school students are allowed to play in the tournament).  She kept driving for a little bit then stopped. But the problem was now that I had to make sure it was okay with my mom if they just dropped me off (I wasn't sure if she had already left to pick me up at home), but I don't have a cell-phone! It was okay though because my friend had one, but he did worry me a little bit when he said, "It is low on power so I don't know if it will work," but luckily for me, it did. So I called my mom...ring-ring-ring "please leave your message after the tone", and I thought, "Oh rats, maybe I was never meant to get dropped off right here and now". I gave my friend his phone back and it started ringing and we were all laughing (he had a funny ringtone) while he answers his cell-phone.  I figured it was for me when he started making some "who in the world is this" faces. I was right, it was for me; it was my mom and she said that it would be fine if I came in, so I did.  That saved me a lot of time because I didn't have to go home and wait for someone to come pick me up which was pretty cool. Now I was just hanging around playing 1 0 (hey, I am not playing in the tournament, so why not) I had fun bringing my King out to the 4th or 5th in the beginning (not recommended).  The cool part was that I would win by running them out of time because they would take a lot more time trying to attack me when I brought my King out to the 4th and 5th then when I would just castle. I was having lots of fun. Then I saw a group of kids by this one table and I went to check it out.  I get over there and one of the chess coaches, Enrique (Nice guy), had this chess problem set up and rules to go with it. The rules were: if you touch a piece or a square without challenging then you have to give him 25 cents, if you challenge because you think you have the answer and you are wrong then you give him $1, and if you get it right then you get the pot. Tons of people were over there but none were getting it right. I come up, look at the problem...don't see...still looking, and while I am looking a couple people challenge and get it wrong. I have to admit that it was tough.  I was still looking and I finally see it. I look at it again just to make sure and it still looks right--I don't see anyway to get out. I say, "I got it" and Enrique takes me to the side (because he is having fun making money and doesn't want me to give it away). It turns out that I was right, and I got $2 (it's not about the money)! People kept trying to bribe me to give them the answer, but I didn'tSmile.

I asked Enrique how he found out about the problem and he said, "I was in Washington Square and this poor guy comes along and sets up the problem and sets the same rules that I did. And this guy was making a lot of money, I even looked at it, challenged, and gave him a dollar. And it wasn't until this IM that had seen the problem or at least the idea came along and solved it. I actually think the IM didn't even take the money."

Enrique later told me that he made $5 off of the problem.