Master Challenge #1

I recently acquired a copy of the much acclaimed and long out of print The Best Move by GMs Hort and Jansa. The book presents the readers with 230 test positions to solve. These positions are utterly unlike those in the countless other problem books that are available. There may be a winning combination, a forced mate, an effective positional move, or the reader may have to reject a tempting but flawed continuation. They are simply complex, interesting positions that the reader is asked to delve into.

I have long been wanting to see more of such problems. To that end, I have decided to put together a regular set of such problems. I am calling these problems the Master Challenge. These problems may be tactical or positional, simple or deep. There is some "solution" or insight that is sought in each problem, but there is no guarantee that there is a winning move or even an absolute best move.

Some of these positions may be challenging for masters and better, some are quite a bit simpler. In any case, I believe there may be rewards for most players in thinking about the positions and trying to evaluate the position and identify some of the key ideas at play in the position. There should also be value to all players in playing through the solutions, but I encourage you to at least try to solve the problems before revealing the solution. Several of these are taken from my own games, simply because they are games that I know a bit more deeply.

For each problem, I have awarded a total of 5 points for various insights. These are simply to identify the most important insights in the position. Best of luck!


Problem 1: Is there a way to break through here? (Click to reveal the game continuation once you believe you understand the position.)



Problem 2: How can Black progress? (Click to reveal the game continuation once you have identified your first move.)

Problem 3: What is the correct evaluation of this position? Is Black winning, drawing, or losing? Prove it with a variation.
Problem 4: What is the correct evaluation? Prove it with a variation.

Problem 5: How should White continue? What is the correct evaluation with best play? (Click to reveal the game continuation after you have identified White's continuation.)

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  • 2 years ago


    Puzzle 4 is very subtle. Admittedly I did go for ...Qxe1+ on my first try; I found the solution on the 2nd. You just really don't expect that given a free move white can't do anything!

  • 3 years ago


    Thanks. Cute puzzles.

  • 3 years ago


    Great job. Good concept for teaching.

  • 3 years ago

    NM SamCopeland

    @nelsnelsonelson, interesting. Thanks for the suggestion. I will try to get hold of a copy and give it a look see. While I haven't read this, I have very much enjoyed other works by Alburt; I think Pirc Alert is one of the greatest opening books written. I should also mention Practical Chess Exercises by Ray Cheng. It is also based on the notion that a problem should replicate the game situation so there are no prompts and the problems can be of any type. I can certainly recommend Practical Chess Exercises for those looking for such problems, but I think the problems may be best suited for players in the vicinity of B class - give or take a class. Also, while the problems are very practical, they aren't as beautiful as those in many other problem collections.

  • 3 years ago


    I recently picked up a copy of Lev Alburt's 300 Most Important Positions and I think it roughly falls into the category of what's discussed here.

    It contains a fair number of standard combinations and mates but there are also positions that involve avoiding a tempting-looking trap, saving a "lost cause", or even just trying to trade down to a winning endgame.

  • 3 years ago



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