A chip and a chair
Jack "Treetop" Straus (Wikimedia)

A chip and a chair


Back in 1982, Jack Straus, an affable guy with a bushy beard who'd walk around carrying all his cash stuffed in a paper sack, was playing in the World Series of Poker Main Event out in Vegas. On Day 1 of the high-stakes tournament, thinking he held the best hand, he shoved all of his chips into the middle — only to get beat and seemingly busted out of the tournament.

That is until Treetop — so called cause he stood 6'7" — discovered a $500 chip hidden beneath a cocktail napkin. Since Jack hadn't announced that he was all in, he technically was still alive with just one chip left. Jack parlayed that single chip into winning the tournament and scoring a half million dollar payday.

Inspired by Jack's story, poker players still say today that all they need to win is a chip and a chair



For chess players, perhaps a pawn on the 7th rank might fill in for Jack's lucky $500 chip.

Here's a problem inspired by the final position in a daily game I just played.

At first glance, it looks bad for White. It's down in material 15 to 23. It's holding a queen and a knight against Black's queen, bishop and pair of knights. It's got only three pawns versus Black's five pawns. It has only one passed pawn while Black has two passed pawns. White's passed pawn is blocked but Black's passed pawns are free to advance. It appears that it's just a matter of time before White gets steamrolled. In fact, if it were Black's move, that's exactly what would happen. 

About the only thing that White has going for it is that its pawn is on the 7th rank and its queen and knight are more centrally positioned.

That's you need. It's White to move and win in 10 or fewer moves. 

Update #1 — After you solve this problem, check out my companion post, The other side of the coin, looking at this position with Black to move. 
Update #2 — After you look at the first two posts, check out the third post in this series, A butterfly flaps its wings.