The most mind-boggling chess puzzle I've ever seen

The most mind-boggling chess puzzle I've ever seen

NM eltenedor
Jun 19, 2015, 10:56 AM |

Like picking up a good ol' newspaper, there's something special about solving a chess problem from a book (or from, well, a newspaper!). Boring, boring, I know. But this gem certainly is not! I was working my way through the book Combination Challenge! last night when I came across this mind-boggling puzzle that I think fellow chess enthusiasts might also appreciate.

At first, the theme seems obvious enough: black has a rook lined up against the white king, and he has knights that can jump into the juicy g3 square, with forking possibilities against the king and queen. If one of the knights is taken by the h pawn, the h file is torn open to the rook's great satisfaction... 

And this is where we get to the essence of puzzles, not to mention practical play. It's not enough to see the idea. You must find the execution, a precise series of moves, some of 'em bizarre and initially inexplicable, in order to successfully execute that apparently obvious idea (the one below is actually based on a third and less obvious motif which I will not spoil for you!). And this blow comes completely out of left field (well, depending on your perspective). Indeed, what you are about to witness is a crescendo of brilliant moves that, once revealed, become as apparent as the puzzle's underlying theme, where every single intricate detail is intentional. (Kudos to puzzler-composers, who, like speech writers, get far too little recognition.)

Here it is, take a shot. (Hint: The solution is not obvious or easy! That should rule a few things out, anyway. Oh, and the theme is Clearance.)

Really, it all comes down to this: you find a familiar idea -- trust me, they're in your head, and the more puzzles you do and games you see the more patterns that'll be programmed in your brain -- and then do anything you can to make it work. In this case, it meant parting with your entire army (well, almost!) in a highly creative way to deliver the final blow. Once you find the first move, the rest flows...but you still need to find the precise order, and wow, that first move is just amazing. A nice blend of the "science" and "art" of chess, I think.
It can be frustrating because you see the idea but begin pulling out your hair, asking youself, "Where the hell is the solution? Where is it?!" This is when you need to dig deeper. Follow all forcing variations to their end, and then look some more. Then, when all else fails, look for that silent killer (which I completely missed when I first tried this puzzle) and you may have your answer. Then, move on to the next one. Then, study My System, forget how to do tactics, study more tactics, play some games, study endings, forget the language in which you remembered the Sicilian lines, refresh, reload, pull it all together, then forget everything and play some amazing chess.
Thanks for reading,