2009 Chess.com Holiday Puzzler!

  • SonofPearl
  • on 12/22/09, 11:27 AM.

Welcome to the 2009 Chess.com Holiday Puzzler!

To keep you entertained over the holiday season, why not try our fun chess quiz?  How many of the 20 chess related questions can you answer correctly?

There should be something for everyone, and you don't need to be a Grandmaster to have a go!

But don't forget, this is a prize competition so...

Don't answer in the comments! 

Instead, send your answers to holidaypuzzler@chess.com and you could win one of the fabulous prizes below!

First prize: One year Diamond membership, plus t-shirt
Second prize: One year Platinum membership, plus t-shirt
Third prize: One year Gold membership, plus t-shirt
Fourth prize: Chess.com t-shirt
Fifth-Tenth prize: One month Diamond Membership

So what are you waiting for?  Get puzzling, and send in your answers as soon as possible to the email address above.  Please include your Chess.com username with your answers, so we know who you are!  Only one entry per member, so think carefully before you send your answers in - changes are not allowed!

Entries will be accepted up to and including 31 December 2009, and the winners will be announced early in the new year.  Good luck, and happy 2010!

THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED! The answers and winners are given here.


1. In which year was the first international chess tournament held, and who won the event?

2. Can you solve this fun selfmate chess problem?  It's WHITE's turn to move and he must force BLACK to checkmate HIM in four moves.


3. Can you unscramble the following anagrams to find the names of five famous chess players?

  • Violent Love Spa
  • Savvy Silica Hunk
  • Auto Adrenal Sex Kink
  • Devour Major Bait
  • Drank Milk Via Rim


4. Name this famous chess player, coach and author of instructional chess books for amateurs.



5. What creation of designer Charles Eames played a part in a famous match for the world chess championship?


6. Who am I?  Born in Brooklyn, I twice won the New York State Championships and during my career defeated Harry Pillsbury and Frank Marshall.  I am also regarded as one of the most important chess journalists in history, writing a regular chess column for over 50 years.


7. In the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the astronaut Frank Poole plays - and loses - a game of chess with the ship's computer HAL.  The moves of the game (see below) were actually based on a real game, but which German master played the black pieces?




8. Which brilliant Soviet chess champion said, "The most powerful weapon in chess is to have the next move".


9. Can you identify these five chess players from their nicknames?

  • The Pride and Sorrow of Chess
  • The Chess Machine
  • The Tiger of Madras
  • The Beast of Baku
  • The Surgeon


10. Who are the players portrayed in this absorbing work of fantasy chess art?




11. Which brilliant player defeated Capablanca, Lasker and Alekhine in the first tournament matches that he played against them, but never faced any of them in a match for the world title?


12. Can you solve the following beautiful composed problem?  White to play and force checkmate in just three moves.


13. The great Mikhail Tal had an attractive attacking style that gave him a positive score against many of his illustrious opponents.  However, he had great trouble with one particular opponent, whose style was very different to his own.   A fellow player summed up the difference:  "X's style is Tal's style, as though turned inside out.  Tal always strives to seize the initiative, whereas X is ready to concede it without regret.  Tal likes to attack, X to defend."   Who is the mysterious player X?


14.  Name the Grandmaster keeping warm in the stylish hat.



15. What is the name of the International Chess Master and prolific writer who made a famous bet in 1968 that no computer program would beat him in a chess match within 10 years?  And, did he win the bet?


16.  After just four moves of a crazy chess game, the position shown below was reached.  But what were the first four moves of the game to get to this position?  


17. In the days before time restrictions were imposed on chess player's deliberations, games could be interminably long.  Who said, "The slowness of genius is hard to bear, but the slowness of mediocrity is intolerable!"


18. This man probably played chess against more people than anyone else during 2009, but who is he?



19. Who was the first American to win a world chess championship of any kind?


20. These famous and remarkable chess pieces are part of a set which dates from the 12th century, but what are they known as? 


11598 reads 114 comments
9 votes


  • 7 years ago


  • 7 years ago


    I guess sonofpearl wil declare result on April Fool's Day Laughing LOL!!!

  • 7 years ago



  • 7 years ago


    Enjoy your meal and sleep, SonofPearl, just let us know if you need a wake up call. Smile

  • 7 years ago


    I don't know why I'm telling you this, but where I come from, it is customary to give people gifts on New Year's Day.Laughing


  • 7 years ago


    Finished marking all the answers, which took over three hours! I'll keep you in suspense a little longer while I catch up on other things, like eating and sleeping! Wink

  • 7 years ago


    Same here, Dakota_Clark Smile.

  • 7 years ago


    Its 2010 here......... Good Morning N Happy New Year

  • 7 years ago


    The suspense is killing me.

  • 7 years ago


    two hours 2Go...... And The Winner is Mr. Xxxx Xxxxxxxx

  • 7 years ago


    I've got all of them except for numbers, 2, 6, and 11 so far.  #2 has been tormenting me for days now, and I can set up the start position from memory...

    I have discovered a player (can't say who, just in case I'm missing something and he or she turns out to be the correct answer) who seems to fit the description of #6, except for the part about beating Pillsbury (I have found no record that this player even played against Pillsbury).

    And #11...I just don't know.

    I may have to make some guesses; how many have gotten them all right so far?

  • 7 years ago


    Sir I had a 'BIG MISTAKE'. In hurry and excitement I forgot 2mention my 'USERNAME' in the answers submitted. Would U plzz pplz plz consider if I re-send the same answers (NO CHANGE) with addition of my "username". Don't say NO as this Quiz means a lot 4ME.

    Or if I send answers from some other e-mail add. which is NOT registerd wid chess.com

    HOPING 4a a favorable reply...(I have 19 correct answers).

    Thank You! Innocent

  • 7 years ago


    submitted just now... I must say 'I enjoyed the quiz a lot, and the #16 was really amazing one. It must be the 'Best Puzzle of the Year'.

    Thanks a Loads 2Sonofpearl and all the chess.com staff for putting this quiz. I dont knw whether I WIN or LOOSE but m sure @least one Free Member like Me will benefit from it.

    Love U All!!!


  • 7 years ago


    One more day until we find out the winners :)

  • 7 years ago


     Thanks..." SonofPearl ". Its good to know that I won't be penilized for putting the wrong year on # 19 since it wasn't part of the question anyway.


    P.S......Size XXL....lol

  • 7 years ago


    say, SonofPearl, how many have been sent in so far?  I'm curious...

  • 7 years ago


    @ amitprabhale - as long as your email is dated 31/12/09 at the latest, that's fine, and the competition is not 'first correct entry wins'.

    Also, unless there is a remarkable last-minute rush of perfect entries, anyone getting all the answers right, or even getting close, has a good chance of being in the top 10 and getting a prize.

    @ inotgramps - as long as you got the person right, then that's ok.

    @ philidor_position - I appreciate what you are saying, but sometimes genuine questions arise which can require questions to be clarified, as happened with #19.  Unfortunately it's not possible to prevent comments on news item anyway, but anyone abusing the spirit of the quiz in the comments is hardly endearing themselves to the quizmaster who will be marking all the entries - me!

  • 7 years ago


    Can I submit my answers on 31st (ie. tomorrow). before 12. Is the competiton based on 'first submit first win' basis. It also says tht "you could win one of the fabulous prizes below!"Does it means only 10 out of all the correct ans. would win?

  • 7 years ago


    Y did 'hiperborio' post the ans. This ain't fair..

  • 7 years ago


    Staff Question : I'm pretty sure I've got # 19 right....but...I even sent in the year which is wrong ? The question only asked for the..." who "...not the.." year ". Am I safe in assuming I'll still get the answer right...since the..." year "...was not part of the answer anyway ?!

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