Skip to content

Test your chess: Reitstein problem 232

August 12, 2014

White to play and win



LP Druiff v A Lubowski 1950




An interesting puzzle today.

Firstly, has it been a game, I am not sure I would have dared to play the winning move, 1 Bh6, for reasons which I will explain, being to do with one of my least comfortable areas in chess. I might well have played a3, b4, Bb2, which probably improves black's position, and black must be better then with the two bishops and such a strong knight (though Ne4-c3 would come next) (Stockfish confirms this: slightest advantage to black after Bb2, though interestingly black's advantage increases if white tries to swap off the Nd5: the engine is happy to exchange the knights).

But it is not a game, it is a puzzle, so 1 Bh6! is the most natural move to try first.

1 Bh6 f6

If black doesn't take, and he didn't in the game, he is at least a pawn down. The game continuation was 1…f6 2 ef gf 3 Nc5+ with Qg6+ to follow. Stockfish finds an even more brutal finish, 2 Nf6+!:

(In the diagram, it says it is mate in six by Bg5+ and Ng5- very sensibly bringing more pieces to the party. I had in mind f7 but the engine says that is only mate in eight after the desperado Qf7).

If after 1 Bh6 f6 2 Nf6+ black doesn't take the N and plays Kf8 instead (Kf7 Ng5+) then 3 Qh7 threatens mate on g8, 3…Qf7[] 4 Ng5, and black kinda knows that his days are numbered.

The type of position I could beat Carlsen from


1 Bh6 Rd5


Reitstein's suggested best defence (and there is no better, just alternatives) is 1…Rd5 when he gives a typical line as 2 Bg7! Kg7 3 Nf6 Qd8 4 Qh7+ Kf8[] 5 Ng5 reaching this position.


These are the type of positions that I don't like in practice: somewhat uncertain, clearly I know white is better, and clearly I know an engine will say +big, but scope to not play the best moves, and let black squiggle out. Maybe not in this precise position, because white can get material back, but until I can see either a forced mate, a forced way to overwhelming material, a forced way to simplification to a won ending, alas, I don't play like Tal, I play as a bundle of nerves and doubts.

After 5 Ng5, Reitstein gives 5…Rd7 (defending f7) 6 Ne6+! Ke7 7 Nd8 winning the queen etc. if 6..fe 7 Qg8+ Ke7[] 8 Qg7 mate.

What is even better for white after 5 Rd7?


6 Qg8+ Ke7 7 Qf7 is mate.


1 Bh6 gh


Strangely, Reitstein doesn't even mention the move I worried about most, being the only move I would have worried about before deciding to play Bh6: pawn takes bishop.

Then 2 Nf6+ Kf8 3 Qh7 Qc7[] 4 Qh6+ Ke7[] is forced, but my worry in practice before parting with my bishop would be 'am I certain that it is won?'

I would probably decide to play it for two reasons: firstly the a3, b4, Bb2 line has no prospect of me being better, and every prospect of a miserable eventual loss, so, I suspect on balance I would play it for the main reason 'nothing to lose'. But also I would see that black is trussed up and after 5 Qg5 there 'must be' or 'should be' something.

Once the above position was on the board, things would be better. The queen is limited for space, needing to get out of the way of a nasty knight discovered check; the black minor pieces can be pushed back, at a time when d5 isn't available for the N, and white can bring his rooks to the d file. So, once this position is reached I would be at least hopeful, if not confident. And, of course, my h pawn is a passer.

Black can either play 5…Qa5, which at worst gives back the material, with a3, b4 now being a fork, or try something else. The engine says take the bishop, and if is clearly winning.

The move I thought was best was 5…Qc6, when Stockfish surprises me by preferring 6 Nd5+! with the point that it removes the potential blockader of the d file (Nb4-d5) so that a subsequent Rd1+ skewers the Rd8, also attacked by the Qg5, and no longer defended by the Qc6. Neat. And if 6 Nd5+ Ke8, then 7 Qg8+ Bf8 8 Ng5 is gruesome.

However, the engine also accepts that my move, 6 Rad1, wins: a less gruesome variation of Nd5, Rad1 seeks both to prevent black's king from escaping and hits the Rd8. If 6…Bd7 say, many lines win, but one is 7 a3 Nc2 (say) 8 b4 Bb6 and now it is mate in three after Nd5+: the bishop had the function of defending e7.



From → Chess

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: