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“An endgame worth knowing”

February 5, 2017

Thank you, to my life-long friend Malcolm Pein, for this problem in his 4th February 2017 (yesterday’s) Daily Telegraph column. (“Thank you” is barbed in a way, but is actually genuine).


Note the “An endgame worth knowing” hint.

Quick as a flash, I knew the solution. There are some Q vRP endings were you let the pawn Queen, and then mate: Kd3; Qc2; kb1; qa1.


I don’t have great endgame knowledge, but there are some things I know

So, the puzzle was how to get the King to the right zone.

But: three moves, and the pawn queens.


So, instead, I could see it was a juicy problem, and wondered how Mickey solved it, perhaps with little time, but certainly with the clock ticking. Not being obvious in my head, I got my pocket set out, moved the pieces around, and settled in for the long haul.

I quickly realised that the solution had to be to check-check-check along the first two ranks and take the h2 pawn; and then check and check and check again until somehow the desired promotion-takes-a-square away trick works.

And I noted that in the checking process, if Black’s King tries to run to the 3rd rank, it risks a Qa1 or Qc1.


Next, when the Q is on g2, play Kd3 to set up the promotion-takes-a-square position. White plays Kd3 in the position below.


Final stages now. Black sacs his h pawn, queening, and then the only question is can the desired position be reached, without a stalemate. And I felt proud to find the checks fitted into place. hq(Q) Qh1 Qg7+ Qg2!


And a slightly different mate, but one consistent with the planned one: Qg2 Kb1 Qc2+ and Qc1 mate.


So, mate in about 20, depending on Black’s replies. And actually tricky but no too hard, if you know what you are looking for, which I did.

Or thought I did.

The horrible thought then occurred to me: why not Qc2-c1 in the original position?

And, indeed, it is only a mate in 2.


Why, oh why, did Malcolm put the “an endgame worth knowing” in the caption?

But I am actually glad he did: a had a very pleasant hour or so proving the long winded ‘technical’ win.

From → Chess

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