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The Puzzling Side of Chess

Jeff Coakley

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Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids

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Proof Games: Who Took What Where?

The task in a proof game is to show how a given position can be reached in a legal game.

The puzzles in this column have a move stipulation. The position must be reached in a precise number of moves, no more and no less. They are proof games in 4.0 which means four moves by each side.

From a strategic point of view, these games are quite absurd. But the moves are legal.

Proof Game #16

Puzzling Side of Chess
[FEN "rn1qk1nr/ppp2ppp/8/2bpp3/8/8/
PPPPPPPP/RNBQKB1R w KQkq - 0 5"]

The diagrammed position, with White to play, was reached in a game after each player made exactly four moves. Can you figure out how?

Puzzling Side of Chess

For problems 1-15 and more information on proof games, see the following columns in the ChessCafe.com Archives: June 2012, August 2012, October 2012, and January 2013.

When solving a proof game, it is usually obvious how most of the pieces got to where they are. It is the missing pieces that are hardest to explain. The chess detective's job is to figure out "who took what where".

Proof Game #17

Puzzling Side of Chess
[FEN "rn1qkbnr/ppp1pppp/8/8/8/7P/
PPPPPP1P/RNBQKB1R w KQkq - 0 5"]

This position was reached after Black's fourth turn. What were the moves?

Our next mystery is known as the "Case of the Misleading Ladykiller".

Proof Game #18

Puzzling Side of Chess
[FEN "rnbqkb1r/pppppp2/6p1/7p/3P4/8/
PPP1PPPP/RN2KBNR w KQkq - 0 5"]

This position was reached after Black's fourth turn. What were the moves?

The Puzzling Side of Chess features proof games every two or three months. Each column concludes with a "synthetic game".

A synthetic game is similar to a proof game. But instead of finding the move sequence that leads to a given position, the task is to compose a game that ends with a particular move.

A common goal in this kind of puzzle is to mate with a designated piece in the fewest moves. Another goal is to mate with a specific numbered move. Consider 4.Qxf7#. One possible sequence leading to this mate is 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Qxf7#. Unlike proof games, the move sequence in a synthetic game is usually not unique. There are thousands of possible games that end with the brilliant 4.Qxf7#!

The following synthetic game, published in 1866 by Sam Loyd, has a "semi-unique" solution.

Synthetic Game #3

The Puzzling Side of Chess
[FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/
PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"]

Compose a game that ends with the move 4...d6#.

For synthetic games 1-2, see October 2012 and January 2013.

Have you thought about entering the Chess Cafe Puzzlers Cup?

Solutions

Proof Game #16

J. Coakley 2013
ChessCafe.com

Puzzling Side of Chess
[FEN "rn1qk1nr/ppp2ppp/8/2bpp3/8/8/
PPPPPPPP/RNBQKB1R w KQkq - 0 5"]

1.Nf3 d5 2.Ne5 Bd7 3.Nxd7 e5 4.Nc5 Bxc5

There are no obvious clues that the missing minor pieces were captured on d7 and c5.

Proof Game #17

J. Coakley 2012
Scholar's Mate #113

Puzzling Side of Chess
[FEN "rn1qkbnr/ppp1pppp/8/8/8/7P/
PPPPPP1P/RNBQKB1R w KQkq - 0 5"]

1.Nh3 d5 2.Nf4 Bh3 3.Nxd5 Qxd5 4.gxh3 Qd8

It's elementary to deduce that the black bishop was captured on h3, but the fate of the white knight is well concealed by the switchback of the black queen.

Proof Game #18

J. Coakley 2010
Winning Chess Puzzles For Kids Volume 2

Puzzling Side of Chess
[FEN "rnbqkb1r/pppppp2/6p1/7p/3P4/
8/PPP1PPPP/RN2KBNR w KQkq - 0 5"]

1.d4 Nh6 2.Bxh6 gxh6 3.Qd3 h5 4.Qg6 hxg6

Unravelling the deceptive movement of the black kingside pawns is the key to solving this tough case.

Synthetic Game #3

Sam Loyd 1866
Le Sphinx

Puzzling Side of Chess
[FEN "rnbqkbnr/ppp2pp1/3p4/4p3/6Kp/
5P2/PPPPP1PP/RNBQ1BNR w kq - 0 5"]

1.f3 e5 2.Kf2 h5 3.Kg3 h4+ 4.Kg4 d6#

The first two black moves may be interchanged:

1.f3 h5 2.Kf2 e5 3.Kg3 h4+ 4.Kg4 d6#

Another way to pose this puzzle is "Compose the shortest game possible that ends with checkmate by a discovered check." In that case, the move 4...d5# would also work.

Until next time!


© 2013 Jeff Coakley. Illustration by Antoine Duff. All Rights Reserved.


A PDF file of this week's column, along with all previous columns, is available in the ChessCafe.com Archives.


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