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Irritating rather than difficult is how I would describe this problem, a mate in three by R Cheney. White must find a way to get at Black's cornered king, without giving stalemate. Naturally enough, the captures on g7 all fail (it would be a rotten problem if they didn't): 1. Rxg7 is immediate stalemate; 1. Bxg7+ Kxg8 2. Rf7 (threatening Rf8 mate) is stalemate again; while 1. hxg7+ Kxg8 2. Rf7 avoids that difficulty by giving Black a move with the h- pawn, but h6 or h5 free h7 for the king to prevent a three-move checkmate.

At this stage, you should start running out of ideas, except perhaps to notice that if it were ch17out-harts-nws Black's move, then 1 . . . Kxg8 would allow mate with 2. Rxg7+ Kh8 3. Rg1. So perhaps we should be looking for a waiting move. Unfortunately, any move of the white-squared bishop allows Bxe5, while any move of the other bishop allows either its capture or Bxh6.

Just looking for possible mating positions, you should gradually realise that White's king has to get in on the act somehow, but how, precisely? (Solution tomorrow.)

The Paignton congress, one of England's longest established events, attracted its first grandmaster this year, when Gennadi Timoshchenko stayed on after the Lloyds Bank Masters. After winning his first three games, however, he ran into trouble against lower-rated players and ended in eighth place. The winners were K Arkell, L. Cooper, C Ward and T Reilly.