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It was the deciding game for the coveted last place in the world masochists' championship and Black thought he was doing well. A rook, two knights and a bishop down, he felt confident that he would be beaten.

Yet White managed to force Black to mate him in just three moves. How did he do it?

The answer begins with the surprising 1.Ra1!! Now Black is faced with the threat of 2.Qe4+ Qxe4 3.Nd4+! forcing Qxd4 mate (1.Qf4+ would also work), so he eliminates the knight with 1...Qxe6 (1...Qe4 is met the same way). White then plays 2.Qd1+ Qe2 and now he reveals the point of his opening move with 3.Nb1! Black's only legal move is 3...Qxd1 and White is mated.

Now return to the position after 1.Ra1. Black has only one other queen move that does not succumb to 2.Qe4+ or 2.Qf4+ and that is 1...Qxh3. Then comes the best bit of all: 2.Nd4+ Kg4 3.Ne4! and Black has no choice but to deliver mate with Qh2 or Qh1. This problem, an example of a self-mate, was concocted by the great endgame study composer Leonid Kubbel.

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