Chess

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The Independent Culture
MINIMALISM is no guarantee of simplicity, as this position, composed by N D Grigoriev, shows. Indeed, it contains everything you need to know about knights and rooks' pawns. It is White to play and draw.

The first thing to appreciate is the difficulty knights have stopping edge-pawns. If the pawn reaches h2, it will not be enough for White's knight to sit on h1. Black's king walks into g2 and its life is over.

To save the game, White must arrange for his knight to block the pawn before it reaches h2 (trying to sprint back with the white king is far too slow), so we need some highly accurate knight moves.

The obvious plan is 1. Nc3 h5 2. Nd5+, but after 2 . . . Kf3] the pawn cannot be stopped. 1. Nb4 h5 2. Nd3 h4 3. Ne5+ Kg3] is equally hopeless.

Since 1. Nb4 h5 2. Nc2+ Ke4 runs into similar problems, we have to try 1. Nb4 h5 2. Nc6] Now 2 . . . h4 3. Ne5] h3 4. Ng4+ gets the knight to h2 as required, but Black can cause more problems with 2 . . . Ke4] Now you should stare at the position and try to work out White's miraculous reply.

The answer is 3. Na5]] and the solution continues 3 . . . h4 4. Nc4] Kf3 (or 4 . . . h3 5. Nd2+ with Nf1 and Nh2 to follow) 5. Ne5+] (5. Nd2+? now loses to Ke2) Kg3 6. Nc4] reaching a remarkable draw: 5 . . . h3 6. Ne3] h2 7. Nf1+ or 5 . . . Kg2 6. Ne5 h3 7. Ng4 Kg3 8. Ne3 Kf3 9. Nf1 Kf2 10. Nh2 Kg2 11. Ng4. Knight-space has a most perplexing geometry.

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