Chess: A good old mate

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The Independent Culture
HAVING starved problemists of their fare during the excitement of Linares, today's position is a good old-fashioned mate in two, composed by G H Goethart in 1916 and used to start last month's finals of the British Solving Championship, writes William Hartston.

ch21out-harts-nws Black is nicely set up for a discovered check on the diagonal, but 1. Nc6+ or 1. Nf3+ let the king escape to c4 where it has too much room to be mated instantly. This does, however mean that White has a mate with Nc6 ready in reply to 1 . . . Rc4+ or Nc4. Equally, White has Bc3 mate ready for 1 . . . Nb3, Ra1, Ra2 or Rc3+. Since Black's Nc6 is mated by dxc6, one should now wonder if there is any Black move that does not allow mate. If not, White's task could be reduced to finding a simple waiting move.

Unfortunately for that approach, Black has 1 . . . Bb6, Nc4, Nb7, b4 and g2 against which no mate is provided. Coping with all of those by means of a waiting move is too much to ask for, so White must find a move that actually threatens mate.

Queen moves are the obvious try, but the queen cannot stray too far from the defence of the knight on e5. There are tempting tries such as 1. Qg6 Kxe5 2. Qf6 mate, but 1. Qg6 is met by Rc4+ and White has thrown away the mate with Nc6.

White's rooks offer no mating prospect, so attention shifts to the knight on e4. Renouncing control of c5 is no problem, since with the white knight absent from e4, 1 . . . Kc5 is met by Qxa7 mate. Indeed any knight move threatens Qxa7 mate, which looks encouraging, but what about 1 . . . Bb6? White needs another mating threat and it has to be Ne6 mate in order to cover c5. So the answer should be 1. Ng5. It should be, but it isn't. 1. Ng5 runs into Rc4+, and Nc6 is no longer mate because of Kc5.

There is only one move left to consider which is 1. Nc5] again threatening Ne6 mate. All that remains is to discover why it works: 1 . . . Kxc5 allows 2. Qxa7 mate; 1 . . . Bxc5 blocks the c5 square and allows 2. Qg4 mate; 1 . . . Rc3 is now mated by 2. Be3] and prettiest of all 1 . . . Rc4 allows 2. Nexd3 mate.

The trick in solving such a position is not to become too trapped in the mind-set of the mates already provided. It is easy to dismiss 1. Nc5 because of 1 . . . Rc3, for example, reasoning that 2. Bxc3 is no longer mate, but that, of course, is what the composer wants you to think.