CHESS / Did you solve the reconstruction?

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The Independent Culture
CONGRATULATIONS to the 75 readers (including one grandmaster who misspelt Independent) who sent in correct answers to our Christmas competition. Commiserations to the three who submitted 'proof' that it could not be solved.

The problem involved the reconstruction of a game played at a rest home for terminally bewildered grandmasters in the year 2043, which ended in the diagram position after Black's 14th move. The correct analysis should proceed along the following lines:

Black has made one pawn capture (b7xa6) and White has only one pawn missing. That pawn could not have reached a6 without White making four captures which is impossible, since Black has only three men missing. So there are only two possibilities: White's pawn promoted and was captured in its new incarnation on a6; or an original white piece was taken on a6 and replaced by a promoted pawn.

The first of these does not allow both sides to fit in all the moves they have to play (though the proof is laborious). The remaining possibility entails five White moves to promote the pawn, at least two to return the promoted man to its final position, and six more to get the king, d-pawn and knight to their final squares. That leaves only one move to put a piece on a6 to be captured. So White played Ba6, promoted his e-pawn to a bishop on g8 then retreated with Bc4 and Bf1.

With Black needing 12 moves to get his men to their final positions, and having to lose both knights in the process, the opening is now forced: 1. e4 Na6 2. Bxa6 bxa6 3. e5 Bb7 4. e6 Qb8] 5. exf7+ Kd8 6. fxg8=B and now we have two routes to the final position: 6 . . . Kc8 7. Bc4 e6 8. Bf1 Bb4 9. Ke2 Bf3+ 10. Kd3 Kb7 11. Kc4 Be2+ 12. d3 Be1 13. Nd2 Kc6 14. Ndf3 Qb4 mate; or 6 . . . Bf3 7. Bc4 e6 8. Bf1 Ke7 9. d3 Kd6 10. Kd2 Kc6 11. Kc3 Bb4+ 12. Kc4 Be1 13. Nd2 Be2 14. Ndf3 Qb4 mate.

Boxed sets of 'Garry Kasparov - The Ultimate Grandmaster' (the five volume collection of Kasparov's games from Cadogan Books) will shortly be on their way to Philip Stewart (Oxford), Stuart Brown (North Humberside) and Alan Bill (Newcastle upon Tyne).