Chess: Making sense from nonsense

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
THE WINNING move in today's position (a study by Chekhover) is so perplexing that at first sight I could not believe it. It is White to play and win and the only problem is stalemate. After 1. f7, for example, Black draws with 1 . . . Rxe2+ 2. Kf3 Re3+] checking the king all the way to g8 when Rh8+ finally forces White to capture it and give stalemate.

So what about 1. e4? It stops the check on e2 and gets another pawn rolling. The trouble is that Black replies 1 . . . Rg8 when nothing can stop Rxg7 with a draw.

White must find a way to counter the threat of Rg8, and the natural idea is to get the king off the g-file. After, for example, 1. Kf1 Rg8, White wins simply with 2. f7. Before going on, let's narrow down White's first move options. 1. Kf3 or Kh3 would be met by Re3+ with the usual kamikaze rook checks to follow. 1. Kf2 and Kh2 are met by Rxe2+, so that leaves only 1. Kf1 and Kh1. 1. Kh1 is obviously nonsense, so let's analyse the other move.

1. Kf1 threatens f7, so Black himself must threaten a check. Let's try 1 . . . Rd8. Now White has a repeating mechanism to make progress: 2. Kf2] Re8 3. e3] Rd8 4. Kf3 Re8 5. e4, gradually edging forwards, avoiding rook checks. Encouraged, we continue 5 . . . Rd8 6. Kf4 Re8 7. e5 Rd8 8. Kf5 Re8 9. e6 Rd8 and now White finishes it off with . . . well, that's the problem. He can't finish it off. 10. e7 or 10. f7 allow Rd5+, while 10. Kg6 Rg8] is a draw again with Rxg7+ unstoppable.

So it has to be the obviously nonsensical 1. Kh1]] when play continues just as before, 1 . . . Rd8 2. Kh1] Re8 3. e3] etc) with the king slinking up the h-file until 8. Kh5 Re8 9. e6 Rd8 10. Kh6]] Black can only wait with 10 . . . Re8 when 11. e7 Rc8 12. Kh7] Rg8 13. e8=Q+] Rxe8 14. f7] finishes him off. A superbly crafted composition.

Comments