Independent Pursuits: Chess

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
I'M BACK from Spain after a less than successful time at their team championships. More of that later. Today, in response to the readers who've e-mailed me requesting one: at long last, a problem.

The team championships were held in Salamanca, with the players staying in a university hall of residence. Meals were taken in the cafeteria. Somewhat extraordinarily, on the paper mats put on the trays on which we received food were printed a variety of puzzles to aid the digestion.

There were a crossword, a "cross-number", a maze, a "spot the difference" puzzle as in kids' comics - and a chess problem: a mate in two to be exact. Following the diagram and a little chat, I shall give the solution at the end. So please, if you want to solve it, look no further than the diagram.

Unfortunately, there was no attribution. I tried e-mailing Brian Stephenson of the British Chess Problem Society (Hon Treasurer RT Lewis, 16 Cranford Close, Woodmancote, Cheltenham, Glos., GL52 4QA, who will send specimen copies of The Problemist and The Problemist Supplement to potential new members), but unfortunately he couldn't trace it.

When solving any problem, you need to orient yourself as to what's going on. I'm certainly no expert in this field: but I was able to spot that the black king has so-called "star flights" - that is, he has a flight square diagonally in all directions

Presumably, White won't deny Black any of these flights - it would be aesthetically displeasing: so the question I asked myself was how White intended to deal with these four king moves to c5, c7, e5 and e7.

Two of these are dealt with in the starting position. If 1...Kc7 2 Ne8 mate or 1...Ke5 2 Nb5 mate. This is so-called "set play" and unfortunately the mates remain the same in the solution - an aesthetic flaw, since there ought to be changes.

That leaves 1...Kc5 and 1...Ke7. By concentrating on the former I found 1 Bd3! - to cover c4 - after which if 1...Kc5 2 Nce4 mate or 1...Ke7 2 Nfe4 mate.