This is one of the best problems I have encountered recently. It's quite brilliant and very silly - as you may deduce from its specification. For this is a series-help-stalemate in 30. In other words, Black must make 30 consecutive moves to reach a position in which White can play one move that delivers stalemate.

And if the word "why" is forming on your lips, may I suggest this could be a good time to proceed to the bridge column.

So, if you're still with us, Black's task is to deprive himself of moves, and the only hope of doing so must involve a mass promotion of pawns, with the resulting promoted pieces then being herded into a corral and the door finally slammed shut. Knights are always the most difficult pieces to gum up in such situations, and that consideration should suggest what happens at the end. White, remember, has only one move to make, so it seems a reasonable working hypothesis to try to head for a final position with the black king on e4, everything to the right on him glued up by the results of promoting both c-pawns, the d-pawn and one or two g-pawns, and White finally playing Rhe8.

To achieve all this, we'll need black pawns on h3, h6 and f6, bishops on g4 and g5, and rooks on f3, f4, f5, h4 and h5. Now we know that problemists insist on a unique order of moves to solve their efforts, and that should be a great help in finding the answer.

For one thing, if the c-pawns are to promote into rooks, then cross to the K-side, they'll have to do so before the king goes to e4. And Ke4 must be played before the d-pawn can start moving. Also Black will have to get a rook to f3 before he promotes his g-pawn (otherwise he'd be in check from the bishop).

So let's start: 1.c1=R, 2.Rc4, 3.Rh4, 4.c4, 5.c3, 6.c2, 7.c1=R, 8.Rcc4, 9.Rcf4, 10.Ke4. Now the d-pawn can get moving: 11.d5, 12.d4, 13.d3, 14.d2, 15.d1=R, 16.Rd3, 17.Rdf3. Now we can play 18.g1=R, 19.Rg5, 20.Rgh5, which clears the way for 21.g5, 22.g4, 23.g3, 24.g2, 25.g1=R, 26.Rgg5, and now the finish touch is provided with 27.Bg4, 28.Rgf5, 29.Bg5, 30.h6 just in time for White to reach the goal with Rhe8. A superb concoction.

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