We made the Christmas chess competition too easy, it seems. The problem was to reach the diagram position after White's 19th move. As several entrants pointed out, it can be done in 18.

The 19-move solutions generally have a white knight captured on a3 by a bishop, which is then taken by a pawn. The black e-pawn then promotes to a bishop on g1 and heads back to f8 via c5. Only after all that can Black play d6.

The ingenious 18-move answers have the black pawn promoting to a queen, which then takes the knight on a3. For example: 1.d4 e5 2.Bd2 e4 3.Ba5 e3 4.a4 exf2+ 5.Kd2 fxg1=Q 6.Kc3 d6 7.Na3 Qe3+ 8.Kb4 Qxa3+ 9.bxa3 Bf5 10.c3 Bc2 11.e4 f5 12.Qb1 Qf6 13.Bb5+ Ke7 14.Be8 b5 15.Bb6 c5+ 16.Ka5 Nc6+ 17.Ka6 Rb8 18.Qa2.

All the 18-move and 19-move answers went into the winner-generating hat, and the following names emerged: Laura Fraser (Inverness), Stuart McMenemy (Glasgow), MP Young (Highbridge, Somerset). They will all receive a copy of the splendid Chessmaster 5000 on CD-Rom.