Chess

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The Latvian problemist Imants Kisis has composed more than 400 mate-in-twos, this being one of the most elegant. It contains a vicious trap for the unwary solver.

With Black's king devoid of escape squares, all White needs is a safe check. 1.Nf6 would be mate if the rook could not take it; 1.Nxc5 would be mate if the bishop could not take it. That is just the recipe for an interference on d6. Easy! 1.Rd6 must be the answer, with 1...Rxd6 met by 2.Nxc5 and 1...Bxd6 met by 2.Nf6. Except that Black plays 1...f4! and there is no mate.

With all attention focused on d6, it is easy to miss the solution which is tucked away in the corner. The answer is 1.Bb2! threatening 2.Bxb1 mate. 1...Rxb2 allows 2.Nf6; 1...Nxa3 is met by 2.Nc3; 1...Nf2 (ready to interpose at d3) allows 2.Ng5.

The neatest point is that we do not lose the idea of interference on d6. Black can create an escape square for his king with 1...Rd6 or 1...Bd6 (2.Bxb1+ Kd5), but as we have already seen 2.Nxc5 or 2.Nf6 then delivers mate. A surprisingly rich composition with the rare bonus that Black is actually two pawns up at the start.

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