Games: Chess

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The Independent Online
My old friend and colleague Colonel Walter Polhill drew my attention to today's position which, he tells me, he first encountered when he led Polhill's XI on a chess tour of South Africa in the early 50s.

"We'd scarcely disembarked from the boat," the Colonel said, "when some chappie came up to us with a chess set and set up the position in the diagram above. Said it was a game from the South African championship. Black to move."

I glanced at the position and expressed some puzzlement. Black just moves his knight anywhere at all and it's mate.

"Ah," Polhill explained, "you don't understand the South Africans. At that time it was forbidden for Black to win. No, it was White who won the game - and in just seven moves."

I suggested that Black must have just shuffled around, refusing to give mate, and then resigned, but Polhill said not: "Too patronising, old boy. No, the game must end in mate. Seven moves each, Black playing first, ending with White giving mate.

It looked a tough one to crack, but before I had a chance to become engrossed in it, the Colonel set up another position on an adjacent board.

I asked whether White had won this one, too - thinking that I was making a joke, but the colonel assured me that he had - and again in just seven moves each, with Black moving first. "Damn clever, these South Africans," he said. "Been playing by their own, White-always-wins, rules for so long, that they can always find a way, if there is one. It's an art form sadly lost in the modern world."

But before he could explain how either game had ended, he made his excuses and left. Perhaps you can work out the moves.

Answers: A) 1.f4 h8=N 2.f3 Ng6 3.fxg6 g8=B 4.g5 Be6 5.dxe6 d7 6.Kc7 b8=R 7.e5 d8=Q mate. B) 1.a1=Q+ Kc2 2.Qe5 Kb1 3.Qb5 axb5 4.e1=B b6 5.f1=R b7 6.Kf2 b8=Q 7.g1=N Qh2 mate.

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