Chess

While waiting for the world championship semi-final games to seep through from Sanghi Nagar in India - where the telephones beep unobtainably and the fax machines cause red alarm lights and error messages to shine out over 5,000 miles away - let'

s enjoy a wondrous composition.

It is White to play and win and was composed by Harold Lommer in 1933 to demonstrate an idea that for years had been considered impossible. The task was to create a study in which the same white pawn, in distinct variations, promotes to each of queen, rook, bishop and knight.

Under normal circumstances the crudeness of the setting - with three black pieces facing capture by white pawns - would detract from its artistic merit, but in this case such brutality is an acceptable price to pay for the elegance that follows.

Since 1.gxh5 lets Black escape with 1...Rxe7, the solution must begin with 1.gxh7+, removing the defender to f8. 1...Qxh7 allows 2.exf8(Q) mate, so Black has three choices: Kg7, Kh8 and Kxh7.

After 1...Kg7, the natural 2.exf8(Q)+ Kxh7 3.gxh5 lets Black escape with a draw by stalemate after 3...Re1+! 4.Kxe1. Instead White wins with a bishop promotion: 2.exf8(B)+! Kxh7 3.gxh5. With his bishops on c5 and d6 and king brought round via c1 and b2, the endgame is simply won.

1...Kh8 is similar, only this time the pawn turns into a rook: 2.exf8(R)+! Kxh7 3.gxh5.

Finally, 1...Kxh7 is met by 2.exf8(N)+! Kg8 3.gxh5 Rxh5 4.Kc1, again with an easy win.

William Hartston

Late news from India: Karpov-Gelfand: games 1 and 2 both drawn; Salov-Kamsky: game 1 adjourned, game 2 drawn.

Graphic omitted

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