CHESS

When you have opened a file alongside your opponent's king, and are barging ahead with a mating attack using your major pieces, it is a lesson most of us learn from bitter experience that rooks should lead the way with a queen in the rear, rather than the other way round. This is a theme problemists have put to good use too. Take the following position, for example. Composed by Eric Zepler in 1933, it is White to play and mate in four.

, , , ,

,G, , ,

, , , ,

, , , ,

, , , ,

,H,S, ,

ANf, , ,

, z , ,

1.Rc7?? is stalemate, 1.Rd7? loses the queen to Nb4+, and 1.Qe2 invites 1...Nb4+! when Rxb4 is stalemate again. The natural try is something like 1.Qd6 followed by Rd7 and Qd1 mate, but Black plays 1...Ne1! 2.Rd7 Nd3! when 3.Qxd3 is stalemate again.

That last variation (particularly when taken in conjunction with the opening comments) should suggest the right answer: 1.Qd8! Ne1 (best) 2.Rd7! and now 2...Kc2 3.Rd1! forces a knight move when Qd3 (or Qxd3) is mate, while 2...Nd3 3.Rxd3! Kc2 allows 4.Rc3 mate.

The next diagram is a far more complex and beautiful version of the same theme. It is White to play and mate in 7 and was composed by Markus Ott in 1959.

, , , ,

, , , ,

n , n ,

,h, nH,

, ,A, ,

, , , ,

dn NH, ,

zf,S, ,G

With Black's king entrenched in the corner, it is not easy to see how White will get at it, even with seven moves to spare. One try might be to bring the king closer, but 1.Kd3 e4+ 2.Kc2 b4 even leaves Black threatening b3 mate.

Another idea is to wait for b4, then play Qa4 followed by Rxb1+ when Kxb1 is met by Qd1 mate. But after 1.(something) b4 2.Qa4 b3! where does White go?

The formula has to be (White moves indicated by question marks): 1.?? b4 2.Qa4

b3 3.?? b5 4.?? b4 and then a brilliant three-move mate. If only White's queen and rook were the other way round, we might have a glimmer of an idea. Okay, lets do it: 1.Rf1!! b4 2.Qa4 b3 3.Qa7!! b5 4.Qg1! b4 and now the clever bit: 5.Rxb1+! Bxb1 6.d3!! Ka2 7.Qa7 mate! Finally, if Black meets 1.Rf1 with Bd5+, White mates with 2.Kxd5 Ka2 3.Qxb1+ Ka3 (or Kb3) 4.Rf3+! Ka4 (or Kb4) 5.Qe4+ Ka5 6.Ra3. The fourth move of that line explains why 1.Re1 does not work in the starting position.

William Hartston

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Project Manager (Procurement & Human Resources)

Unpaid: Cancer Research UK: If you’re a professional in project management, lo...

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star