Chess v

An extraordinary position has been doing the rounds after first appearing on the Internet towards the end of last year. Concocted by the American mathematics professor Noam Elkies, it reaches a part of the laws of chess that no other composition has even come close to.

, , , ,

,h, , ,

n , , ,

zHn ,H,A

,H, , ,

V Nh, ,

s, N , ,

,F, , ,

It is White to play and draw and a glance at the Q-side is enough to see that the white knights are not going to be much use. One cannot move at all; the other can only commit suicide, but the Nc2 move rules out any stalemate defence.

So we can confidently begin: 1.f6 Qb3 and now either 2.f7 Qd1+ and move the king somewhere, or move the king somewhere first and then push the pawn to f7 after Qd1.

Now it will probably not be any help at all to tell you that 2.f7 Qd1+ 3.Kg6? loses, while 2.f7 Qd1+ 3.Kh6! draws. A slight nudge in the right direction, however, may be provided by the additional news that 2.Kh6? Qd1 3.f7 loses.

How, you must now ask yourself in bewilderment, can 2.f7 Qd1+ 3.Kh6 draw, while 2.Kh6 Qd1 3.f7 loses, when they lead to identical positions?

Let's proceed with the solution and see when a glimmer of realisation appears. Black's plan must be to force the white king in front of the f-pawn, then wander over with his own king via a4, b3, b2, c1 and d1. So play proceeds: 3...Qf3 4.Kg7 Qg4+ 5.Kh8 Qf5 6.Kg7 Qg5+ 7.Kh7 Qf6 8.Kg8 Qg6+ 9.Kf8 Ka4!

Now we set a little routine in motion: 10.Ke7 Qg7 11.Ke8 Qe5+ 12.Kd7 Qf6 13.Ke8 Qe6+ 14.Kf8 Kb3! and now round again in the other direction: 15.Kg7 Qe7 16.Kg8 Qg5+ 17.Kh8 Qf6+ 18.Kg8 Qg6+ 19.Kf8 Kb2!

So the black king shifts one square every 5 moves: 24...Kc1, 29...Kd1, 34...Ke2, 39...Kf3 and 44...Kf4, when play (with the queen now on e6) continues: 45.Kg7 Qe7 46.Kg8 Qg5+ 47.Kh7 Qf6 48.Kg8 Qg6+ 49.Kf8 Ke5! 50.Ke7 Qe6+ 51.Kf8 Kf6 when White announces his next move as 52.Kg8, and claims a draw, with not a moment to spare, by the 50-move rule. Since the last pawn move or capture (White's 2.f7), 50 moves have been played.

This may not quite amount to a proof that God exists, but it does show how right He was in giving us the 50-move rule.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week