December 10, 2006

Thoughts upon a position: 8. The deciding move

You may think that solving a position when the correct answer is already posted is no fun at all. However, I am very glad to read your comments with the right answer among wrong ones. In this way, there is no need for me to reply. You do it all (right and wrong) by yourselves.

Today’s position requires tactical skills (as the previous ones) but there are only nine pieces on the board. I use this as a prelude to some endgame problems which I have chosen for the approaching Christmas holidays.

a8 b8 c8 d8 e8 f8 g8 h88
a7 b7 c7 d7 e7 f7 g7 h77
a6 b6 c6 d6 e6 f6 black Pawn on g6 h66
a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 black Pawn on h55
black Pawn on a4 b4 c4 d4 e4 f4 g4 white Pawn on h44
a3 b3 c3 d3 white Queen on e3 f3 white Pawn on g3 white King on h33
a2 b2 c2 d2 e2 black Queen on f2 g2 h22
a1 b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 black King on g1 h11
a b c d e f g h  

Black is a pawn up and has to play a winning move. Which one? Send your comments.

Have fun…

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Posted by Michalis Kaloumenos at December 10, 2006 05:48 PM

If black tries Qxe3, it's stalemate.
If after a3 white tries to take the a3 pawn, black can mate via Qg2 or Qh2. If white tries to check by moving to the first rank, Qf1+ forces a trade of queens and leads to the eventual queening of the a-file pawn.

Posted by: djpnola at December 8, 2006 07:52 PM

Pg5 and white aufgegeben.- Mare or D change.- After PT promote.-

Posted by: crackingchessmen at December 8, 2006 10:32 PM

Sorry: mare is a mistake.- mate is correct.-

Posted by: crackingchessmen at December 8, 2006 10:41 PM

Though I came up with the answer on my own, I have since run the position with a couple of chess engines to see if crackingchessmen's answer led to mate faster. His seemed like a pretty good answer to me.
According to the two engines (Fritz 5.32 and Crafty 19.9), a3 leads to mate in 8 or 9. Strangely, the two engines differ in how many moves will lead to mate. I haven't compared the two outputs yet to see where the moves differ.
On the other hand, g5 does not show up as leading to a forced mate.

I realize chess engines are not infallible, so I'd be interested in hearing other views.

Posted by: djpnola at December 9, 2006 11:10 PM

Dear Mr. djpnola: ¿What play you after g5? I only saw two or three moves ahead.- My show is not based in a forced mate but in conceptual thoght.- I am only a man.- Sincerely your, Cr.
Oh. my english... is...

Posted by: crackingchessmen at December 10, 2006 01:16 AM

Dear Mr. djpnola:Yes sir.- My analisis is wrong.- If g5 , QC1+ and draw.- Congratulations.- Crac...Crac...Crac...

Posted by: crackinchessmen at December 10, 2006 09:12 AM

I AGREE WITH djpnola: a3 is the winning move.

Posted by: DANTONIFAYARD at December 10, 2006 03:21 PM

Yes, the simple a3 is the winning move. White can do nothing better than exchanging the Queens; he cannot leave the a7-g1 diagonal without check.

But OTB, I probably would have played g5. This move is SO seductive, once you have discovered it! Doesn't it seem to be a really "brilliant" move? Leaving the White Queen alone, but threatening mate in one? However, after Qc1+ Qf1+ QxQ KxQ hxg5 Black is missing a deciding tempo: BOTH pawn are promoted to Queens, resulting in a probable draw.

For me, this position teaches me (once again) not to try spectacular moves if you can win with simple moves - especially when under time pressure.

Posted by: Thomas at December 10, 2006 05:00 PM

I also saw the seductiveness of g5! I agree with djpnola on a3.

I ran into an interesting problem though. At first, I was reading the board completely wrong, thinking that Black's Queen was under attack by the g3 pawn. I kept seeing that if Black took the White queen, it was a draw, and other moves were trouble for Black. Did anyone else hallucinate like this? Or just me? :)

Posted by: HFlew at December 11, 2006 07:27 PM

If ... QxQ
Kg4... .- Black win.-

Posted by: crackingchessmen at December 12, 2006 12:46 AM

Yes, Heather, I had the board reversed too, and more than once. I'd get the board right in my head and then I'd forget and see it the other way (that white was moving DOWN the board and black was moving UP).
It's like those trick pictures where first you see one thing and then the other and they keep flipping in your eyes' mind.

Posted by: djpnola at December 12, 2006 05:02 AM

Interesting, though, that even if you read the board wrong (white moving DOWN the board), it's still a draw if QXQ.
I wonder how many times that kind of situation comes up in a position.

A chess palindrome, maybe?

Posted by: djpnola at December 12, 2006 05:06 AM

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