Remember the time when you were a beginner? It was a time when chess was a big, exciting challenge, a time when at the beginning there were too many pieces around the board and you were always afraid to push your pawn forward two squares. Remember the unwritten rules you argued about?
"I tell you for sure, at the beginning each side makes two moves in a row"
It was a time when those who knew Fool's mate were considered Grand Masters! Do you remember the Knight's journey challenge? Did you ever managed to do it? If you did not, here is your chance to practice for it; it is never too late. If you did it, you need those skills to solve this level 4 similar challenge. It has 2 Kings added (to make the position legal) and a pawn to complicate things a bit. Your task:
a) White to move and win. Good luck!
Total available points for this puzzle is 14. The answers will be published next week together with puzzle #122.
Puzzle #120 solution:
The game ending that way was played between two Grand Masters: Carlsen - Smeets, during a blindfold tournament in Nice, France earlier this year. Rick's response is very organized, complete and genuine:
Material: We are equal, but White has a Bishop for a Knight, giving him a slight edge.
King safety: White is being securely guarded by nearly all his pieces. Black's monarch is feeling pressure from being stuck blocking the pawn on e5, and would much rather be away from the Rooks.
- White's Bishop is way more active than Black's Knight
- both sides have a passed pawn, but White's passer is very strongly supported and is more advanced.
- all four Rooks are in decent positions with important tasks
- Black has two pawn islands while White has three
White should seize the initiative while Black's Knight is on the rim. Pushing the e-pawn and using his forceful Rooks are some suggestions.
Black should play Nc7-d5, followed by picking off the a-pawn. He should watch out for his King and trade pieces for a favorable endgame.
With positives and negatives to both sides, white needs precise calculations to win.
My intuition was Rd6+, but after 20 minutes of thought I couldn't find anything. This is the only good move because the Bishop clears out of the Rook's path and there is a mating threat lurking on d6.
Black manages to find the only move that gives him a chance to play on.
2.Rxd7 Kxd7 3.e6+ Ke8
Just like I was stumped on puzzle 119 at move 5, I was stumped here. However, I noticed that the back rank is very feeble and Black's defenders are misplaced...
4.Rd2!! ... 1-0
These simple Rook moves seem to be the new fashion! This unstoppable mating threat reminded me of Paul Morphy when he played the Duke and Count at the Opera House. That's why it is known as opera mate! Black can now only delay his doom with either Rd4 or Rc2. I would be very impressed if someone did all this blindfolded!"
Andy, Edwin, Frank, Rick, Owen, Karl - 20 points
Jeffrey - 15 points
Alex, James - 8 points
Owen - 398 points
Andy Y - 393 points
Karl - 376 points
Edwin - 341 points
Jeffrey - 289 points
Alex - 227 points
James - 223 points
Andy Q - 214 points
Humphrey - 180 points
Nathaniel - 144 points
Amir - 103 points
Rick - 58 points
Frank - 51 points
Marko - 10 points
Knight's short journey (1)