|Since my (chess) life is totally uninteresting, I won’t bore you about myself, my favourite players, my simul against Kasparov in 1990, etc. Instead I’ll show as a small present a fantastic study; it’s a masterpiece of simplicity and complexity. Granted there are many other major studies, but at least this FEN was easy to generate.
If you haven’t seen it, try finding the solution, it’s worth it. If you have, which is likely since it's a classic, it might be fun to go through it again. Enjoy.
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White to play and win (David Joseph, British Chess Journal, 1922).
Don’t cheat, now.
All right, here it is.
Easy, let’s queen the h2 Pawn before the one on a6 does: 1.h4? axb5 (not a5??). Oops, draw at best.
Well that was too simple, let’s take the a6 Pawn then: 1.bxa6? b5 (not bxa6??). Draw again, damn it.
Annoying pawns. Let’s first block the b column: <1.b6+ Kb8!> (not Ka8? nor Kxb6? as we’ll see).
Aha, now I can queen: <2.h4 a5 3.h5 a4 4.h6 a3 5.h7 a2 6.h8=Q> *yawn* and wins <6…a1=Q> NOT. 7.Qxa1 stalemate, damn, damn. If the Black King were on a8 or b6 White would win, but the bugger isn’t.
Wait I get it, it’s one of these tricky studies, I should have underpromoted.
- 6.h8=B? a1=Q 7.Bxa1 would also have drawn: the Black King would have quietly stayed on b8 and a8.
- 6.h8=R? a1=Q actually would have lost: the R could not have controlled the 7th rank as the Q below.
- 6.h8=N?? and maybe my opponent would have collapsed laughing, but it’s a long shot.
So perhaps I didn’t mess it up yet. Patzer sees check, patzer gives check: 7.Qh2+? Ka8 8.Qc7 (threatening 9.Qc8#) ...Qf6+ 9.Kc8 Qd8+! or 9.Ke8 Qf8+! or 9.Kd7 Qe7+! stalemate or perpetual. What if 7.Qh3? (same threat) ...Qd4+ and 8...Qxb6. Still no cigar.
Lemme think. "A mate is a stalemate plus a check" (Shakespeare). So how about <7.Qg8!!> threatening 8.Kd7# or Ke7# (we’ll see why this move and the following deserve two exclamation marks). <7…Qa2!> (not 7...Qc1? or Qc3? 8.Kd7+ Qc8+ 9.Qxc8#).
Uh, stalemate again. You’re pushing it, wise guy. <8.Qe8!! Qa4!> Won’t give up? Is this Groundhog Day?
Er… what next? Oh yes, patzer sees check: <9.Qe5+ Ka8 10.Qh8!> Back to starting point, only now your King is exposed, smartass.
<10…Qf4 (or other)> Your desperate attempt does not impress me: <11.Kd7+ or Ke7+ (or Qa1+) Qb8 12.Qa1+ Qa7 13.Qxa7#> Phew, almost blew it. Now call it a draw like in "Holy Grail"!
Great triangular manoeuvre by the Queen to undo the stalemate position. But did you figure out why White did not play 7.Qe8 right away? Or 8.Qf8 before 9.Qe8 (surely, not only to save time)? That’s what makes the study most beautiful. Think a bit before looking below.
(a) 7.Qe8? Qg7!! Draw by perpetual or exchanging the Queens (trust me).
(b) 8.Qf8? Qa3! 9.Qe8 Qd6+ 10.Qd7 Qxd7+ 11.Kxd7 Draw.