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Two move chess problem: 5. The Harridan

White to play and mate in two moves. (White moves, Black moves, White then checkmates.) There is only one move White can make which will allow certain checkmate of Black in its next move, so the puzzle is finding that first move. That first move can involve any legal move, including checking the Black King or taking a Black piece. When White’s first move, (the “Key”), is discovered, White in its next move can checkmate Black in 3 ways, depending on where Black moves.


Composed by Mark Avery

The solution is below.

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The solution:

Do you think it’s . . . 

the knight on f3 . . .
taking the Black pawn? No, the Black knight moves to e4 and blocks the bishop’s threat.
moving anywhere else? No, the Black pawn on e5 moves to e4 to block the bishop’s threat.

the knight on c6 moving anywhere? No, the Black king will move to e4. Then, if White moves the other knight anywhere to reveal the check from the bishop, the Black king can move to d4.

In short, the first move does not involve moving either of the White knights.

the White king moving?  No, the Black king can escape to c5.

The solution:
The key move is to move the White bishop to h1.
If the Black king moves to e4 the White knight moves to h4.
If either the Black knight or Black pawn moves to e4 the White knight on c6 moves to e7.
If the Black knight moves anywhere but to e4, the White knight on f3 takes Black’s pawn.
If the Black king takes the White knight, the other White knight takes Black’s pawn.

More chess problems:

1. The Straitjacket. Medium
2. The Samurai. Medium.
3. The Dog’s Collar. Medium.
4. Wuthering Heights. Difficult.
6. Fiddler’s Elbow. Difficult.
7. Laurel & Hardy. Two puzzles with a surprise. ‘Laurel’ is easy; ‘Hardy’ is difficult.
(Try also the blog, ‘If God played chess‘ and answer the questions posed.)

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