12/09/20 Puzzle: Solution

In this puzzle, whoever’s turn it is to move (white or black) can checkmate in one.


Thank you to everyone who attempted this week’s puzzle. If you sent in your answers, you received at least 1 point. If you sent in at least one correct solution you received 2 points, and those who sent in two correct solutions received 3 points. This week, five players got full marks:

Melanie Norris
Natalie Weaver
Dominic Walters
Aathiran Oyalood

The First Puzzle Competition is Over!

We have our final leaderboard, and the winner of the first beginner puzzle set is Dominic Walters, finishing with 17/18 points – a fantastic first result. Our 2 closest runners up, finishing with 15 points each are Melanie Norris and Natalie Weaver.

Dominic Walters will receive a free lesson with the teacher of his choice from our teacher’s page, and, along with our two runners up, will receive a solver’s badge, which can be topped up with ‘solver spots’ with continued solving success. Once filled, a solver badge can be traded in for a chess book from our shop!

Thank you to everyone who entered our first puzzle competition, even if you didn’t win a prize this time. It’s important to work consistently to see an improvement in your skills, and we are encouraging you to add practising chess into your routine by beginning our second beginner’s puzzle competition tomorrow! You will be able to find the first puzzle tomorrow on our blog.

This Week’s Solution

For white…

A good tip in one move checkmate puzzles is to find all the checks. Unlike many of the other chess positions in this set, white has eight possible checks in this position. Pushing the pawn to g7 will deliver a check, but it would be unguarded and is attacked twice, so cannot give checkmate. Moving the knight to any of his seven available squares provide the following seven checks as moving the knight anywhere unleashes the b2 bishop.

Where the knight is placed is very important though. If Nb4, for example, the knight, queen and both rooks are all available to block the check from the bishop, and the same can be said for five of the knight’s other available moves.

The only correct move for the knight is Nf7++. This move might instantly look incorrect as both the queen and rook look available to capture the knight, but as the bishop is unleashed delivering check, and the knight is also delivering check in the same move, the black king is in double check. This means that black’s pieces are not able to deal with either the knight or the bishop on their own and the only option for black would be to move the king. Unfortunately for black the only unmanned space next to the king is g7 which is similarly in check from the b2 bishop.

For black…

If we start with the same tip we used for white: ‘find all the checks‘, then we whittle down our options very quickly. The white king is surrounded by pieces. Three are his own, and one is one of our pawns. Our pawn is guarded, but also blocked by the king. The only thing that pawn could do is capture the bishop, which may be very exciting – but won’t deliver a check so cannot be our answer this time.

As the king is surrounded it is very hard for our longer range pieces (queens, rooks, bishops) to get a good shot at him as they require open lines or defended spaces in the king’s field. The answer is to use a knight – perfect for smothered mates where the king is surrounded and has limited means of escape. Our knight can deliver check from c1 and c3 in this position.

Can’t the bishop just capture him? Well, no. Once the knight moves out of the way, the white bishop is then pinned to the king by the black queen. The white queen could still take the knight if it moves to c1 – that will eliminate that move, but we still need to double check that Nc3 is definitely checkmate to make sure our analysis is correct.

The white king only has one escape square in this position – b1. Our knight at c3 will be perfectly placed to deliver checkmate, attacking both the king and his escape square in one fell swoop!

What To Do Next

Tomorrow we are starting the second puzzle competition, and you will find the first puzzle on our blog. The next competition will be another set of six puzzles, and the puzzler with the highest score at the end will win a free chess lesson with the teacher of their choice and a solver badge and spot/two solver spots. Our runners up will receive a solver badge or a solver spot if they already have a badge. Consistently sending in your results is key to winning so make sure you subscribe below to get notified about the checkmate puzzles the moment they are published.

Diagram courtesy of www.chess.com

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