In this puzzle, white can checkmate in two moves.
Thank you to everyone who sent in their answers. You received at least 1 point. If you correctly guessed the first move, you received 2 points. If you sent in at least one full solution you got 3 points, and you received a further point for each correct variation on the solution. This week, the following players received 3 or more points for their solutions:
Aathiran Oyalood (4)
The current top 5 are:
Aathiran Oyalood (4)
Natalie Weaver (2)
Daniel Wright (2)
This Week’s Solution
Although the queen and the rook already look perfectly placed here, the problem with simply bringing the queen to the d file is that black can too easily block the check. Both the knight and queen can block, and although the knight block is poor, the queen will be guarded by the king. Without a focused attack, it will be difficult to get past her!
We cannot place our queen between the kings on c7, c6, or c5 as all of those spaces are attacked by white pieces, so it appears that the king is difficult to attack in this square. There is a way to make him shift though! Congratulations to everyone who found the move Re6+ forcing the King to move to either d7 or d5.
Shifting the queen to the d file still won’t work here as it can still be blocked by the knight. If Kd7, the king only has one escape square – d8. We are now able to safely check the king on the c file as we can check from diagonally above the king, supported by the white bishop. Qc8++ therefore is the solution after Kd7 as it also covers the d8 escape square.
After Kd5 however the kings escape square is d4, therefore although the black queen can no longer reach c6, Qc6+ is not checkmate as it does not guard d4. Using the white bishop’s lower diagonal is therefore the solution here: Qc4++. The king cannot move, black cannot capture the piece that’s checking him, and as the queen is attacking from directly within the king’s field there is no opportunity to block the check.
It is not unusual to struggle with checkmate in twos! The visualisation skills necessary to complete these are advanced, making them much more challenging than the checkmate in one puzzles. You have to hold two pieces in different positions in your mind AND still consider a third move. Focusing on the kings field (the 8 squares surrounding the king) and keeping track of how (and if) it changes is invaluable! Also, make sure to double check your solution with move/capture/block.
If you struggled, you can make it easier by setting up the position on a board and moving the pieces around, but remember that in a real game you cannot get away with this behaviour! It is important to build your visualisation skill up so you can better see through your plans on the chess board. If you would like to practice your visualisation skills further I would recommend studying Sharpen your Skills or Visi-Power.
What To Do Next
Tomorrow you will be able find next week’s puzzle on our blog (the first puzzle in the new block). The puzzler with the highest score at the end of the block 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