In this puzzle, white checkmates 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 (5)
The current top 3 scorers are:
Aathiran Oyalood (13)
This Week’s Solution
The moment you consider this puzzle, the move Qa8+ should jump out at you. It looks incredibly inviting as the kings are already in opposition (this is a common mating pattern for you to memorise), but unfortunately the black bishop can intervene with Ba6, and there is no way to manipulate a focussed attack (where two pieces attack one) on a6 in just two moves.
If you try and attack from the king’s other side it will take two moves, you can bring the queen to e1 and then a1 for example, but the bishop can still interfere in time (Ba2) even without considering how black’s king can easily wander off the a file in this time as well (1. Qe1, Ka6 2. Qa1+, Kb7). Even if the queen could get to a3 (which is not possible in two moves due to the positions of the other pieces) the bishop could still reroute and get to a4 (blocking again) in two moves as well.
The problem piece in this position is the bishop, which prevents checkmate on the a file by blocking the checks. If we consider (on it’s own) the move Ba6, the move that interferes with our Qa8 checkmate, If we could place the queen anywhere on the board to construct a checkmate it would be on b4. From b4, the queen is guarded by the white king, and prevents the black king moving. The bishop importantly blocks one of the king’s escape squares in this position, which we can use to our advantage.
We need to tempt the bishop to continue guarding the diagonal above its king, whilst creating access to b4. The queen can access b4 by first moving to b7. Importantly from this square, there are still a number of lovely looking checkmate opportunities – all the traditional queen and king checkmate patterns.
If after Qb7, Ba5, Qb4++ is the solution we found earlier. If instead, Qb7, Bb5, the bishop is now placed in a focussed attack. Qxb5++ here is an idea often termed the kiss of death, or (my personal favourite) the queen sandwich. If the black bishop abandons the a6-c4 diagonal and moves anywhere along the a2-g8 diagonal, Qa7++ (or Qb5++) wins. Those with the solution Qa8++ were also permitted a point this week although this solution fails after Bc5 which guards the a8 square, so make sure to consider all the options available.
Another point was given for the final variation Ka4 as the bishop did not have to move in this position. After Bb7, Ka4, Qb4++ is another kiss of death checkmate. Those were the four solutions this week – any one solution would have won you 3 points, and an additional point was given for any of the further solutions. Please remember that your variations must be built upon your first move (in this puzzle Qb7++). If there are any possible moves for the opponent that you cannot find a checkmate after, your first move must be wrong!
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