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:
Lee Silva (3)
Aathiran Oyalood (3)
There were only 3 points to be won this week as there were no variations in the answer for black.
The current top 3 scorers are:
Aathiran Oyalood (21)
This Week’s Solution
As the black queen has so many opportunities to check the white queen, the first move for white must be a check to prevent her moving. This means that our two move checkmate probably begins with one of the following moves: Rh5+, Qb5+, Qxb4+, Qb6+, Qe5+, Bxb4+.
The problem with Bxb4+, is that the knight does not have to recapture the bishop. If the King simply moves down to a4, the white rook and bishop have no way of checking him, and the queen has no safe checks either. If Rh5+, we have a similar issue, that once the King moves to a4 the Queens ideal position at b4 is still not safe as the knight is guarding. The black knight on c6, and pawn at a6 are keeping our queen out of the action.
The problem with all the remaining checks, is that they are all unsafe! So which is the worst, and which might just provide the perfect sacrifice? Well Qb6+ tempts the king off the edge into a harder to checkmate position (on the edge the king at most has only 5 available moves, but in the middle has up to 8 available moves). Qb5+ does keep the king on the edge of the board, and might be a good attempt if only we could leapfrog the black knight with Ra5++, but the black knight is still blocking all our nice plans!
Perhaps we can tempt the knight away. Qxb4+ does exactly that. In fact, moving the knight is the only available move for black, who can neither move the king, nor block the check. Unfortunately Nxb4 does lose us our best piece, but can we find a checkmate without it? Yes! By relocating the black knight, our rook is free to move all the way across the board, Rxa6++.
What about Nxa6? Well, unfortunately for black, once the knight has captured the queen it now pinned to the king by the white bishop on e1, and cannot move. Better luck next time!
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 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