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 (3)
There were only 3 points to be won this week as there were no variations in the answer for black.
This means, in first place this time, with 24 points we have:
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This block’s runners-up:
Rob (18 points) and Earl (16 points)
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This Week’s Solution
If you struggled to find the first move here, it was important to see that both the black queen and knight have threats of check against white. This means that white’s first move is probably a forcing move. The most forcing moves are usually checks, and five check ideas stand out instantly in this position: Rxf8+, Bc3+, Ng5+, Q a1+ (or Qb2+), and Qxh7+.
The problem with bringing the white queen or bishop to the a1-h8 diagonal, is that the black queen has three ways of blocking this line, and the black bishop has a way of blocking the line too. Even if both pieces sacrifice themselves, we cannot allow two moves by black in a two move checkmate, so attacking in this line can be eliminated.
Rxf8+ looks quite promising, but after Bxf8 (the only move for black), again we are left with no checks that cannot be blocked or captured. Qxh7+ doesn’t quite follow up the attack as it is still guarded by the other black knight, and the remaining checks along the a1-h8 diagonal can still be easily blocked.
Ng5+ doesn’t work for similar reasons. Once the pawn has recaptured, we have not changed the position to our benefit – simply lost an attacking piece. The remaining checks cannot help us in one move.
This leaves us with the idea – Qxh7+. While it appears to be guarded three times, the h7 pawn is actually only effectively guarded once. The black knight on f8 is pinned to the black king by the rook, and the king himself cannot recapture as the white king is so close by. The only response: Ngxh7.
This forced move by black, makes a huge difference to the position for white. Now the white bishop on d5, and the white rook on g2 finally come into their element as a working team and the knight clears the file for the rook. The queen’s sacrifice was pivotal in clearing the knight out of the way for this super duo. Rg8++ wins the game. There were no variations this week so Qxh7+, Ngxh7 (or N5xh7), Rg8++ won all three available points.
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