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March 18, 2017

Saturday Afternoon Chess/Open Thread 03-18-2017

topographical chess.jpg

Good afternoon morons and moronettes, and welcome to the Saturday Afternoon Chess/Open Thread, the only AoSHQ thread with content specifically for all of us chess nerds who pay homage in the temple of Caïssa, goddess of the chessboard. And, for those of you who aren't nerdly enough for chess, you can use this thread to talk about checkers, or other games, or politics, or whatever you wish, only please try to keep it civil. Nobody wants to get in the middle of a pie fight on a Saturday afternoon. Except if you're hungry.

“We cannot resist the fascination of sacrifice, since a passion for sacrifices is part of a Chessplayer’s nature”

--(Rudolf Spielman)

Problem 1 - Black To Play (178)

Hint: Black can force a mate in 2

20170318 - Problem 1.jpg
5rk1/p5pp/1p2p3/3pPp2/2bP4/q1r2Q2/P5PP/1KNR2R1 b - - 0 1

Problem 2 - White To Play (120)

There are two distinct paths for a White win, depending on how Black responds to his first move. Show each path.

Hint: our old pal shows up again in one of the paths

20170318 - Problem 2.jpg
5r1k/1p1b2pp/3N3q/4P3/pPQ1P3/6P1/P6P/2R3K1 w - - 0 1

Problem 3 - White To Play (157)

Hint: White mates in 4

20170318 - Problem 3.jpg
r2B2k1/pp3rpp/nbp2p2/5N2/8/3R4/PPP3PP/2K1R3 w - - 0 1

The Limits of Artificial Intelligence

Over across the pond, they've started up a new institute to study human consciousness and artificial intelligence:

The new institute, which will have arms at UCL and Oxford University, has been set up to study human consciousness through physics and tease out the fundamental differences between artificial and human intelligence.

If successful, it could prove for the first time that the human brain is not simply a gargantuan supercomputer, but may exhibit quantum effects far beyond the realms of current imagining - a controversial theory that many scientists believe to be impossible.

As part of this launch, they're solicting answers to this chess problem:

20170318 - chess ai problem.jpg
8/p7/kpP5/qrp1b3/rpP2b2/pP4b1/P3K3/8 w - - 0 1
White to play and draw

This is a weird-looking position. It is extremely unlikely that you would ever encounter it in an actual game. But it's perfectly legal, and composed specifically to make a point.

The chess problem - originally drawn by Sir Roger - has been devised to defeat an artificially intelligent (AI) computer but be solvable for humans. The Penrose Institute scientists are inviting readers to workout how white can win, or force a stalemate and then share their reasoning.

If you give the position to your chess app, it most likely will evaluate it as a big plus for Black (if your chess evaluates the position to be roughly even, I would like to know which one you're using. I suspect the Penrose Institute would like to know, too.)

The main goal is to force a draw, although it is even possible to trick black into a blunder that might allow white to win...Both humans, computers and even quantum computers are invited to play the game and solutions should be emailed to

I fed the position to my chess app, and, as predicted, it determined that Black has a whopping big advantage. So Black should win, right? Should be easy, right? But as I watched it make a few moves, it became immediately obvious why Black will never be able to a win from this position, despite having this supposed "whopping big" advantage.

If you can see why this position is a draw, post your reasoning in the comments.

Problem 4 - White To Play (439)

Here is a problem I stole from Maizelis' invaluable Soviet Chess Primer. How should White proceed? Can he squeeze a win from this position?

Hint: White wins by simplification

20170318 - Problem 4.jpg
5r2/8/4RbP1/5P1K/8/8/8/5k2 w - - 0 1

Endgame of the Week (435)

It's White's move. How can he best take advantage of Black's poor position?

20170318 - Endgame.jpg
5r1k/6R1/8/8/8/8/1B6/K7 w - - 0 1

Meet MSNBC's Newest Anchor, Rachel Rivera

rachel rivera.jpg


Solutions Update

Problem 1 - Black To Play

20170318 - Problem 1.jpg
5rk1/p5pp/1p2p3/3pPp2/2bP4/q1r2Q2/P5PP/1KNR2R1 b - - 0 1

Pretty straightforward:

2.Rxc1 Qxa2#

Problem 2 - White To Play

20170318 - Problem 2.jpg
5r1k/1p1b2pp/7N/4P3/pPQ1P3/6P1/P6P/2R3K1 w - - 0 3

1. Nf7+!

Black has two responses to this. He might think, "Oh no, I don't want to lose my queen, so I'd better take the rook." So...


But then

2.Qc8+ Bxc8
3.Rxc8+ Rf8

Or, Black may think, "No, the queen is lost, so I'd better move my king and hope for the best."


And then this happens:

2.Nxh6+ Kh8
3.Qg8+ Rxg8

After this, White says, "How do you like them apples? Smothered mate FTW, baby!" to which Black replies "Eat me."

Problem 3 - White To Play

20170318 - Problem 3.jpg
r2B2k1/pp3rpp/nbp2p2/5N2/8/3R4/PPP3PP/2K1R3 w - - 0 1

1.Re8+ Rf8


2.Nh6+ gxh6

Not 2... Kh8 3.Rxf8#

3.Rg3+ Kf7

And if 3...Kh8 then again, 4.Rxf8#


Problem 4 - White To Play

20170318 - Problem 4.jpg
5r2/8/4RbP1/5P1K/8/8/8/5k2 w - - 0 1

The key here is to simplify the position. But you need to be careful how you do it.

1. Rxf6 Rxf6

Now, don't do what I did when I first saw this problem, which is to make an immediate rush to queen. Because it fails: 2. g7 Rxf5+ 3. Kg6 Rf2 4. Kh7 Rg2 and Black will secure the draw next move by trading his rook for the pawn.

The smart move is:


And the endgame is now 2 connected passed pawns vs. a rook, which White will win. Play might proceed:

2... Rc6
3.g7 Rc3

So this is me playing against my chess app. It's going to try to harass me with annoying checks, which I need to escape from to gain time for the pawn to queen. But first, I need to support the advanced pawn.

4.f6 Rg3+
5.Kh6 Ke2

And now here come the checks.

6.f7 Rh3+
7.Kg6 Rg3+
8.Kf6 Rf3+
9.Ke7 Re3+

Ha! And now he can't check me, so I can advance.

11.g8=Q Kd3?

What a crap move for a machine to make. For some reason, it can't see that I'll just immobilize both of its pieces with a pin, and then trade my queen for its rook, leaving him with nothing and me with a queenable pawn.

12.Qg6 Kd4
13.Qxe4+ Kxe4 and White wins.

Endgame of the Week

20170318 - Endgame.jpg
5r1k/6R1/8/8/8/8/1B6/K7 w - - 0 1

Black is paralyzed by a deadly pin. But if White immediately plays 1.Rf7+ with the intention of taking the rook, Black thwarts this with 1...Kg8. So White must bide his time.

Black's problem is that his king is frozen, so he has to move his rook. Therefore, when it is his turn to move, he needs to move it to a square where it can't be attacked with a discovered check.

White must take into account that even though Black's king is frozen, he has a couple of annoying checks in his pocket. He could play either 1...Ra8+ or 1...Rf1+, depending on White's "biding my time" move. But notice that if Black plays the former, then White will play 2.Ra7+, winning the rook. The latter check, 1...Rf1+ would be super annoying, so White needs to prevent this move from being made. He can do this with

1. Ka2!

And now, it's zugzwang. There is no safe square for Black's rook. For example:



1... Ra8+




2.Rd7+ Rg7

You get the idea.

See you next week!


Note: that cryptic line of letters and numbers you see underneath each board diagram is a representation of the position in what is known as "Forsyth-Edwards Notation", or F.E.N. It's actually readable by humans. Most computer applications nowadays can read FEN, so those of you who may want to study the position, you can copy the line of FEN and paste into your chess app and it should automatically recreate the position on its display board. Or, Windows users can just "triple click" on it and the entire line will be highlighted so you can copy and past it into your chess app.


So that about wraps it up for this week. Chess thread tips, suggestions, bribes, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to my yahoo address: OregonMuse little-a-in-a-circle yahoo dott com.

digg this
posted by OregonMuse at 05:10 PM

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