I’ve shown this puzzle up the club the last couple of nights, but in case you missed it, here’s one of the most amazing puzzles in chess. See how you get on solving it!
A bit of history first – in 1987, one of the biggest tournaments of the year was in Brussels. World champion Garry Kasparov was playing, as well as Anatoly Karpov, Nigel Short, Jan Timman, Bent Larsen, Ljubomir Ljubojević, Viktor Korchnoi and Mikhail Tal. In between rounds, he pops into a room with a number of the top players, sets up the following position, and departs. The players can’t solve it. Mikhail Tal, frustrated, heads off for a walk for an hour, and when he comes back, he has worked the problem out in his head, and so can play out the solution when he returns.
See how you fare against one of the greatest players ever in one of the greatest puzzles ever! Here’s the position. White to play and win.
No answer for now. Maybe next week. Fritz can’t solve it, so it’s no good to you! Some logical thoughts to start – White has play quickly or black’s material will win easily. Promotion is out for now as 1. d8=Q loses to the fork 1…Nf7+. If White wastes time, Black will play …Ba5 to cover the queening square more directly.
It’s worth noting that Plaskett wasn’t the composer; that’s reckoned to be Dutch composer Gijs van Breukelen, who never published the puzzle; he just shared it around his friends.
Plaskett’s other claim to fame is winning a quarter of a million on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, reaching the quarter mill without using a lifeline. Stuart Conquest – a regular at Irish weekenders – was his friend in the audience, and was kicked out for suspected cheating (he wasn’t – he was genuinely laughing – but it wasn’t long after the Charles Ingram scandal, who, incidentally, was one of Plaskett’s phone-a-friends). The full story is here, and is well worth a read.
Post away as to how you get on with the puzzle!