How to Solve Chess Problems Part 3: Tries


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Part 3: Tries
Written by Ian Watson   

‘Tries’ are white first moves that very nearly solve, but fail to only one black reply. Composers love tries, because they make the solver think he’s done the job when he hasn’t. This one is a hornet’s nest of tries:


White to play and mate in two moves

This is a ‘miniature’, meaning that the total number of men is less than eight. Should be easier? Not always, as fewer pieces means more scope for each one! It’s soon clear here that you need to move the knight on e4 to be able to mate against moves by the black king, but where to? The tries are 1 Sxg3? Kf4!; 1 Sf2? gxf2!; 1 Sd2? Ke6!; 1 Sc3? Kd4!; 1 Sc5? dxc5!; 1 Sxd6? g2!; and 1 Sf6? d5! So the solution is 1 Sg5!

There’s little you can do with a problem like this other than carefully work through all the tries until you have eliminated all but one, although capturing key-moves are rarely correct, so at least you can guess that Sxd6 and Sxg3 are probably wrong. Notice that in this one the white knight visits all its eight squares between the tries and the solution. This is a knight tour. White knights tour and black knights wheel – as in the Mansfield problem in Part 1. This problem is by G. Latzel and appeared in a well-known solvers’ magazine, ‘Die Schwalbe’, in 1956.

(This and the other parts of this series were first published in The British Correspondence Chess Association magazine ‘Correspondence Chess’ in 2010. The BCCA site is

Last Updated on Friday, 06 September 2013 10:53
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