Coach Henry's Slide Rule of Chess
Coach Henry's Easy Rules of Chess
The chessboard is not a piano,
If victory you'd like to gain,
by Coach Henry
On The Knight's Tour:
Download Great little program for learning the Knight's tour.
HOW TO USE CHESSMASTER AS A JUDGE OF CHECKMATE PROBLEMS
This problem will have several questions. It has to do with finding the fastest checkmates by best play from both sides. First, let me mention that for a checkmate problem to be admired and accepted by the professional chess problemists, it should not start with a check or a capture. Also, there should be only one first move that forces checkmate in the shortest way. Furthermore, the more defensive moves (or different variations leading to checkmate) there are, the better is the problem in the eyes of the solvers. Incidentally, if a problem has more than one first move which leads to checkmate, it is called a "cook" (since about year 1851, already).
With that introduction, let's start:
1. Imagine a small chess board of only 4x4 squares, numbered as a big chess board would be (just like the lower left-hand quarter of the board). Set up the following position in this square of 16 small squares: White--Kc2, Bb1, pawn b2; Black--Kd4, Qa1, Rd3, Na2.
2. Start out by setting this position up in the center of the regular chess
board, in other words, make the corners of the small board land on c3, c6,
f6, and f3 (so now you have the black queen on c3, the black king on f6, etc.).
Stop and put on your mathematician's hat. In how many different ways can you
place the small board onto the large board, without rotating either one from
the normal playing position (in other words, the white pawns will move up away
from you in all positions)?
2a. What is the least number of moves in which Black can start and checkmate White from the above position, regardless whether Black starts with a check or a capture? Answer: _____
2b. Is the first move a check or a capture? YES NO (Circle one)
2e. How many different choices are there for White to answer to Black's first move (that you have chosen for your solution)? Answer: _______ (Now, remember, all of these variations must result in White's being checkmated!)
These questions will apply for all other placements of the small board that
you will try. Now, let's see how patiently you can try many of them to find
the answer to my final question (at the very bottom of this problem).
3. Put the small board (in other words, the problem position) in the lower
quarter of the regular chessboard and answer (similarly to setup 2, above)
4. Repeat setting up the position in the upper left quarter of the board (check: Black king would now be on d8), and answer same questions as above.
5. Repeat with the position in the upper right quarter.
6. Repeat with the position in the lower right quarter.
7. Repeat with any number of remaining different locations of the same position (the small board) over the regular chessboard. (Recruit Chessmaster 9000 to help you find the answers, asking for checkmates in 5 moves or less.) By now you should think of how many are not worth repeating at all, because the changed locations will not make any difference in the answers.
8. Which of the five setups do you think make the best checkmate problem for professional problemists? (Consider those first that have only one good first move, that do not have cooks, and that have the most variations leading to checkmate) Circle one: 2 3 4 5 6
9. Do you think that there may be one setup from which Black can checkmate in just one move? (This may take some critical thinking on your part.) YES NO
10. Now, for my final question (and I give credit to my student Eric Lin Lee) for suggesting this to me, can you find a placement of the small-board position anywhere on the large board, where checkmate by Black is not possible in fewer than 3 moves? If you have found one, tell me on which square on the regular board would the White king be at the start of the problem. Answer: _________.
If you have found more than one position from which at least 3 moves are needed to checkmate the White king, let me know, and I'll send you another problem to work on. If you have comments, explanations of your answers, or thoughts about what wonders we can find on the chessboard, write to me anyway. There still is a lot to explore in the Royal Game. (The credit to the original puzzle goes to A. Jakab, Vecernie Novosti, 1963, given as #47 in Colin Russ' book "Miniature Chess Problems." I have reversed the colors for homework purposes.)
Now, with this you should not have a problem on how to fill a couple of hours of your required weekly homework time.
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