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Features

May 3, 2012

The final act – Black to move and win

All the world’s a chess board, and all its pieces merely players, they have their exits and entrances. In this week’s play the stage is set and black’s pieces know their parts. White’s king tragically meets his end at the hands of black’s pieces. Please direct black’s pieces to their places.

By Act IV white created an advanced b6 pawn along with rolling queen-side pawns. But it will take a lengthy fifth act to convert these queen-side pawns into a winning advantage.

Black, on the other hand, is ready to close the curtain with a short final act, beginning with black’s bishop capturing white’s h2 pawn with check (Bxh2+). If white’s king captures black’s bishop, black mates in three. Black’s e6 rook slides over to h6, checking white and forcing the king back to g1. Black’s queen leaps to h4 and white cannot stop mate on the next move with queen to h2 or h1.

After bxh2+, white should not take the bishop and instead move to h1. This prolongs the play but its epilogue is still inevitable. Black responds with queen to h4.

With best play by both sides black mates in 5. For example, a natural reply to queen to h4 is for white to attack black’s queen by moving its g2 pawn to g3, which also gives the white king an escape square on g2. But black takes the g3 pawn with its h2 bishop, creating a discovered check by black’s queen. And the position plays itself, even if black doesn’t find the best mating line.

Alternatively, white could respond to queen to h4 by creating an escape square on f1 by moving its rook to e1. Black’s most efficient reply is to slide its e6 rook to h6. More straightforward, however, is moving the bishop to g3 with again a discovered check followed by the bishop checking white from f2 with the support of its knight. Either way, the game’s reveals are at an end.

The lesson here is we are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep, even if it’s on a square board.

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