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Features

June 26, 2014

Knight’s hops can get a jump on opponent

Alex Kid’s poem “The Night Knight” begins:

“Once upon a time/There was a great Knight

“He wore a shiny armor/And always loved to fight

“Hop, hop, hop he rode/Hop hop hop

“Hop hop hop he rode/On his horse.”

White does not need this many hops to win. With this hint in mind, please find white’s winning move and plan.

In many ways this week’s position is equal. Although white has an extra pawn, black’s king thwarts the advance of white’s queen-side pawns. White’s queen-side pawns are also on the same colored squares as black’s bishop, which makes the pawns vulnerable. In addition, because this is an open position with the pawns far apart, the bishop has an edge over the knight.

Of course there is usually an exception to every rule. Here, the exception is that the white knight hops to d5. From d5, the knight simultaneously threatens the black bishop and threatens mate from b3.

The best that black can do is trade its bishop for white’s queen-side pawns.

If black can now somehow capture white’s remaining pawn, the game could be a draw. However, white’s knight will hop-hop-hop all over the board and soon help white’s remaining pawn promote to a new queen.

The lesson this week is that there is usually an exception every rule. As Oliver Wendell Holmes observed, “The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.”

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