Magazine article The Spectator

Parerga

Magazine article The Spectator

Parerga

Article excerpt

Last week's puzzle told a curious story.

I t is commonplace nowadays for computers to come up with arcane solutions to chess positions which a human player would solve in more practical fashion. This puzzle is an odd reversal of the process.

White actually played 1 Qxd8 and Black resigned since 1 . . . Rxd8 2 Nxf7+ leaves Black hopelessly placed.

I n fact even stronger would have been 1 Nxf7+ Rxf7 2 Qxd8+, winning Black's queen and leading, in due course, to mate. My instinct told me, though, that there was an even faster checkmate in this position, which did not involve brutal gains of material.

Computers have no instincts, but they are very good at analysing concrete variations. However, when I tested my line on the Fritz software program, it resolutely refused to recognise the virtues of the variation I had found. A strange paradox for computer buffs to ponder.

The main variation of the faster line forcing checkmate is as follows: 1 Qf6+ Qxf6 2 gxf6 Be8 3 Rg1 a3 4 b4 d4 5 Kxa3 Bb5 6 Rg8+ Rxg8 7 Nxf7 checkmate.

have been contacted by Professor Nathan Divinsky, the leading chess and bridge practitioner in Canada, who continues to work on his definitive account of the career of the 19th-century Prussian diplomat and chess expert Baron Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa. …

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