SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
One of the most respected names in the field of chess composition, Korolkov was awared the Grandmaster title in 1976. He published several books, one of which ”The technology of chess studies” is a ”how to” guide for those interested in creating compositions themselves. A prolific artist, no one knows for certain how many compositions he created–he lost count!– but his most creative period was between the ’30s and 50’s.
The prize-winning problem below is a beautiful and imaginative work of art where the constant threat of mate hanging over the White King and the brilliant solution requiring two surprising underpromotions leaves the reader in awe. Enjoy!
WHITE TO PLAY AND WIN
The White King is in a bad way, and Black threatens to mate his majesty in the near future: if 1. e8Q? Nxe8 2. a8Q then immediately decisive is 2… Bf5!, with an unstoppable mate. White’s only chance is to try to make room for his King to escape
Now if 1…Bf5 the White King escapes mate with 2.gf7. Unfortunately for White, Black has a very cunning move that maintains the White King in a cage.
1… f5 !
Now Black threatens …Ne8-f6 (mate) or …Nd5-f6 (mate).
The only move! If now 2…Nd5 (threatening mate on f6) then White escapes the mate with 3.e8 (N)! and Black’s threats evaporate immediately, leaving White with a simple task of mopping up. Should Black now try the tricky 2… Bxa6!?, then White should accept with 3. a8Q Bxb5 and now 4. Qa2! stops the mate threat of the Bishop on e2.
Black now seems to have nothing more to throw at White, but he finds a brilliant resource:
A beautiful deflecting sacrifice that White must accept since it threatens mate in 1 move (f6)!
3. Bxe8 Bxa6 !
Threatening mate on e2.
The only move!
So White has escaped the worse, but he still must exercise caution. If now he promotes his e-pawn to a Queen, then he does not win : 5. e8Q? Be2! 6. Qxe2 statemate! Beautiful! But White now has a surprising way to win that involves the underpromotion theme:
The idea is that if now Black continues with the planned 5…Be2ch 6.RxB and it is no longer stalemate! Therefore, Black is obliged to take the Rook on e8, before returning to b5 and once more threatening mate.
5… Bxe8 6. a8R!
Very precise! White does not fall into the trap of promoting to a Queen: 6. a8Q? Bb5! (threatening mate) 7. Qa2 Be2!! 8. Qxe2 is the same stalemate as in the previous note!
Threatening mate once more on e2!
7. Ra2 ! just in time!
Ending all of Black’s mating threats and comfortably winning the game. Simple technique is now sufficient:
7… Bd3 8. Ra4 Be4 9. Rc4 Ke3 10. Kg5 f4 11. Rc3 etc.
A MAGNIFICENT STUDY!
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS