Maybe the hardest chess puzzle ever

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A. Marciz, 2117
G. Kerr, 2239


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Last problem posted :

Josef Riha    (2011-12-12 23:28:57)
Maybe the hardest chess puzzle ever?

Here are the explanations to this puzzle:

First let's discuss the obvious: Black has so much extra material, that White has to finish things up neatly or lose. Promoting 1.d8=Q loses to the fork 1...Nf7+. The initial check 1.Bc2+ is fruitless, for after 1...Kg7 there are no more checks. If White wastes time, Black will play ...Ba5 to cover the queening square more directly.

The winning line begins with 1.Nf6+ Kg7! (Not 1...Kh8? 2.d8=Q+ which is mate in three, and not 1...Kg6? 2.Bh5+! +-)

Next comes 2.Nh5+ Kg6 (2...Kf7? 3.d8=Q +-; 2...Kh7? 3.Bc2+ mating) and now, the star move: 3.Bc2+!! forcing Black to play 3...Kxh5. Even computers have difficulty finding this resource.

Now comes the point of this jockeying: 4.d8=Q!!, giving Black no choice but to execute the fork 4...Nf7+ 5.Ke6 Nxd8+ 6.Kf5!

If you like, pause now and examine the position after 6.Kf5! Notice how Black, although still ahead a mountain of material, is about to get checkmated with the lonely bishop.

Now comes 6...e2 (forced) 7.Be4 e1=N(!), underpromoting to a knight is the only way to prevent Bf3#. 8.Bd5! c2(!) 9.Bc4! and now the threat is Be2+. Again, Black's only defense is an underpromotion which is cute but insufficient: 9...c1=N(!) (to guard e2) 10.Bb5! (threatening Be8+).

Look at Black, with his four (!) knights, unable to prevent a checkmate by a single darting bishop. For example, if now 10...Nc7 (to guard e8) then 11.Ba4! (the final finesse) and now the imminent 12.Bd1+ will finish the job. Black, with all of his knights, can't even throw in a check. To drag it on to the bitter end, it goes 11...Ne2 12.Bd1 Nf3 13.Bxe2 (any) 14.Bxf3#

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June 27, 2019

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