So, while watching chess online, I stumbled upon this brilliant chess puzzle.

chess puzzle

White to move and win.

Note: Link shared is not the source of this puzzle, the image was found somewhere online.

Source : The author of this study is Gijs van Breukelen. It was first published in the review Schakend Nederland in 1990.

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    $\begingroup$ Is there a piece on h1? If so, what is it? $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2018 at 20:25
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    $\begingroup$ I know how to play chess, but I'm not familiar with terminology. Does "white to move and win" mean white has mate in 1? $\endgroup$
    – dpwilson
    Feb 27, 2018 at 20:35
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    $\begingroup$ @dpwilson It means white to mate in some number of moves no matter what black does in between those moves. $\endgroup$
    – boboquack
    Feb 27, 2018 at 20:37
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    $\begingroup$ are you sure about position? I can't find anything there...I've been searching for almost 30 minutes. Computer says nothing too. $\endgroup$
    – Untitpoi
    Feb 27, 2018 at 21:51
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    $\begingroup$ @JeffZeitlin The little white disc on h1 is a way to indicate that it's White's move. It does not indicate that that square is h1; it's customary for chess diagrams to be presented from White's point of view, thus with h1 at bottom right, no matter who has the move. $\endgroup$
    – Rosie F
    Feb 28, 2018 at 10:20

3 Answers 3


I remember having seen this position when I was quite young, so I remembered the themes:

White casts a mating net on the black king by sacrificing some material, and the two black pawns will underpromote to knights to try to prevent it.

Still, it was hard to figure out the details, but I think this is the solution:

1. Nf6+ Kg7 (the other responses are already covered by @untitpoi's answer) 2. Nh5+ Kg6 (Kf7 and K[fgh]8 allow the d-pawn to queen (also on the next few moves); after Kh7 Bc2+ will drive the king to the back rank with the same results) 3. Bc2+ Kxh5.

Now the king is starting to get locked up. 4. d8Q Nf7+ 5. Ke6 Nxd8+ 6. Kf5.

Any check by the white bishop on the d1-h5 or e8-h5 diagonal is mate. White threatens Bd1# so Black has to play 6... e2.

Next target for White's bishop is f3, so 7. Be4 e1N.

Next target: square e2, so 8. Bd5 c2 9. Bc4 c1N

Next target: square e8, so 10. Bb5 Nc7

OK, let's try d1 again: 11. Ba4 and now Black can only stave off the mate by interposing knights, e.g. 11... Nb3 12. Bxb3 Nc2 13. Bxc2 and 14. Bd1#.

Maybe this puzzle was one of the reasons why

I prefer bishops over knights. Four knights seem unable to stop a single bishop.

EDIT: Today, I stumbled upon this post on Chess Stack Exchange, where the problem is also discussed. It includes a 'replayer' where you can replay the moves on a board.

  • $\begingroup$ Brilliantly answered!! If i remember correctly, Kasparov said Bishops are 3.15-3.25 as compared to Knights' 3 weightage :) $\endgroup$
    – ABcDexter
    Feb 28, 2018 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ This is brilliant. Nicely done. P.S. I plugged this into an engine. It was just plain extraordinary for me to see an evaluation swing so suddenly. $\endgroup$
    – Sid
    Feb 28, 2018 at 12:49

Partial answer there: I think the expected answer is

Nf6 check. Black has 3 choices: Kh8 Kg7 and last but not least Kg6.
let's start with Kh8. White will respond with the following (mate in 4) d8=Q check Kg7; Nh5 check... Kh7; Bc2+ Ne4; BxNe4# ... Kg6;Qf6+ Kh7; Qg7# ... Kf7; Qf6+ Kg8 or Ke8 followed by queen mate.
We may want to try Kg6 which is the most interesting move of this position (but not the better for team black) After Bh5 check, white will be able to promote his pawn to queen and win that.
Finally there is the Kg7 move on which I can't find anything for white because black is going to prevent pawn for queening with Ba5.


White is going to loose if black plays well., I would have started position later after Nf6 Kg6 move so the move we need to find is Bh5!

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    $\begingroup$ Can't black use the two pawns near the bottom and quickly promote? There is nothing the bishop could do to prevent it, and if the bishop tries to take one of them, it is just wasted moves for white... $\endgroup$
    – NL628
    Feb 28, 2018 at 4:07

Gotta go to bed, but something curious:

Promote the piece to a knight. This prevents the hook from the knight. You'd then have to force the king into corner...somehow. ;) Night!

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    $\begingroup$ Somehow... black will play e2 c4 and will queen in c1 $\endgroup$
    – Untitpoi
    Feb 28, 2018 at 7:38

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