(Source: An actual tournament game I played all the way back in 2016)

I had the weirdest dream last night…

It started out normal enough, which for me, is basically nothing… but then I woke up, apparently…

I was sitting up in my bed… darkness was slowly creeping into my vision… I looked at the clock face to see what time it is… it was completely blank…

I couldn’t believe it, but… words were forming in my vision…

A game of your choice to fight for your freedom, against me

You only have one chance to escape… make it a good one…

Pick your game of choice… your key to survival…

“Chess?” I said, and a board and pieces appeared before me. It seemed like I was playing White… If I were to escape I had to play… Whenever I made a move the black pieces moved on their own...

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. c3

The weird shadow force had played into my favored opening as White. Interesting… Perhaps it was a strategy of some sorts?

   3… d5

Position after 3... d5 Position after 3... d5

Of course it played the most annoying move possible for me in this variation.

  1. Qa4 Qd6 5. exd5 Qxd5 6. Bb5 Bd7 7. d4 Nf6 8. 0-0 Bd6 9. Bc4 Qa5 10. Qb3 0-0-0 11. Re1 h6

Position after 11... h6 Position after 11... h6

It had left its pawn hanging!

  1. Bxf7 e4 13. Nfd2 Ng4 14. h3 Nxf2

This move was definitely to get under my skin. I really don’t like getting attacked in chess and I tend to miscalculate.

  1. Kxf2 Qf5+ 16. Kg1 Qf4 17. Nf1 Qh4 18. Bd2 g5 19. Be6 Rf8 20. Re2 g4 21. Bxd7+ Rxd7

Position after 21... Rxd7 Position after 21... Rxd7

The situation was escalating. I was now seriously under attack. I had to get that queen out of there, so I played:

  1. Be1 Rdf7

That’s when I woke up, next morning, with a perfect memory of everything that happened except the last move or moves.

I saw a slip of paper on my nightstand with the words SURVIVAL: kuxwjhlvwfel in my own handwriting.

What were the last move(s) of the game?

Minor Hint:

The story contains at least one clue.

Minor Hint #2:

You don't always need to checkmate to win.

Tag Clarification:

One tag is the clue to a clue. The no-computers tag is only for the chess problem, not for anything you find in the story.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If the opponent gets careless with his mate oppression, I would say Qe6+ is possible. If the enemy goes for Kd8 the white bishop can kill the queen and mate instantly(Bxh4#). If Kb8 you can go on with SteveV's solution $\endgroup$
    – user52327
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 10:13

1 Answer 1


If it were me

i'd take 23. Qxf7. Now black is in trouble. He's down a rook and a knight and his attack is stalled


He takes back 23... Rxf7, then 24. Bxh4 leaves him with the same material deficiency and queens off the board.

I'd think

this should be an easy win for white.

Just realized I didn't solve for the clue.

I tried using chess a the key, but that idea didn't work for me :) EDITED TO ADD: As Gareth McCaughan points out, the key chess does create the word "interference" when using the vigenere cipher, which I didn't try.

  • $\begingroup$ The enciphered word is "interference" Vigenere-ciphered with key "chess". Your proposed move looks good to me as well as having got the green checkmark from OP, but I'm not sure it would be classified as an interference move. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @GarethMcCaughan. . I'll add the cipher info. I'd agree it is not really an interference move, though, though I suppose it does interfere with Black's plans $\endgroup$
    – SteveV
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 14:05

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