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The Rambling Rook is back, but this time, they are a true monster!

It’s White to move and reach a winning position in 101 moves.

Gijs van Breukelen, Schakend Nederland, 1981, Special Honoring Mention

enter image description here

Hint:

White’s final move is 101. Ka3, after which they have won.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ maybe i'm dumb but I don't understand the goal. if it's white's turn, then white can win in one move. $\endgroup$ – Flying_whale Oct 2 '19 at 9:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Flying_whale White is in check so they have to move the king in the first move, and the black rook will keep delivering checks to the white king. Also if the white king captures the black rook it would be a stalemate because Black can't move on the next turn. $\endgroup$ – Zoir Oct 2 '19 at 10:08
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    $\begingroup$ ho yeah, didn't see that $\endgroup$ – Flying_whale Oct 2 '19 at 11:35
  • $\begingroup$ 101 white moves or total moves? $\endgroup$ – Dr Xorile Oct 3 '19 at 0:27
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I think this can be done in just 86 moves:

animation

1. Ka4 Rb4+

If Black allows us to escape to the right with moves like 1… Ra3+, our job is easier.

2. Ka5 Rb5+ 3. Ka6 Rb6+ 4. Ka7 Rb7+ 5. Ka8 Ra7+

If 5…. Rb8+, 6. Qxb8 frees the black king, avoiding the stalemate that otherwise compels us to keep the black rook alive.

6. Kb8 Rb7+ 7. Kc8 Rc7+ 8. Kd8 Rd7+ 9. Ke8 Re7+ 10. Kf8 Re8+

Similarly for 10… Rf7+ 11. Qxf7.

11. Kf7 Re7+ 12. Kf6 Rf7+ 13. Ke5 Rf5 14. Kd6 Rd5+ 15. Ke7 Rd7+

Hmm. How are we going to stop the rook from chasing us around our knight and bishop forever?

16. Kf8 Rd8+ 17. Kf7 Rd7+ 18. Ne7 Rxe7

Oh. By sacrificing all our pieces, that’s how.

19. Kf6 Rf7+ 20. Ke5 Rf5+ 21. Kd6 Rd5+ 22. Kc7 Rd7+ 23. Kb6 Rd6+

With the knight gone, we can now answer 23… Rb6+ 24. Kc5 Rb5+ with 25. Kc6, and after 25… Rc5+ 27. Kd7 Rd5+ 27. Kc8 Rc5+ 28. Kd8 Rd5+ 29. Bd7 Rxe7 our troubles will be over quickly.

24. Ka5 Rd5+ 25. Nb5 Rxb5+

Sacrificing the other knight. Or 24… Ra6+ 25. Kb4 Rb6+ 26. Nb5 Rxb5+ 27. Kc3 puts us significantly ahead of schedule.

26. Ka6 Rb6+ 27. Ka7 Rb7+ 28. Ka8 Ra7+ 29. Kb8 Rb7+ 30. Kc8 Rc7+ 31. Kd8 Rd7+ 32. Ke8 Re7+ 33. Kf8 Re8+ 34. Kf7 Re7+ 35. Kf6 Rf7+ 36. Ke5 Rf5+ 37. Kd6 Rd5+

Darling, I think we’ve been this way before…

38. Kc7 Rd7+ 39. Kb6 Rd6+ 40. Ka5 Rd5+ 41. Kb4 Rb5+ 42. Kc3

But now we can run down to the bottom through the space left by the second knight.

42… Rb3+

Black can’t allow 42… Rc5 Bc4 43. Rxc4 Qxc4.

43. Kd2 Rxb2 44. Kc3 Rb3+ 45. Kc4 Rc3+ 46. Kb4 Rc4+ 47. Ka3 Ra4+ 48. Kb2 Rxa2+

So we force Black to clear out some pawns.

49. Kb3 Rb2+ 50. Kc4 Rc2+ 51. Kd5 Rc5+ 52. Kxe4 Re5+ 53. Kd3 Rxe3+

And some more pawns.

54. Kc4 Rc3+ 55. Kb4 Rc4+ 56. Ka3 Ra4+ 57. Kb2 Ra2+ 58. Kb3 Rb2+ 59. Kc4 Rb4+

This time we can meet 59… Rc2+ with 60. Rc3, so that after 60… Rxc3+ 61. Kd5 Rc5+ 62. Kd6 Rd5+ 63. Ke7 Rd7+ 64. Kf6 Rf7+ 65. Ke5 Rf5, we’re free to play 66. gxf5 without stalemate.

60. Kd5 Rb5+ 61. Kc6 Rc5+

Or 61… Rb6+ 62. Kc7 Rc6+ 63. Kd8 Rd6+ 64. Bd7 Rxd7+.

62. Kd7 Rd5+ 63. Kc8 Rc5+ 64. Kd8 Rd5+ 65. Bd7 Rxd7+

Now Black has no way to stop this bishop sacrifice.

66. Ke8 Re7+ 67. Kf8 Re8+ 68. Kf7 Re7+ 69 Kf6 Re6+ 70. Kf5 Re5+ 71. Kf4 Re4+ 72. Kg3 Re3+

Or 72… Rxg4+ 73. Kf3 Rf4+ 74. Ke3 Re3+ 75. Kd3 Rxd4+ 76. Kc3 and either check allows us to capture the rook without stalemate.

73. Kh2 Rxh3+

Bye, rook.

74. Kg1 Rg3+

Black may be tempted by 74… Rh1+ 75. Kg2 Rg1+ 76. Kf3 Rg3+ 77. Ke4 Rxg4+ 78. Kd5 Rxg8 but our passed pawns will be unstoppable in that endgame.

75. Rg2 Rxg2+

Bye, other rook.

76. Kf1 Rf2+ 77. Ke1 Rxe2+ 78. Kd1 Rd2+ 79. Kc1 Rc2+ 80. Kb1 Rb2+ 81. Ka1 Rb1+ 82. Ka2

Now we see why it was important to clear out the pawns in this corner.

82… Ra1+ 83. Kb3 Rb1+ 84. Ka3 Ra1+ 85. Qa2

I did say all our pieces.

85… Rxa2 86. Kxa2

Finally the king is able to take his sweet revenge, and we’ll easily win this endgame with three pawns against one.

(There are several shorter variations at the end, all following the same plan where the king runs across the queen’s diagonal to allow the queen to sacrifice herself or capture the rook after either of the rook’s checks.)

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