This is a chess puzzle that appears in the paper and I do them now and then and have my son look at them and try to at least see the concept of solving it. In fact, it was his watching me work one that made him want to play at age 4. He thought it looked neat I guess.
This one was a very good one and not obvious. These are not “Mate-In-X-Moves” puzzles as are so common in chess. These are where you find the key move that leads to either mate or a big material swing that would cinch the game.
I put the pieces on the board on the kitchen table for this puzzle and said, “White to Move and win, buddy, whattayathink?”
And he moves the Queen to a6. It’s funny, he’s been having trouble visualizing pawn captures, so I think he just missed the idea that you don’t put your queen there. I don’t think he looked at the rook at b1 which makes the pawn capture illegal. So I’m not thinking he’s a genius or anything, but darned if that move doesn’t turn out to be the key! Somehow, I’m still impressed. I would not have gone there until after exhausting a lot of other stuff.
You get happy that you have the key move (you think) and then you find what looks like a good refutation: simple b6. Push the pawn. Very powerful.
And I couldn’t make it work with b6 and it annoyed me. I took it to the doctor and sat in the waiting room working on it and after like 20 minutes, I figured out the move that saves Qa6, b6. I go home and lay it out on a real board to test it some more and I show Thomas the problem and ask him what White should do and he just grabs the Bishop and slides it one square to Be4 and he’s looking at me like, “easy”. And again, I know he’s just lucky, but darnit if it isn’t the move I took 10 minutes to find in the doctor’s office!
Black doesn’t have much hope but Qe8 seems about the best. Then Rxb6+, axb6 and then Qxb6 is obvious mate in 1.
He had fun with it. So did I. I don’t think either time he did ANY analysis, but still, it was nice.
1.) Qa6, b6
2.) Be4, Qc8
3.) Rxb6+, axb6
4.) Qxb6+, Qb7