A Little Bit of Calculation – A Brilliant Move

This week, I want to share a few positions/puzzles with you. The first puzzle is one I’m hesitant to call simple, but much easier than I made it out to be. I had to walk away and come back in order to finally see the mate-in-3. The second one I’m very proud of, as I think of this one as a much more difficult puzzle that I worked out rather quickly!

Let’s start with the first. This is puzzle 898, called “Just a little calculation”, in the book 1001 Chess Exercises for Beginners by Masetti & Messa.

White to move – what is the mate-in-3?

I’ll give the second puzzle first, and then some hints and solutions below. This puzzle comes from puzzle 902 in the same book. It is titled “A brilliant move”.

White to move – Can you find the mate-in-3?

In “Just a little calculation”, I calculated too many of the wrong moves. I simply didn’t see the solution as a possible move for a long time. The solution begins with the rook taking the pawn on b6, forcing black to take the white queen with its own queen. Now that it is out of the path of the rook on bottom, that rook sweeps over to take black’s rook and deliver check and mate after the queen interposes. The line: 1. Rxb6 Qxc6 2. Rxa2+ Qa4 3. Rxa4#

By the time I reached the second puzzle, I did already have some practice. However, what made this difficult at first was the number of responses black has after the first move. It was challenging to work through how all of them didn’t stop the inevitable mate. The solution begins with 1. Qc6!!

Let’s look at the line with the obvious response first. 1 … Bxc6 2. Rd8 Qc8 3. Rxd8#

Knowing this, is there anything else black can do? Take the knight instead? No, as that is met with the same exact moves. If black tries instead to defend the back rank with Rg8 or Qg8, then there is a mate in only one more move with 2. Qxb7#. What if the queen rushes down ahead of time with 1 … Qc8?

This is met with the same second move 2. Rd8 leaving a few moves to analyze. Both 2 … bxa5 and 2 … Bxc6 would be met with 3. Rxc8#, and both 2 … Qxd8 or 2 … Rg8 would be met with 3. Qxb7#. This puzzle involved not only a brilliant move, but a brilliant study!

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