As, until my previous column, I had ignored the great composer Richard Réti, I hope I can be forgiven for quoting another of his masterpieces.
Casopis Ceskoslovensky sachistu, 1924
White to play and win
Here White has knight and bishop against 3 pawns protected by their king. To win, White must mate his opponent or capture all the pawns, but first he has to cope with Black’s threat of 1...Kg1 followed by the advance of the front h-pawn. 1.Ke1!! A difficult first move. The white king gets out of the way, clearing e2, which is a useful square at two points in the later play. 1.Kf1? doesn't cope with Black’s other little threat - 1...g3! = 1...g3 White's first move hasn’t prevented 1...Kg1 but this is what happens if Black plays that - 2.Nc3 Kh2 (2...h2? 3.Ne2# The first reason e2 had to be cleared.) 3.Ne2 g3 4.Bc8 Kg2 5.Nf4+ Kf3 6.Nxh3 and White mops up the pawns. For instance - 6...Ke3 7.Kf1 Kd3 8.Kg2 Kc3 9.Nf4 Kc2 10.Kh3 1-0. Another black possibility is 1...Kg3, but this fails to protect the pawns either - 2.Kf1 Kf4 3.Kg1 g3 4.Nd2 Kg5 5.Nf3+ Kg4 6.Kh1 h2 7.Bc6 h3 8.Nd4 Kh4 9.Ne2 Kg4 10.Bd5 Kh4 11.Be6 Kg5 12.Nxg3 1-0. 2.Nd2! The start of an exact manoeuvre by the white knight. 2...g2 If 2...Kg1 mate can be forced - 3.Nf3+ Kg2 4.Be4 Kh1 (4...h2 5.Ng5+ Kg1 6.Nh3#) 5.Kf1 g2+ 6.Kf2 g1Q+ 7.Nxg1+ Kh2 8.Nf3+ Kh1 9.Kf1 h2 10.Nxh4# 3.Nf3+ Kg3 The only alternative leads to mate - 3...Kh1 4.Kf2 g1Q+ 5.Nxg1+ Kh2 6.Nf3+ Kh1 7.Be4 h2 8.Nxh4# 4.Ng1 h2 All Black's available king moves lose – 4...Kf4 5.Kf2 h2 6.Ne2+ Kg4 7.Kxg2 1-0, 4...Kg4 5.Bc8+ Kg3 6.Bxh3 Kf4 (6...Kh2 7.Kf2 Kh1 8.Bxg2+ Kh2 9.Nf3#) 7.Kf2 1-0 and 4...Kh2 5.Kf2 Kh1 6.Nf3 g1Q+ 7.Nxg1+ Kh2 8.Nf3+ Kh1 9.Be4 h2 10.Nxh4# 5.Ne2+ The second reason e2 had to be cleared. This now wins, because if Black protects the g-pawn he gets mated - 5...Kh3 6.Bc8#.
Our study for solving is taken from the final of the Winton Capital British Chess Solving Championship, which took place at Oakham School on Saturday 26th February. It’s a classic by Alexey Troitzky, though perhaps too well-known for such an event, as several solvers admitted to having seen it before.
White to play and win
This article first appeared in CHESS in April, 2011 and is republished here with permission.