Chess Problems of 1001 Years Ago

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Solution: The water wheel.

King g3; General e5; Rook f4, h1; Knight c3, d1; Elephant b1, c1; Pawns a5, b2, c7, d3, f3, h3. (14 pieces)

King g8, General g1; Rook b8; Knight g6, g7; Elephant c4, f8; Pawns b5, e6, f5, g4, h2, h6. (13 pieces).

Black to play and win.

The original diagram was changed in two ways from the original one:

  • The colors of black and white were reversed. In the original diagram, black played from the side of the board with the lower numbered rows (i.e., black pawns promoted on a8 - h8). The change was made here to follow modern conventions, while turning the board around was deemed to change the outlook of the problem more.
  • The original diagram actually didn't give a solution. There was a black pawn on a3 (corresponding to a white pawn in the diagram given here). Unfortunately, this pawn destroys the solution, as there is no answer to 11. a3xb4 (see the solution below). The change does destroy some of the beauty of the problem, as now it is possible that white stops the water wheel earlier by going to e3.


1. ..., N g7 - h5+
2. K g3-g2, N g6-h4+
3. K g2-f1, N h5-g3+
4. K f1-e1, N h4-g2+
5. K e1-d2, N g3-f1+
6. K d2-c2, N g2-e1+
7. K c2-b3, N f1-d2+

Position after 7. ...,N f1- d2+

8. K b3-b4, ... (If white plays Kb3-a3, then Ne1-c2 is mate.)
8. ..., N e1-c2+
9. K b4-c5, N d2-b3+
10. K c5-c6, N c2-b4+
11. K c6-d7, N b3-c5+
12. K d7-e7, N b4-c6+
13. K e7-f6, N c5-d7+
14. K f6-g6, N c6xe5+
15. K g6-h5, N d7-f6+
16. K h5-h4, N e5-g6+
17. K h4-g3, N f6-h5+

Position after 17. ...,N f6-h5+

18. K g3-g2, N g6xf4+
19. K g2-f1, N h5-g3+
20. K f1-e1, N f4-g2+
21. K e1-d2, N g3-f1+
22. K d2-c2, N g2-e1+
23. K c2-b3, N f1-d1+
24. K b3-b4, N e1-c3+ (Again, 23. K b3-a3, N e1-c3 mate.)
25. K b4-c5, N d2-b3+
26. K c5-c6, N c3-b4+
27. K c6-d7, N b3-c5+
28. K d7-e7, N b4-c6+
29. K e7-f6, N c5-d7+
30. K f6-g6, N c6-e5+
31. K g6-h5, N d7-f6+
32. K h5-h4, N e5-g6+
33. K h4-g3, N f6-h5+
34. K g3-g2, N g6-h4+

Position after 34. ...,N g6-h4+

35. K g2-f1, N h5-g3+
36. K f1-e1, N h4xf3 mate.

Written by Hans Bodlaender.
WWW page created: August 13, 1996. Last modified: September 2, 1997.