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A Problem for Alice (28.02.2015.)

Bristol’s Winter Congress ended on Sunday and the winner of the top section was Patryk Krzyzanowski (Yeovil) on 4/5 points, with a 5-way tie for 2nd. Theo Slade (Barnstaple) won the Grading Prize. I hope to have more details next week. Meanwhile, games may be found on the Bristol League website, chessit.co.uk.

In last week’s position, Black finished with the no-nonsense 1…Rg1+ 2.KxR Qh2+ 3.Kf1 Qh1 mate.

WMN reader Jonathan Brewer of St. Columb has written in to remind me that it’s 150 years since the first publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland. There have been newspaper articles and commemorative stamps issued, so perhaps we should follow suit.

Carroll, or the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, to give him his full name, was a leading mathematician, lecturing in the subject at Oxford and with a dozen treatises to his credit; a pioneering photographer; an entertaining story-teller and a chess enthusiast.

Although in his first story, Alice encountered a kingdom of playing cards after falling down the rabbit hole, in the sequel, Through The Looking-Glass, she stepped through a mirror to find a new wonderland populated by anthropomorphic red and white chessmen.

The story was designed around a game of chess. This is made clear at the outset when the reader is confronted with a chess problem and the following note: “White Pawn (Alice) to play, and win in eleven moves.”

The following little sketch, which has had to be further foreshortened, is Mr. Brewer’s own commemorative offering.

“Alice and her older sister were trying to decide how to spend the afternoon. Alice was very tired because she had been up late trying to master her French homework. ‘Perhaps you would be content to pass an hour or two with a book, but I’m afraid you do find some books boring. Why don’t you have a quick look through Father’s books to see if you can find one you like, before we go outside. Some will surely be to your taste, Alice’, said the sister as she rose from the sofa, walking over to the standing bookcase that held so many books. Alice joined her and for the next few minutes both sisters browsed over the books in the study trying to find a good, hopefully engrossing, read. Alice spotted a dark blue covered volume entitled Chess Fun. Turning the crisp pages she came across a chess problem that caught her eye. After unsuccessfully trying to solve this tricky little puzzle Alice asked her sister if she could help, for you see the older sister was a far stronger player. After glancing at the problem she said mysteriously “Alice, maybe your French lessons yesterday could help you!”

Black to mate in 1. What did Alice’s sister mean?

Alice's problem - how does Black mate in 1?

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