Chess Puzzle #2: What Would You Play?

In this position black played 1…Kd6 to sidestep white’s rook, bring his king over to the queenside where White has a pawn majority and planning to meet 2.Bxb7 with Rb8 and a recapture on b3.
How would you play with White?

Leave your comments!


  1. SonofPearl February 1, 2009

    It looks to me that after 1…Kd6 like White can play 2. c5+ forcing 2…Kc7, then 3.Bd5 followed by Re7 with a nice advantage. IS there something better? Can White get away with 2. Bxb7 ?

  2. Pascal February 6, 2009

    Hmm, this position seems familiar.

  3. Svein Myrvang February 8, 2009

    The best line I can see after 2.Bxb7 is 2…Rb8 3.c5+ Kc7 4.c6 Bxc6 5.Bxc6 Kxc6, which seems acceptable for white, but no advantage.
    2.c5+ immediately looks more promising: 2…Kc7 3.Bd5 (as suggested by SonofPearl) 3…Re8 4.Re4 f5 5.Re5 and now, if the rooks are exchanged, black’s kingside falls to the white king. If they’re not, white’s Rook reaches the seventh rank, like SonofPearl pointed out, and white’s king is also far more active than it’s black counterpart. This should be decisive, in my opinion, but I don’t think I can calculate deeply enough to prove it.

  4. Svein Myrvang February 8, 2009

    Oh, and by the way, I applaud your choice of puzzles. They’re easy enough to keep me from digging out electronic aid in frustration, yet hard enough to make me think. I’m not a very good chessplayer, though, so some people might find these tasks too easy. But it seems a lot of sites cater to accomplished players; I’m happy to have found someone who seems to be picking MY brain for a change. Kudos. :)

  5. Torkil February 9, 2009

    Hmm, isn’t it possible that White does get away with 1.Bxb7? My suggestion would be 1.Bxb7 Rb8 2.c5+ Kc7 3.Bd5, when Black won’t regain the lost pawn and the passer in the c-file will eventually decide the game.

  6. Waldemar February 9, 2009

    @ Torkil,
    Bravo, you hit the nail on the head!
    Clearly the strongest continuation, leaving White good winning chances.
    Funny little variation isn’t it?

    @ SonofPearl,
    These variations maintain some advantage but are weaker than the one pointed out by Torkil.

    @ Svein Myrvang,
    It is not so clear that the black kingside falls to the white king after the exchange of rooks f.i.: 5…Rxe5 6.Kxe5 f4 7.Kf6? g4! and black takes over!

  7. papinogo February 10, 2009


    1.. Kd7 2.c5+ Kc7 3.Bd5 Re8 and White has no clear advantage.

    1.. Kd7 2.Bxb7 Rb8 3.c5+ Kc7 4.c6 Bxc6 5.Bxc6 Kxc6 and this is not acceptable for White because nothing has happened but a simplification, leaving no clear favour for any side.

    Svein Myrvang

    1.. Kd7 2.c5+ Kc7 3.Bd5 Re8 4.Re4 f5 5.Re5 and if the Rooks are exhanged with 5.. Rxe5 6.Kxe5, then 6.. f4 and Black’s Kingside is fine (because it is advancing). If White now plays 7.Kf6, then 7.. g4, and White must capture g4 with 8.fxg4 9.Bxg4 (and good for Black), or else, if 8.Kg6, then 8..g3 9.hxg3 fxg3 10.f4 (to prevent g2) Bc6 10.Bxc6 Kxc6 11.f5 g2 12.f6 g1=Q+ 13.Kh7 (or else Black just plants his Queen at g8) and 13..Qg5 14.f7 Qf6 15.Kg8 Qg6+ 16.Kf8 Kd7 and White is mated in 3.

    We wont look at what happens if the Rooks are not exchanged, because the point of this puzzle is to win as White, and since Black can force the exhange of Rooks, giving White no win (as shown), the solution to the puzzle must be somewhere before this exchange, and so before this option of not exchanging.

    There have been some great tries here, but a lot of the solutions do not leave White a clear advantage. It is a sign that you have not solved the puzzle, when you feel the need to have to look several moves deeper to ensure that something good becomes of your position. Or when all you get is a feeling about positional strengths. Problems usually involve just a few moves that result in one side clearly being much stronger (to the point that you would insist that ‘he is going to win’). So, that means we are talking about Mate missions, or obtaining free material, or other undeniable advantages. If you win a Knight in the early part of the game, you are going to lose. So if you found a way for White to win a Knight in a puzzle (by force), then you have most probably solved it. Activating your Bishop, or capturing your opponents strong Bishop for your weak Knight, are not things that come close to the greatness of winning your opponents Knight. Puzzles almost always involve a short set of moves that turn the tables to favour one side (the side you are thinking for).

    Winning a pawn this late in the game is quite significant, so:

    1.Bxb7 Rb8 2.Bd5, and if 2..Rxb3, 3.c5+ and wins Rook.
    But it seems like 1.Bxb7 Rb8 2.c5+ Kc7 and 3.Bd5 wins a pawn like the first line. The differences between these lines are purely positional. But the pawn is there, to be won.

    Something to consider. Part of chess is psychology. There are good moves sure, but what moves get played are often produced from psychological triggers (such as greed, fear, or even board momentum- as when a combination is undergoing). In this light, one might better play 2.Bd5, for, it is harder for Black to see that it protects b3 through a pawn, than for Black to see that it protects b3 by directly ranging toward it. And we prefer that Black does not see. Why? Because ‘not seeing’ allows him to take it (especially if his psychological momentum is to take it); and him taking it is good for us because we then win his Rook via discovered attack c5+.

  8. Waldemar February 10, 2009

    Hi Papinogo,

    Thanks for your thorough addition and nice insights into the psyche of chess players!

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