Bet

Updated: May 8

The position of the study discussed in this story, whose author is D. Przepiórka, went around the world - not only for the subtlety of the solution containing a witty point in a beautiful position, but also because of the ingenious story, which was set against the solution by the well-known composer A. W. Mongredien (1).


Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox were almost daily guests at a chess club. Both were great supporters of all kinds of bets, and at chess they always played for stakes - but they preferred various riddles, traps, and unusual problems, which were as if specially arranged for the purpose of making a bet. The clever ways they used to win were a constant source of amusement to their friends.

Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox were almost daily guests at a chess club. Both were great supporters of all kinds of bets, and at chess they always played for stakes - but they preferred various riddles, traps, and unusual problems, which were as if specially arranged for the purpose of making a bet.


The clever ways they used to win were a constant source of amusement to their friends.


One day Pitt came to the club before his companion, and showed the assembled people such a position:


Diagram 1

Few diagrams come with a small chess engine - allowing you to play against it, ask for hint or the solution (first move).
- Fox has won the last two bets - he announced - but to-day it will be my turn. I'll be sure to catch him!

Look - the first move is visible: 1. Re2. If black plays 1...h6, then 2. Re8+, Kh7 3. Nf6+, K-at will. 4. Rg8+ Kxf6


Diagram 2

And white will capture the black queen.


Black must then play 1...Qg8.


- The rest is easy too - remarked someone watching. 2. Nf6 also leads to capturing the hetman.

- Of course - agreed Pitt, rubbing his hands together. - After 2. Nf6 white gains the black queen, but cannot win the game.

And this is where I catch Fox.

See: 2. Nf6, Qg1 3. Re8+, Kg7 4. Rg8+, Kg7 4. Rg8+, Kh6


Diagram 3

And 5. Rxg1 stalemate!


This is indeed pretty! And what is the solution? The only one that wins is the 2. Ng7! - explained Pitt.

Those gathered around the table were curiously analyzing the position when Fox entered.

Not a word! - whispered Pit, quickly setting the initial position on the chessboard.

- Good evening, Fox greeted the group. - What have you got here?

- Oh, nothing special," replied Pitt in a careless tone. - Just an ordinary position that I should have won, but I couldn't find the right move.

Try you.

Fox looked at the chessboard for a moment.


- It's not very difficult - he said finally. - You have to play 1. Re2.

And he moved his rook. Pitt replied by moving the black queen on g8, and in turn Fox played - as Pitt expected - 2. Nf6.

- And wins - he added laconically.

- Winning? - repeated eagerly Pitt. - Are you sure of that?

- Of course!

- Shall we bet?

- I'd be glad to !


The stakes were fixed. Pitt lit a cigar and for a long moment savored the near triumph.



He pretended to be thinking. Finally he played 2...Qg1.


There was a moment of tense anticipation - and suddenly Fox answered unexpectedly with 3. Nh5!


Diagram 4

On Pitt's face, astonishment slowly gave way to consternation. Having no choice, however, he returned the black queen on g8.


- Do you want a draw by repeating moves? - he asked with a forced smile.

- Nothing of the sort! - replied Fox.

- I'm playing 4. Ng7 now!


Diagram 5

And claiming the win, he said:

- But you should have made sure beforehand that I hadn't also seen this position before...

1) H. Weenink. „David Przepiórka, a master of strategy”.

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