Friday, November 24, 2006

Most profound chess puzzle

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

White to move and win. Take a good hard look at this puzzle. You would think that it is an easy win for black as white cannot promote his d pawn due to a double check at f7.

Send me an email for the solution to this puzzle.

A year ago we were invited to Mactan by Jun Olis as it was “Fiesta sa Opon.”

Edmund Suralta mentioned about a puzzle so difficult that it eluded a group of grand masters who were trying to solve it except Mikhael Tal.. .I promised to the group that I will look and write about the puzzle as it is said that it is the most profound chess problem ever conceived.

I forgot all about it and never did some serious research.

I wanted to feature in my column today the just concluded Tal Memorial Tournament which was held in Moscow from November 5-19 and what do you know, Chessbase did a feature on the famous puzzle.

Here is the story. A long time ago, April 1987, there was a super GM tournament in Brussels and the winner was Ljubomir Ljubojevic in a tie with Garry Kasparov. Among the participants were Karpov, Larsen, Korchnoi, Timman, Short and our Eugene Torre and a few others.

English GM Jim Plaskett, who was visiting the tournament, laid out on the table this famous puzzle and urged the GMs present to solve it. The press was trying to solve the puzzle the whole day. Occasionally, one of the super GMs would join in the analysis after their games but nobody was able to solve it. Except Mikhael Tal.

Tal ,who tried to solve the puzzle unsuccessfully for 10 minutes, left the room and then suddenly appeared again after an hour Apparently he had solved the problem after a walk in the park.

There is a little story behind this puzzle. It was initially said that the composer of the puzzle was a lowly taxi driver from Moscow and Tal, so impressed by the puzzle, looked for him and found out later that he had died.

According to Frederic Freidel of Chessbase who was in Brussels, the author is Gijs van Bruekelen who composed it in the 70s and showed it to friends. Later, he decided to have it published in 1990 in the magazine Schaken Nederland.

By the way, here are the final results of the Tal Memorial Tournament 2006: 1-3. Peter Leko ,Ruslan Ponomariov ,Levon Aronian 4.Boris Gelfand 5 5-7.Shakrijar Mamedyarov, Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler 4.5 8-9.Alexei Shirov. Magnus Carsen 3.5 10. Alexander Morozevich 3.0.

This tournament is a category 20 and considered one of the strongest this year.

Arroyo Cup. Here are the winners of the 9 rounds President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo International Chess Tournament which finished yesterday in Manila -1. Peng Xiang Zhang China 7.5-$6,000 2.Alexander Onischuk USA 7-$4,000 3.Victor Mikhalevski Israel 7-$3,000 4.Varuzhan Akobian USA 6.5 $ 2,500 5.Ni Hua China 6.5-$2000 6.Rui Wang China 6.5-$1,500.
Cebuanos Richard Bitoon and Anthony Makiniano had only 5 points.

Man vs. Machine. The much awaited Man vs. Machine will take place tomorrow in Bonn,Germany featuring current world champion Vladimir Kramnik playing against the computer chess program Deep Fritz.

It is sponsored by Rag Akiengesellschaft, one of Europe`s largest energy companies and Kramnik is guaranteed $500,000 and another $500,000 if he wins the 6 game match.

I predict that Kramnik will lose this match. Sorry, folks.

Lane Jennings wrote in 1988 in the FUTURIST: “How chess players react to the growing impact of computers….may provide a glimpse to the future of mankind`s relationship with machines.”

Jennings cited three areas where machines enjoy a distinct edge. 1. They are fed entire books while we must rely on frail memory. 2. They can rearrange the board in the twinkling of an eye while we can't tinker with the pieces. 3. They are immune to fatigue and distractions from noise, climate, crowding or poor lighting.

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