Master Thomas to the Rescue

Master Thomas to the Rescue

SG's puzzle torture camp

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Master Thomas to the Rescue

***Disclaimer: any characters bearing a resemblence to RHP posters, living or dead, is entirely coincidental***

"Boy, wake up!" a voice shouted.

Newcomer jumped, startled from his sleep by the rude interruption. It had better be a lot later than it feels like, he angrily thought.

"Allow me to introduce myself" said the voice, oblivious to his annoyance. "I am schoolmaster Thomas, but you may call me Thomaster for short. Catchy, isn't it?!"

Newcomer privately suspected that the guy wasn't a real school teacher at all, but rather a fellow inmate whose mind had long lost its grip on sanity after years in the torture camp.

"You're wasting away to nothing!" chided Thomaster. "Beware, Sam Loyd has killed before! Study with me and avert another tragedy!"

Seeing little choice in the matter, Newcomer gamely nodded his head.

"Let us take the longer problem first. Break it down to its essential elements."

"Everything is frozen except for Bh2; and Bf1 moves only if he can check the white king. So, can you spot black's weakness?"

Newcomer stared at the position for a time, then finally pointed to the pawn on h4.

"CORRECT!!" howled Thomaster. So, avoiding checks from the Bishop on f1, how will you attack this weakness?"

"With the Rook?" guess Newcomer.

"Nooooo!" replied Thomaster. That lets the Knight get away! He angrily grabbed the steed and started prancing it around the board, though always making the proper L-shaped move.

"But you said it was froz---" and before Newcomer could finish the sentence, the Knight was pounded down on the original square, g3.

"Back to the lesson at hand" interrupted Thomaster, curtly. "How shall white exploit the weakness on h4?"

"With the King?" said Newcomer, taking the only other option.

"So, let us set up the full position and see!"

Newcomer did so and played out the following:

Thomaster laughed at Newcomer's puzzlement as he tried to capture the Knight, only to realize it was guarded by the 'lucky' Bishop at h2. "No, boy, you must lose a tempo!" And with that, Thomaster violently reset the pieces and plunked out the following solution:

"Oh, I get it - a8 is the only square that is safe from the Bishop on f1!" And then, catching himself, Newcomer quickly adopted a more morose expression. It would not do for people to think that torture camp was actually enjoyable for him, especially after they'd starved him for three days. This is how they get you, he thought. Starve the body until the mind is so keen that it becomes willing to look at these hideous things and solve them. Sadly, the thought of going without food a fourth day was too terrifying to resist, so he found that it was his hands that quickly set up the mate in 3.

Newcomer was a fairly good judge of character, and he already had Thomaster pegged; play along, and the teacher's need to show off would prevail, and he would reveal the full solution so N did not actually have to solve it.

"So what's the theme in this one?"

"Why, Geometry, of course!"


"Yes, Geometry; my other favorite subject, besides chess problems, of course. You must set up a double attack no matter what Black does! Be on the intersection of lines between his free piece and the mate threat square, no matter where the free piece moves!"

After this rather generous hint, Newcomer was able to find the solution in about 20 minutes.

"If 2...g6, defending h7, then 3.QxB mate. And the same goes for other Bishop moves" said Newcomer. "1...Bd3 or ...Be4 both fall to 2.Qd3, and 1...Be5 or ...Bf6 is met by 2.Qf5. Finally, 1...g3 2.Ng6+ hxg6 3.Qh3 is mate."

"Very good!!!" howled Thomaster, clapping loudly. "You're sure to get some hot porridge for supper tonight!!!"

Problems for readers to solve:

What is white's best move?

Mate in one
SG's puzzle torture camp
Last Post
30 Oct 13
Blog since
09 Jul 10