Test Tube Chess

Test Tube Chess

The Planet Greenpawn

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Test Tube Chess

Today we meet an old friend with whom I had lost contact with many years ago.

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We recently met again courtesy of a friend unloading his chess books.

When ever this book came up in conversation I always mention that I nearly gave
up ever looking inside because the first things I did was to try the White to play
and win puzzle that is on the cover. The blurb told me it was study No. 333

The actual study is by the author A. J. Roycroft.

White to play and win. The cover picture is four moves later.

15 minutes of trying to solve the cover picture by moving the pieces all over
the place I finally gave up and choked when I saw the solution. I could quite
easily have tossed the book aside but thankfully I rejoiced in being traumatised.

The cover puzzle. White to play and win. A. J. Roycroft 1965

Only one move guarantees a clear win everything else allows Black to draw.

I think the lesson is be careful in choosing a position to solve on the cover of a book.


Leonard Barden got it right with his book of puzzles. At first glance it looks solvable
and invites the reader in. The one on the cover of ‘Test Tube’ could have put me off
studies forever. Fortunately not and I’ve been a fan ever since this I dived into this book.

The Barden Cover Puzzle. (White to play and win)

It’s straight forward and can be done without a board. (clue = win the e8 Knight)

Lets us take a look at another of piece of chess sorcery from within ‘Test Tube Chess.’

K and A Sarychev 1928. (White to play and draw.)

If White can get that b-pawn off the board then the conditions for a draw are met.
Not an easy draw. 1.c8=Q Bf5+ and Bxc8 protecting the b-pawn is a Black win.
Obviously some craftiness is required is to get that b-pawn and ensure the draw.

Not too difficult, it was one I managed to solve, that is why I showed it.

Roycroft mentions that some may pooh-bah studies as never happening in a real game.
He then gives examples of where they have appeared in actual play or the game has
inspired a study. To me, and thankfully many others, studies are part of the ‘real’ game.

You can get just as much fun and admiration from a sudden unexpected move in a study
as you do from a middle-game sac-fest. The game is very rich in works of creative art.

So that is it for a mini book review of ‘Test Tube Chess’ a worthwhile addition to any
chess library. It’s not just a book of studies but it contains the history of this genre as
well as solving tips and much more. It’s well written by someone who loved this aspect
of the game. His affection for it is enlightening. well researched and very contagious.

I went fishing in the deep dark waters of the RHP database for study like endings.

IZEcube - Davidxf RHP 2018 (White to play and win)

White played 52.g3. 52 gxh3 wins as White has the correct Bishop for the h-pawn.
After 52.g3 the White King and Bishop could only look on in horror as the Black
King strolled to e4. f3, g2 took the pawn on h2, played Kg2 and promoted the h-pawn.

Next we see a player happily chopping wood to go into a won ending. (OOPS!)
Angry Boy - happypainter RHP 2022

In this next one with the same pieces. White with the Bishop was very lucky to draw.

DTH - jrps33 RHP 2022

Finally an RHP endgame that could easily form the basis of a study.

BigJase - svincent RHP 2018 (White to play and win)

White failed to find the win. it continued 43 .Kg4 g2 and Black went onto win.
There is a study like continuation ending with a neat two Bishop checkmate.

We end on a sad note. When looking for KBN v KP endings I found 235 drawn games.
I discovered the player with the Bishop and Knight won the remaining pawn but could
not deliver a checkmate within the required 50 moves to do so and eventually just gave up.

One player tried for 113 moves to mate their opponent. Now I am thinking that the lone
King player knew the 50 move draw rule but was waiting till their opponent finally
found the right idea and then they would claim the draw one move from being mated.

Another player (I won’t name them - they probably know who they are.) has had this
ending KBN v K five time with them failing to find the win in four of their games.

The funny part is the game they won. It appears that their opponent thought
they knew how to checkmate with a Bishop and Knight so they just resigned!

The thread accompanying this blog is Thread 196398
The Planet Greenpawn
Last Post
10 Jun 24
Blog since
06 Jul 10