Eight Is Enough

Professor: Good afternoon, class. Are you ready for some chess?

Three quarters of the students expressed a certain readiness. One quarter didn't.

Rachel: I think all eight of us are ready, professor.

Zephyr: Eight? Are there really that many?

Wei: That's right. There are eight of us.

Zephyr: Can't we do something about that?

Lucian: You mean get rid of people?

Zephyr: No, just drop them from the class.

Ryan: Oh Zephyr.

Zephyr: I'm only kidding.

Lucian: Sure.

Professor: Let's begin today's lesson.

Zephyr: Let's.

Professor: Last week we had a class with positions of queen and knight vs. queen.

Lucian: We did, and they weren't very hard.

Professor: This week I thought we'd continue with a different minor piece.

Ryan: You mean, queen and bishop vs. queen?

Professor: Yes.

Wei: Will the problems be any harder than the last batch?

Professor: I'm afraid not, Wei. They're going to be even easier.

Lucian: Easier again?

Zephyr: May we start to see your five or six problems, please?

Professor: Actually, there are going to be eight of them.

Zephyr: Ha! One for each student. But who's counting?

Professor: I am. In fact, I'm counting on each of you to solve one problem on your own.

Rachel: One problem per student? Is this a kind of test?

Professor: In a way. Let's start with you, Rachel.

Question 1: How does Black force a win?

Rachel got the answer in about a minute. She was actually paying attention, and though she didn't have to, she even raised her hand to be called upon.

Thomas: Good going, Rachel. 

Rachel was beaming.

Lucian: Ah, that was simple.

Hale: Everything was bunched up in the corner.

Professor: True, so let's spread forces out a bit. It's your turn, Idris.

Question 2: How does Black force a win? 

As expected, Idris worked it out fairly quickly, with Ryan smiling as much as he did.

Lucian: That wasn't exactly hard, either.

Professor: I told you these were easy. 

Zephyr: Yeah, you did.

Professor: Ryan, you're next.

Question 3: How does Black force a win? 

Ryan, the class champion, had no trouble at all. She found the first move and its follow-ups in no time. Ryan was pleased, and so was Idris.

Zephyr: Are those two on the same team or something?

Professor: We're all on the same team. Now it's Wei's turn. 

Question 4: How does Black force a win? 

Like several of the others, Wei analyzed with confidence and accuracy. He managed a smile, and so did most of the class.

Hale: That was very well done, Wei.

Wei: Thank you, Hale. But it wasn't a very hard problem.

Lucian: No, it certainly wasn't.

Hale: Is it my turn, Professor?

Professor: Yes it is, Hale.

Question 5: How does Black force a win? 

Hale found the right idea practically instantly. A couple of variations later, she had joined the ranks of those who had passed.

Lucian: I guess she did okay, considering.

Zephyr: Considering what? Your considered opinion?

Professor: Thomas -- it's your turn.

Question 6: How does Black force a win? 

Thomas analyzed perfectly and found all the right moves in the right way. But he was cool. He showed no emotion. 

Zephyr: The drawing master has a true poker face. 

Lucian: I must admit, I can never figure out what he's thinking.

Professor: Well, Lucian, let's see if you can figure out the next problem. It's your turn.

Question 7: How does Black force a win? 

Lucian's analysis was on par. He misanalyzed a move or two, but then found the correct way. He was fairly happy with himself.

Thomas: I guess that leaves us with one problem.
Idris: And one student.

Zephyr: Is it my turn?

Professor: Yes it is, Zephyr. Please proceed.

Question 8: How does Black force a win? 

After a false step, Zephyr self-corrected her analysis and found the solution. She was pleased with her efforts.

Lucian: Looks like you got your problem right, Zephyr.

Zephyr: Looks that way.

Lucian: Looks can be deceiving. 

Professor: Deceptive or not, I'd say you all did pretty well. 

Rachel: You mean we all passed?

Professor: Yes, you all did.

Lucian: Even Zephyr?

Zephyr: Even Lucian?

Professor: Yes, even the both of you.

Answers below -- Try to solve NM Pandolfini's puzzles first!

Answer 1: Black's mate is straightforward. 

Answer 2: Black starts with the right check. 

Answer 3: Black wins with the same idea, in either direction. 

Answer 4: Two directions, two skewers! 

Answer 5: Avoid the stalemate and criss cross your way to victory. 

Answer 6: A few checks and White's pieces wind up out of position. 

Answer 7: It's an easy win indeed. 

Answer 8: It's start with quiet entry. 

Take Note:

Zephyr and Lucian may occasionally exchange unkind words, but neither one compares to the master of chess snideness, Wilhelm Steinitz (1836-1900).

The first world chess champion was known for his razor-sharp wit. Once a kibitzer approached him after a game and asked how come he hadn’t played a different move, saying he couldn’t understand the champion’s plan.

Steinitz supposedly replied: “Have you ever seen a monkey contemplating a watch?”

One didn’t mess with Steinitz.