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Otto Blathy composed chess problems. But the ones he liked were a bit funny! The positions could never happen in a game, but they usually had a nice idea in them.

These gnarly positions are called grotesques.

Mr.B showed me this one many years ago: White to play and win! Black is moving down the board -- well, that's if they could move...

Puzzle 1

Lessons from Judit Polgar

I don't entirely like the parade of endless men in the 'Lessons from...' series, so here's one from the other half of humanity, and a fine Appendix to the list of guys that ever joined the 'Vera Menchik Club'.

Judit Polgar was strongest woman chess player ever. She never became World Champion, and was never interested in becoming World Women’s World Chess Champion ( a title held by her two sisters, Susan and Sofia). She was in the world top ten and improving when she retired.

Hastings 1895

The first Hastings tournament in 1895 was the strongest tournament up to that time. Every top player was invited and they all turned up: World Champion Lasker, ex-champion Steinitz, Steinitz' challengers Chigorin and Gunsberg, Lasker's future challengers Schlechter and Janowsky, the old British Champions Bird, Blackburne and Burn, and the new US Champion, Pillsbury, whom no-one knew much about, but he has been taking lessons from Steinitz...

Knight to e5 (or e4)

At Paris in 1933, Tartakower once heard a spectator say about one of Bernstein's games:

"Ces grands-maîtres placent leur[s] Cavaliers à é5 et après les mats découlent d’eux-mêmes!” dit en voyant cette catastrophe un spectateur grincheux."

In English:

"These Grandmasters place their Knights at e5, and then the mates follow by themselves!", said a grumpy spectator upon seeing this catastrophe."

Well, sometimes!


A desperado is a piece that is going to be captured, so goes on the run, taking what it can down with it. White to play:

[Event "Desperado"]
[Site "Steven Carr"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "NN"]
[Black "NN"]
[Result "*"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "3r2k1/p4pp1/1p6/n5p1/2Pp2N1/2Q2PPP/P3q3/4R1K1 w - - 0 1"]
[PlyCount "3"]

{[#]} *

Black was hoping for 1. Rxe2 dxc3. But White thinks, if it's best to give up the Queen (to get Black's Queen), can I get more for it?

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