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The last prizewinning three-mover by a great composer. On publication, column editor Peter Copping wrote
“A fine theme and a lovely problem with a superbly well hidden key”.
The key is 1.Rb1, threatening 2.Sc5+ Ka5 3.b4. 1...Se6 prevents the bishop from pinning the queen, and White replies 2.Rc4, stopping the bishop from guarding against 3.Qb5. If 2...Sxc7 3.Sxc7. The knight and rook swap roles in the variation 1...Sd3 2.Re6 threat 3.Qb5. 1...Be7 opens the line for 2.Rg6, while 1...Bxb1 is followed by another shut-off 2.Rc2. There is one by-play variation 1...bxc6 2.Kb8 threatening 3.Qc8 or 3.c8Q. The try 1.Kb8? with a multiple threat, is defeated by 1...Bxd8! It is unfortunate that the bishop on d8 plays no essential guarding role, as after 1...bxc6 2.Kb8 b5 White has 3.Qxc6 in addition to 3.c8Q.
Dafydd Johnston: The trick of paying attention to otherwise redundant pieces might help the solver to find the key utilizing rook on a1 and pawn on b2 , but there is still quite a leap from that to the shut-off by a second rook sacrifice after the Black bishop has crossed the critical square. Other shut-offs and interferences then become apparent once the idea has been grasped.
Jacob Hoover: In the diagrammed position, any move of the c6-rook threatens Qb5 mate, but Black refutes 1 Rc4? and 1 Re6? with 1 ... Bf5! (pinning the queen) and 1 ... Bd3! (guarding b5), respectively. White deals with this troublesome bishop by playing the sacrificial key 1 Rb1! which prepares the full-length threat 2 Sc5+ Ka5 3 b4. Black has four thematic defenses, each of which has subsequent play that, through various line effects, completely neutralizes the h7-bishop: It is interesting to note that all of the mating lines also occur in the set play. The key was indeed well-hidden, and it took me a while to find it, but I eventually found it, and upon doing so I was rewarded with a very pleasing line-effect theme.
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