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2nd prize, East German Chess Federation Tourney, 1966
Mate in 3
A problem which demonstrates that strong thematic content can be shown with great
White would like to vacate e4 to threaten 2.Qe4 mate, but Black has the defence 1...Sd5, so White must provide for this. He does so by 1.Qb7, threatening 2.Sg3 and 3.Qe4, and if 2...Sd5 3.Sc6 (the knight having gone to g3 to take over the guard of f5).
The black knight can defend by guarding e4 from other squares, and this leads to three beautiful variations where the white knight copies his counterpart on the second and third moves:
These three variations show, in cyclic fashion, the Roman theme, where a piece which can provide a good defence against a threat is decoyed in such a way that the good defence is replaced by a bad one. It differs from the related Dresden and Hamburg themes (see recent problems) in using only one thematic black piece.
There are two by-play variations: 1...Sd5 2.Sc6+ K any 3.Q×h7, and 1...h6 2.Sg6+ Kf5 3.Qf7.
Dafydd Johnston: The counter-intuitive key makes this a difficult problem to solve, but the dance of the knights is well worth the effort.
Any comments or questions on this problem should be addressed to
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