Mating skills!

Lynch-Halstead 1986, White to move and win

Lynch-Halstead 1986, White to move and win

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Comments

  1. Nice. I first observe that Black threatens check and mate and, although he would run out of checks if we avoided mate by 1 h3 after 1… Qd1+; 2 Kh2, one suspects that a tempo would allow Black to improve his prospects e.g by 1…Qf4, keeping the game going; and, second, that for White there are two possible mating methods starting with checks:
    (i) Utilising the potent Q + N combination and
    (ii) Advancing the K-side Ps.

    Now, (i) doesn’t work because e4 is defended and more to the point, after 1 Nf7+ Black doesn’t play 1… Kh5 or h4??; 2 Qh6#, but calmly escapes his K to the f-file, when there are no winning discovered checks and (ii) doesn’t work because 1 g4 allows a draw by perpetual and 1 h4+ is met by 1… Qxh4+ and most definitely not 1… Kxh4??; 2 Qh6+ Kg3; 3. Qh2+ Kf2; 4 Qg1+ picking up the undefended Black Q, though after 1… Kh5; 2 g4+ fails to 2… Kxh4; 3 Qh6+ Kg3; 4 Qh2+ Kxf3. But if White had had f4 available here, 2 Qf4 would have been interesting since the Black Q can’t defend against the mate on g5 either from f6, e5, e3 or d2 since White controls all these squares.

    Putting these ideas together suggests the move 1 Ne4+! will allow method (ii) to work since capture of the N blocks the Black Q’s defence of the crucial square f4.

    So…
    1 Ne4+ de (1… Kh4; 2 Qh6# or 1… Kh5; 2 g4+ Kh4; 3 Qh6#); 2 h4+ Kh5 (or 2…Kxh4; 3 Qf4+ Kh5; 4 g4+ Kh4; 5 g5+ Kh5 or Kh3; 6 Qg4# – White has no need of the idea 3 Qh6+ Kg3; 4 Qh2+ Kf2; 5 Qg1+ and 6 Qxd4 +-); 3 Qf4! and Black must give up his Q on e5, f6, e3 or d2 to avoid immediate mate.
    3… Qd8, d5 or c5 all fail to 4 g4+ Kxh4; 5 g5+ Kh5 or h3; 6 Qg4#.
    3… h6 fails to 4 Qg4#.
    Finally, 3…. Qd1+; 4 Kh2 makes no difference – Black is still unable to avoid mate (though has another way to give up his Q to avoid immediate mate, i.e. by 4…Qd6).

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