Paul Keres (1916-1975) was a prince among men. He was among those few players never to have won the crown in spite of sheer talent and achievement. In his younger years he was known for adventurous play and astounding combinational skill.

In later years he moved towards perfection and became a superb strategist with flawless technique. He still played combinations in the autumn of life and they were of the purest gold in the striking phrase of Harry Golombek.

Keres was also a brilliant composer of problems & studies and carved a niche for himself in this field. Here is an astonishing piece of wizardy.

In the following position White is a queen up and still the king looks doomed on account of the threat of 1…b2+ followed by promotion to queen.

But no, he would survive and go on to triumph with a magic display followed by minimum show of force in the end. **Your turn!**

***

White to play and win

Paul Keres, Magyar Sakkvilág 1936

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Dear readers,

Nice to see your efforts in solving this study.

Now here is the response to your tries:

a)1.Nc2+ Ka2 2.Nd4+? b2+ and Black wins.

b)1.Nc2+ Ka2 2.Na3+ b2+ 3.Kd1 Kxa3 4.Qd6 Ka2 5.Qd5+ Kb1 and again Black wins.

That leaves us with the main line 1.Nc2+ Ka2 2.Nb4+ Ka1.

The solution as you see is far from obvious.

It only remains to add that Keres was 20-years-old when he composed this study.

I made a typo in my previous comment. It should be: after 1…Ka2 then 2.Na3!

After1.Nc2+ Ka2 2.Nd4+, Black wins with 2…b2+.

I think White’s reply to 1…Ka3 should be 2.Na3!

Dear Chessbibliophile

If Black declines the knight sacrifice with 1 …Ka2, then 2. Nd4 ex.ch. If 3 Ka1, then 3 …Nxb3 checxkmate. If 3 Ka3, then 3 …Qd6+. 4 Ka2, then 4 …Qa6++, or 4 Ka4, Qa6+, 5 Kb4 (forced), Qb5+, 6 Ka3 (forced), Qa5++. TS.

1.Nc2+ Ka2 2.Na3+

If black replies with 2….Kxa3, then 3.Qd6+ should pick up black pawns. Instead if black plays, 2….b2+, then 3.Kc1 and again black cannot play Kxa3 due to Qd6+. If black instead blocks the check with 2…Bc2, then 3.Nc4 b2+ Nxb2 cxb2+ Kxc2 b1=Q+ Kc3+ should win….

This is a very tricky position and i have not analysed all possibilities.. But Nc2+ followed by Na3+ looks to be winning.

Dear reader,

After 1.Nc2+ Bxc2 2.Qh1? Black wins with 2…Be4! deflecting the queen from her path. Once again there is no answer to 3…b2+.

So 1.Nc2+ Bxc2 2. Qb8 is correct.

But the question still remains, what if Black declines the knight offer with 1…Ka7?

1. Nc2+ Bxc2 2.Qh1 b2+ 3.Kxc2 b1=Q+

4. Qxb1#

Dear reader,

After 1.Nc2+ Bxc2 2.Qb8 White wins as 2..b2+ fails to 3.Kxc2.

How about 1.Nc2+ Ka7?

1.- Kc2+; Bxc2

2.- Qb7….