My Quora Answer to: What is your favorite puzzle?

White to move and win (Mikhail Zinar, 1983).

Broadly speaking, a chess puzzle refers to a board situation where chess pieces and chess rules must be used to solve the puzzle. While game winning moves from actual play make up the majority of chess puzzles, some of the most challenging puzzles in chess have been composed as art rather than played in competition. Composed (not arising from actual chess games) chess puzzles are often referred to as problems. With each generation of composers stretching the boundaries of chess further, chess problems have become increasingly complex. 

My favorite chess puzzle is a problem composed by Mikhail Zinar which demonstrates the rare motif of under promoting to a bishop an incredible five times! 

Ukrainian chess composer Mikhail Zinar (5/9/1951 – 2/4/2021) chess studies are some of the most deliberately complex, unique chess compositions ever published. Many of his compositions were designed to stretch the limits of what is possible on the chessboard, not actually be solved by the human intellect. But that doesn’t mean some haven’t tried. In fact, Zinar has been called a favorite composer of World Champions because of his ability to show the greatest chess minds a narrow path to solve seemingly impossible chess tasks. 

The solution to this puzzle is a little difficult to understand without a thorough explanation. So, once you have exhausted your brain trying to solve the puzzle, I invite you to watch the video below for a brief demonstration of the astonishing solution. 


Published by chessmusings

Chris Torres is a nationally renowned scholastic chess coach working in the San Francisco Bay Area. His classes have attracted players of strengths ranging from rank beginners to world champions. A chess professional since 1998, Chris is widely recognized as one of the main driving forces behind the explosion in popularity and sudden rise in quality of scholastic chess in California. Chris Torres served as the President of the Torres Chess and Music Academy from 2005-2020 and currently is recognized as a correspondence chess master with the United States Chess Federation. Since 1998 Chris Torres has taught 6 individual national champions as well as led multiple school teams to win national championship titles. In addition, Chris Torres has directed and taught at 10 different schools which have been California State Champions at chess. In 2011 and 2012, several former and current students of Chris Torres have been selected to represent the United States at the World Youth Chess Championships. Mr. Torres’ hobbies include playing classical guitar and getting his students to appear on the national top 100 chess rating lists.

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