Native English speakers might be familiar with The Nun’s Priest’s Tale and the controversy surrounding it. When did the tale really take place? Is it possible to know for sure or will we be guessing forever? Since I am multilingual, I will not join the debate and offer you instead the following puzzle:
How long did you take to solve it? Not long I bet. If your solution was mate in 1, I am going to say not so fast. It is true, I did not say who’s turn is to move. Not fair you might reply? You definitely need to take a closer look. The position gives away the answer to that one. If this does not make a lot of sense, then I have a question for you:
“If it is White to move, what was Black’s last move?”
Ah! Now it probably hit you. There is not legal move Black could do prior to reach this position. It is Black to move. QED.
We have stepped into retrograde analysis territory. Retrograde analysis is a technique employed to determine the moves played leading up to a given position. In our case it helped determine who’s turn is to move. It also gives a result of this endgame, right? Black captures the white pawn, promotes and wins with ease.
Here is one last twist: could this position end in a draw? Anything is possible on the 32nd day of March. Now find the solution to it and afterwards buy a ticket to the annual ceremony of “Washing the Lions” at the Tower of London, the one dating all the way back to 1857. You know which one, don’t you?