Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two

The Nun’s Priest’s Tale, Geoffrey Chaucer (1390)

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?

Eugen Demian

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Valer Eugen Demian

Author: Valer Eugen Demian

The player – my first serious chess tournament was back in 1974, a little bit late for today’s standards. Over the years I have had the opportunity to play all forms of chess from OTB to postal, email and server chess. The journey as a player brought me a lot of experience and a few titles along the way: FIDE CM (2012), ICCF IM (2001) and one ICCF SIM norm (2004). The instructor – my career as a chess teacher and coach started in 1994 and continues strong. I have been awarded the FIDE Instructor title (2007) for my work and have been blessed with great students reaching the highest levels (CYCC, NAYCCC, Pan-Am, WYCC). I am very proud of them! See my website for more information. I have developed my own chess curriculum on 6 levels based on my overall chess knowledge and hands-on experience. A glimpse of it can be seen in my first chess app:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/chessessentials/id593013634?mt=8
I can help you learn chess the proper way if this is what you seek! View all posts by Valer Eugen Demian

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