What is more important, logic and the obvious, or imagination? Which of the two gives us more fun?

To answer this question, let us have a look at our latest positionally tactical puzzle. This time, it features an endgame, from Ehrlacher-Metzger, 1992.

Endgames show strength and limitations of pieces and the way they work together in a most revelatory fashion. The secrets of the endgame open up an amazing world of chess harmony for us. Endgames develop our intuition and positional understanding. It is where plans must be found all the time – so endgames sharpen our strategic eye as well.

Michael Cheval, Wake up call in wonderland

Michael Cheval, Wake up call in wonderland

Let us look at the position below with the mind’s eye. The position seems like a draw. Black’s rook is active; yet the scope of the b7-bishop is restricted by the f3-pawn. Right now the white bishop is attacking c7. What should Black do? The moves like 1…c5 or 1…Rd7 (the obvious) would most probably give a peaceful outcome. Is there anything else to try? Can we let our imagination run beyond the limits of the obvious and then follow it?

“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau


Without leaps of imagination, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Imagination is sort of planning.


A wake up call from the Wonderland. Black imagined something and is now planning on getting his two pieces work together harmoniously against g2. For that, he wants to play …g4 giving out some material in the process. Little tactics for positional gain.

The plan may not be sufficient for a win, but it puts White in a dangerous position where one mistake may be fatal (which actually happened in the game).

2.Bxc7 g4! 3.Bf4 Re2 4.Bxh6 gxf3 5.gxf3 Bxf3 6.Bf4 Kf7

The king rushes to help. Black wants to disable the white bishop by playing f5-f4. For that, the black king is to support the f-pawn.

7.Kf1 Kg6 8.a3 Kh5 9.Re1!

Activate the rook!

9…Ra2 10.a4 Kg4 11.Bd6 f4


Black reached his strategic objective. White could still have played Re7 with Rg7 to follow here and on the next move to level the game. Yet, in the end, Black’s inventive play, as opposed to routine 1…c5 and 1…Rd7, paid off. And the game was much more fun.

Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun. ― George Scialabba

12.h3+ Kg3 13.h4? 0-1

After 13…Rh2 it is all over.

Use your imagination. It can make your day much more exciting and interesting.

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