Mate in ½ move

The catchphrase from the post’s title line, think out of the box means to look farther, trying not to think of obvious things, but beyond them (thus also, think beyond the box).

To test your chess lateral thinking out of the box, here are five puzzles today, all titled “Find a checkmate in half move.” Yes, you’ve heard it right, in ½ move! [1]

See if you can think differently, unconventionally, from a new perspective. What you need is switching from automatic to “manual gear” mode of thinking, that is, critical thinking.

By the way, what does this box, you have to go beyond at times, actually come from?

The Nine Dots puzzle

The reference is to a specific box, one in the form of a two-dimensional square. And now, funny thing, there is a chess connection here! Did you know that Sam Loyd, the famous American chess study composer, was also a puzzle author. In 1914 he published Cyclopedia of 5000 Puzzles, Tricks, and Conundrums (With Answers). It included a puzzle, known as the Nine Dots Puzzle, which went like this:

Samuel Loyd's Outside-the-box puzzle

“Draw a continuous line through the center of all the eggs so as to mark them off in the fewest number of strokes.” (solution)

Then, in the 1970s and 1980s, the term was introduced by management consultants and executive coaches who were challenging their clients to think in unorthodox ways and solve their nine dots puzzle.

So step boldly in the Chess Puzzleland and see if the solutions to our problems do lie beyond the box. Look for solutions from outside your usual thinking patterns (I’ll post the solutions in a few days).

5 Mates in ½ Move

Checkmate in half move


Checkmate in half move


Checkmate in 1/2 move


Checkmate in half move


Mate in 1/2 move


sah31. The puzzles are taken from Gubnitsky’s Unique Comprehensive Chess Course, Moscow 2009. Some of them can be attributed to Yugoslav chess Master Dragosav Andric (Cacak, 1923 – Belgrade, 2005).

No wonder, as a poet, author of several anthologies of world poetry in his own selection and translation, dramatist, essayist, journalist, and lexicographer, he did know how to think outside the box (his father Jelisije was an Oxford student).

My first chess book was his primer Chess, The game of millions, 1966 (published in 13 editions).

Andric’s 1949 game against Djaja appeared in Irving Chernev’s anthology The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played (Simon and Schuster, 1965) in the Chapter A Bolt from the Blue.

#1 The half move is with the knight. You slightly lift it up, but don’t put it anywhere. This lets the Bishop check through, while the Knight still covering a7 and b8.

#2 White wanted to castle. He already made the first half move (K to g1), and now the remaining half move is to be played (Rf1 mate).

#3 White has moved Pawn a7 to a8, removed it from the board, and now he is finishing his half-move with a8Q#

#4 The last move by Black was d7-d5. White removes the black pawn from the board (en passant – a half-move), but doesn’t complete the pawn move c5xd6. Checkmate!

#5 Another en passant trick. The Black’s king was under check and blocked it with Pc5. Then, White’s pawn then played d5xc6 (the current diagram). The half-move taking the black c5-pawn out is delivering checkmate now.

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