There was a book of chess stories that I had read some time ago. In one, there were 3 sailors who had made a deal with Devil for a crystal because of which they were unbeatable at chess. They saw the move that they were to make in the crystal after each move of the opponent.

Any ideas as to the story title?

1 Answer 1


The story is "The Three Sailors' Gambit" (1916) by Lord Dunsany, who was an interesting character. Besides being a prolific writer, he was a winner of the Irish chess championship, and he managed a draw during a simul by Capablanca. Dunsany was also a problem composer, some of them fairly typical chess problems and some of them more offbeat:

White to Mate in 4

Dunsany's Problem

This is very much a tricky problem.

  • 4
    Here is guess at the problem. If black pawns are on 7th rank, I don't see a way to deliver mate. Also black's king and queen are reversed, so it looks as black pawns are on the 2nd rank. Hence, if a knight can get to d3 it is mate. A possible line: 1.Nc6 Nf3 2.Nb4 Ne5 3. Qxe5 g1Q 4. Nd3++.
    – Akavall
    Sep 4, 2012 at 15:15
  • Cool. If 1. Nc6 Nh3 (threatening Nf4, where it can't be captured), then white can do 2. Ne5 (threatening both Nd3 and Nf3, which black cannot defend both at once now). Any other move is not mate in 4, as if 2. Rh3 then black can reply with 2. ... g1Q 3. ... Qg5+ preventing mate in 4. If 2. Nf6 (changing line to mate at Nf3 instead), black can wait by 2. ... Nc3, and then depending which white knight is moved, reply with either 3. ... Nf4 or 3. ... Ng1. Not as simple as I thought!
    – justhalf
    Jun 13, 2019 at 18:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.