This is quiz 24 from The Art of the Checkmate by Renaud & Kahn.

Black to play and win

rn3rk1/pp3ppp/3b1n2/2pPq3/2B1P3/1NN2bP1/PPPQ1P1P/R1B2RK1 b - - 0 1

The authors give this as the winning line:

1... Qh5 2. Be2 (as Black was threatening Qh3-g2#) Ng4 (threatening mate on h2) 3. h4 Qxh4 4. gxh4 Bh2#

However, I think White has a simple refutation:

2. Re1 prepares Bf1, stopping the Qh3-g2 threat, and Ng4 threats can be nullified with h4, as the Queen sacrifice doesn't work now as the King has a flight square

So, my questions are:

  1. Is there a forced win (mate or material)?
  2. If so, what is it?
  3. If not, what's the best move?

1 Answer 1


Yes, you're right, there is no forced win. With correct play, White avoids the mate, and Black can only win one of the two pawns he is currently behind. White will have a healthy pawn more with best play from both sides:

rn3rk1/pp3ppp/3b1n2/2pPq3/2B1P3/1NN2bP1/PPPQ1P1P/R1B2RK1 b - - 0 1

1... Qh5 2. Re1 Ng4 3. h4 Ne5 4. Bf1 Bxe4
  • 1
    Nice one. Given the book is from the pre-computer age, then the authors' line may have been the game continuation
    – user1108
    Dec 28, 2015 at 13:12
  • 1
    Yes, many old tactics books suffer the same fate.
    – Glorfindel
    Dec 28, 2015 at 13:14
  • 1
    Granted that 2 Rf1 is much stronger than the book defense, the final position still looks dangerous to White (5 Be2(g2) Nf3+ 6 Bxf3 Qxf3). Maybe better 4 Be2 instead of 4 Bf1, e.g. 4 Be2 Bxe2 5 Qxe2 Nf3+ 6 Kg2 (not 6 Kh1/f1 Qg4) Nxe1+ 7 Qxe1 with equal material and little attack left. Dec 31, 2015 at 1:22
  • 1
    @NoamD.Elkies : I agree, but notice that 5 Be2 Nf3+ 6 Bxf3 Qxf3?? leaves the Be4 hanging. 6...Bxf3 should yield sufficient compensation, however. If 5.Bg2?!, 5...Bxg2 looks stronger, e.g. 6.Kxg2 Nf3 7.Qe2 Nxe1 8.Qxe1 and compared to your variation with 4.Be2, white has lost the Pe4 for nothing.
    – Evargalo
    Feb 15, 2018 at 7:56

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