I teach chess to children and a colleague of mine told me of this position to show to the kids. Black plays and gives mate in two. It seems an easy position but the children I teach had difficulties with it because they think that the only way to mate is capturing as much pieces of the opponent as possible in the process.

[fen "7r/8/8/5k2/4q3/8/6PR/r5RK b - - 0 1"]

Black plays and gives mate in two. What should Black do?

  • 1
    Which way is the pawn moving? In any case there are at least two solutions. Mar 26, 2016 at 15:59
  • @DagOskarMadsen In any case there seems to be exactly two solutions, none of them fit the "quiet" criterium, however... Mar 26, 2016 at 17:45
  • 3
    @GloriaVictis If the pawn is on g2, then there is a third solution 1...Qa8. Mar 26, 2016 at 17:53
  • I think it qualifies as quiet because it demonstrates the power of Zugzwang. The most offensive move(s) here are to defend.
    – Tony Ennis
    Mar 26, 2016 at 17:55
  • 1
    The position reminds me of an answer I gave to an earlier question chess.stackexchange.com/questions/5655/… Mar 26, 2016 at 18:45

4 Answers 4


[Corrected: most of the alternative solutions I suggested fail to g4+]

There must be some mistake in the diagram, because R(either)xR+ is a non-quiet move that forces mate in 2. Quiet moves don't work because of the defense Rc8+ or Rxh8. Except that the FEN indicates that the wP is on g2, not b7 as it seems, and that makes Qa8! a quiet solution (Zugzwang: if RxR(either) then QxR is mate; other Rook moves are captured by a Rook for mate; and the pawn is still pinned). To make this unique the Queen can be put elsewhere on the diagonal, like d5:

[fen "7r/8/8/3q1k2/8/8/6PR/r5RK b - - 0 1"] 

I see that Dag Oskar Madsen already suggested this fix in a comment.

Possibly of interest: while trying to Google this position I ran across this mate-in-2 problem, credited to T.A.L.Herlin 1852, which might have been the inspiration for the present problem though its solution is not as nice or as quiet:

[fen "kr5R/rp6/8/8/4Q1K1/8/8/8 w - - 0 1"] 


1 Qe8! (threat 2 QxR#) Rxe8/Ra4+ 2 Rxe8/Qxa4#!


A quiet move: 1... Qa8, keeping the pawn pinned, and white will be mated next move.

When teaching kids is important do show MATE IN ZERO FIRST, so MATE IN ONE and so on.

Never give a child a problem she can not solve. Because success is stimulating and a failure is depressing and could be mortal.


Black to move and mate in two, right? Is it as simple as

Rxh2+, Kxh2
  • 1
    We're supposed to find a 'quiet' move. It is not a traditional puzzle, but an exercise for students.
    – Tony Ennis
    Mar 28, 2016 at 22:47
  • 1
    OK. I guess I was supposed to gather that from the title of the question. Mar 29, 2016 at 0:10

Quiet move means "A move should occur without a capture or a mate".

Sure there sacrificing a rook lead to mate in 2 moves, but it isnt a solution. You should look for positional play.

If you are looking for a quiet mate without any captures (rook sacrifices), just position the Queen to

..Qe1 or ..Qh4 

It is a great example of positional play. No captures or mate!

  • We're supposed to find a 'quiet' move. It is not a traditional puzzle, but an exercise for students.
    – Tony Ennis
    Mar 28, 2016 at 22:49
  • What is a quiet mate? Sorry for my ignorance.
    – pbu
    Mar 28, 2016 at 22:54
  • He's looking for a first move that isn't a check or capture.
    – Tony Ennis
    Mar 29, 2016 at 4:24
  • 1 . . . Qe1/h4 does not force mate in 2 because with the pawn unpinned White can delay the mate with 2 g4+! Mar 31, 2016 at 14:46

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