In this lichess game, in the given analysis line for move 32, is it possible for Black to win in two moves after 35... Kc7?

[FEN "8/R4k2/2p3p1/2N4p/3n4/3P1pPb/PP3P1P/6K1 b - - 0 1"]

1... Ke8 2. Ra8+ Ke7 3. Ra7+ Kd8 4. Ra8+ Kc7

[Title "Anonymous-Anonymous, lichess.org. Rapid Game, 5/12/2020"]
[FEN ""] 

 1. d4 g6 2. d5 e5 3. e4 Bc5 4. Nf3 a5 5. Nc3 Ba7 6. Nb5 Ne7 7. Nxe5 Nxd5 8. Qf3 f6 9. Nc4 Nb4 10. Bd3 O-O 11. O-O d6 12. Nxa7 Rxa7 13. e5 dxe5 14. Be3 Nxd3 15. Bxa7 Nc6 16. Qxd3 Qxd3 17. cxd3 Nxa7 18. Nxa5 f5 19. Rac1 c6 20. Rc5 f4 21. Rxe5 f3 22. g3 h5 23. Rfe1 Kf7 24. Re7+ Kf6 25. Re8 Rxe8 26. Rxe8 Bd7 27. Rd8 Ke7 28. Nxb7 Bh3 29. Rg8 Kf7 30. Ra8 Nb5 31. Nc5 Nd4 32. Ra7+ Kf6 33. Ne4+ Ke6 34. Nc3 Kd6 35. Rf7 Ke6 36. Rf4 Ke5 37. Rh4 Bg2 38. h3 g5 39. Re4+ Kd6 40. Rxd4+ Kc5 41. Re4 g4 42. Re5+ Kd4 43. Rxh5 gxh3 44. Nd1 Kxd3 45. Ne3 Ke2 46. Nxg2 hxg2 47. Re5+ Kd3 48. Rc5 Kd2 49. Rxc6 Kd1 50. b4 Ke1 51. b5

The position after 35 ... Kc7 is a win for Black.

The immediate threat is mate with Ne2+ and Bg2; if 36 Kg1 Bg2+ 37 Kg2 Ne2+, still mate with the same two moves in reverse order -- but not 36 Kg2 Ne2+ 37 Ne6+! and 38 Nf4. If 36 Re8 Ne2+ 37 Rxe2 fxe2 and it's still mate in a move or two with e1Q because White's own Pd3 is in the way of defending with 38 Nd3.

White has a better defense with 36 Ne6+!, disrupting the mating net by forcing Black to capture with either B or N. Material is then about equal, but after 36 Ne6+! Nxe6! (not Bxe6 37 h4 or 37 Kf1) the Kg1 is still trapped and the Knight threatens to go back to d4 and thence to e2 for the same mate. After 37 Ra4 g5! (not yet c5 38 Rh4! dislodging the Bishop, e.g. 38 ... Bg2 39 h3 and the wK escapes to h2) Black's plan is c5, Nd4, and mate. White will have to give up the Exchange (e.g. 38 Rc4 Nd4 39 Rxd4 cxd4 -- even worse is 39 Rxc5+ Kd6) and now White is behind on material, with King still trapped and the d3-pawn about to fall too, so Black should win the endgame in due course.


If the object is to prevent a mate in two, White easily does that by playing Ra7+. But that is not the question, as after ...Kb6 White is still losing.

Black's threatened mate begins with Ne2+, so I'm presuming you want to prevent that mate entirely, not merely postpone it, and I don't see how. Re8 is the only white move that even bears on that square, and even after giving up R for N a checkmate remains on the board via pawn promotion. And while White could give up the N to gain a tempo with Rook by Ne6+, it still only delays the inevitable. I'm not even sure White could avoid losing if the Rook were replaced with a Queen.

  • I'd played as black and lost the game. I thought I'd missed Win, hence checked the board in Analysis Mode. @Arlen - Good Analysis! Thanks for your valuable check on it. – Inc Operations May 13 '20 at 0:04
  • If the Rook were replaced with a Queen, White could even win. For example, 36 Qa7+ and now: Kd8 37 Nb7+ and 38 Qxd4, or Kc8 37 Qb7+ Kd8 38 Qb8+ Ke7 39 Qe5+ and the Nd4 must either retreat to e6 or get captured, or Kd5 37 Ne4+ Kd5(e4) 38 Qc5+ and Black must abandon the Nd4. – Noam D. Elkies May 13 '20 at 21:30
  • Good catch. I'd missed the discovered attack on d4. That's what I get for such a superficial look to support a throwaway comment. – Arlen May 14 '20 at 12:46

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