[Title "Alexey Grigorievich Kopnin - mate in two - 1948"]
[FEN "nR1rB3/2PPPN2/bbk1N3/1p2p3/1p2P1nq/1K1Pp3/7B/8 w - - 0 1"]


In this problem, it’s white to move and mate in two. What is the solution?

In the link (source) there is also a solution but it is in Russian notation and I do not understand it. (Maybe I would not understand it even if it was in English notation) I need to see the exact moves explicitly.

Here is the Russian solution:

1.d4! (угроза 2.d5#)
1…ed 2.Kfd8#
1…K:c7 2.Ked8#
1…C:d4 2.cdK#
1…Kf6 2.edK#
1…Л:b8 2.d8K#
(1…Л:e8 2.deФ/C#)

What move is the "1…ed" for example? There are just two columns "ed" but what is the row number and what piece should be moved and where?


What move is the "1…ed" for example?

"ed" indicates that an e pawn takes a d pawn.

Maybe I would not understand it even if it was in English notation

It is actually in algebraic notation. If you follow the link you will find that it even tells you what the Russian abbreviations are for the pieces!

From there it is easy to work out that this is what it means:

[Title "Alexey Grigorievich Kopnin - mate in two - 1948"]
[FEN "nR1rB3/2PPPN2/bbk1N3/1p2p3/1p2P1nq/1K1Pp3/7B/8 w - - 0 1"]

1. d4 {threat d5#} exd4 (1...Nxc7 2. Nexd8#) (1...Bxd4 2. cxd8=N#) (1...Nf6 2. exd8=N#) (1...Rxb8 2. d8=N#) (1...Rxe8 2. dxe8=B#) 2. Nfxd8# 

Note that "mate in 2" means that white mates in 2 moves exactly against any defence. Hence listing all the possible black replies to the first move.

  • It's algrebraic notation... but of course it doesn't help that there are multiple different abbreviations of pawn captures in algrebraic notation (also described in the linked article) and one might not be used to all.
    – Annatar
    Aug 31 '20 at 11:20

I'd be interested to see this position come live in a real game; I have found 4 potential variants;

The Solution I found was

[Title "Alexey Grigorievich Kopnin - mate in two - 1948"]
[FEN "nR1rB3/2PPPN2/bbk1N3/1p2p3/1p2P1nq/1K1Pp3/7B/8 w - - 0 1"]

1. d4 Rxb8 2. d8=N

I think what the Russian text is doing is describing the different moves eg';

  1. d4 Nxh2 2. d5#
  2. d4 NxH2 2. d8N#
  3. d4 Rxb8 2. d8N#
  4. d4 Rxb8 2. d5#

So i am assuming that they are just listing different solutions; The idea seems to be to underpromote to a knight, or push the d-pawn


Its Russian Notation ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algebraic_notation_(chess) ) Kp = King (sometimes can be Kr) Ф = Queen Л = Rook С = Bishop К = Knight p = Pawn

So 1…Л:b8 2.d8K# in English notation would be 1... Rxb8 2.d8=N#

  • 1
    Sorry for my ignorance, but if the puzzle says "mate in two moves" it means that the black player is forced to lose or it means that the black player is helping the white player to make him lose in two moves? Aug 30 '20 at 13:58
  • Hi @azerbajdzan Don't be sorry. In this instance it is White to Force Mate in 2 Moves. Black should be attempting to avoid mate. Aug 30 '20 at 14:04
  • 1
    Your (or the original's that you are transcribing) fourth variation is incorrect. After 1...Rxb8 2.d5 is no mate because of 2...Kb7, but 2.d8N# does the job with a double check (this is actually your third line)
    – Evargalo
    Sep 1 '20 at 7:11


1.d4 (the first move that enables mate in 2)

the 'optimal play' for black is to either march to promotion or to capture the pawn

  • The optimistic best move

1...e2 That's actually the "best" move choice: black is now only one step from queening his pawn. Any other possible piece move black has would be a direct contribution to black's demise; a self-inflicted blow. So ceteris paribus, black wisely keeps on pursuing his own goals and races for the new queen, as if following some principle of lesser evil.

  • The pessimistic best move


1...exd4 That's also active play. This capture removes the pawn, correctly identified as the most imminent death threat black has in the moment. Here black does not go for the queen, hence that pessimism.

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