Raymond Smullyan wrote some great books with Retrograde Analysis chess puzzles. I know of two, are there others?

  • I removed your question about poker and checkers, since this site is just for chess. If you want to check out puzzles using other games, try asking at Puzzling.SE (or if it's poker, there's even Poker.SE).
    – Daniel
    Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 22:06

3 Answers 3


Of course there are others!

For chess, there are many chess problems including retrograde analysis problems and many, many, many other types of problems that you would likely find interesting:

  • Retrograde Analysis - Problems that show a diagram and ask a question in which you must deduce the answer from the position.

  • Proof Games - Figure out how to get to the diagram from the starting position in a limited number of moves.

  • Help mates - Figure out how to checkmate black in a certain number of moves (you get to play both sides).

  • Reflex mates - figure out how to mate yourself given that each side must reply with mate in one if given the opportunity.

  • Series mates - Black makes a series of consecutive moves and then white mates in 1 move.

  • Studies - Usually orthodox chess endgame problems that demonstrate an interesting or important or impressive way to win.

There are journals or magazines that publish chess compositions and give out awards to the best problems. The best problems have an artistic quality which demonstrate a certain concept, have interesting interactions among pieces, or achieve some specific goal.

Every problem usually has a stipulation (what it is you are trying to accomplish) and conditions. A stipulation is what it is that you are must accomplish and the conditions are the set of rules that must be followed, which can be different than orthodox chess. Some problems use one more fairy pieces which are one of many non-standard pieces that move in a variety of different ways.

Basically, there are many chess problems (compositions) and composers (people who create them). A friend of mine introduced me to the world of chess problems and I've composed only a few myself. Here are just a few of the places you might find some more problems including retros:


Since you already know what a retro is, here is an example of a famous helpmate.

[FEN "8/8/q7/8/1R4K1/k2N4/8/8 w - - 0 1"]
[White "Henry Forsberg"]
[Black "1935"]

Helpmate in two (black moves first and after two moves from each side, black is mated):

  1. diagram
  2. replace queen on a6 with a black rook
  3. with a bishop
  4. with a knight
  5. with a pawn

There is no other retro-book by Smullyan but there is a very rich collection of problems, tutorials, bibliography, etc. on Retrograde Analysis freely available at http://www.janko.at/Retros/

It is familiarly called The Retro Corner and exists since the early 1990s !! It has a mailing list where you can ask any question.

The two books by Smullyan are a wonderful introduction, but then you'll want to move forward and look at exquisitely elegant problems (that are not necessarily very hard to solve).

  • The Retro Corner was questionably up-to-date as of the time this was written, and unfortunately it hasn't been touched since then - it's now been a full two years since any posts were made. Do you know if the mailing list is any more active? Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 18:56
  • The mailing list is still quite active, albeit in bursts. You can see the whole archive and judge for yourself at pairlist1.pair.net/mailman/listinfo/retros
    – phs
    Commented Jun 17, 2016 at 5:59
  • Yup, I confirm the mailing list is still active, particularly when something takes its fancy. The Retro Corner website is not recently updated alas, but as a place to learn about the subject, it remains fantastic: think of it like a book.
    – Laska
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 5:05

Many people love the book "Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes" by Raymond Smullyan, and mourn that there was no sequel.

Mourn no longer: I have stumbled across another book along the same lines:

"Sherlock Holmes Visits the Chameleon Chess Club: Further Adventures in Retrograde Chess Analysis" by Bill Murden, with a forward by Raymond Smullyan. The author has made it available without copyright, and it can be downloaded at:


The author has the same ability to recreate effortless Holmesian dialogue, and the problems are a whimsical mixture of orthodox and fairy themes. Murden is particularly thorough in his logical solutions.

The book was actually written many years ago, but has only recently been made available electronically by Fred Stahl, a friend of the late author.

  • 1
    Smullyan also wrote a series of Regrograde Analysis problems in a book in the context of the Arabian Nights. Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 22:22
  • I am so excited about this, thank you!
    – shabbychef
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 16:30

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