I recently purchased the book "Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations, and Games" by Laszlo Polgar, just to learn more about moves.

This book has 3411 "Mate in two" problems and 743 "Mate in three" problems. The book is great but I have a question about the solutions to these problems.

For example, the solution to this mate-in-two (white to move first) problem # 1135 (from p. 247)...

[FEN "rkn5/pp1R4/2pn4/2N5/8/8/8/K w - - 0 1"]

...is given (in figurine algebraic notation) as:


The solutions to both the mate-in-two and the mate-in-three problems list only one step (the book does not explain the reason for this).

How should a person read this solution? Is it the supposed final location of the white rook? And is this way of listing solutions common practice in chess books?

  • 2
    A more common notation would be Rxb7+, where x means capture and + means check.
    – JiK
    Dec 10, 2014 at 8:13
  • on a side note, ive been going through this book (and im at around #540 for mate in 2). it's pretty solid but ive definitely noticed a few mistakes where i can't force mate or something else.
    – dtc
    Aug 21, 2020 at 15:43

2 Answers 2


I think it's slightly unusual to only give the first move, or a little outdated. But it saves space and the assumption is that if you found the right solution, you can confirm it by seeing the first move.

I also think that Polgar originally intended this book (and his other "big books") as a collection of problems for coaches to select problems for their students from, because doing 5000+ mate in 2 and mate in 3 problems is a bit much for self-study. The coaches are expected to be of sufficient strength already, and to be able to select some problems with a common theme that they need for some lesson.

The whole answer, in this case, is of course 1.Rxb7+ Nxb7 (forced) 2.Na6#.

The 'x' and '+' in Rxb7+ are strictly speaking not necessary, so some books omit it. Again, that's a bit of an outdated practice since it's just not that user friendly.

  • From the author in the foreword section: "With this book, I would like to provide some help for those who are learning the game alone, and for parents and coaches too"
    – dtc
    Jul 22, 2020 at 14:31

The reason for giving just a first move is that the rest should be obvious (if you figured out the first move, you'd know how to continue). And yes, it is a standard practice.

Is it the supposed final location of the white rook?

Again, yes. In a long notation the move would be spelled Rd7-b7, but since there's only one rook able to land on b7, the initial square is omitted. In short notation the initial square is only spelled out to disambiguate the move.

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