Chess is a beautiful game...

White to play and win (Troitsky, 1895)

...so I had to find something beautiful enough for the first blog entry! This mindbender was produced in 1895 by the great Russian composer Alexei Troitsky

(Didactic parenthetical: People who create chess puzzles are called "composers," just like composers of music. When the puzzle's condition is "White to play and win/draw," we call that type of position a study.  Puzzles of the type "White to play and checkmate in three moves" are generally called problems. Studies are good practice for endgame players, problems are good practice for your calculation skills.  Both types of puzzles can test the limits of your imagination!)

It's White's move, and we need to find a way for White to win against Black's best defense.  It certainly would be nice for White to promote the pawn on g6.  (Remember that when you see a diagram on the Web or in a book, White's pieces are generally moving UP, and Black's pieces are moving DOWN: this is a useful convention.)

The first thing I might look at is 1.gxh7, but then Black can simply play 1...Kg7 and eat White's last pawn for lunch on the next move.

The second thing I might look at would be 1.Bh6+ Kg8 (Black has to guard the h7 pawn; otherwise, White will play 2.gxh7 and queen the pawn with an easy win) 2.g7 Kf7 (or perhaps 2...e6+ instead).  But it's not clear how White breaks through Black's fortress. (Do you see White's problem? If you don't, try making moves for both sides until White wins...or doesn't.)

Here's a hint: What is the best way for White to win the position below? Does it involve blackmail or gunplay?

 

White to play: can White win?

If you give up, you'll find the answer on the Russian-language Wikipedia entry for Troitsky. But please don't give up too easily!