воскресенье, 25.09.2022
Суперфиналы ЧР11.09
FIDE Women’s Grand Prix16.09
Julius Baer Generation Cup18.09



Napoleon Running the Gauntlet (Waterloo 1815)

A famous problem attracted my attention for examination and revision so as to enrich part of chess history that is connected to real history of Bonaparte Napoleon (1769-1821).

All the more so since 2015 is the 200th anniversary of the remarkable Waterloo battle.

This well-known work-piece was created by the best Russian player, theoretician and chess writer of that time Alexander D. Petrov (1794-1867). The Petrov (Petroff) Defense was named after him, and he was also good at constructing chess problems.

A. D. Petrov 1824

Mate in 14 (6)

Casting a glance at the position we can find it rather chaotic and it does not fit the story either. The French army (black) should surround the Russian leadership at St.Petersburg. On top there are pieces not needed for the solution at all. Thus we can remove the e3B the f4R and the g4 pawn since they do not take any role in the battle. There are also duals too like either 5.Na3+ or 5.Nbc3+ are good and at the end 14.Kg2 or Kg3 both mate. All the above are forgivable mistakes. Unfortunately there is much shorter side solution (koch/cook) 6.Qa8 mate that is a deadly sin that ruins the value of the problem. Avoiding the trap is only an excuse. The author obviously overlooked the problem of corners but it does not touch the historical value of this work. The role of Cossack Hussars in the process of chasing out Napoleon from Russia is witty and original.

1.Nd2+ Ka2 2.Nc3+ Ka3 3.Ndb1+ Kb4 4.Na2+ Kb5 5.Nbc3+ (5.Na3+) Ka6 6.Nb4+ (6.Qa8 mate) 6...Ka7 7.Nb5+ Kb8 8.Na6+ Kc8 9.Na7+ Kd7 10.Nb8+ Ke7 11.Nc8+ Kf8 12.Nd7+ Kg8 13.Ne7+ Kh8 14.Kg2 (Kg3) mate.

There are more historical dates in my improvement so let me give a little historical reminder about them. There are 18 pieces on the board so as to symbolize that we are at the beginning of the 1800-s years. Napoleon deployed a huge number of troops. The Russian Chief Commander Kutuzov chose the tactics of putting off final clash and they even gave up Moscow by evacuating it but they did not give up. Faced with cold and hunger, it was a difficult task to keep together such a huge French army. There was no hope for reinforcement. Therefore the army of Napoleon had to order the retreat without accomplishing the main goal. This retreat had turned to be a desperate escape. Finally just a fraction of the Great Army could get home. It all happened in 1812. I refer to it in move 12th when jumping of the Cossack Hussars is over.

Pal Benko 2015

Mate in 15

1.Rf1+ Ka2 (1...b1Q 2.Rxb1+ Ka2 3.Nc1+ Ka3 4.Kc3 Nb3 5.Nxc4#) 2.Nc3+ Ka3 3.Ndb1+ Kb4 4.Na2+ Kb5 5.Nbc3+ Ka6 6.Nb4+ Ka7 7.Nb5+ Kb8 8.Na6+ Kc8 9.Na7+ Kd7 10.Nb8+ Ke7 (10...Ke6 11.Bd5+ Ke7 12.Nc8+ Kf8 13.Nd7#) 11.Nc8+ Kf8 12.Nd7+ Kg8 13.Bd5+ Re6 14.Bxe6+ Kh8 15.Rh1 mate.

This strange kind of defeat encouraged all the enemy of the French. The decisive battle took place near Leipzig against the 6th Alliance (Russian, Prussian, Austrian and Swedish army). The overwhelming majority of troops finally succeed and they marched into Paris. Napoleon was forced to step down and he was exiled to the island of Elba. The "Battle of Nations" at Leipzig (more than one million soldiers took part in it) in 1813 is shown in the problem by the side-track of 10...Ke6 with the mate coming in move 13 (13.Nd7 mate).

However, while the winners were negotiating of future power arrangements of Europe, Napoleon returned secretly and took back ruling France without resistance. The 7th Alliance had to be created against him and the final battle took place in Belgium near the village called Waterloo. Napoleon made hasty efforts to in preventing the allied enemy forces to be united.

The English helped the 7th Allies not only financially but troops led by Duke of Wellington also disembarked. They put up a strong resistance until the relief troops of the Prussian army arrived led by Marshal G. L. von BlГјcher. So shortly after in 1815 Napoleon had to put arms down. This is represented by the mate in move 15. Napoleon was this time exiled by the two coalition partners to as far as to St. Helena Islands (South Atlantic Ocean).

The solution of the third problem is principally the same as for the second but it has been enriched by the switch-back of 1.Kh2+ and 15.Kg1 mate. The army of the Tsar is ready for counter-attack while the army of Napoleon is scattered on the way of retreat. The historical numbers of 12 and 15 appear here too. At the and there are 21 pieces left on the board referring the death of Napoleon in 1821. Napoleon, in his exile passed his time mostly with dictating his memoirs and playing chess. His early death raised suspicions since a great deal of arsenic was found in his organism. The cause of his death was given as cancer of stomach. In such an illness patients usually lose weight but he put on weights. There are a lot of mysteries in history because as many sources there are as many contradictions we can find.

Pal Benko (version) 2015

Mate in 15

1.Kh2+ Ka2 2.Nc3+ Ka3 3.Ndb1+ Kb4 4.Na2+ Kb5 5.Nbc3+ Ka6 6.Nb4+ Ka7 7.Nb5+ Kb8 8.Na6+ Kc8 9.Na7+ Kd7 10.Nb8+ Ke7 11.Nc8+ Kf8 (11...Kf6 12.Nd7#) 12.Nd7+ Kg8 13.Bd5+ Re6 14.Bxe6+ Kh8 15.Kg1#. mate.


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