Almost everyone has a set of ‘carding’ agreements with their partners to convey information when defending. But I’m always amazed by how many people feel compelled to do so at every turn, broadcasting loudly how many cards they have in each suit, and whether or not they hold an honour. The truth is, the better your opponents, the more they will make use of the information — and the better your partners, the less they need it.
Here’s a challenge which appeared in a German chess magazine in 1848: place eight white queens on an empty chessboard so that no two queens occupy the same file, rank or diagonal. In other words, none of the queens may defend each other.
Perhaps you start with a queen in the top left corner, on a8. The next might be placed on the adjacent file, nearby but not touching, on the b6 square, a knight’s move away from the first.
White to play. Gelfand–Karjakin, Tal Memorial Blitz 2008. Gelfand’s pawn is pinned, and moving the king runs into more checks. But here he missed a surprising shot. What should White play? Email answers to email@example.com by Monday 24 January. There is a prize of £20 for the first correct answer out of a hat. Please include a postal address and allow six weeks for prize delivery.
Last week’s solution 1 Qh6! Bxh
Six unclued lights (all real words) are the names of 35/26 minus one letter. The missing letters match those that will appear in the shaded squares.
1 Take in fire shoe for small firefighter? (11, two words)
7 Titian’s comb (3)
11 Bum governor newspaper backed (6)
15 Evil spirit with heart of grotty sod (5)
16 Camorrist’s gold lace (5)
17 Last part of game to finish (6, two words)
18 Bard’s ashes left in peace (5)
20 Abhorring PT slack stepdame cancels (6)
21 Capuchin pressing for porticos (5)
27 Palest Greek broods beside Troy (7)
29 German menials in sandals (5)
30 Cyst entered round potato (6)
32 University nine abandoned from boredom (5)
36 TV star arrests Georgia (spy) (5)
37 Girl from Israel visiting meadow (5)
39 Vicious Latvian tailed prince (6)
40 Hunger for bread (3)
41 Falsely Siren nicely swims (11)
1 Peter and legless Tony nick miners’ equipment (10, two words)
2 Oil giant developed printing method (8)
3 Straying herds Neal discusses again (9)
4 A river very clear with wavy sheen – it sparkles (12, two words)
5 Most foul fruit shocks (7)
7 Passage out of time provokes composer (5)
8 Service tax (4)
9 Unoriginal work about mess (6)
10 Ordinary flower deficient in two stipules round stem (5)
14 Ancient bod ran common nag ragged (12, two words, one hyphened)
19 Kittens probably go, put in one (10, two words)
21 Secret ale refreshed old villain (9)
23 Pound street with difficulty over in Welsh town (8)
24 Poet’s set about breaking bad steed (8)
25 Copper kitchen utensil (6)
28 Wesker plays transfix (6)
31 Yoga pose some rajas analysed (5)
33 Scottish town with new golf club there? (5)
A first prize of £30 for the first correct solution opened on 7 February.
The NATIVITY (89) of the ACTOR (37) HUMPHREY BOGART (47/13), the singers ANNIE LENNOX (112/12) and IAN BOSTRIDGE (4/61), the prolific BAT (34) ALASTAIR COOK (124/119), the colourful writer QUENTIN CRISP (90/92), the outré TV star KENNY EVERETT (97D/82), the expert at ‘THE PLAYING OF THE MERRY ORGAN’ (16/6/38) ORLANDO GIBBONS (99/1), the film producer ISMAIL MERCHANT (127/62), the mathematician who also watched ‘THE SILENT STARS GO BY’ (128/103/10) ISAAC NEWTON (9/55) and PRIME MINISTER (93A/79) JUSTIN TRUDEAU (66/39) was ‘ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS’ (50D/2A).
In Competition No. 3232, you were invited to retell a news story from the past year in sonnet form. An excellent entry this week included submissions ranging far and wide, from Harry Patch and the Everly Brothers to Alaskan walruses and Jeff Bezos’s penis. Commendations to Josephine Boyle, C. Paul Evans, Dorothy Pope, R.M. Goddard, Douglas Hall and Martin Elster, and £20 each to those printed below.
For roofer Charlie Perry and his mates It was a time of Strongbow and cocaine, The chance to nullify decades of pain By getting early into altered states Then watching, with the pride that elevates, As English football claimed a cup again.