I had an idea.
Why not put a mirror behind my chessboard so I could see myself
analysing and playing over games. That way I would get used to
having someone opposite me when I was playing.
Here is a snapshot of my wee study area where I plot
and plan the demise of my fellow players.
Notice I've added a mirror.
Don't do this.
At first it was OK but then I noticed that the reflection
was actually taking two or three seconds to catch me up.
There I was playing over Spielmann v Janowski, Carlsbad, 1907,
from Spielmann's excellent book, 'The Art of Sacrifice in Chess.'
The theme of this game is The Vacating Sacrifice.
White to move and Black is threatening to trap the Rook with 19...Ne5.
So Spielmann plays 19.d6 a pawn sac to vacate d5 for a Knight.
What follows is a lovely game with Spielmann nailing down a
I've played over this game a few times. It cheers me up.
Anyway. I play 19.d5 only this time the reflection does not play it.
I wait. Nothing. I wait. Nothing.
Suddenly. (there is always a 'suddenly' in these stories)
Suddenly I disappear from the reflection and I am replaced
by Old Nick himself. I must say he is looking well for a demon
some 5,000 years old.
I also noted the mirror pieces were set up for a new game.
I look at my board. My set too is at the initial position.
I then notice something strange.
If you place a Chess set in front of a mirror you get this reflection.
The reflection I was seeing was this.
I looked at Satan, he smiled.
You know the kind of smile I mean.
The old, 'you are now playing for your soul' smile.
"Better win this one." I think to myself and I'm just about
to play 1.e4 when I noticed Satan's hand too is hovering over his e-pawn.
I move my hand over to my a-pawn on a2. His hand moves over the a7 pawn.
So it's going to be one those games.
He will play everything I do in reverse.
If I play 1.e4 he will play 1...e5.
If I play 1.c3 he will play 1...c6.
If I play 1.h4 he will play 1...h5
He will copy everything I do.
I ponder for a moment or two trying to recall old games
where Black falls into symmetrical traps.
Suddenly. (how more suddenly's can this story take?)
Suddenly. The number 60 appears in blood red at the top
left hand side of the mirror. It changes to 59, then 58, then 57...
Old Nick had put a timer on me. I had to win in 56 seconds.
Now 55 seconds, now 54 seconds...
I had better stop watching the countdown and get on with the game.
This is what happened.
[Click here to replay the game]
Me v Old Nick
1.e3 e6 2.Ne2 Ne7 3.Nbc3 Nbc6 4.g3 g6 5.Nd5 Nd4 6.Nf6
After I played 6.Nf6 mate the mirror clouded over and smashed into
a million pieces. (7 years bad luck for Old Nick I'm thinking).
So with my soul saved I went along to Sandy Bells for a
I meet Keith Ruxton, I tell him about my narrow escape and
proudly show him my 6 move mirror mate that banished Satan
back to his fiery pit.
Keith congratulates me on saving my soul but added I could
have mated Old Nick in 4 moves.
He showed me his moves. He is correct.
White can mate using mirror chess in 4 moves.
That is today's challenge: mate in 4 from the start
position using mirror chess.
(Keith has actually come up with 3 different way to mate in 4)
The first one to email me any solution will save their soul.
The rest of you are damned to Hell.
(Which might not be too bad, they play chess there).