November 20, 2010

The Chess Problem Cake!

This is an adaptation of a story which appeared in Les Cahiers de l'Echiquier Français (november-december 1936). Story, problem and drawing are by V. Barthe.

A chess player and gourmet once invited a friend to his home. The friend, Onésime XADREZ, besides being a good chess player also appreciated fine food.

In honour of his guest he ordered a cake decorated with a chess problem of his own composition. The problem was symbolic as it was in the form of a letter O, the first letter of his friends name.

White to move. Mate in two
Before serving the cake his cook cut it into four pieces. Unfortunately just as he was going to serve it he stumbled and dropped the cake. Picking up the pieces he quickly reassembled them on the plate inadvertently mixing them up. The cake that arrived at the table looked like this :

White to move. Mate in two

The cook's master, noticing that his problem had been destroyed and the suprise spoilt started to insult the poor cook. Onésime Xadrez was however staring attentively at the cake and the problem. Suddenly he cried "Calme down my friend! Nothing is lost. The pieces now make an X, the first letter of my surname, and it's still mate in two!"



  1. This is an unusual twin problem. There isn't a lot of set-play nor refuted tries (maybe a couple). The position of the black rook is a huge hint at the keys, since in a two mover, you have to provide for the rook's check. In any case, it beautiful illustrates the geometric nature of chess. No 'cook' in there, except in the story line!

  2. I am sorry, i only see mates in three moves...

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