Below you will find the solutions to the Play Magnus Easter Puzzler.
Thanks to everyone who participated and special congratulations to Mulindi Trevor, the winner of our contest! He scored 18.5 points out of 20. We will contact him shortly and deliver the prize.
Question 1. He was #1 on the FIDE rating list and 125 ELO points ahead of his closest rival. Who was he?
In July 1972 Bobby Fischer reached the highest rating of that time at 2785 ELO. Boris Spassky was rated #2 with a rating of “only” 2660. This is the biggest gap of this sort in chess history.
Question 2. Can you name all the World Chess Champions in the picture?
Vladimir Kramnik (standing) is about to show a game to his mentors (Garry Kasparov and Mikhail Botvinnik) and peers at a session of the famous Botvinnik-Kasparov chess school.
Question 3. Can you find a move for White that does NOT checkmate the opponent?
Rc6+ covers a critical diagonal and allows Black to take the bishop on h7.
Question 4. Do you remember what chess pieces Harry, Hermione and Ron impersonated in "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone"?
Harry was a bishop, Hermione acted as a rook, while Ron sacrificed himself being a knight.
Question 5. Who has the longest official unbeaten streak in chess? How many games is it?
The one and only Magnus Carlsen is currently on a 121 games unbeaten streak (40 wins and 81 draws), and the counter is still ticking! His last loss in classical chess was on 31 July 2018.
Question 6. Can you name the popular athlete in the image above?
The lady in the picture is Maria Sharapova, a tennis legend, winner of five Grand Slams and one of the highest-earning female athletes of our generation. When she retired in February 2020, Forbes estimated her career earnings at $325 million.
Question 7. A game between Henry I of England and Louis VI of France played in 1119 in the middle of a war between the countries marked a new era in chess history. What was so special about it?
It was the first official correspondence chess game in history.
Question 8. Fill in the gap in the quote by GM Savielly Tartakower: "It's always better to sacrifice the ... pieces."
“It’s always better to sacrifice the opponent’s pieces.”
Question 9. It is White to move and mate in three. Solve the puzzle and name the person playing White.
This is a position from a game between Napoleon Bonaparte and Madame De Remusat.
Here is how it allegedly ended (some critics point out that the game might have been constructed):
12.Bc4+ Kxc4 13.Qb3+ Kd4 14.Qd3#
Question 10. In one of his tracks the hip-hop artist pictured above raps the following line: "I can ascend without any physical death, I can repent without any physical breath/ To me, it’s not a discussion – it’s invisible chess." Can you name him?
The options to choose from were the following:
a) Fat Joe b) Vinnie Paz c) Yelawolf d) Everlast
The guy in the picture is Vinnie Paz.
Question 11. Which famous chess player's first and last names are an anagram of "Ariana Shrinks Skin"?
Indian Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran, a long-time member of the Indian chess team and an ex-second of Vishy Anand. His peak rating was 2720.
Question 12. Do you recognize the chess player pictured above?
Ukrainian GM Vassily Ivanchuk aka Chucky, who requires no introduction to chess fans.
Question 13. "Morning Chess" is the name of a:
a) Book b) Movie c) Fragrance d) Chess set
“Morning Chess” is a fragrance by Vilhelm Parfumerie, bearing the following description:
Bright endless mornings in a cottage, minds battling in wit over a chessboard: the memories of Jan’s summers shared with his grandfather. The ripe, green lushness of summer on the Swedish coast, where grassy notes are light enough to hint at the evergreen sharpness of the distant winter air.
Question 14. Which country has the largest number of chess grandmasters per capita?
Iceland has 13 Grandmasters spread across a population of roughly 340,000 people (1 GM in 26,316 people). For comparison, Russia, the #1 leader by far when it comes to the number of Grandmasters (253 total), has a population of 146,745,000 (1 GM in 580,020 people, a 22 times lower ratio than in Iceland).
Question 15. The score between the players presented in the images above is 7-2. What do these numbers stand for?
In the picture you can see Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Colombu, long-time training partners and friends. Arnold won the Mr. Olympia contest 7 times, while Franco, who passed away in August 2019, earned 2 of such titles.
Question 16. This chess grandmaster used to be depicted on a banknote and, more recently, appeared on a 2 euro coin. Name the player and the country.
Paul Keres, one of the strongest chess players to not have won the World Chess Champion title, was depicted on a 5 krooni banknote and on a 2 euro coin issued by Estonia.
Question 17. During the chess fever in the USA spiked by Bobby Fischer's victory in the World Chess Championship, this famous American novelist and short-story writer made his living by running weekend chess tournaments. A TV series based on his books lasted 8 seasons. Who is he?
George R.R. Martin, the author of the bestselling “A Song of Ice and Fire” series on which the “Game of Throne” TV series were based.
Question 18. How do you evaluate this position? What move should White play?
This is a position from a study by the Czech chess composer Mario Matous (1947-2013). It is White to play and win. The solution goes like this:
1.Bb2 (the move you were supposed to submit) Nc7 2.Ba1 a4 3.Bb2 a3 4.Ba1 a2 5.Bb2 a1Q 6.Bxa1 Nd5+ 7.Ke6+ Nc3 8.Bxc3+ Qxc3 9.f8Q#
This is a remarkable example of a game that can be won using zugzwang repeatedly.
It is important to note that the careless 1.Ba1 loses to Nc7: 2.Bb2 a4 3.Ba1 a3 -+
Question 19. Do you recognize this chess player? Hint: she has the GM title.
The correct answer is Chinese GM Hou Yifan, a four-time Women’s World Chess Champion.
Question 20. According to the leading chess databases, he played more tournament games than anyone else. Name this person.
According to Megabase 2020, the late GM Viktor “The Terrible” Kortschnoj played 5166 tournament games. His closest rival is GM Ivan Farago (born in 1946 and still active) with 4656 official games.