Question: How does White mate in two?
As a colourful cast of 115 cardinals gather in Rome to choose who will lead a Catholic church in crisis, I’m sure that the least of their worries for the selection procedure will bewhether he can play chess like Pope John Paul II.
When Cardinal Karl Wojtyla was elected to the papal throne in 1978, rumours spread in chess circles that he was an expert chess-player and study composer. Divine if it were true, but it all turned out to be an elaborate hoax almost on a par with the Hitler Diaries, with several chess magazines and national newspapers falling for it.
The myth was given credibility with a column published by GM Larry Evans in the Washington Post, offering today’s diagram as being a problem composed by Karl Wojtyla, Poland 1946. The mate in two starts with 1. Qa7! More composed studies then surfaced and were subsequently published as that of the pope’s – but in 1995, the hoax was confirmed by a handwritten note from the pope himself, on a picture postcard of a Madonna from the Vatican collection, sent to the Polish Chess Union.
There is though a history of talented chess-playing Catholic prelates, arguably the most famous being the 16th-century Spanish cleric and opening theorist Ruy López de Segrua. He was regarded as the first superstar of chess, and left a lasting legacy with one of the most famous and historic openings that bears his name: the Ruy Lopez.
S Azarov – T Baron
29th Cappelle la Grande Open, (3)
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 0–0 Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 d6 8 c3 0–0 9 h3 Nb8 10 d4 Nbd7 11 Nbd2 Bb7 12 Bc2 Re8 13 Nf1 Bf8 14 Ng3 g6 15 a4 c5 16 d5 c4 17 Bg5 h6 18 Be3 Nc5 19 Qd2 h5 20 Bg5 Be7 21 Ra3 Nfd7 22 Be3 Bf6 23 Rea1 Nb6 24 axb5 axb5 25 Rxa8 Nxa8 26 Ng5 Nb6 27 Bxc5 dxc5 28 h4 Nc8 29 Qe3 Qc7 30 Bd1 Bg7 31 Bxh5 gxh5 32 Qf3 Nd6 33 Qxh5 Kf8 34 Qh7 Bf6 35 Ne6+ Rxe6 36 dxe6 Qe7 37 exf7 Qxf7 38 Qh6+ Qg7 39 Qxg7+ Bxg7 40 f3 Bh6 41 Rd1 Bf4 42 Rxd6 Bxg3 43 Rb6 1–0