Today’s Daily Telegraph chess column by Malcolm Pein offers a Christmas tree and a Queen’s Gambit. 

It is not quite Twelfth Night, so we can sneak in one more festive decoration at the top of the column.

Today’s game is a tactical encounter from the Russian Championship Superfinal and it provides us with a second chess puzzle to solve.

Malcolm Pein on…A Christmas Tree and a Queen’s Gambit

A Christmas tree puzzle composed by Alain C. White.

Christmas Tree Chess Problem

White to play and mate in two moves

For an attack to succeed, it is usually the case that the number of attacking pieces needs to exceed the number of defenders.

In this game from the Russian Championship Superfinal, Black does not sense the danger and White engineers a sacrificial breakthrough. With the white knights gathering, 16…a5 17.b5 a4 was an extravagance, Black had to defend with 16…Nd7 17.Rxd4 Nf8, or tried to reduce material with 16…Bd7 17.Rxd4 Bc6 18.Rg4 Bxf3 19.Qxf3 Rd4.

N. Vitiugov – A. Goganov

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bxf6 Qxf6 8.Bxc4 c5 9.0–0 cxd4 10.e5 Qd8 11.Ne4 0–0 12.Qe2 Be7 13.Rfd1 Qa5 14.a3 Rd8 15.b4 Qb6 16.Ng3 a5?! 17.b5 a4? 18.Nh5 g6

N. Vitiugov – A. Goganov

19.Qd2!! gxh5 (19…Kh7 20.Qf4 gxh5 21.Qxf7+ Kh8 22.Bd3 or 19…Kh7 20.Qf4 Rf8 21.Nf6+ Kg7 22.Rxd4 Qc5 is today’s second puzzle) 20.Qxh6 Nd7 21.Bd3 f5 (White threatened mate in two with Qh7+ and Qh8# and if 21…Nf8 22.Ng5 Bxg5 23.Qxg5+ Kh8 24.Qxh5+ Kg8 25.Qg5+ Kh8 26.f4) 22.Qg6+ Kf8 23.Bc4 Nc5 24.Nxd4 Rxd4 (Nxf5 was a threat) 25.Rxd4 Qc7 (25…Bd7 26.Rf4 and Rxf5+) 26.Re1 Nb3 27.Rf4 Bc5 28.Rd1 1–0 Black has to prevent Rxf5+ but if 28…Qxe5 29.Rd8+ Ke7 30.Qe8+ Kf6 31.Qh8+ Kf7 32.Qxe5.

N. Vitiugov – A. Goganov Queen's Gambit

White to play and mate in three

Highlight the space below each of the next two lines to reveal the respective answers.

Answer One

1.d6 (Threat Bd5#) and if 1…f2 2.Bd5#; 1…cxd3 2.Qxd3# and all moves of the knight on g4 are met by 2.Nxf2#

Answer Two

23.Qxh6+ Kxh6 24.Rh4+ Kg7 25.Rh7#

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