Excelsior (chess problem)[ edit ]

"Excelsior" is one of Sam Loyd´s most famous chess problems, originally published in London Era in 1861, named after the poem "Excelsior" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Loyd bet a friend that he could not pick a piece that didn´t give mate in the main line, and when it was published it was with the stipulation that white mates with "the least likely piece or pawn".


The solution (in algebraic notation) is as follows:
1. b4
Threatening Rf5 and Rf1 mate. White cannot begin with 1. Rf5 because Black´s 1.... Rc5 would pin the rook.

1. ...Rc5+ 2. bxc5
Threatening Rb1 mate.

2. ...a2 3. c6
With the same threat as on move one.

3. ...Bc7 4. cxb7 any 5. bxa8=Q mate (or bxa8=B mate).
The mate is delivered with the pawn which starts on b2.

Any problem which features a pawn moving from its starting square to promotion in the course of the solution is now said to demonstrate the Excelsior theme.

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article No 869 / last change on 2005-07-01, 09:29pm

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