Best Chess Puzzles

This is a selection of 16 chess puzzles that I find to be among the most incredible and ingenious that I’ve seen.

I have modified the presentation of several of these problems. Most notably, the checkmate problems are usually presented as a “Mate in n”, where n is given to the solver. In these cases, I leave it up to the solver to try to force a mate as quickly as possible. If you want the values of n for these problems, they are listed under the section “The Numbers”, after “The Puzzles” and before “The Solutions”.

The Puzzles



White to play. How quickly can White force a mate?



White to play. How quickly can White force a mate?



White to play. How quickly can White force a mate?



White to play. How quickly can White force a mate?

Continue reading “Best Chess Puzzles”


Guess the Statistic

Guess what each of these statistics is, given the top 8 countries.

Statistic 1
1. Denmark
2. Canada
3. Russia
4. Norway
5. United States
6. Finland
7. Sweden
8. Iceland

Statistic 2
1. Australia
2. China
3. Thailand
4. India
5. Israel
6. Mexico
7. United States
8. Philippines

Statistic 3
1. United States
2. El Salvador
3. Turkmenistan
4. Maldives
5. Cuba
6. Thailand
7. Bahamas
8. Seychelles

Statistic 4
1. India
2. Palau
3. Côte d’Ivoire
4. Pakistan
5. United States
6. Australia
7. Nigeria
8. Tanzania
(though there exist good arguments some positional switches should happen)

Statistic 5
1. Bolivia*
2. Ecuador*
3. Colombia
4. Ethiopia
5. Bhutan
6. Eritrea
7. Yemen
8. Mexico
*though there exists a good argument that Ecuador and Bolivia switch places

Statistic 6
1. Russia
2. Kyrgyzstan
3. Canada
4. United States
5. Indonesia
6. Norway
7. Tajikistan
8. Argentina

Statistic 7
1. Venezuela
2. San Marino
3. Costa Rica
4. Panama
5. Ecuador
6. Uruguay
7. Colombia
8. Iceland

Statistic 8
1. India
2. Pakistan
3. China
4. United Kingdom
5. Bangladesh
6. Indonesia
7. Brazil
8. United States

The Game of Subofniqlet


Here’s a game. The challenge: try to communicate a reference to a long string of text (maybe all the elements of a certain set, or even an entire book) with only one string, such that:

  • The string consists of only letters in the text: no spaces or punctuation, or its equivalents. (for instance, the 26 letters of the English alphabet, for books or speeches in English)
  • No letter is used more than once.
  • The string is a subsequence of the text; that is, the letters appear in the text, in that order, possibly with more letters in between.

So, for a given input, someone seeks a subsequence consisting of unique letters that hopefully communicates an idea to others.

As an example,


is probably a fairly good string to reference the lanthanides, with ‘cerim’, ‘pas’, ‘nody’, and ‘lut’ referring respectively to the first, second, third, and last lanthanides.

Here’s some other strings you may be able to recognize.







And here’s a really far stretch:


A Round of Extraordinary Luck at LearnedLeague

The first MiniLeague that I decided to participate in was the Just Images Maps league, since, well, I love maps. The second round of the MiniLeague went ridiculously well for me in that I answered 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 correctly when I only legitimately knew the answer to 5.




This was probably the least ridiculous of my guesses. I knew what the idea behind the map was, that it shows what would’ve happened if land reclaimed from the sea was reflooded; I just didn’t know what the agents of water blockage were called (levees?). After a lot of weighing options, I decided to guess dikes because I often hear that word in association with the Netherlands and I guessed it sounded like the sort of thing that would function as a levee.



I’m definitely not familiar with a map of this sort, but this just looked like a rock face, so I guessed rock climbing. Well.



I had no clue what this was, but it looked like a museum. I literally just randomly guessed a museum for which I did not know what its floorplan was like. Turns out, this was in fact a Guggenheim Museum.



I only knew the names of so many aviators. I decided to guess one of them, Amelia Earhart. Turns out, one of these was indeed Amelia Earhart.



This was the only of the five questions I got right where I actually straight-up knew the answer: Biafra.



Ah, tricky question. This one’s a good puzzle.

Hints to “Hidden from Canada”

(this puzzle hunt)

(or in other words, hey, you have a few hours left until the Galactic hunt, why not warm up?)

1. Beautiful
Oh hey, the number of words in each group is exactly the same as the number of groups. How odd.

2. Longtailed
That’s quite a gradient there. It would suck for the pattern-obsessive among you if…they weren’t evenly spaced?

3. Rustic
Yes, that’s a double-headed arrow. And yes, there are two sets of three collinear light green dots.

4. Vast
Ending with an e-flat and a c seems very popular at the start. I wonder why it died out.

5. Meta
If the eight underscores were replaced by four underscores, there would still be a reasonable solution to this puzzle hunt.