A Chess Problem Tribute to the
James Webb Space Telescope!

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), launched by NASA on 25-Dec-2021, is the most powerful telescope ever launched into space and is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. It is expected to look farther than the Hubble and has created great excitement among the astronomer community. It will uncover details to study and understand the earliest formation and evolution of Galaxies, Stars and Planets, including the origins of life.

When faced with all these new vistas, one is reminded of our own TRD’s words, from the envoi to “Ultimate Themes”, 1938: “Fairy problems have the limitless geometry of space before them, with life, fire, exquisite beauty, in rich and growing and never-ending profusion.

Immobile BKd4 (Cannot move or capture)

The layout of the JWST’s 18 mirrors immediately suggests a hexagonal chessboard which was covered in our classification project. So, here is a hexagonal chess problem to celebrate the JWST!

Chess Problem: Hexagonal Board with 19 squares: a1-a3-c5-e3-e1-c1

Rooks move through the sides of the squares. Bishops move through the corners. Pawns move vertically through the sides of the squares towards their bottom rank (here a1-e1 for BPs) and capture through the edges of the squares to the left or right.

1.Re1-c3! ZZ
1…Ra2-b3 2.Rc3-c5#
1…Ba1-b3 2.Rc3-c4#
1…Rd1-d2 2.Rc3-e3#
1…Bc1-d2 2.Rc3-d3#
Double Grimshaw + 4 mates by WR
Tries: 1.Rb3+? R/Bxb3! 1.Rd2+? R/Bxd2! 1.Rxd1+? c2xd1=Q/R/B/S! 1.Re3+? Bxe3! 1.Re2? ZZ Rb3/Bc5!

Shankar Ram

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
April 1, 2022 04:51

Woww!! Amazing problem sir!!

Sebastien LUCE
Sebastien LUCE
April 3, 2022 13:56

Dear Shankar Ram,
interesting idea, this double Grimshaw on an hexagonal board. I see you have the head in the sky ! 🎆✨🌠🌌

shankar ram
shankar ram
April 4, 2022 18:35
Reply to  Sebastien LUCE

Thank you, Sebastien!
I had my head in the skies, back in the 80s too, for Halley’s Comet!
Solution: 1.cxd3 2.dxe4 3.exf5 4.f6 5.f7 6.fxe8=Q 7.Qf7 8.Qc4 9.Qxc8 10.Qc7+ Bxc7#

Joost de Heer
Joost de Heer
April 4, 2022 11:26

Too symmetrical for my taste.
Also two non-thematic variations are missing:
1… Rc4 2. Re3#
1… Rd3 2. Rc5#

shankar ram
shankar ram
April 4, 2022 12:03
Reply to  Joost de Heer

There are a total of 6 such variations: Ra3, Rc4, Bc5, Rd3, Re1 and Be3.
These are usually not listed in problems showing Grimshaws.
And, by the way, after 1…Rc4 2.Rxc4#. 2.Re3+? Bxe3!
after 1…Rd3 2.Rxd3#. 2.Rc5+? Bxc5!

Last edited 5 months ago by shankar ram
shankar ram
shankar ram
July 12, 2022 20:29

See the first images from the JWST released today by NASA: https://webbtelescope.org/news/first-images/gallery