CIPC #357: Washington Post Christmas search 2023

Just half a month ago, ’twas the season to be jolly. But now ’tis the season to acrimoniously — and sanctimoniously — bemoan the varied ways our noble game gets abused at every turn, by every Tom, Dick, and Harry, in every form of media. Take, for example, The Washington Post‘s miserable attempt to spread some holiday cheer with a Where’s Wally type of puzzle showing all sorts of amusements centred around a Christmas tree.

As one of the main amusements in the history of humanity, chess naturally features.1 But it’s featured unnaturally. The players seem to be a blonde with a blue coat, hanging on to the white king with a determined look in her eye, and a man in a green suit, who seems ready to throw the black queen at his opponent. Uncle Sam appears perched on black’s rook.2

Throwing his queen at his opponent is perhaps black’s best move, because the position seems to be this one:3

Obviously, this is utterly lost for black. But it is kind of odd that white is holding her king. Either she’s going to move it, but that seems entirely useless, or she just moved it — presumably after a check on the g file. But then why didn’t she move it to the f file? After a long Christmas search, I came up with a plausible explanation: a black knight was on g3, it took some white piece on h1, and was promptly recaptured.

But I haven’t found Washington posting Christmas. I always assumed it happened automatically.

Realism: 3/5 I had to knock off an extra point because of the implied but  implausible situation with the knight taking some piece on h1.

Probable winner: White, unless black’s aim is better than his game.

1. [This is also a clever way to make the search more difficult, as the chess makes it harder to concentrate on anything else.]
2. [Sadly, there’s no rook perched on top of him again. That would’ve been beautiful.]
3. [The search for diagram editors is easy, though.]