Location: School of Fish
Depth: 144

Solution to Watch Me Blow This!

by Noam D. Elkies

Answer: PIPER

Each of the diagrams is a "helpmate in 1"; that is, Black has a unique move that allows White to mate in one, and the mating move is unique too. (Indeed in these positions any other Black move at least draws, and at least one move wins though in diagram 2 the win after Qxb3+ is nontrivial.)

The solutions are:

  1. Bh8-a1 Rd1xa1#
  2. Ka3xb3 Qh2-b2#
  3. d2xc1=N Re1-e3#
    (the mate is set up in the diagram, but Black has only one move that doesn't spoil it)
  4. Rd4-d8 Ra4-e4#
    (not 0-0-0 Ra4-a8# because wKg8 couldn't get there while bKe8 is unmoved)
  5. Qg7-e7+ Bf4-e5#
    (this time there's no waiting move that allows the set mate Bf4-d6#, so a new mate must be found, and surprisingly Black gives check!)

As further corroboration, Black's arrival squares are in columns a,b,c,d,e and White's are in rows 1,2,3,4,5.

Plotting White's mating moves on the letter board yields only a fish of the wrong color: R-E, D-H, E-R, R-I, N-G (but may still help for back-solving if only one solution is missing or wrong). Plotting Black's moves instead yields B-E, T-E, L-G, E-N, U-S. i.e. "betel genus". This is a definition of the answer PIPER.

The puzzle title both suggests the nature of the chess challenge (Black "blows" each position) and corroborates the solution (a piper literally blows it, at least if it's the familiar English word and not the Latin cognate of "pepper").