Letter #22 - 2012
06/06/12 2:24:40 PM
Just wondering why it is not
possible to promote a Pawn for another King.
Was this once allowed before the
modern rules of Chess?
There are no records
showing that a player was ever allowed to promote or have a second,
third, or more Kings.
Any player can
promote a Pawn who has reached the eight rank to any piece other
than the King such as a Knight, Bishop, Rook, or a Queen. Most
players choose the Queen as a first choice since it is the most
Since the nature of
the game of Chess makes the King the most valuable piece and to a
certain point the most vulnerable, promoting a Pawn to another King
would make no sense.
And yet... there is a
funny tale about the great Jose Capablanca playing against an
opponent who had three black Kings!!
Once upon a time,
under the shadow of a large tree, a then young Jose Capablanca was
analyzing some games in preparation for a coming Chess match in Cuba
against GM Juan Corzo. Suddenly, a strange spaceship resembling a
flying saucer zoomed in and landed a few yards away. Soon after, a
strange and small alien figure descended and approached him.
communication, the alien let Capablanca know of their grim
intentions: humankind may be annihilated and the earth destroyed
unless Capablanca could persuade them that humans were a superior
race. Nevertheless, a little intrigued by the chessboard and pieces
Capablanca had, the alien asked what they were for.
that the board and pieces were used to play Chess which was a very
complex and advanced game played by most human beings.
Capablanca offered to teach him the rules, how to move the pieces,
and to play a Chess game against him to demonstrate that humans were a
superior race and deserved to be spared.
The ET quickly
accepted the challenge but warned Capablanca that they were a race
thousands of times more developed than humans and that he should
easily defeat Capablanca with all the dire consequences for all the
people on planet earth, and added that a loss or even a drawn
game for Capa will result in total armageddon. Capablanca did not blink, he
knew he was the best player in the whole universe.
the alien all the Chess rules, the King, Queen, Rooks, Bishops,
Knights, and Pawns movements, check, checkmate, en-passant,
castling, stalemate, opposition, draws, forks, openings, middlegame,
endings, in other words... everything! The last indication
Capablanca told the alien was: "when a Pawn reaches the eight rank, you can exchange or
promote it for any other piece you like it."
The game started, the
fate of the human race was on Capablanca's hands. Playing white, Capablanca
made the first move: 1. e4, the Ruy Lopez opening. In a tense, very dramatic game
and after two hours of play, they reached
the following position:
White to move
had a clear advantage and by moving his King to c2 he threatens to mate
in the next move with Bd4. So, Capablanca moved 1. Kc2
savoring a victory against a superior entity and just one move
away from proclaiming himself as the savior of the world. And then...
a fearless alien moved 1... h1=K??
After alien promotes to King!
The great Capablanca jumped in a huff
"NO!!!... you can't do that!"
"But you just told me that I could choose any piece I like it!", the
After a short discussion, Capablanca had
no choice but to accept playing under this new misunderstood rule.
Capablanca realized that the mating move he had 2. Bd4# was now
worthless since he could checkmate the King on a1 but the second King
on h1 had no legal square to move to and the game would end... in a
Taking a long time thinking, Capablanca
was about to concede defeat, and then, his eyes blinked repeatedly
and a big smile filled his entire face and quickly moved 2. a8= black King!!
After Capablanca promotes to a black King!!
This time the alien protested but the
rules were clear, after all Capablanca had said: ("...a player can
choose any piece he likes it"), and now the alien had no choice but
to make the only legal move he had: 2. ... Kb8. A jubilant
Capablanca moves next 3. h7 and again the little man makes the only
move he has 3. ... Ka8 and finally, Capablanca moved 4. h8=Q#,
three black Kings... with a single shot!
The extraterrestrials left our
disgrace and our planet and people lived many years happily ever after.
Thank you for