This is the most delightful collection of chess-themed logic problems one could hope to find
The board is the crime scene, the players are witnesses, the pieces are evidence. This book showcases the chess board as a wonderful setting for Sherlock Holmes style problems.
A standard Chess Problem generally presents a board position and requires one to determine the best move. These ‘reverse chess problems’ require no such thing. The quality of play is not a concern in what Smullyan (and Sherlock) refer to as retrograde analysis. Given the current position, and perhaps one or two details about the history of the game, what can you determine about the past or present of a game?
One need not have any talent for chess to solve these problems, because the goal is almost never to determine how to win a given game, but to solve a mystery upon the board. Where is the invisible piece? Which piece is in disguise? A piece is ambiguously placed, or has been knocked off the board – where does it belong? Is there a promoted piece on the board? Can the king still castle? What was the last move?
I caution the reader from assuming too hastily that they’ve solved a puzzle – it is so incredibly disappointing to check the solution and realize that you’ve missed an important aspect of the board and thus missed an elegant piece of the puzzle.
In the same vein, I would also urge the to persevere through the more difficult problems. Many of them indeed seem impossible at first glance, but for every puzzle, the satisfaction and elation of discovery is forever lost once you up and check the answers at the back, and can never really be retrieved.
I would urge the reader to have faith in Mr. Smullyan – the solutions are clever and satisfying, and for the most part they are free of error (So far, I have only found two exceptions). So, unless you’re working on The Case of the Dropped Pawn or A Remarkable Monochromatic, don’t give up! The solutions are real and wonderful.