Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Grass Arena IV

"J Healy v T Duncan, Islington Club Championships - 1997. The black knight attacks two pawns, so the obvious drawing line for white is 1 BxKt, PXB when neither king has a route into the opposing position. But instead white (to move) set a clever trap which snared black and won the game. Can you work out what happened?

Winner John Healy is the author of two best-selling award-winning novels."

Following on from previous Grass Arena puzzles (TGA III, TGA II, TGA) today we have another John Healy chess problem that originates from Leonard Barden and reaches the S&BCC blog via

Aside from finding the right move

(a) does anybody know anything of the "two best-selling award-winning novels" that Barden says Healy had published? I'm only aware of The Grass Arena but that was not a novel.

(b) Our previous John Healy puzzles have dated from 1975, 1976 and 1980 respectively and the concluding lines of The Grass Arena (published 1988) read,

"Back in England I never met the Countess again, nor did I play any more chess tournaments. Time clouding memory cured my longings for both."
Today's puzzle is dated 1997. Is that a misprint or did John Healy come back to competitive chess at some point?


ejh said...

I reckon White went 1.K-B2. Black took the pawn on QR5 and then after 2.K-N3 N-B4 3.BxN PxB 4.K-R4 found that he was losing the pawn ending.

Jonathan B said...

Exactly what I thought but not quite right. Right idea but wrong first move to be precise.

ejh said...

Actually 1.P-B3 is probably better, isn't it? How embarrassing.

(And it should have been Kt, not N.)

Mike G said...

John Healy's first novel was "The Streets Above Us" and the second one is (probably) "the Glass Cage" (info from the website on John Healy that you gave the link to!). He also seems to have written a chess book called "Coffee House Tactics". The website comments that his other books (apart from Glass Arena) are out of print and almost unobtainable.

Several copies of "The Streets Above Us" are available via from the USA or Oz via (there was one in the UK but I've just ordered it). Nothing else seems to be available via that route (that I could find).