The Problem Cake

This is a loose translation of a story which appeared in Les Cahiers de l'Echiquier Français (november-december 1936). Story, problem and drawing are by V. Barthe

A chess player and gourmet once invited a friend to his home. The friend, Onésime XADREZ, besides being a good chess player also appreciated fine food.

In honour of his guest he ordered a cake decorated with a chess problem of his own composition. The problem was symbolic as it was in the form of a letter O, the first letter of his friends name.

Mate in Two

Before serving the cake his cook cut it into four pieces. Unfortunately just as he was going to serve it he stumbled and dropped the cake. Picking up the pieces he quickly reassembled them on the plate inadvertently mixing them up. The cake that arrived at the table looked like this -

The cook's master, noticing that his problem had been destroyed and the suprise spoilt started to insult the poor cook. Onésime Xadrez was however staring attentively at the cake and the problem. Suddenly he cried "Calme down my friend! Nothing is lost. The pieces now make an X, the first letter of my surname, and it's still mate in two!"

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Last modified may 1997.