The Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes

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9780394504889: The Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes

Join the master sleuth as he and Dr. Watson examine interrupted chess matches at clubs and country homes, examining the pieces' current positions to identify previous moves. Rather than predicting the outcome of these games, the Baker Street duo focus on past events, using the same variety of logical reasoning that unlocks the secrets to their ever-popular mysteries. Holmes instructs Watson (and us) in the intricacies of retrograde analysis in order to deduce on which square the white queen was captured, whether a pawn has been promoted, and which piece has been replaced by a coin. The mysteries grow increasingly complex, culminating in a double murder perpetrated by the devious Professor Moriarty.
Philosopher and logician Raymond Smullyan brilliantly recaptures the mood of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's tales. Readers need only a knowledge of how the pieces move; the first puzzles explain all of the concepts that arise later on. These witty and challenging problems will captivate chess aficionados, puzzle enthusiasts, Sherlock Holmes fans, and everyone who relishes mysteries, crime stories, and tales of detection.

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Review:

The dazzlingly clever and always entertaining Raymond Smullyan takes an unorthodox approach to chess puzzles by treating them as mysteries--with Sherlock Holmes as guide and mentor. The key concept is retrograde analysis. Rather than figuring out how to achieve some end from a given arrangement of chess pieces, the game is to examine the board and deduce what has happened in the past: Which side is white? What were the previous moves? Prove that a promotion did or did not occur. Which piece has been replaced by a coin? These are just a few of the challenges Smullyan presents through the eyes of Holmes and Watson. He even manages about as passable an imitation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's style as can be expected from a tongue-in-cheek presentation. To enjoy these problems you need only know how chess pieces move. The first puzzles in the book teach all the concepts you need to know to decipher the later ones; the process prepares you to join Holmes in solving a baffling double murder--they keys to which reside in a series of devilishly clever puzzles. The chess game is afoot, and it's almost too much fun!

From the Inside Flap:

Here -- from philosopher/logician/puzzlemaker Raymond Smullyan -- are fifty elegant, witty, and altogether unique "chess mysteries." In each problem the solver has to deduce certain events in a game's past. For example: On what square was the White queen captured? or, Is the White queen promoted or original?

Since these problems involve the same sort of logical reasoning that lies at the core of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Raymond Smullyan has aptly set each one within its own Holmes-Watson dialogue. In each case Holmes, by his remarkable powers of deduction, is able to demonstrate to his awed admirers precisely what must have happened, move by move, at the "scene of the crime" -- the chess table. For example: what the missing piece is; what square it should be on; whether or not either side can castle.

In the second half, through a series of progressively more difficult (self-contained) chess problems, Holmes, with the reader's help, solves a mystery and a double murder -- perpetrated, of course, by Moriarty. And at the end of the book are ten bonus problems from Moriarty himself (four of them composed before the age of nine!).

Chess Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes is Smullyan's challenging and witty romp through the royal game.

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Smullyan, Raymond M
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