Missing Pawns

White to play and mate in 4 moves.

Remark: The position on the diagram is one which occurs in actual play.

Notice that the black queen and the black king have switched positions. However, this can happen only if some pawns have been moved. Therefore we can conclude that the bottom row on the diagram is actually the 8th row of the chessboard. All black and all white pieces have reached their respective opposite sides of the board.

Now White’s first move is Kb8-d7. The only moves black can play are with the knights. If Black plays Kb1-a3, Kb1-c3 or Kg1-h3, white mates in 2 more moves – Kd7-c5 and Kc5-d3. If Black moves Kg1-f3, then after Kd7-c5 Black can delay the mate by playing Kf3-e5. However, after the white queen takes it with Qxe5, Kc5-d3 is unavoidable.

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